You've thoughtfully considered all the options, weighed what is best for your family and have decided to home school. You are fortunate to reside in Missouri, one of the most supportive states for home schooling families. According to Missouri law, any parent, regardless of experience, education or teaching certification, can home school their child. While this gives home schooling parents a great deal of leeway in designing and implementing an educational program tailored to their child's unique needs and personality, there are a few rules. Careful planning and attention to a few legalities will keep you out of unnecessary conflict or misunderstanding with the neighbors, the state compulsory attendance laws or the Division of Family Services.
Read the law. Familiarize yourself with the state laws in Missouri regarding home schooling. Print off a copy of the pertinent sections to keep with your home school records. See the Resource section for more information.
Notify the superintendent of schools or the local county recorder of your intent to home school before the first of September every year. This is not required by law, but is a safeguard if any question arises with school or state authorities. This is especially relevant if you are withdrawing your child from a public school.
Choose a curriculum. If this is your first time home schooling, it is best to work with curriculum designed for home schools, with lesson plans and schedules in place. In Missouri you must offer 1,000 hours of instruction during the school year with 600 of that in reading, language arts, math, social studies and science.
Keep detailed, accurate records. This is the main legal requirement for home schools in Missouri. Required records include a daily log or diary that records the subjects taught each day and the hours for each child. Also maintain a portfolio of each child's work in addition to the daily log, and copies of test scores or evaluations.
Network with other home school parents in Missouri. There are online groups for information and lesson ideas, as well as local groups that can advise and counsel you. Local groups also provide social events for your home schooled child, as well as group classes, sports and field trips.
- Stick with one publisher or program to begin, to avoid confusion.
- Learn the various learning styles of your children.
- Outside evaluations are not required in Missouri, but you may want to have your child tested for your own information.
- Inform neighbors of your home school plans to avoid misunderstandings.
- Prepare to be flexible. Not all home school days go according to plan.
Margaret Mills has been writing for more than 30 years, focusing on articles about religion, forestry, gardening and crafts. Her work has appeared in religious periodicals including "Focus on the Family" and similar publications. Mills has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Northwest Nazarene University.