Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Suddenly Homeschooling - How To Get Started

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog. 


Almost two years ago I started writing a series of "How Do You Homeschool?" articles with the idea that even veteran homeschoolers are curious about how other homeschoolers do things. And homeschoolers who are newer to the game obviously have lots of questions! The series attempted to answer some of the questions homeschoolers ask each other. Questions about how we handle some of the little details and about our opinions on different aspects of homeschooling. Questions that we all might answer differently because what works great in one family might not work at all in another. 

Enter 2020 and lengthy public school closures and uncertainty about when and how schools may open in the fall, and this series may prove helpful to families that are deciding to continue educating at home in some fashion rather than deal with changing or awkward scheduling, uncomfortable restrictions in the school setting, or a distance learning set-up that wasn't working out. So to follow up on the Suddenly Homeschooling - Pro Tips articles that I've shared, here is some of the nitty gritty stuff that you might need to look at if you're planning on joining the growing ranks of homeschoolers, even if it's just for this year. (This information is geared for my home state of Maryland, but most of it applies across the board in the US.)

For a summary of the homeschool laws by state, visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website: HSLDA Homeschool Laws by State

This is a checklist of things to know as you get started with homeschooling!
  • You will need to send a "Letter of Intent" to your county school system. In most cases, this notification should be submitted about two weeks before the school year starts or two weeks before you plan to begin homeschooling. Search your county public school website for the details that apply in your district. See my district's website for an example of what to expect: CCPS Home Instruction page
  • In most states, you will need to submit to some kind of oversight - either a registered oversight group or the public school system. Many, if not most, of the oversight groups are faith based, and the membership fees and requirements vary, as do the additional services they provide. Some parents have very positive experiences using the public school system oversight, but others don't. In general, I've seen that families who are not religious at all, or that intend to homeschool for only a year or two choose the public school system and do well with that. Keep in mind that you can change your oversight! If the oversight program you'd like to join has a waiting list for new members, for example, you may use the public school oversight until a spot opens up. Whichever you choose, the duty of the oversight is simply to make sure you are in compliance with the law regarding homeschooling. 
  • If you've given your notice and you've chosen your oversight, you just need to provide "regular, thorough instruction during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age." (See COMAR Home Instruction Regulation 2016, 13A.10.01) You can choose the curriculum and publisher, and you may set the schedule that works for your family. You may do all the teaching yourself, or use a co-op or tutor, or choose an online school, or a combination. Even if your child's education is provided by someone else, you as the parent are making the decisions for what they are studying, and how it gets done!
  • You should plan on including English, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, health, and physical education; however, you have a lot of flexibility in how to include these. For instance, many curriculum options combine two or more subjects such as language arts, social studies, and art or music. And music lessons or community sports can be considered part of your homeschooling.
  • Standardized testing is not required at any grade level in Maryland! 


Registered Oversight Group or Public School System Oversight? 

The public school system oversight is free, but generally it will not provide any curriculum or a diploma upon graduation. Don't count on getting much in the way of assistance or advice from your public school reviewer - some (probably most!) are very helpful and encouraging, but their job is really just to review your portfolio. 

Oversight groups do charge a fee for membership, and usually this is an annual fee per family. Many oversight groups provide diplomas as well as transcripts for graduating students. Groups vary in the additional services offered, but most are happy to help you figure out curriculum choices and because your reviewer is also a homeschooler, she is usually a great resource for advice and encouragement. 

Okay, what about . . .
  • school sports? In Maryland, homeschool students are not allowed to play on public school sports teams. Some private schools do allow homeschoolers, and there are some teams that are specifically for homeschool students.
  • high school credits? Check your district's website for the general requirements for high school graduation and plan courses accordingly. (For reference, here is my county's graduation requirements page) If you are in an oversight group, they will let you know what's needed for graduation, and the group may have additional or adjusted requirements. For example, my oversight group is faith-based, and we require two credits of Bible for graduation from our program. If your student is college-bound, it's best to check what coursework and credits the college will be looking for.
  • a high school transcript? Again, oversight groups often come through here because they can provide transcripts and send them to the colleges or wherever they are needed. You can also produce your own transcript, and parent-provided transcripts have been accepted by colleges and military without any problem. You can make your own or use one of several programs to produce one.
  • classes I don't know how to teach? First, don't borrow trouble! If your kids are elementary age, you probably just need to be able to read ahead in a teacher's guide and you'll be fine. Online curriculum is an option that many find useful. Homeschooling does allow you the opportunity to learn along with your kids too, so don't feel like you need to be the expert in everything! Probably your most valuable tool for the subjects you don't feel confident about is a co-op. There are a lot of co-ops and they come in many different varieties. Many oversight groups have their own co-op classes as an option. For high school classes there are co-ops and tutorial groups that give students a classroom experience and specialized instruction. 
See also:

The previous Suddenly Homeschooling - Pro Tips posts:


The rest of the How Do You Homeschool Series here on Homeschool Coffee Break, particularly:


How Do You Make a Four-Year Plan for High School? Part of the How Do You Homeschool Series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com






Do Your Students Take Outside Classes? Part of the How Do You Homeschool series on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com



If you have specific questions, I would love to help! Leave a comment or message me using my Facebook page.

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 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Friday, July 3, 2020

Five Minute Friday - People

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.

One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind Five Minute Friday and this is today's free-writing post.



people are people

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Yeah I couldn't help it - I immediately thought of the old Depeche Mode song:
people are people
so why should it be
you and i should get along so awfully
It raises a valid question. What's wrong with people that we can't get along better? We should be able to be respectful and kind and get along with others. We should be able to extend a helping hand to those who need it, sympathize with another's pain or sorrow, and celebrate along with another's achievement or happiness. 

Those of us who are people of faith should be leading the way in kindness and generosity and grace, and in many ways we are. Of course we mess up in this like in so many other things. We mess up because we're people - human - and we are far from perfect. We believe that God's grace is for all people, and we believe that all people are created equal, and those truths need to shape our attitudes and behavior. I believe this with all my heart, and yet I forget sometimes. I need the reminder, as I think everyone does at times, that the people who look or act or believe differently are still people. The authorities and the celebrities are just people. Our co-workers, our customers, everyone we come in contact with - all people. All imperfect, but all loved by God and all worthy of respect.

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. ~I Timothy 2:1-4

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
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This post is linked at Five Minute Friday for the word prompt "People".


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 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Celebrating National Birthdays

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.


The first few days of July are opportunities to celebrate some momentous occasions. Canada and the United States both mark their "birthdays" and we have a family birthday to celebrate as well. As we head into the weekend - a long weekend for many - let's take a look at these national birthdays.

Canada Day is first on the calendar, falling on July 1st, and being Canadian myself, that's where I'll start! 


On July 1, 1867, the British North America Act united the three British Empire colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada (which was the territory now forming the two provinces of Ontario and Quebec). This Act of Parliament was known as the Constitution Act, and although Canada remained part of the British  Commonwealth, it did grant substantial freedom from England, with some limited political control from the British Parliament. At that time, Canadians generally still thought of themselves as British citizens, but the Dominion of Canada had become a kingdom in its own right. This date became known as Dominion Day, and was first officially celebrated in 1917, on the nation's 50th birthday. In 1967, the centennial was widely celebrated throughout Canada.  On July 1, 1982, Canada received full and complete independence from Great Britain, and Dominion Day became officially known as Canada Day.

The national anthem, O Canada, was established on July 1, 1980.

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
For more, including some recipes for a few favorite Canadian foods, see my posts:


Canada Day 2019 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Canada Day Butter Tarts on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Recipes from Around the World (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

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Flag Day 2018 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com

That brings us to the Fourth of July, which is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States.

On July 4th, 1776, the delegates to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia signed the Declaration of Independence. The vote was actually held two days earlier, on July 2nd, but the declaration didn't actually happen until the 4th. 

From the High School Lesson Book - Independence Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com
Proclaim LIBERTY throughout the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof.

During the American Revolution, the thirteen colonies sent delegates to the Continental Congress, and they voted to legally separate from Great Britain on July 2nd. The resolution of independence that they adopted with this vote had been prepared in June, by Richard Henry Lee of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson and other members of a Committee of Five authored the Declaration of Independence, a statement that explained the decision, and it was debated and revised before being approved by the Continental Congress on July 4th.

Independence Day is a national holiday, usually marked by parades, fireworks, and family gatherings and cookouts. This year there will be a lot less in the way of fireworks and large parties, but hopefully people will still celebrate that important step towards freedom and representation. We still have work to do, but over these nearly two hundred and fifty years we've made great progress and that should be celebrated even as we continue to press on.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
For more, see my posts:


From the High School Lesson Book - Independence Day on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


Flag Day 2018 on Homeschool Coffee Break @ kympossibleblog.blogspot.com


 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


Friday, June 26, 2020

Five Minute Friday - Compromise

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.

One word. Five minutes to write about it. This is the idea behind Five Minute Friday and this is today's free-writing post.



reach a compromise
don't compromise your principles

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My first reaction when I looked at the word "compromise" is that it's something we shouldn't do. Never compromise your principles or standards. But isn't compromise a good thing in other situations? A willingness to compromise can lead to solutions and reconciliation, right? Compromise can be a good thing or a bad thing - depends what it is you're compromising. I don't usually look up any quotes about the word prompts or what I write about them until after I've finished writing, but there was something I'd heard somewhere about this and I wanted to make sure I quoted it correctly and figured out where it came from. It's this:
This is about principled compromise, not compromised principles. ~John Hume
I needed to be reminded about who said it, and why, and in case you do too, John Hume was an activist and politician that helped to bring about the Anglo-Irish agreement of 1985, and was influential in establishing a peace in Northern Ireland. He shared the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize with David Trimble.

Mr Hume's quote differentiates between a compromise that lowers standards or settles for a lesser evil and a compromise that is a cooperative effort of negotiation in order to achieve a common goal. 

Compromise is not good when we are expected to turn a blind eye to something evil or harmful in order to avoid conflict. It's not good when we are willing to go against what we know to be true or right for some personal gain.

Compromise can be positive and helpful when we are willing to consider other viewpoints or solutions to a problem. Compromise is often necessary to resolve a dispute or establish an equitable agreement.

It's important to know the difference.

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And now, a collection of other quotes that speak about compromise - its danger and its value.

If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing. ~Margaret Thatcher

The 'morality of compromise' sounds contradictory. Compromise is usually a sign of weakness, or an admission of defeat. Strong men don't compromise, it is said, and principles should never be compromised. ~Andrew Carnegie

Compromise used to mean that half a loaf was better than no bread. Among modern statesmen it really seems to mean that half a loaf is better than a whole loaf. ~Gilbert K. Chesterton

Compromise cannot be allowed in cases where the exact truth is ascertainable. ~Arthur Lynch

A compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece. ~Ludwig Erhard

Compromise is not about losing. It's about deciding that the other person has just as much right to be happy with the end result as you do. ~Donna Martini

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This post is linked at Five Minute Friday for the word prompt "Compromise".


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 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.




Thursday, June 25, 2020

Twenty-Six Lists - Good Influences - #twentysixlists

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.


Welcome to Twenty Six Lists! I hope you'll join me in using some fun List prompts for writing. Every other week I'll share a writing prompt and invite you to link up your list, and wherever the prompt takes you. You may want to simply make a list of five or ten items that answer the prompt, or you may elaborate on the items in your list, or even write an entire article. Be creative, and have fun!

Do you ever put something on your calendar, write yourself a note, or put something on your to-do list and then go back and look at it later and have no idea what you were trying to remind yourself about? I've done it quite a few times, and turns out this list prompt is one of those times. How embarrassing. I don't remember what my original thought process was in a prompt about good influences. Maybe what I'm going to list is what I'd initially envisioned, or maybe it's not. Either way, here is my list of some of the people that I credit with inspiring and motivating me to be a better person.

List #13 - Good Influences

  1. My family - my parents in particular. Any faults and flaws I have are totally my own, and I hope they don't reflect poorly on my parents because they raised me and my siblings right. My parents have always modeled godly moral standards, responsibility, service, honesty, generosity, hospitality, and grace. They took us to church and they also live out their faith. They aren't perfect, but they love well and live well. I see the same values and commitment in my generation of the family and in my kids' generation. 
  2. Trusted friends. I'm not naming names, so I hope that my "inner circle" friends who read this will know who they are. These are the friends that stick by each other through hard times and through disagreements, and that always have your back. Who listen and commiserate when you just need to rant about something dumb, and who are wise counselors and prayer warriors when you need support in handling something important. And sometimes to hold you accountable when you need to rein it in or to pull those specks out of your eye and challenge you to rethink or repent. I'm lucky to have some dear friends like this that I've met at church, some that I've met through homeschooling, and even some that I only know (so far) online. 
  3. Good examples and role models. These are the people that I might not know well or that I might never have met, but they inspire me anyway. The first "real" homeschoolers I met who gave me a vision for something I might never have considered otherwise. The many friends that I've made over the years and may not even be in regular contact with any more, but enriched my life during the time we did spend together. The writers, speakers, preachers, and others that address issues and subjects I care about in thoughtful and insightful ways, and motivate me to learn and do more. And even historical figures that were examples of perseverance, courage, and faith.
As iron sharpens iron, so a person sharpens his friend. ~Proverbs 27:17


This list turned out a little different from the others, and I feel like I'm cheating by leaving it short and not being very specific. I'd love to see what the prompt "good influences" brought to your mind! Maybe you went a completely different direction?

What's on your list? Link up or tell me in the comments!

Please use the hashtag #twentysixlists if you post on Instagram!

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Bonus List - Upcoming in Twenty Six Lists so you can think ahead!

July 9 - Summer Activities
July 23 - Summer Food
August 6 - Family Traditions
August 20 - Best Apps or Websites

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 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.



Wednesday, June 24, 2020

June Photo Album

This post contains affiliate links - using affiliate links from Homeschool Coffee Break helps fuel this blog.   


I was disappointed to realize that June's photo collection looks very much like the past three months, since we're still under house arrest. With warmer weather we're outside more, and there are more things open, but it's still not that exciting. Oh well. 

We voted in our states primaries.


A friend of the hubster's opened his pizza restaurant this month, and we were there on his grand opening day - and a few more days too, as the creative stack of pizza boxes in our kitchen attests.





The hubster and I went up to a town in Pennsylvania to do a bit of shopping after their governor's lockdown orders were struck down by the legislature. We stopped at a drive-in restaurant and it happened to be a classic car day.




We often go for walks down our rural road and have been watching these neighbors as they grow up.




I was entertained by this sign on the day I dropped off some recycling at the county landfill:


Sometimes we drive up to the Catoctin Mountains to do some walking there, in order to see something different.



It's been a month of amazing sunsets. Here are just a few of them.






It was June, and the world smelled of roses. The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside. ~Maud Hart Lovelace


This post is linked at Wordless Wednesday, hosted by Life on Chickadee Laneand at Pictoral Tuesday, hosted by Peabea Scribbles.




 ©2006-2020 Homeschool Coffee Break. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author. http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/ 

 We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.