Homeschooling in Minnesota with an eclectic unschooling twist.


Our little home-school family lives in Minnesota and so we have a few regulations we must follow in order to homeschool. The first thing we must do is let our local school district know that we are schooling at home. This is a very easy process, basically, we just fill out paperwork that states the grade and child(ren) to be schooled, include their immunization records, and what standardized testing we will be choosing for the year.

Minnesota also requires home-school families to “teach” on these subjects: basic communication skills (including reading, writing, literature, and fine arts) mathematics, science, social studies (including history, geography and government) health and physical education.

When I first read this I was a totally intimidated. How the heck was I going to get all of this in everyday? Here’s the answer: You don’t, and that’s okay. These topics will not be covered everyday. Unless you have some crazy schedule I have not (and most likely could not) seen or followed. As long as they are covered in some capacity in the “school year” or even monthly you will be fine. In my opinion if you are cramming it all in (everyday), the children are grasping at straws and very little of it is being internalized. Home-schoolers and unschoolers are as varied as pie. Although its all considered pie, each has its own flavor and none of them are wrong, some people may like key-lime others french silk.

I am within reason a believer in unschooling, and have found books like John Holt’s Schooling At Home to be a great resource; not just for homeschooling, but for parenting and child-rearing in general. So after our experience of unschooling I found that if at the end of the day I tracked what Blake did during the day; be it playing with legos, searching online, coding, playing outside, watching a documentary on Neanderthals or creating a kite out of plastic bags and sticks. He alone covered almost all of the criteria ON HIS OWN.

The only thing that wasn’t happening was the inherent proof through paperwork or testing that prep-made school work creates for itself. And so record keeping became very important. When I noticed that not much math, or history was happening I would use strewing (the act of setting out items like books, movies, toys, etc, to invoke interest) to help him along.

I cannot however say that we are unschoolers, because although I use unschooling practices in our home-life. We also use curriculum when we feel its needed. We keep somewhat of a schedule to our days and we set personal and academic goals.

Minnesota requires standardized testing, there are various choices to choose from, however the school district must approve of your testing choice. No matter what your views on these practices are your child should be able to test through this material. This is especially true in the lower grades as much of the material is core knowledge learned through life experience. I cannot confidently say this about middle and high school testing as I have not experienced this testing process. However, even if they are low in one or two subjects they should not be failing all or the majority. If they are there needs to be some form of intervention or further assessment for disability happening, which is why I am not against standardized testing. (I am against the practice of funding schools based on test scores, and forcing teaching methods on teachers for the sole purpose of testing.)

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