Periodically a "coffee" is offered to introduce interested people to homeschooling. If you are interested in when the next one will be, please email Tomi Fay Forbes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Nuts and Bolts"
Wisconsin has an excellent homeschooling law which offers great latitude. A family may begin homeschooling at any time during the school year, and may return a student to school at any time during the year. There is a simple form which must be completed and submitted to the DPI - the Department of Public Instruction. In Wisconsin, homeschoolers are "private schools" under the auspices of the DPI, we are not accountable to the local public school district.
To obtain the form, please go to http://dpi.wi.gov/sms/homeb.html. The form is filled out on-line. For specific information on filling out the form, you are strongly encouraged to go to the WPA website at http://homeschooling-wpa.org/getting-started/ and read the section on filing the form.
The form includes the terms of agreement:
The program of educational instruction is provided by the child's parent or guardian or a person designated by the parent or guardian.
The primary purpose of the program is to provide a private or religious-based education
The program is privately controlled
The program provides at least 875 hours of instruction a year*
The program provides a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.
The program is not operated or instituted for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory school attendance requirement.
*Don't panic! The instruction can include: direct teaching by mom or dad; reading books; workbooks and exercise sheets; hands-on experiments and observations; field trips; computer work; educational games, etc. Remember - you are developing a whole person, not just academics.
If your child is less than 6 years old as of September 1st of this school year:, You do not need to submit a form.
If your child is 6 or older and you were not using a public school last year:: Fill out the form and submit it so it is received by October 15th of this school year. On October 15th of each year the public and private schools turn in the number of enrolled students to the DPI. We are a private school - we turn in our information on the same day. It is advised not to mail it prior to October 1st.
If your child is 6 or older and you were using a public school last year: Before school starts, you will fill out the form on-line and print out a copy. Ideally, take a copy of your DPI form to your local school before the school year starts and have the principal sign the form, confirming he understands you will homeschool this coming year. Otherwise, write a letter to the school district superintendent or principal of the school your child would attend, notifying them of your decision to homeschool. This is a simple courtesy which will avoid problems. An example of a letter is found on this website.
If the school year is already underway: Fill out the on-line form and print two copies. Take a print-out with you to the school when you withdraw your student from school. If you withdraw a student without the DPI form, the student is legally truant. Please write a letter to the building principal or superintendent, informing them of your decision. Ideally, take a copy of the DPI form to the school for the principal to sign or initial so he knows you filled out he form and confirms he understands you are homeschooling.
If you decide to stop homeschooling and return your student to public school: You may return a student at any point. However, the school has the right to test the student to determine class placement based on academic abilities.
The DPI form requests the information DPI needs for school census - which is the family name, number of students, male or female, and grade level. On October 15th of each year the school districts and private schools turn this information into the DPI. If your local school district approaches you with a mailing or direct contact asking for more information, you need not and should not provide it. Fill in the school district form with the family name, gender and grade level of each student (not their names) and inform them you have submitted the proper form to the DPI. If you have further questions, please contact your WPA Representative, Tomi Fay Forbes, at email@example.com or 262-377-5984.
Filing the DPI form should be completed between the 3rd Friday in September and October 15th unless your child has been officially enrolling in a public school or a conventional private school for the 2011-2012 school year. If he has been officially enrolled, Wisconsin states require that you file the form before you begin homeschooling.
Copies of the form: It is advisable to print several copies of the DPI form. You will want a good copy to:
Keep in your purse or glove compartment of the car as the form will get you "teacher" discounts at book stores, science stores, educational toy stores, museums, craft stores, office supply stores, and many other places which deem their services to be educational.
If you have older students who are out and about without you during the day, it is a good idea to give them a copy of the form (for convenience you can shrink the form down to a smaller size on a reducing copier machine.) If the student is stopped for any reason for possible truancy, the form will show the student is legally a homeschooler.
Keep copies of the letter of receipt from the DPI. In some cases, colleges or the military may want to see these forms to confirm the student has been homeschooled.
Now, take a deep breath and enjoy the adventure!