Getting Started on Your Homeschool Journey
There is so much information about homeschooling that it can seem overwhelming. We've gathered information to help you make your homeschooling decision and to inform you about laws and other legal issues. Here you'll find research and statistics that support the notion that homeschooling provides specific advantages to children and families. And we'll help you take the first steps on the road of your own homeschooling adventure.
Why Homeschool?
The first step to homeschooling is making your decision to home educate your child. It is important to become informed and knowledgeable about some of the main concerns you may have. Explore these areas of our website to learn more about the initial decision to homeschool.
How to Begin
You've decided to homeschool your child! But what comes first? For many parents, knowing where to begin in the homeschooling process can be confusing. Although there seems to be so much information available, it may be hard to get your questions answered. We've put together some resources to start you on your journey, giving you the information and motivation you need to successfully begin to homeschool in Iowa.
Legal/Homeschool Laws
Laws that regulate home education vary from state to state. It is important to understand the legal requirements in your state and to be aware of legislative and other legal issues that affect homeschoolers in your community. We've compiled resources that will help you become informed. Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and the vast majority of homeschoolers face no problems, you may find that you need legal assistance at some point in your homeschooling career. We've compiled a list of resources to help you find the support you need. And if you'd like to become more involved in working towards homeschooling freedoms, we discuss some of the issues facing homeschoolers that we hope you find compelling.
History of Homeschooling
How did homeschooling start? When did it become legal? Who were the key players in making homeschooling the social movement it is today? The story of the history of homeschooling in the United States is a compelling tale of dedication, innovative ideas, and personal conviction and sacrifice. We have put together a history of this educational and social phenomenon, hoping it will inspire you to learn from the early and more recent pioneers of home education in America.
What's Popular
Iowa Compliance: Step-by-Step
A short summary of the different ways to comply with the laws.
281—31.2 Reports as to competent private instruction.
31.2(1) Reporting. The parent, guardian, or legal or actual custodian of a child of compulsory attendance age who does not enroll the child in a public school or Iowa accredited nonpublic school shall complete a report in duplicate on forms created by the department of education and provided by the resident public school district, indicating the parent, guardian, or custodian’s intent to provide or arrange for competent private instruction for the child for each school year. The report shall be...
NICHE Political Updates
Stay current of legislative issues concerning our liberty to home educate our children, be aware of political candidates' positions on issues of homes schooling, and receive notice of political opportunities to support those issues and/or candidates.
299A.5 Reporting of evaluation results.
The results of evaluations administered to children of compulsory attendance age who are under competent private instruction shall be reported by the evaluation administrator to the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, the school district of residence of the child, and the department of education. Personally identifiable information relating to or contained in the evaluation scores is confidential and shall not be released without the prior consent of the child's parent, guardian, or cu...
Iowa Department of Education
This is the official website of the Iowa Department of Education.
The History of NICHE
This video relates the fight for homeschool freedom in Iowa by the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators (NICHE).
299.3 Reports from accredited nonpublic schools.
Within ten days from receipt of notice from the secretary of the school district within which an accredited nonpublic school is conducted, the principal of the accredited nonpublic school shall, once during each school year, and at any time when requested in individual cases, furnish to the secretary of the public school district, within which the accredited nonpublic school is located, a certificate and report in duplicate on forms provided by the public school district of the names and ages of...
Report of Portfolio Evaluator Selection Form
If you will be using the portfolio evaluation method, you may find this simple optional form helpful. When filled out and submitted to your resident school district, it provides a mechanism to fulfill the legal requirement of seeking the school district superintendent's approval of your selected portfolio evaluator. This approval process is simply a check of the appropriateness of your evaluator's license.
281—31.7(299A) Baseline testing and annual assessment.
31.7(1) When required. When a parent, guardian, or legal custodian of a child of compulsory attendance age provides private instruction to a child without the assistance or supervision of a validly licensed Iowa practitioner as required by law and these rules, and the parent, guardian, or legal custodian does not hold a valid Iowa practitioner license appropriate to the ages and grade levels of the child under competent private instruction, the child is subject to initial baseline testing an...
281—31.3(299) Duties of licensed practitioners.
31.3(1) Licensing requirements. A person who provides instruction to or instructional supervision of a student receiving competent private instruction shall be either the student’s parent, guardian, or legal custodian or a person who possesses a valid Iowa teaching certificate or practitioner license which is appropriate to the age and grade level of the student under competent private instruction. 31.3(2) Duties. The duties of a certificated or licensed teacher practitioner who instr...
Study Your Child
As you contemplate homeschooling, you will need to consider your child as a learner. This includes determining what grade level your child is in, what your child's learning style is and how to best combine this understanding with selecting curriculum and a method of home education.
Homeschooling in Iowa: Know the Law and Rules
Homeschooling laws vary widely from state to state. The Iowa law and rules may seem quite complicated at first, but NICHE has created a number of resources and forms to help home educators find their way through the maze of regulations. Here, you will find a brief overview of the legal requirements and options in Iowa.
299.2 Exceptions.
Section 299.1 shall not apply to any child: 1. Who has completed the requirements for graduation in an accredited school or has obtained a high school equivalency diploma under chapter 259A. 2. Who is excused for sufficient reason by any court of record or judge. 3. While attending religious services or receiving religious instructions. 4. Who is attending a private college preparatory school accredited or probationally accredited under section 256.11, subsection 13. 5. ...
Report of Portfolio Assessment Results Form
This optional form is offered to make the portfolio evaluator's job much easier. It provides an efficient tool to assure that all of the required information is included in the portfolio evaluation results report.
Privacy Form for Non-Enrolled Student
These option forms are recommended to protect your family's privacy. They inform school officials that you want protections afforded by federal and state laws. The form for non-enrolled students notifies school officials of that information about your child -- including directory information -- is confidential information protected by Iowa Code. Failure to have one of these forms on file with the district and the AEA (where your CPI forms are filed) can leave your child's information ope...
Resources
Kingdom of Children : Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement (Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology)

More than one million American children are schooled by their parents. As their ranks grow, home schoolers are making headlines by winning national spelling bees and excelling at elite universities. The few studies conducted suggest that homeschooled children are academically successful and remarkably well socialized. Yet we still know little about this alternative to one of society's most fundamental institutions. Beyond a vague notion of children reading around the kitchen table, we don't know what home schooling looks like from the inside.

Sociologist Mitchell Stevens goes behind the scenes of the homeschool movement and into the homes and meetings of home schoolers. What he finds are two very different kinds of home education--one rooted in the liberal alternative school movement of the 1960s and 1970s and one stemming from the Christian day school movement of the same era. Stevens explains how this dual history shapes the meaning and practice of home schooling today. In the process, he introduces us to an unlikely mix of parents (including fundamentalist Protestants, pagans, naturalists, and educational radicals) and notes the core values on which they agree: the sanctity of childhood and the primacy of family in the face of a highly competitive, bureaucratized society.

Kingdom of Children aptly places home schoolers within longer traditions of American social activism. It reveals that home schooling is not a random collection of individuals but an elaborate social movement with its own celebrities, networks, and characteristic lifeways. Stevens shows how home schoolers have built their philosophical and religious convictions into the practical structure of the cause, and documents the political consequences of their success at doing so.

Ultimately, the history of home schooling serves as a parable about the organizational strategies of the progressive left and the religious right since the 1960s.Kingdom of Children shows what happens when progressive ideals meet conventional politics, demonstrates the extraordinary political capacity of conservative Protestantism, and explains the subtle ways in which cultural sensibility shapes social movement outcomes more generally.

Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home

The book that shows homeschooling in action!

What does it really mean when parents say they homeschool their child or children? For Rhonda Barfield -- a homeschooler for the past 10 years -- the definition is as diverse as the 21 families she studies in this eye-opening book.

Real-Life Homeschooling

From the city to the country, apartments to split-levels, you'll enter each household and see education in action. Discover the challenges and rewards of tailoring instruction to each child's needs while catering to his or her inquisitiveness and curiosity. See why the number of children being taught by their parents is growing nationwide -- at home, there are no overcrowded classrooms, no unknown dangers lurking in the halls, and no doubts as to the quality of the education.

Whether you are just contemplating homeschooling or are a veteran seeking fresh ideas and help in overcoming obstacles -- look no further: Real-life Homeschooling shows just how practical and rewarding it is to educate children and provide them with what they need most -- you!

Homeschoolers' Success Stories : 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives
Despite their growing numbers, many homeschoolers still find their experience somewhat isolating. This collection of short biographies aims to alleviate some of that loneliness. While the stories profile modern-day homeschool grads and students, famous homeschooled personalities from the past are offered up early in the book for historical inspiration. John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, photographer Ansel Adams, poet Robert Frost, and songwriter Irving Berlin join the long list dug up by author Linda Dobson. And just in case there were any doubts that fame has eluded today's homeschooled, Dobson throws in actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the Hanson singer siblings, and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. The people whose stories are told here are successful entrepreneurs, Ivy League students, and athletes, such as Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and U.S. ski team member Todd Lodwick. But to Dobson's credit, she unearths a healthy array of "regular folk" as well. Their stories are no less interesting and, most importantly, they dispel the notion that homeschooled children are over-the-top achievers and freaks of nature. Among the subjects here are an Arkansas state trooper, a private chef, an art gallery owner, and a Cost Guard Reserve seaman.

Each chapter begins with a photo and yearbook-style sketch of the personality, complete with favorite areas of study and a memorable quote. The biographies are short and insightful, with the author often injecting her own thoughts. Dobson, the mother of three homeschooled children, has written numerous books on the topic (The Homeschooling Book of Answers and Homeschooling: The Early Years, among them) and is a news editor and columnist for Home Education Magazine. In her casual, succinct writing style, she brings to life personalities that have little in common beyond their method of education. Some were taught at home completely; others for only a few years. They offer advice, warnings, and fond memories. And their overriding message is that homeschooled people are just as diverse and interesting as the students found in traditional schools. "We are not alone," is the cry heard from these pages. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

They're Your Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate

For many people, their schooling was uncomfortable, tedious, and sometimes a waste of time and energy. This book offers the idea that the public school system is tragically flawed and that we are able to do better for our own children. Sam Sorbo, mom of three and wife of actor Kevin Sorbo, took the leap into homeschooling and found the joy and success she was seeking. Included are strategies for working parents, those who are scared to take the leap, and anyone who wants the best for their children. 

Should I Home School?: How to Decide What's Right for You & Your Child

Have questions about homeschooling? This book has the answers. The information in this book will help you decide if homeschooling is right for you and your child. 

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.
A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
In 1991, shortly after receiving both the New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year Awards, John Gatto resigned to begin a new career as an education reform advocate. In this collection of 16 essays, Gatto analyzes the problems of American education and suggests solutions for revitalizing the system — prescriptions that run counter to current trends.
Homeschool Open House
Personal insights from 55 families worldwide about a real day of homeschooling. Includes homeschool illusions, family culture, learning and family style, parenting strategies, chores and organization, family management, personal empowerment, decision making, change flexibility, resources, and questions to consider before deciding to homeschool. A private tour of homeschooling homes and reflective thoughts from families. Also includes five year follow-ups from families in HOMESCHOOLING: A PATCHWORK OF DAYS.
Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families
From a bedroom community in Nebraska to a farm in Vermont, from families who rely on workbooks to those who have sworn them off, this in-depth examination of the lives of homeschoolers covers a wide range of people and methods. When author Nancy Lande started homeschooling more than 10 years ago, this is the book she wanted that didn't exist. What better way to create your homeschool than reading about others and picking and choosing the styles that appeal to you? Lande has corralled a variety of homeschoolers and, with some deft editing, allowed them to speak for themselves. Every chapter features a different household on any given day. Many of the writers are mothers, but a stay-at-home dad and several children tell their tales as well. Their detailed descriptions start in the waking hours of morning and get down to the nitty-gritty information of everyday life in a homeschool: how moms fit in showers, how chores are divvied up, how reading and research are gently initiated, how parents set aside time for themselves.

These writers invite the reader into their homes and advise, "Don't mind the mess." Their passages are often funny and unflinchingly honest. They aren't embarrassed to tell you they whipped out SpaghettiOs for a hurried lunch or stole a peek at CNN while ignoring the chaos in the playroom. Some of the families have created highly structured school environments within their homes, with desks and sharpened pencils. Others promote freestyle learning, with their children sprawled across the house working on projects or reading in between walking the dog, playing games, and riding bikes. The majority of families here live in Pennsylvania, the author's home state, but one writes from as far away as Scotland, another lives on a mountain in Alaska, and yet another checks in from a college town in Texas. Their learning logs, reading lists, and journal entries, along with family photos, help illustrate the book. The quilt they piece together is a great service to those wondering how to approach homeschooling. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

The Homeschooling Revolution
A readable, scholarly overview of the modern day homeschooling movement. Includes vignettes from homeschooling families, war stories, research information, media reaction, footnotes, and statistics.
Featured Resources

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