If starting from scratch has you unnerved, a satellite school or independent study program may be options worth pursuing.
A satellite school, also called an umbrella program, allows you to work at home with your children under the oversight of an established school. You research and choose the school that is the best match for your family, pay tuition, and the school sends you everything you need-lesson plans, books, and tests. You are not limited to schools within your local district or even state. You can choose from any program across the country. Because you are doing all of the teaching, the tuition is far less than sending your children to a traditional private school, yet you still receive all of the materials you need for that private school education.
Once enrolled with a satellite school, you will receive the entire curriculum that the school has in place. This will include math, science, social studies, language arts, history, spelling, art, and maybe even a foreign language and art. The school may even offer items such as pencils, paper, drawing paper, crayons and other supplies. Another huge benefit is that the school will keep track of all student records.
Each school is run differently, so there are some questions you will want to ask as you get started with the process:
- How far in advance do you need to apply with a satellite school?
- Will all of the materials arrive at once?
- How long will take for us to get established and ready to learn?
- Do any of the books need to be returned at the end of the year?
- How do I send records to the school to ensure accurate recording?
Each school operates a little differently, so if you contact three satellite schools, you may get three different sets of answers to the above questions. To save money, some will also offer an option where you keep and file your own records. If you do not purchase the entire program, you are also left to work at your own pace, and do not have to follow the calendar set up by the school. Others may find this calendar a welcomed addition. With the purchase of an entire program, you also usually have some support available from the school should you have questions as you go along.
Some satellite schools are listed below to help you begin your research:
- Calvert School
- Christian Liberty Academy School System
- Laurel Springs School
- Oak Meadow
- Texas Tech University: College of Outreach and Distance Learning
- Tree of Life
Independent Study Programs
An independent study program (ISP) is set up with an accredited school where all of your homeschool paperwork is handled. The ISP will maintain your paperwork in case you need verification of your curriculum and records for the state or local education department. Also, if your homeschooling rights are challenged, an ISP will help you fight for your rights.
Some programs provide a complete curriculum, while others require that you provide your own. Even if you are left to develop your own curriculum and gather your own materials, an ISP will provide you with guidelines and suggestions. The following are examples of programs that offer ISPs: