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Frequently Asked Questions about ECHO

Frequently Asked Questions about Homeschooling in Minnesota

General Homeschooling Questions

 

Frequently Asked Questions about ECHO

How much does it cost to join ECHO-MN?

Nothing! ECHO-MN is not a membership organization. No dues are required to be on the E-Group or attend most ECHO functions. On very rare occasions we may ask attendees for a small donation to help defray the cost of a particular event.

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Is ECHO-MN a co-op?

No. We do not provide curriculum or other learning materials. We offer information and support to homeschoolers, and act as an umbrella group to our smaller support groups. Individuals in smaller support groups do sometimes form their own teaching co-ops. ECHO-MN is not involved in the management of those co-ops. 

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Since ECHO-MN is aimed at families with young children, what will happen when my children get older? Must I leave the group?

ECHO-MN was begun as a response to a lack of opportunities for the families of very young homeschoolers. However, as our children grow, they may remain a part of ECHO. The friendships they are forming now will be some that will stay with them throughout their childhoods. As the smaller support groups grow, many decide to cap their membership in order to retain a sense of intimacy for both parents and children. These groups will gradually come to represent older children. New families with young children will be assisted in forming new support groups.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Homeschooling in Minnesota

Is homeschooling legal in MN?

What are the homeschooling laws in MN?

When do I have to report?

Homeschooling is legal is all 50 states! The regulations and requirements differ from state to state so it is important that all homeschoolers become familiar with the laws in their area. The Minnesota homeschooling statutes allow parents to homeschool their children with limited regulation by the state. MN Statute 120A.22 (as amended), requires that the local public school district be notified of your intent to home school by October 1st of each year. The links below will take you to the statutes. If you have any questions please email us at echo-mn@earthlink.net .

Minnesota Compulsory Instruction Statutes Online:
120A.22 Compulsory Instruction
120A.24 Reporting
120A.26 Enforcement and Prosecution

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Am I required to provide all of the information that the school district requests in the packet they sent me?

The answer depends on what is in your district’s packet. Many districts request much more information than homeschoolers are legally required to provide. Whether you provide this additional information is your decision; veteran homeschoolers, however, recommend against it. If the legislature ever decides to try to expand reporting requirements (a likely possibility), their argument will have much more weight if the precedence has been set that many homeschoolers already provide this information. Providing only the information that is currently legally required is in the best interests of Minnesota homeschooling rights.

Do look through your district’s packet, however. Some districts include useful information that you may wish to retain. For example, a few districts provide a card which identifies you as a homeschoolers. You can use this card to get educator discounts when making purchases from certain retailers.

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How do I locate my school district for reporting?

http://pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us/ will locate your polling place in addition to school district information.

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Can I homeschool in MN if. . .?

I don’t have a degree?. . .I am not the only teacher of my child (husband helps, have a tutor)? . . .I am a working parent?***INSERT ANSWER HERE***

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Are MN school districts friendly to homeschoolers?

Most MN school districts are homeschool-friendly. Many districts have a homeschool coordinator (though this duty is usually only part of the coordinator’s job). Outside of annual reporting to the district, and quarterly report cards for your child (only required in certain circumstances; see first question in this section), most homeschoolers rarely have contact with their districts.

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Do I have to take my preschooler to screening at my local school?

Minnesota law does not legally require you to participate in preschooler screening through your school district. Pediatricians will often perform these simple screenings as part of an annual check-up.

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What kinds of records do I need to keep?

***INSERT ANSWER HERE***

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Are there discounts available to homeschoolers in MN for things like museums, bookstores, etc.?

***INSERT ANSWER HERE***

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General Homeschooling Questions

I think I want to homeschool, but I don't know where to start. Help!

The first step is to find other homeschooling families. Find out what they do and how they do it. Getting involved in an ECHO support group is a great way to accomplish this. You can also ask questions on the ECHO-MN e-group. One piece of advice is to talk to other homeschoolers before you spend a lot of money on curriculum. Many new homeschoolers regret spending money before they have educated themselves as to their options.

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I've heard that homeschooled kids can't get into colleges. Is that true?

This is not true for most colleges. In fact, many colleges have begun to actively recruit homeschoolers. See http://learninfreedom.org/colleges_4_hmsc.html  for a list of colleges which already admit homeschooled students.

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What about socialization?

This is a common concern among new homeschooling parents, and it can be a sensitive issue. Many homeschooling families get together with other families on a regular basis, and children form friendships in this way. While most children are sitting in a classroom each day with other children the same age, listening to a teacher, homeschooled children are out in the world interacting with others of all ages. They are not restricted in their socialization in the way that other children are. In fact, some parents choose to homeschool specifically in order to avoid the negative aspects of socialization that are rampant in today's schools.

I often hear about the different philosophies of homeschooling (unschooling, School-at-home, classical, etc.) What are the different methods and what do they each mean?

 

These are the most common styles and philosophies of homeschooling. One style is not right for every family. Often, families use a combination of approaches to meet the needs of their children. 

Traditional: Often referred to “School-at-Home”, this approach attempts to replicate the school model in the home setting. Textbooks are used and a schedule is followed.

Classical : In the Classical Approach children are taught tools of learning collectively known as The Trivium. The Trivium has three parts: the Grammar stage, the Dialectic stage and the Rhetoric Stage, each part corresponding to a childhood developmental stage.

Unit Studies : A unit study takes a topic or theme and delves into it deeply over a period of time, integrating language arts, science, social studies, math and fine arts as they apply. Instead of studying subjects as unrelated, all subjects are blended together and studied around a common theme or project.

Unschooling : Unschooling has many definitions. The main thread connecting these definitions is the idea that a less structured learning approach allows children to pursue their own interests and find personal meaning and purpose in learning.  Children are surrounded with a rich learning environment and adults who model a lifestyle of learning.

Charlotte Mason : Charlotte Mason was a turn of the century British educator. She believed in treating children as persons, involving them in real life situations and allowing them to read living books, well written books that bring events to life. This method includes a strong emphasis on nature.

Waldorf : This method is based on the philosophies of an Austrian educator named Rudolf Steiner. He felt that concepts should not be taught to young children. Instead, emphasis should be on creative play, imagination, imitation, games, crafts and artistic activities.

Montessori : The Montessori method is based on the philosophies of Italian doctor/educator Maria Montessori. She believed that children should have freedom to develop their own physical, mental and spiritual growth. Self-motivation and self-education are stressed. Emphasis is placed on the proper use of tools and materials as opposed to fantasy and imaginative free play.

Eclectic : Most homeschoolers fall into this category. A blend of different approaches is used to create a homeschooling method that works best for your child and family. For example, one may use a traditional curriculum for math,  unit studies to cover history, language arts, art and science and take music classes.  

Is homeschooling legal in Minnesota?

Homeschooling is legal is all 50 states! The regulations and requirements differ from state to state so it is important that all homeschoolers become familiar with the laws in their area. The Minnesota homeschooling statutes allow parents to homeschool their children with limited regulation by the state. The links below will take you to the statutes. If you have any questions please email us at echo-mn@earthlink.net .

Minnesota Compulsory Instruction Statutes Online:
120A.22 Compulsory Instruction
120A.24 Reporting
120A.26 Enforcement and Prosecution

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