Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond! Indiana – Kelly’s Perspective
In this, the next post in the Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond! series, I am happy to share Kelly’s experience homeschooling in Indiana. If you have been following this series, you may remember that I have already shared Marla’s experience in Indiana. But just as no two states have the exact same regulations, no two homeschoolers have the same experiences. Because of that, I wanted to make sure I share multiple perspectives and resources with you so that you get as complete a picture as possible.
Kelly Sage learns at home with her two children. Before homeschooling, Kelly taught middle and high school English. She currently facilitates creative writing circles, writes on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged, and leads reading workshops on Outschool.
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.
“My family started our homeschooling journey a little over four years ago. As a middle and high school teacher, I didn’t consider homeschooling until my oldest started school. A backpack full of worksheets, recesses cut, field trips canceled, and a child who loved to learn no longer wanting to get up in the morning, my husband and I knew we needed to think about alternatives. My love of teaching was dwindling too. While it was hard to leave my career, rearrange our lives, and become homeschoolers (we didn’t know any other homeschooling families), it felt like our best option. We have never regretted this decision.
While I wouldn’t say homeschooling is easy, becoming a homeschooler in Indiana couldn’t be easier. If a child is enrolled in school, the school must be notified in writing that the child will be homeschooled. If a child is entering school, parents can register their homeschool with the state, but it is not mandatory. Indiana only requires families track attendance. Children in Indiana must attend school for 180 days. Each family determines how long a school day is, what a child learns, and what resources they use.
Our family lives in Bloomington, Indiana. Home to Indiana University and a wide array of arts, music, cultural, and sporting events, there is always something going on in Bloomington. As homeschoolers, we have access to the community programs (sports, gymnastics, music, aerial arts, rock climbing, dance, etc.), along with a variety of homeschool programs.
My children participate in both community and homeschool programs. They take classes with Wild Nature Project (wilderness skill building), Writing for (a) Change (writing workshops), and Little Tree (a Waldorf inspired class). They also participate in community soccer, horseback riding, two homeschool co-op classes, and attend a weekly homeschool meet-up. We take homeschool science classes at The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, attend homeschool library programs and student matinees at our local theater, and we participate in a variety of homeschool field trips local families organize.
Each year, many local businesses offer homeschool programs or homeschool hours. During typical school hours, we’ve ice-skated, bowled, skied, rock climbed, toured movie theaters and museums, and had workshops with local authors. It’s also common for us to meet up with families every week to hike, swim, or play.
Our biggest challenge as homeschoolers in Bloomington is we OVER schedule ourselves. There are so many wonderful things to do. It’s hard to say no to an opportunity.
With that said, the older a child is, the fewer opportunities and peers there seem to be. I often hear parents with older children wish for more co-ops and activities geared towards teens. The majority of homeschool children we know are between the ages of 5 and 12. We’ve noticed more and more, that once a child gets to high school, they return to school. My oldest, who is eleven, is starting to wish there were more kids his age. To help him find peers and continue to develop his interests, he signs up for classes at the local community college (for kids), created a cooking club, makes movies with his peers, and we take advantage of programs like community soccer where children from all over the city gather. Time will tell if he returns to school when he gets older. We’ll continue to look for opportunities and create the ones we can, but not having peers or enough activities would certainly turn him in the direction of school.
My advice for homeschoolers is to get involved. Homeschooling offers our children what we parents provide. While I am very thankful our local homeschool community has as many opportunities as it has, I’m also aware it is thanks to the homeschooling families who create and nourish them. Our families are the ones who create new programs, who ask local businesses for events and programs, and who enroll their children in the programs and classes, so our community continues to flourish. Here in Bloomington, many of our homeschooling groups use Yahoo email listserves and Facebook groups to connect, share resources, and organize events. It takes a village to homeschool, and the more active the members are, the better.
I’ve learned over the last few years; we have to create the opportunities we want for our children. Chances are others families are looking to do the same. Be on the lookout for things your children might enjoy. If your kids love a zoo, museum, or activity, go to the site’s website. They may already have a homeschool program or be more than willing to create one. I think having a community (no matter the size) is important, as is starting conversations. Many of the activities in our community began because a couple of families talked and wished their kids could do something and then together made it happen.”
Read more about homeschooling from Kelly on her blog, Curiosity Encouraged.
Do you homeschool in Indiana? Tell us about it in the comments below!