This time on Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond!, we will hear from Camie who has homeschooled in two different states as well as two different countries!
Camie is a wife and mother of four children, three of which are now in college and her baby is 14. She homeschooled both of her older daughters for part of their middle and high school years. Her youngest has been homeschooled since he was 6. They have lived in three states as well as Canada and Peru. She blogs about motherhood, homeschooling and her travels at Camie’s Cozy Corner. She enjoys nature photography, journaling, crafting with her daughters, traveling to new places, hiking, and watching Doris Day movies.
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.
“Our homeschool journey began eight years ago in the province of Ontario, Canada. We were temporarily living there for my husband’s job. I pulled my youngest son out of first grade, a decision I knew in my heart was right, and then I wondered what to do next because I had complete freedom in homeschooling. So, I did what came naturally – I played with my son. We rode our bikes, walked nature trails, visited parks. We played with Legos and Play Doh. We read every Robert Munsch story we could find at the library. We knew of only one other homeschool family in our neighborhood so we watched their homeschooling in action. I even accompanied the other mom to a curriculum fair where I bought the same fancy-schmancy boxed curriculum she used. We tried it out for two weeks, but almost immediately we realized that workbooks and block-subjects were not our cup of tea! So, we ditched that in favor of a child-led approach, also called unschooling. We continued our outdoor fun, adding in hands-on studies of any and everything that grabbed my son’s interest. We learned about dinosaurs, volcanos, weather patterns, frogs… my son’s passion was science. I created unit studies before I knew what they were called. We watched a lot of ‘Magic School Bus’, performed easy science experiments, and made awesome kid crafts . Besides playing with our only homeschool friends, we joined a play group of younger boys. In the summer months, my son played on a city soccer team.
The following year, I pulled my youngest daughter out of the drama called middle school. That year we studied Canadian history and geography. Each child created their own Canada notebook. We read The Secret Garden together and that started the tradition of reading many classics aloud every year. By the third year, my oldest daughter decided to join us for her last two years of high school. This was when we discovered some wonderful middle and high school classes online through a faith-based private school. These history, science and English classes were streamed-live, giving my daughters the choice to watch them as they were being filmed, or previously recorded. My daughters tried it out and absolutely loved their teachers, who would answer their questions and showcase their work on camera. We used Math-U-See for their math instruction.
After four years in Canada, we moved to Utah where we bought a house to be our “home base”. We spent the spring and summer months in Utah before moving to Lima, Peru, in the fall. My oldest daughter had graduated from high school and decided to spend one year with us in Peru so she could volunteer at an orphanage. We helped her organize and carry out fundraisers and service projects. She even got the youth in our church involved. We took lots of field trips to interesting museums, the zoo, ruins, historic downtown and markets. We spent a family vacation in Cusco and Machu Picchu, and learned about Peru’s early history from our tour guide. We got to know our maid’s family really well, and my son often played with her four boys. It was a great experience for our family to be immersed in another culture, so different from our own.
After two years in Peru, we moved to Tucson, Arizona, although we also lived part-time in our Utah home. Both Arizona and Utah have similar homeschool-friendly laws. Basically, all that is required is to file a notarized affidavit, along with a birth certificate. Arizona also has a short list of required subjects, but otherwise parents have complete freedom to homeschool their way. No state testing, nothing to submit, no one to answer to. Easy peasy! In Tucson, we lived ten minutes from a lovely desert garden. The yearly membership was inexpensive so we’d visit once a week. We also continued our field trips to new museums, went hiking and of course, created our own desert unit study. Once when we were “vacationing” for a few months in Utah, we joined a co-op. That was a fun experience, but since our online classes take the place of co-op time, we now have random science and craft days with other homeschool kids we know.
I am not much of a planner, but I do keep our homeschool materials organized and I love keeping a homeschool journal, where I document our learning every week. It’s rewarding to look back over a year and see all we have accomplished. I’ve also figured out that everything balances out nicely in the end, so it’s alright to have a year that is more focused on English than math or vice versa. I guess that’s why I like unit studies so much; they usually incorporate several subjects at once. This year we are wrapping up with a state history unit that features a timeline and a notebook. This unit alone has included math, history, geography, writing, reading, art and music.”
You can read more about Camie’s homeschool story here.
Have any of you homeschooled in Utah or Arizona? What about Canada or Peru? I would love to hear from you! Tell us about your experience in the comments below!