Even though this age begins academic studies, 1st-3rd graders still need the majority of their day for free play, and lots of breaks in lessons for wiggles and giggles. Focus on teaching good habits like diligence, good attitudes, and asking for help. Encourage and grow their natural curiosity through hands-on learning, reading aloud great books, and lots of time outside exploring the natural world.
1) Know the Laws
The compulsory age of education in Indiana is 7 years old. On the date of the child’s 7th birthday, you must begin complying with Indiana homeschool laws.
- Children must be educated from age 7 to 17
- Keep an attendance record for the same number of days as your local public school district is in session
- Provide an equivalent education to the public schools
- Education must be conducted in English
If your child has never been enrolled in a public or traditional private school, you can simply start homeschooling.
If your child is currently enrolled in a public or traditional private school, you must notify the school you are withdrawing to homeschool. Keeping the child home without notifying the school may result in truancy charges and involvement of CPS. IAHE offers a form letter you can send to your school for withdrawal. There is no other required paperwork to do once you have sent in your notice. You are not required to sign the school’s withdrawal form for K-8th grade withdrawal. Contact IAHE at 317-467-6244 if your school is insisting otherwise.
- Indiana does not offer registration for homeschoolers
- We do not notify the local district or state annually for homeschooling “permission”
- We do not report anything to the state at any time
- Homeschools are prohibited from participating in state-sponsored standardized testing like iLEARN and iREAD.
- We may test our students at our own discretion. IAHE has partnered with BJU Press to offer the IOWAs standardized testing from your home.
- Home education is parent-funded, parent-directed; we do not receive any kind of funding or assistance from the state or local public school district
2) A New Mindset
Homeschool is not “school at home.” You may have a certain image of what “school” should be (desks, worksheets, and long days), but homeschooling can actually look quite different from this. Homeschooling allows you to explore a variety of different learning environments and styles.
If your child has been in public school, you may want to consider deschooling first. This time period is designed to break the habits formed by public school routines. It helps families adjust to the lifestyle difference of homeschooling, reconnect with each other, and explore the homeschool world.
Read all about deschooling in our featured article Dare to Deschool.
4) Find Community
Contact your local IAHE representative to get connected to your local homeschool community.
- Academic and enrichment co-ops
- Sports teams
- Library classes
- Local businesses offering homeschool days
- Playground and field trip groups
You will be encouraged as you meet other homeschoolers in your local community. Join the IAHE Discussion page on Facebook to ask questions from our 10,000+ member community!
5) Learn about Homeschool Styles and Curriculum Options
Click over to the Homeschool Styles article to learn about some of the popular homeschool styles like Classical, Charlotte Mason, and more. There are many more ways to teach and learn than textbooks and quizzes!
Next, check out How to Choose Curriculum Part 1 & Part 2. Think about your educational philosophy (what is the purpose of education and what you hope to accomplish through it), and the many curriculum styles that are available. Include your kids in this process by asking about their interests and showing them samples. Let your children be owners of their education, not passive consumers!
6) Jump In!
Helpful hints to get started:
- 1st -3rd graders are still kids, so be sure you leave plenty of time for free play, outdoor running about, field trips, and exploring interesting rabbit trails.
- Short lessons are key. Consider aiming for a maximum of 20 minutes per lesson for each subject. Quality, not quantity. Use a visual timer to keep you on track.
- Aim for 1-2 hours daily for all required schoolwork. Use all the extra time for nature study, field trips, and free play.
- Rotate lessons daily. Math, reading, handwriting, and Bible benefit from daily study, but rotate the other subjects 1-3 times per week for variety. You don’t need to do every subject daily. Use the customizable IAHE planner to keep track of your attendance, booklists, schedule, and more. (FREE for Supporting and Premium IAHE members!)
- Teach multiple ages together for “family style” subjects whenever possible, like history, literature, and science. Add in small additional assignments for older kids, and decrease or modify assignments for younger kids.
- Get outside! Fresh air clears away bad moods as well as stinky kid feet smells. When it gets to be too much, put the books away and get out for a walk, stroll, ride, or run.
- Reading aloud is a GREAT way to bond, learn, and relax while also schooling! Picture books, Little House on the Prairie, children’s classics… pick something and read!
- Don’t panic if your child hasn’t mastered phonics or math skills by 1st grade. They are not “behind”. Kids learn and master skills at different rates. They are not carbon-copies of each other. If you notice your child struggles with a concept you thought he knew from public school, back up and re-learn the concept, then move forward at his pace.
- Be bored! Boredom is the best teacher. Kids coming from structured school environments will struggle with this. Teach them how to entertain themselves (and give you some quiet time!).
7) Still Unsure?
Check out our K-8th Scope & Sequence guide. But remember, no child matures or learns at the same pace. Your child may be “ahead” or “behind”, and it doesn’t matter. Progress at the pace your child needs to master concepts before moving on.