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Tips for Montana families interested in starting home schooling this fall

Posted at 10:28 PM, Jul 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-29 11:57:37-04

This week we're bringing you stories specifically focused on returning safely to school this fall.

We talked with two homeschooling parents who have tips for how you can succeed in homeschooling your child.

MTN News spoke with Flathead Valley resident Martha Artyomenko who home schools her four sons.

She said that she's homeschooled all four of her sons since they were young due to various learning disabilities like dyslexia, ADHD and dysgraphia.

"To us that have been doing it for a while it's more normal for us," she said. "But it's very hard. It's a hard job. I don't think anyone should say we're going to go into this and it's going to be super easy."

Getting started with homeschooling can be difficult and overwhelming.

Montana Coalition for Home Educators legislative liaison Steve White says that every parent who wants to home school a child under the age of 16 must tell their county's superintendent.

"They need to notify the county superintendent of schools that they're intending to home educate their child," said White. "That is not the school superintendent, that's the elected county superintendent."

According to the MCHE, last year around 5,000 students statewide were homeschooled, making up about 8% of all Montana students.

White said that there are many curriculum options and parents do not have to be accredited to teach in Montana.

However, Artyomenko explained that you will need an accredited curriculum if you choose to send your child back to a traditional high school.

"Until eighth grade a public school or a private school they would simply just test them and they would go back into the grade level that they're at," Artyomenko said. "If you were going to like do ninth grade at home and go back to school in tenth grade.

"Parents right now who are looking at maybe home school one year and then go back into school. In high school, you need an accredited high school that you're signed up with. And there are some schools where you can do that. Penn Foster is one."

White stressed that it's a full-time job for parents to home school, and they need to do what's best for their child.

"For that year they have to keep attendance records and they have to instruct for the same amount of hours," he said. "That student has to have the same number of instruction hours as a public school student."

Artyomenko said that typically home school students have tons of social interactions with other homeschoolers but this year is a little different due to coronavirus concerns.

"My sons play basketball," she said. "We have a home school competitive team that we travel and we play against most of the other schools and we've been in the top one in Montana for the last few years. I really don't know what that's going to look like this year. I really hope they're going to be able to do that."

Both White and Artymenko said that the best way to start is by reaching out to other homeschooling families in your community. You'll be able to share resources and support.

MCHE has a list of homeschooling support groups located in different parts of Montana who are good contacts for homeschooling questions.

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