Looking for homeschool resources? Here’s an article to help you through the maze so that you’ll spend more time getting the help you need from helpful homeschool resources--whether agencies, departments, or websites--and less time searching for information.
It’s All in the Name
A large part of obtaining homeschool resources is knowing the right search to do or the right question to ask. This includes names for the education establishment, some of the jargon used in the field of education, and how to identify yourself and your goals.
The Education Hierarchy
Making contact with your local education authority - probably the education department of your state’s government - can depend on knowing what it’s called. As it happens, it is an area without uniformity. These are some of the titles you may find:
- Department of Education
- Department of Education and Cultural Affairs
- Department of Education and Early Development
- Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- Department of Public Instruction
- Education Agency
- Office of Education
- State Education Department
- Superintendent of Public Instruction
Teaching at Home
Teaching at home also has different official titles, depending on where you are. You may find it referred to as:
- home schooling
- home education
- home study
- nonpublic schooling
When you are dealing with the Federal government’s Department of Education, it is important to know that the information you seek may be in the category of:
Office of Innovation and Improvement
Office of Non-Public Education - ed.gov
Most education sites have three different “channels” - sources of information for three different categories of visitors:
It is sometimes important to remember, when you are looking for homeschool resources, to identify yourself as a teacher rather than as a parent. Of course, you may be both, but these websites assume that parents are supporting students taught by others, while teachers are responsible for instruction.
For example, if you go to ed.gov, you will see tabs that are labeled “Students,” “Parents,” “Teachers,” and “Administrators.” If you click on “Parents,” you will find information on helping your child with homework, planning for college, etc. If, however, you click on “Teachers,” you will find items like “Teaching Resources, Lesson Plans,” “How to Organize Instruction,” and “Tools for Student Success,” which guides teachers who have students who need extra help. See what I mean?
Some Education Words You Need to Know
Though the exact language may differ, these concepts and definitions will help get you started on understanding the language of education that you need to decipher which homeschool resources you need.
- Principles - Concepts and assumptions about the subject area that guide the work of education
- Standards - overall aims of education for what students should know and be able to do. Standards may be divided into subsections, for example, content standards and process standards, and they may apply across grade levels or be grouped by grade ranges
- Goals - subsets of standards
- Objectives - breakdown of goals into elements that may be handled in a unit or series of lesson plans or a day’s lesson.
- Unit - a series of lesson plans that are formulated to meet various objectives, goals, and standards, and which are planned according to the principles.
- Lesson Plan - a proposal for part of the day’s work, it lays out the objectives, learning experiences, materials and supplies, and content to be covered and the blow-by-blow of how that will happen
- Rubric - a guide to how evaluation will take place. For example, evaluation of a presentation might include marks for accuracy, clarity, use of an audio-visual aide, etc.
Some Sites Worth Seeing
To find information about homeschool laws, assistance for your homeschool, and other helpful homeschool resources, check this list:
U.S. Department of Education Teacher Page - ed.gov
Your State Department of Education - nces.ed.gov
Home School Legal Defense Association - hslda.org
A to Z’s Cool Homeschooling: Laws and Support - homeschooling.gomilpitas.com
About.com: Homeschooling: Homeschool Support Groups by State - homeschooling.about.com