In today’s installment of Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond!, I am pleased to bring you Joanne’s experience as a homeschool mom of three boys in Connecticut!
Joanne Rawson is the author of the blog Our Unschooling Journey Through Life. Known around the web as “Mother of 3”, Joanne began her blog when she first started homeschooling her three boys in 2012. She lives in Connecticut with her family and enjoys reading, crafting, and travelling…all of which usually ends up on her blog.
Please note that these experiences, while they may discuss state requirements, are not legal advice, legislative summaries, or compliance recommendations. I encourage you to do your own research on your state’s current homeschool laws and seek help from official sources if necessary. The Home School Legal Defense Agency is a great place to start though you may find a more state-specific organization that you prefer to work with.
“Homeschooling in the state of Connecticut is actually quite easy. We have no real laws, as of yet, governing homeschooling. Beyond notifying the local school that we are withdrawing our children (IF they have attended school), there is no other paperwork or legal aspect that is required. The law does state that parents or caregivers must instruct children in reading, writing, spelling, English grammar, geography, arithmetic, US history and citizenship, including a study of town, state and federal governments. However it does not dictate what subjects must be covered when or how to cover them.
Since we do not have state guidelines hanging over our heads that means that we have a whole lot of freedom to follow any homeschool approach that works for us. I do not have to keep track of learning days. I don’t have to keep written records of our lessons and we are free to school whenever and wherever we want to.
At first, I tried to keep our curriculum close to that of our local public schools in case they ended up back in the school system. After the first few months though, I gave up on that and just started to enjoy learning with my kids. We took lots of field trips and focused on learning through life and experiences.
By our second or third year of homeschooling I gave up completely on planning. I used to have a neat little planner all set up roughly for the year and with more details for the first few weeks. The plan was always to fill in the details on Sunday night for each coming week; however, within a few weeks or months, our plan completely fell apart. We either got lost down a rabbit hole that one of the boys took us down or a few unexpected and amazing field trips would crop up that we just could not pass down.
So I stopped.
I do have some idea in my head of what we’re going to be doing each day. On most schooldays my boys are required to work on one page in their spelling workbooks, two pages in their math books, read a chapter or a few pages in whatever book they’re currently reading and participate in geography, art or science that we cover together as a group. There are days we’ll bypass the book work completely if we’re heading out for an educational day or take days off on a whim when the weather is nice or some of our public school friends are on break.
While we don’t have much of a plan we do tend to fall into a routine for the year.
My kids are early risers so most days we settle at the kitchen table around 8 am, eat breakfast together and I’ll read aloud from one or two chapter books we’re covering. If it’s a day we’re staying home and truly schooling, they’ll tackle their workbooks as soon as I am done reading. I tend to stack what books I’d like them to work in for the day on the table at their seat the night before so they know what is expected of them. I am nearby to help whomever needs it. They are usually done with their books by 10. We then get a few chores done around the house and the boys have free time until lunch. At lunch I often read aloud a history or geography book. After lunch we might tackle a science experiment or an arts and crafts project together. We might go hiking or run some errands.
This year, we are wrapping up our fifth year of homeschooling! Through our years of homeschooling, we have tested out everything from unschooling, to traditional schooling at home, the Charlotte Mason method of homeschooling, and probably a few others too. We now fall decidedly in the field of eclectic homeschoolers blending bits of unschooling, with Charlotte Mason nature studies, a bit of traditional work for math, spelling, and writing/language arts and basically just do whatever works for us without worrying about putting a label on it.
This felt like one of those school years where everything just clicked. It was one of the first times that we actually finished multiple workbooks without skipping large sections. We found curriculum we enjoyed, spent more time at home doing traditional schoolwork and yet had a great time learning about the world wars, studying the entire continent of Africa and all it’s countries, completed nearly 100 art projects and found a really good group of friends that we enjoy hanging out with regularly.
When I first started homeschooling, it really threw me that there we no state guidelines to follow. I wanted someone to tell me what to teach, set up a schedule for me, and tell me how to do everything I was expected to do. Now, I am so thankful to live in a state that allows me to do what works for our family. I must have asked every homeschooling mom I met how they planned their day and what books they used but found through trial and error that just because it worked for another family did not mean it was going to work for our family.
My best advice would be to listen to your heart. Try not to compare your day to someone else’s and enjoy the freedoms we have without being encumbered by a bunch of arbitrary laws.”
Have any of you homeschooled in Connecticut? Let me know in the comments! I would love to hear about your experiences.