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New Home Educator's Letter

For New Home Educators:


Good Reasons to educate your children at home:

* I want my child to learn at his/her own pace.

* I want to provide a safe learning environment for my child.

* I want to teach my children my religion/values/beliefs and world view.

* I want to teach my children some things/subjects that I believe they won’t learn at an institution.

* I want to build lasting and healthy relationships with my children.

* I want to develop some special talents/abilities that my child possesses.

* We move a lot and I want my child to have stability in his/her education.


Bad Reasons to educate at home:

* The teacher and I don’t like each other.

* My child doesn’t want to go to school.

* The principal is always giving my child detention.

* It’s the teacher’s fault that my child can’t read/write/do math.

* The school is always calling me about my child and I don’t want to deal with them anymore.

* My child doesn’t go to school and we don’t want to be prosecuted for truancy.


If the reasons that you want to “home school” are because you don’t like the school system or the teacher or your child doesn’t like school, then home education may not be for you.  Home education is a commitment to spend quantity time with your child helping him/her learn all that they need to know to succeed in life.  Notice that it is quantity… not quality.  You cannot have quality time learning/teaching without quantity time.  Therefore, home education is not an easy way out of the school system.  Rather, it is choosing to take the harder road in order to reach a more lofty goal.  If the reasons you are considering home education are included in the top paragraph above, read on.  We are there to help you, mentor you and guide you along this journey as you embark upon this adventure.


Is it Legal?  Am I qualified to teach my children? Yes


For a more complete answer to these questions, check out these resources:


* The Texas Home School Coalition's Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers covers the history of home education in Texas, how to deal with the school district and withdrawing children from school. Articles on getting started, educating children with special needs, preparing your child for graduation, and much more are dealt with in this informative book.  You may also find some of this information on their web site: http://www.thsc.org.


* Home School Legal Defense Association provides a pamphlet called Home Education Across the United States which responds to some of the objections raised regarding home schooling.  It is the result of the National Home Education Research Institute’s (www.nheri.com) national study of the home educated including their achievements and their family background. (Can be viewed online at: http://www.hslda.org)


* See The Teaching Home's website article "Questions & Answers Concerning Home Schooling"  www.teachinghome.com , or a copy of this brochure is available from The Teaching Home, Box 20219, Portland OR 97294-0219.


The ‘short version”:

            If your child has never been in the public school system, you do not need to inform your district of your plan to home school any more than you would had you chosen another form of private education.   Home schools are private schools, and private schools are not regulated in the state of Texas.   As a private school, we are required to teach reading, math, spelling, grammar, and good citizenship in a bona fide manner, using a written curriculum.   We are not required to give standardized tests, but they are available through several organizations for a fee.

            If your child has attended public school, try not to pull your child out of school before you have set up your home education plan.  Take as much time as possible to learn all you can about home education and gather your curriculum.  It’s not necessary to wait until the beginning of a school year or semester to begin your home education; however, it may be a good idea in order to make the transition easier.

            To remove your child from public school, once you have curriculum in hand, you need only to contact the principal of the school with a letter of withdrawal stating your intention to home school.  Be sure to send it certified and “return receipt requested“.  If the school district asks for more (such as coming in to sign their paper work or bringing in your curriculum, etc.), ask them to put it into writing. Contact THSC for guidance.

            According to Texas law, you do not have to have your curriculum examined or approved by anyone in the public school system, nor do you need to go to the school and sign any of their paper work.  It is wise to keep copies of all correspondence with the school district.

            Although it is not required, it would be a very good idea to enroll as a member in THSC before you being your home education program.   If you are a member, they can help you deal with any problems that arise with the school district or any other officials.


Choosing a Curriculum

            Choosing a curriculum can be a challenge and often depends on the philosophy that you, the parent, have toward education.  Don’t worry.  There is no “wrong” or “right” philosophy and it will probably change as you go along and become more comfortable with educating your children at home.  Here are some examples of educational philosophies:


            School at Home (The Textbook approach)

            There are a lot of textbooks available for home educators from K - 12 grade.  If this is your approach, you’ll be able to find one for any subject.     

            Classical Education/Charlotte Mason Education

            Usually includes reading a lot of classical literature, teaching Latin, and studying History, Science and other subjects using “living books” and exposure to some of the greatest minds of  Western Civilization.  This general approach is also called a Thomas Jefferson education.

            School in a Box

            There are several companies out there that write curriculum for home educators and have put together an entire year’s worth of study (whatever grade) for you.  All you have to do is buy the books and workbooks and go to it.

            Virtual Academy

            There are several educational companies that have put together on-line schools for every grade level.  Some of the curriculum is web-based and other curriculum you have to buy and have on hand at home.  Teachers are then available through e-mail and they keep all records for you.


            As the “administrator” of your home school, you may  pick any of the above as part of your curriculum.  You may use a text book for math and living books for history while getting a “subject in a box” for your language arts.  Or, your child may take a class on-line for government but all the rest is done with other curriculum you have chosen.


            Contrary to popular belief, unschooling does not mean that the child does nothing.  Instead, the parent allows the child’s interests to dictate what and how he studies various subjects.  Usually, the child is busy working on projects and reading books that pertain to his interests and talents and thereby learning all of the required subjects.

            Unit Studies

            Many curriculum writers have written curriculum based on Unit Study - ie. Picking one “core” theme and studying all of the other subjects in relation to that core.  For example: The core may be the Mayan Empire and the child studies their mathematical system, their culture, their scientific discoveries, their architecture, their food, their art, etc. 


            Many home educators say that choosing curriculum is one of the most challenging aspects of home education.  Your choices are many! (Much more than is available to our public school teachers.)  Most curriculum suppliers offer free catalogs. The more you learn about home education, the easier it will be to select the best curriculum for you and your children.  (See the Resources section attached to this letter for curriculum suppliers' addresses, library books and book fair locations and dates.  Most curricula have teacher’s guides and/or lesson plans.  For those who prefer more guidance, correspondence schools provide curriculum, teacher support, record-keeping and testing.)

            The cost to home educate each child varies considerably but can range from about $100 to $1000. It is usually proportional to the preparation time needed---the less time the parent spends planning the lessons, the more the cost and vice versa.  You know your home situation best.  If you have several small children at home, you may need a curriculum package that provides the lessons plans and supplemental materials.

Sources for curriculum include local teacher supply stores and bookstores, mail order companies and regional book fairs.  (See Resources section)  Allow plenty of time for delivery of your curriculum--anywhere from 1 to 6 weeks.

            Unless you choose a correspondence school, know that you are not locked into a particular curriculum or lesson plan.  Many veteran home educators utilize materials from different curriculum suppliers as well as resources available at the public library.


Starting Out

            After choosing your curriculum, choose a starting date and a finishing date for your school--following the public school calendar may be a good starting point your first year.  Try to start a routine.  Gradually, you will learn a pattern that works best for your family.  Be patient with yourself and your children since all of you are making major adjustments. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know either.  Many veteran home educators can tell you of the great joy and special bond between parent and child as they learn together.  

            Get involved with a support group or a co-op.  You’ll need a mentor or two to help you work through some of the challenges that you’ll face as you start your adventure.  You don’t have to take everyone’s advice, but observe and ask those whom you see succeeding or having fun with their children.  A co-op is a good place to try out some different curriculum for a semester with only a little investment. It also provides an environment that may reinforce to your children that home education is a good thing because they will see other kids being home educated, too.



Some suggestions from Sheila for the first year:

            1.  Realize that this is YOUR learning year.  You are learning how your children learn best, what motivates them, how they interact with you and their siblings, what their personalities are like, etc.  This will be the year that you are sure that they learned nothing.  This is the year that you will try a routine for a couple of weeks, realize that it is not what you thought and have to try something else.  This is the year that Johnny will scream at you that he doesn’t like math and Suzie will insist on reading the cereal box instead of her reader.  This is the year that you will buy some great looking curriculum and start using it only to find that it is cumbersome and it doesn’t fit the kids’ learning style.  Hang in there.  It gets better…you’ll be able to handle these things much better next year.


            2.  Don’t try to teach EVERYTHING this year.  It won’t work.  I’m speaking from experience.  Start with one subject and when that becomes routine (doing a math worksheet each morning or reading a chapter in the reader each day), then add another subject.  Continue adding things in the schedule, one thing at a time, until you feel that your children are kept busy at least ½ of the day.   If you started at 8 a.m. and are still trying to get them to do worksheets at 2 p.m., you’re trying too hard.  Back off and let them go play.  Charlotte Mason recommends that children under 10 NEVER be required to do bookwork, paperwork, schoolwork, etc. after 12 noon.  I agree.


            3.  This isn’t public school at home.  This is home education.  Home Education encompasses a whole lifestyle.  Children should be learning to love God, love each other, obey parents, WORK in the home, express themselves respectfully, be honest, honor each other, and a host of other important character traits.  These are the most important part of his/her education…don’t give it up for the sake of completing worksheets.


            4.  Don’t worry about socialization.  Everyone else will worry enough for all of you.  Some may even question whether you are doing the right thing by keeping them “sheltered”.  Ignore them.  Socialization means learning to interact positively with people around you.  They will learn to do this best from you -- not from playground fights with their peers.  Give them a few opportunities to practice what they’ve learned at home (4H, Church, Co-op group, play group, piano lessons, sports team, etc.) and you will be surprised at how many compliments you get on how well behaved and mature your children act.  This is a GOOD thing.


            5.  This is optional:  THROW OUT THE TV.  You will be surprised at how creative and independent your children will become when they have to work to entertain themselves.  They might actually learn a few things on their own.  It eliminates the distractions, eliminates the whining, eliminates the fighting to take back that time, etc.  Try it for 3 weeks.  You won’t even miss it.


            6.  If it doesn’t look like “real school”, you’re probably doing it right.


            7.  Last but not least, we are fitting our children for Heaven…not Harvard.  I have to remind myself about this time and time again; especially when my children and I have a conflict.  How I handle that conflict, their occasional fights, our time, our curriculum and a host of other things will reflect which is more important to our family -- Harvard or Heaven.  I would like to challenge you to make Heaven the most important and let God worry about Harvard.           


May God bless you as you begin your journey through learning with your children.  Please feel free to come to any of our events or contact us with any of your questions.






Vista Hills Home School Ministry




The following pages list SOME of the resources available to home schooling families. (Vista Hills Homeschool Ministry does not necessarily endorse the listed suppliers or authors.)


The following resources answer many of the questions dealing with home schooling e.g. Am I qualified?  What about socialization?  Is it legal?  How do I get started?:


*Home Schooling: A Foundation for Excellence  (Video)   Item # (0000206422230)

            Gives an overview of homeschooling.

*The Home-Schooling Resource Guide and Directory of Organizations  (1998 Edition)

by Mary Hood (q371.042 Ho)  Mrs. Hood has a Ph.D. in education, however, she has been home schooling her five children for fourteen years. She states that parents need not be certified as teachers to successfully educate their children. (Pg.4)

*Home Schools: an Alternative - You Do Have a Choice!  by Cheryl Gorder  (649.68 Go)

"…Cheryl Gorder coolly and logically presents what home schooling is, why people do it, and why we should be allowed to do it.  Wonderful for convincing yourself or others that home schooling is OK."  New Book of Home Learning by Mary Pride        

*The Christian Home School    Revised & Updated 1995  by Greg Harris  (649.68 HarC)

Answers "basic questions e.g. Why is home schooling better that conventional schooling? Am I really qualified? What about socialization?  Is it legal? How do I get started?" (Back cover)    

*Homeschooling for Excellence (How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education and Why You Absolutely Must)

by David and Micki Colfax   (371.042 Co)           (non-Christian)

One family's journey in home schooling.  This book was written in 1988 at the time 3 of their 4 home schooled sons had attended or were attending Harvard (the 4th was to young). David and Micki Colfax adopted their 2 youngest sons so it wasn't just in their genetic make-up to be Ivy League bound.


The following books present the authors' reviews about different curriculum and educational supplements, plus much more.


*Christian Home Educators Curriculum Manual - Elementary Grades  by Cathy Duffy  (q371-042 Du)

*Christian Home Educators Curriculum Manual - Junior/Senior Grades (97-98 edition) by Cathy Duffy

(q371.042 DuJ)

*The Big Book of Home Learning - Volume 2 - Preschool and Elementary   by Mary Pride (q371.342 Pr)

*The Big Book of Home Learning - Volume 3 - Teen and Adult   by Mary Pride  (q371.042 Pr)

*Home Education Resource Guide  by Don Hubbs   (371.042 Hu) Includes a chapter listing organizations assisting handicapped children and their families.

*The Home School Manual (several editions available) by Theodore E. Wade, Jr.

(q371.042 Wad) \

*Beyond Survival: a Guide to Abundant Life Homeschooling by Diana Waring  “an introduction to realistic home schooling for real people”.








Traditional Texts:  (Lesson plans, student textbooks and workbooks)


A Beka Book: P.O. Box 19100, Pensacola, FL  32523-9100;  877/223-5226; www.abeka.org

Bob Jones University Press: Greenville, SC  29614; 800/845-5721;  www.bjup.com

Christian Liberty Press: 502 W. Euclid Ave., Arlington Heights, IL  60004;  800/832-2741;


Rod & Staff Publishers: P.O. Box 3, Hwy 172, Crockett, KY  41413-0003; 606/522-4348; Fax 606/522-4896

Saxon Publishers, Inc: 2450 John Saxon Blvd., Norman, OK, 73071; 1-800-284-7019; www.saxonpub.com


Worktexts:  (Student text within workbooks, Teacher answer keys)


Alpha Omega Publications:  300 North McKemy Ave., Chandler, AZ  85226-2618; 800/622.3070;

www.home-schooling.com   (High Plains Book Store in Amarillo carries Alpha Omega Lifepacs)

Christian Light Publications: P.O. Box 1212, Harrisonburg, VA  22801; 540/434.0768; email: office@clp.org

School of Tomorrow: (ACE Ministries) P.O. Box 299000, Lewisville, TX  75029-9000; 972/315.1776; www.schooloftomorrow.com


Unit Studies: (Integrates the study of language arts, history, geography, science etc under one theme e.g. character traits or a period of history. Separate math and phonics programs must be selected on some.)


KONOS, Inc: P.O. Box 250, Anna, TX  75409; 972/924.2712; www.konos.com; email: info@konos.com

The Weaver Curriculum: 300 N. McKemy Ave. Chandler, AZ  85226-2618; 888/367.9871; www.weaverinc.com

Sonlight Curriculum, Ltd.: 8042 South Grant Way, Littleton, CO 80122-2705; 303/730-6292;


The Helping Hand Educational Service/The Classics: P.O. Box 496316 Garland, TX 75049; 800/460-7171; http://rampages.onramp.net/~classics/index.htm


Correspondence Schools:  ("Enroll as a student, use textbooks purchased through them, send back work and tests for evaluation; testing and some counseling is provided" Cathy Duffy's Christian Home Educators' Curriculum Manual Elementary Grades" 1992 pg. 187)


A Beka Correspondence School and Home School Video Courses: Correspondence School; Pensacola Christian College; P.O. Box 18000; Pensacola, FL 32523-9160; 1-800-874-3592; www.abeka.org

Calvert School: dept. 2NET; 105 Tuscany Road; Baltimore, MD 21210-3098; 888/487-4652;  www.calvertschool.org

Christian Liberty Academy Satellite School: 502 W Euclid Avenue; Arlington Heights, IL 60004-5495;

800/348-0899; www.homeschools.org




Christian Book Distributors Home School Catalog:  www.Christianbook.com, mailto:orders@christianbook.com

            Customer service:  1-978-5055

God’s World Book Club Educational Catalog:  P.O. Box 2330, Asheville, NC, 28802, 800-951-2665, service@gwbc.com

The Elijah Company: 1053 Eldridge Loop, Crossville, TN  38558; 888/235-4524; www.elijahco.com

Rainbow Resource Center: Rt. 1 Box 159A, 50 N. 500 East Rd., Toulon, IL  61483; 888/841-3456; www.rainbowresource.com

Timberdoodle Co.: 1510 E. Spencer Lk Rd., Shelton, WA  98584; 360/426-0672; www.timberdoodle.com


Education Plus:  P. O. Box 1350, Taylors, SC, 29687, 864/609/5411; www.edplus.com, Email:  info@edplus.com

Eagle’s Wings Educational Materials:  P.O. Box 502, Duncan, OK, 73534, info@eagleswingsed.com or www.EaglesWingsEd.com

The Home School Catalog:  15 Wellman Avenue, North Chelmsford, MA, 01863, 888-788-1221; www.thehomeschool.com   



*Complimentary Copies are often available from the publisher upon request.


The Teaching Home: Box 20219, Portland OR 97294; 503/253-9633; www.teachinghome.com

            Teaching Home website answers frequently asked questions regarding home schooling

Practical Homeschooling: P.O. Box 1250, Fenton, MO  63026; 800/346-6322; www.home-school.com

Homeschooling Today:  Subscriptions, P.O. Box 1608, Ft. Collins, CO 80522-1608; 954/962-1930             www.homeschoolingtoday.com




Bob Jones University Press: Greenville, SC  29614; 800/845-5721;  www.bjup.com  BJUP provides nationally recognized tests, directions for administering the tests and provisions are made to score these tests.  Contact them for a free brochure.

Seton Testing Service: www.setontesting.com Providing standardized testing for home schooling families for 20 years.  Provide the California Achievement Test.





Homeschooling:  A Patchwork of Days by Nancy Lande, 1996.  www.windycreek.com

            Share a day in the lives of 30 home school families as though you were a “fly on the wall.” 


                                                TEXAS STATE ORGANIZATIONS


Texas Home School Coalition (THSC): PO Box 6982 Lubbock, TX 79493; 806/797-4927; www.thsc.org


                        "THSC acts as a "watchdog" over the state government and policies that might impact home schoolers' rights.  THSC helps new home schoolers across the state as well as maintaining a network of information and communication between and among the leadership of regional home school organizations, local support groups, and individual home schooling families." (Pg. 1-1 of the THSC Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers). THSC'S annual membership is $85.00* it entitles you to the ALERT Newsletter and discounts on various homeschooling products and services.  (*Membership in a local support group gives a $15 discounted THSC membership fee of $70)

                        The ALERT Newsletter is a great tool for keeping abreast of events pertaining to home education in Texas, especially legal and political news

THSC'S Handbook for Texas Home Schoolers covers the history of home schooling in Texas, how to deal with the school district and withdrawing children from school. Articles on getting started, educating children with special needs, preparing your child for graduation, and much more are dealt with in this informative book. 


Texas Special Kids:  P.O. Box 151335, Arlington, Texas, 76015, www.txspecialkids.org

Texas' Special Kids is here to help you in a variety of ways. Texas' Special Kids is a 501 C (3) non-profit ministry organization. We do not charge for the services we provide, but your tax-deductible donation will allow us to continue to help families all across our great state. Our desire is to come along side you to aid in the development of your special needs child or children through the family and local church.

Listed below are some specific resources that Texas Special Kids provides:

·    Emotional Support for the family raising a special needs child / children

·    Curriculum Advice & Support for your home school setting. We offer experience with a wide variety of curriculum choices and can tailor advice based on your child's learning style & needs. We do not advocate or sell any particular curriculum, product, or service.

·    Advice on How to Navigate the Ocean of social service agencies that may offer families with special needs kids everything from respite care services, products to ease the day-to-day living, to grant monies. We have been there...we can help.

·    Guide Texas Families through personal experiences as to how to get what you need to help your child through the local public education agency in your community.

·    Consultation with individual families through email, offering support and advice for your situation.

·    Work with Churches to develop a ministry of support to families with special needs kids. We offer seminars on how to understand and work with special needs kids; then we can help structure a program of support so parents can worship worry-free while their kids are included, understood, and loved.

·    Offer workshops, lectures, or presentations for your local support group on a variety of topics.



                                                   NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS


Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA): P.O. Box 3000, Purcellville, VA 20134; 540/338-5600; www.hslda.org


HSLDA provides a low-cost method of obtaining quality, legal defense in the event that a member receives legal contact from government officials.  HSLDA cannot consider your application for membership AFTER you have received contact from an official.  They can advise you, but not for the cost of the yearly membership fee.  The cost of membership is $115 per year, which includes a subscription to the bi-monthly publication, The Homeschool Court Report.  However, if you join a support group you receive a $20.00 discount off the $115.00 membership fee.  They do offer monthly payment plans.



National Challenged Homeschoolers (NATHHAN): PO Box 39; Porthill, ID 83853; (208) 267-6246; NATHANEWS@aol.com; website: www.nathhan.com


NATHHAN is a support group for homeschooling parents of children with special needs.  Member fee $25. Membership services include:


(1)  Print style NATHHAN NEWS - Published twice a year.

(2)  Access to the Featured Articles for the Season section of the NATHHAN web page. Available by password only, included in membership.

(3)  $15.00 discount off of HSLDA's yearly fee.

(4)  $9.00 Off the regular subscription price of the Home School Digest. NATHHAN Members receive a one-year subscription for only $9.00. (Regularly $18.00)

(5)  FREE classified ads.

(6)  Posting privileges in the NATHHAN Letters From Families section.

(7)  Posting privileges on the NATHHAN Discussion Board. Available by password only.

(8)  NATHHAN Lending Library Privileges operated through the mail. Educate yourself inexpensively! To view the 751 titles in the NATHHAN Lending Library catalog click here

(9)  The NATHHAN Family Directory (if you wish to be listed in it)




Vista Hills Homeschool Ministry:


Southwest Homeschooling Network