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We are so much more than a support group for homeschool families The wonderful ways you can become a part of a bigger homeschool family. Connect with other homeschool families in your area We also have a very active Facebook group, come check us out! Contact us directly with your questions Come to one or more of these events this month!
 

Q:

Starting Homeschooling in Anne Arundel County

A:

Homeschooling in Anne Arundel County For an article about requirements for homeschooling in Anne Arundel County, see our Homeschooling Primer.  Also, check out the links below for a summary of the Maryland law, plus the text of the Maryland bylaws.

Information and Support State of Maryland Home Instruction Fact Sheet

Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
540-338-5600 | www.hslda.org
Maryland Info: www.hslda.org/hs/state/MD/default.asp
Maryland Law Summary: www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp?State=MD

Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators (MACHE)
301-607-4284 | info@machemd.org
www.machemd.org

Maryland Home Educators Association (MHEA)
410-730-0073 | MSmith@mhea.com | www.mhea.com
Maryland Bylaws, plus link to Notification Form: www.mhea.com/legal.htm

Christian Home Educators Network (CHEN)
301-474-9055 | chenmaster@chenmd.org
www.chenmd.org

Supervisory (Umbrella) Organizations State list of approved umbrellas:
www.msde.state.md.us/nonpublic/home_instruction/DisplayLocationsByCounty.asp

Here are links to a few of the umbrellas that our members have used:
Cornerstone Christian Academy (Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church)
Cedarbrook Academy
Churchville Christian School
Conowingo Rising Sun
Walkersville

Q:

Homeschooling in Anne Arundel County: A Primer

A:

AHSG regularly receives questions concerning the legal requirements to homeschool in Maryland (or specific counties like AAC, PG or HC), so we thought it would be helpful to assemble this information for the convenience of our members. Do you remember that we offer a support meeting on the 4th Monday of every month (except for summer) to cover getting started, knowing what's enough, and avoiding burnout?  We are here to answer questions and provide advice and encouragement. Check our calendar for the monthly meetings. Also if you a first time homeschool family  you can request a mentor family to assist you with the ins and outs of homeschooling by contacting Elizabeth Milley at eamilley@startmail.com.

 

Note: This information is provided to help you get started, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. It is your responsibility to be familiar with the regulations and comply with them.

 

First steps

Every family desiring to homeschool MUST call the Office of Curriculum in their county. The packet should include the following:

  • The "Home School Notification" form
  • The Annotated Code of Maryland (COMAR) laws regarding home instruction
  • Guidelines for preparing a portfolio
  • An announcement concerning a homeschooling information meeting run by the county
  • A list of authorized umbrella groups

The Home School Notification form notifies the county that you are homeschooling your school-aged children. On the form, you will indicate whether you intend to (a) report directly to the county for review (which costs you nothing); or (b) join an umbrella group for this purpose (this will involve the payment of fees) or use an accredited correspondence-type school program such as Calvert with the teacher supervision option (this will involve the payment of tuition to the school).

There is also an option to participate in the standardized testing program through the county. Many homeschoolers prefer to organize their own ad hoc testing groups and a number of umbrella groups include the cost of standardized testing in their fees, but if you would like your child to be tested by the county, mark this box and the county will notify you at test time.

The Home School Notification form needs to be mailed in 15 days prior to beginning your homeschool academic year, so you may want to request it by early August. Note that the consent form is only necessary when beginning homeschooling OR if you add another child or switch from direct county supervision (choice a above) to (choice b) or vice-versa.

In Anne Arundel County, kindergarten is required, so all five-year-olds must be registered unless you request a waiver (if you feel your child is not ready or has a late birthday, for example).

The COMAR regulations should be read very carefully and understood by all homeschooling parents so you are fully aware of what is legally required of you. This is for your own protection.

Preparing your portfolio

According to the COMAR bylaws, parents are required to demonstrate that their children are receiving "thorough and regular instruction" in the requisite subjects. We recommend that you organize your portfolio according to the county's list of subjects and show samples of each child's work in each subject dated throughout the semester. It is advisable to set up your portfolio binder at the beginning of the school year and insert samples of work in the binder as the semester progresses. This helps avoid the last minute frenzy to find "evidence of instruction" when the portfolios are due. Include fields trips, projects, music and dance recitals, athletic leagues (copies of team pictures are perfect for this), as well as samples of written work and photocopies of workbook pages.

(By the way, since the portfolio is a county requirement, all of the umbrella groups require some version of it as well.)

Anne Arundel County requires the portfolio submission two times per year but this will vary from county to county, so please check where you live to get the most accurate details. You should be will notified by mail  or email of the due dates (typically in February and June). Some counties encourages dropping off the portfolio at their offices or mailing it in. We recommend that you get a receipt if you drop it off and use certified mail with "return receipt requested" if you use the Post Office. In either case, this will enable you to prove that you submitted your portfolio on time, because sometimes they get "misplaced". If this happens, you will unfortunately need to reproduce your portfolio, but at least you will have proof that you complied with the original deadline.

Some counties have a face to face review that they meet at several county public libraries. In this case, you bring your portfolio with you and sit there while the staffer reviews it. This is more personal and is more representative of the type of "review" the law originally intended. It also gives you the opportunity to respond directly to questions about your child's work if the reviewer feels "evidence" is lacking.

If, after viewing your portfolio, the reviewer feel you are lacking proof of proper instruction, you will be given a timetable in which to produce it (usually 30 days).  Overall, AA county is considered a friendly county to homeschool and review in.

Umbrella groups

Many homeschoolers prefer to affiliate with and report to an umbrella group, which replaces the county in reviewing your portfolio. Most umbrella groups offer other services as well. A great advantage to umbrella groups is that they are run by homeschoolers, so they are in agreement with your decision to homeschool and are there to help and encourage you.  Umbrella groups differ in cost, services offered and educational philosophy. You will want to investigate a few to find the one that best fits your family.  Here is the link for The Maryland State Department  of Education FAQ about Homeschool instruction http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/about/Documents/DSFSS/SSSP/HomeInstruct/HomeInstructionFAQ.pdfThis is the current link for the Nonpublic Entities Registered to Supervise Home Instruction of Maryland Students     http://nonpublicschoolsdb.marylandpublicschools.org/nonpublic/home_instruction/DisplayLocationsByCounty.asp.

Q:

What About Socialization?  Won't Johnny be really developmentally behind if he isn't properly socialized?

A:

What exactly do you mean by socialization? Normally, socialization means the training of a child into adulthood.  No matter where Johnny spends his time, he will be socialized. What is important is what kind of socialization you want for your child. From a historical perspective, homeschooling has been the primary method of educating children. And obviously, the human race survived, and children grew up able to interact with each other.  Now that several generations have graduated our most recent version of homeschool, the surveys have been compiled, and the doom and gloom predictions proved false, it is time to rephrase the socialization question.

There are two sources of socialization in a group school setting: the adults, and the other children. From the adults, students learn that the school’s values and conformity to the group are essential; parents’ views are of secondary importance.  And these adults are mainly seen interacting with children, not with other adults. The socialization received from peers includes (even in elementary school): cliques, lying, cheating, stealing, estrangement from parents and family, drugs, pressure to take drugs, explicit sex, pressure to experiment with sex, and violence.  Children are expected to learn to deal with these issues mainly through trial and error, which is not very efficient, let alone safe.   This is also a very artificial environment, never to be replicated in adult life.  Where else will people spend the majority of their time so severely segregated by age? What other environment even comes close to the stifling structure and organization of most group schools?  The bells, the shuffling from room to room, the regulating of breaks for bathroom or for lunch, the ban on talking. I can't come up with a work place that fits this description. Except for jail.  Why would we want to socialize for that?

The real question to ask is what type of socialization do you want for your children?  Do you want your child to be trained in behavior by a roomful of 30 equally immature children or do you want your child to see mature adult behavior as the model of socialization?  Remembering that more is caught than taught, it's the quantity of the quality that counts. Lots and lots of time with mom and dad, other adults, older children or siblings and seeing how the rest of the world interacts makes a much healthier formation of socializing than an institutional setting.  Children are best socialized by adults. And the best adults for the job are their own loving parents. Older and younger siblings help too.  A homeschool child may spend time with elderly neighbors, adults at the grocery store or on field trips, and with mom and dad’s friends and their children.  Since homeschoolers aren't bound by the school schedule, they can spend more time with extended family as well.  A homeschool child is exposed to a much broader spectrum of humanity in terms of hours spent in the real world.  Even being at home most days is more realistic than the institution of schooling.  The evidence backs this up.  Studies show that homeschoolers as adults are more involved in their communities, politics and church, and also report being happier overall.1   

No one is implying that homeschooled kids are perfect. They are still children. They will still act childish and misbehave. However, the level of behavior is more like a  "Leave it to Beaver" family than a 'Howard Stern' family.   Time and time again, homeschooled youngsters can be spotted a mile away by their ability, even at 13, to look an adult in the eye and speak in full sentences.  They can include people of any age or ability in an informal game, call a 40-something their best friend, and fight over who's going to carry the latest toddler while on a field trip.   In today's schools of bizarre examples of both zero tolerance and unmonitored bullying and violence, homeschooling socialization is the standard to emulate.

To view the study:
http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/washingtontimes/200912140.asp

Q:

Maryland Umbrella Organizations

A:

Churchville Christian School
Conowingo-Rising Sun Christian School
Cornerstone Christian Academy
Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Annapolis Home Education Ministry (EPHEM)
Walkersville Christian Family Schools

Calvary Baptist Church Academy

 

NOTE:

These are umbrella organizations which have been used by our members. Their listing here is in alphabetical order and is not meant as an endorsement by AHSG, its Board of Directors, or its general membership. This listing is provided for the convenience of our members and the general public.