Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states of the USA. To start home educating in Vermont, call the Department of Education at 802-828 2756 and ask for the Home Study packet. Read the information carefully and don’t offer more information than necessary. Send in your forms and curriculum and wait for a response, which should come within 2-3 weeks.
One of the great things about home education is its flexibility. Each home educating family can create its own unique home education experience. Even within one family, you can vary methods depending on the child or education level. If you have trouble implementing your chosen method, talk to other home educators, read about other methods to see if they can work in your situation. You can mix and match until you find something that works. Here are some common methods/materials used by home educators.
Packaged curriculum: Buy a ready-made curriculum and follow it either exactly or loosely, or enroll in a distance learning program. Oak Meadow School (Waldorf inspired) is a Vermont based curriculum provider/distance learning program, that is recognized by the Department of Education. However, there are many others available as well. You can pick from a variety of curricula to fit your children’s learning style or homeschooling philosophy. (Calvert, A Beka, Clonlara, Christian Liberty Academy, Oak Meadow, etc.) Some programs are religious in nature, and others are not.
Textbooks: Most use traditional approach to classroom education, with much repetition and review for slower students. You may choose to skip sections your child already understands.
Workbooks: Workbooks are part of most packaged curricula, but can be purchased separately as well. They can be useful or tedious, depending on the child and subject area. Educational software can also be used as more animated practice material.
Unschooling: The child’s interests and desire to learn direct the learning process. Parents facilitate learning by providing a rich environment and supplying the child with materials of interest and instruction when appropriate. A lot of learning will take place from real life experiences. Unschooling does not require a planned curriculum, but because of Vermont law, you will still have to create one to satisfy the Department of Education. In this approach it is useful to create the curriculum based on your child’s current interest and knowledge base, projecting what you expect your child will be into next. Using noncommittal language like “topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:” is also helpful and accepted by the Home Study Unit. To learn more about this approach read Teach Your Own, Learning All the Time, or any other book by John Holt. Also The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewellynn is a great resource for unschooling teens.
Charlotte Mason approach: This approach emphasizes “living books,” or first-rate literature upon which to base education, the development of good habits in children early on, the implementation of narration, telling or writing back what one has heard or read, and the importance of unstructured play, time outdoors, and weekly nature walks.
Unit Studies: Unit studies relate all subject areas to one another. You can create your own based on your child’s interests, or purchase unit studies based on literature or centered around religion, etc. (Advanced Training Institute International, Weaver, The Classics) Unit studies can be especially useful when you are teaching multiple children of differing age/skill levels. Children can focus on the same unit while practicing their individual skill levels.