Written by Kimberly Davis Guerra
If any of you had a last semester of the 2019-2020 school year like we had at my house, I know this thought has crossed your mind. ”If my kids are learning at home, why not just home school? It would probably be easier to manage and more organized, which would make our lives easier. Bonus, they might actually learn something.”
The other opinion I have heard is, ‘I’m not feeling really comfortable sending my kids back to a school filled with 1,000 other students. I’d feel more comfortable in a private environment with smaller classrooms/school setting. One that offers more control and flexibility.”
With the turbulent times and the roller coaster ride that COVID-19 has caused in our lives, it is wise to consider all your options. The fact remains, that as we go to press, the TEA and Governor Abbott have not come to terms with what the requirements will be for the 2020-21 school year. In fact, even if decisions are made today, they may change due to rises in cases or outbreaks. So, it stands to reason that you need to be prepared either way. Knowing what your options are is the first step.
Texas Homeschool Laws 2019
On June 15, 1994, after a nine-year court battle, the Texas Supreme Court in TEA v. Leeper issued a 9-0 decision guaranteeing the right of Texas parents to teach their children at home without fear of prosecution.
The court held that homeschools are exempt from compulsory attendance because they are considered a type of private school. The compulsory attendance statute is currently found in Section 25.085 of the Education Code. In accordance with the Leeper decision, homeschools are exempt from the compulsory attendance statute because they are considered a type of private school under Section 25.086(a)(1) of the Texas Education Code.
According to the Leeper case, the only legal requirements to homeschool in Texas are:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
- The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship.
- Good citizenship is similar to civics. Public schools teach one semester of civics, usually in the senior year of high school. Teaching U.S. and Texas history, government (theoretical and practical), the Pledge of Allegiance, and similar activities will also help meet this requirement. THSC provides several ways to help you meet this requirement (see resource box below).
There is no need to register or in any way contact the local school or the state government prior to homeschooling, unless your student is currently in public school https://thsc.org/sending-a-withdrawal-email/
If your child has never been enrolled in public school, simply obtain curriculum and begin. It is also to your advantage to find a local support group to help you in this endeavor.
Many Choices Available
If you decide to look into options other than the traditional public school route, there are many options to choose from. According to latest stats, there are over 1,200 private schools to choose from in the Greater Houston area alone. Depending on your affiliations or preference, you can narrow down your options.
Here are some of the categories to consider.
- All Girl/All Boy
- Religious Affiliation (Christian, Lutheran, Methodist, Jewish, etc)
- Hybrid (Part home school / part on campus)
- Traditional Non-denominational
- Online only
Once you have an idea of the type of campus environment you are interested in, then you have to look at the curriculum and student to teacher ratios. If you have a kid who is really focused on sports and they don’t offer any, that will be a problem for your child. If they are really into robotics, make sure they have a killer computer lab and programs to keep them growing in the right direction. Last, you want to be sure that they are in a small class environment, given the recent outbreaks. They will be less likely to be exposed if they are surrounded by fewer kids on campus.
The other benefit afforded by the private schools is, let’s face it, greater resources. Many are already equipped with state of the art facilities. With the current outbreaks, you can bet that they are upgrading webcams and streaming services to offer more online teaching environments for students, depending on their needs and comfort levels.
*Check out the education directory following this article for more information on stand out schools in our community
Homeschooling, is it right for your family
If you are still concerned about exposure for your family, you may want to go with the homeschooling option. Before COVID-19, I never considered it. However, with the continuing ups & downs our city is facing, it only seems prudent to strongly consider making the change.
Did you know there are over 300,000 homeschoolers in Texas? Once I started researching, I was blown away at all of the options available. Not only are there private online programs there are also free, public online programs available! There seems to be price points and benefits for every type of family.
The curriculum seems to be extremely well-balanced, straight forward and easy to access. One-on-one relationships are available for students to enhance learning, as well as group opportunities to meet classmates. Clubs are available for kids who have specialized interests to interact with like-minded students. There are even groups for parents to interact with other parents to discuss issues they are facing. All in all, it seems like a strong platform to consider.
As always, we recommend doing your due diligence. Research the options, talk with friends and family who have tried it and make the right decision for your family.
Here are just a few websites of programs to check out for more information:
Texas Connections Academy
Ischool Virtual Academy of Texas
Texas Virtual School
Alpha Omega Acdemy
United Christian Home School
Whether you choose to go with a private, homeschool or public education program for your child, it is going to take time and research to decide which path to take. We encourage you to begin your research early, so that you have time and are not stressed out before the kids go back to school. As with any start of a new school year, children are anxious enough. We do not need to add to it if we are going to make any big changes to their future.
Look to Houston Family’s daily E-newsletters throughout the month of July & August for more tips and information on education and support information. We are here to help provide you with answers to your questions!