Frequently Asked Questions

 

Should I home school? Can I do this?

Home schooling is a big commitment, but it comes with some amazing rewards, especially while living in Europe.  As you explore the idea it might be helpful to look over the information on the You Can Homeschool website.  This site is authored by the leading legal and practical experts in the field and has a wealth of answers to common questions.  Also helpful is The Old Schoolhouse’s “Simple Recipes for Successful Homeschooling” article.

FAQs:

Disclaimer:

The information provided on this website is not intended to be legal advice and should not be construed as such.  Please check with the Home School Legal Defense Association for legal advice for home schooling in Germany or in your local area.   

How do I get started with home schooling?  What resources are available?

First of all it is important to say that home schooling is a serious commitment, but it is also a tremendous blessing when pursued to its full potential.  There are many common teaching methods and countless options for the resources that you can use.  The options can be overwhelming but the following is an attempt to give an overview of the options and approaches.

Curriculum choices are endless.  You can usually purchase almost anything that classroom teachers can purchase often in a modified format for home school. There are also lots of choices specifically designed with the home school environment in mind.  The plethora of choices can be daunting, but there are a few basic categories that can help you narrow the search for what will fit your needs.  The categories vary from programs that are referred to as “virtual schools” on one end of the spectrum to complete do-it-yourself approaches on the other.  Here is a brief overview.

  1. Virtual Schools - In this sort of program everything is planned, and work is turned in via computer or by mail and there is an umbrella school tracking assignments, grading work etc….  This approach takes away all the guesswork and provides a security net for those nervous about venturing into home schooling, but it cuts down dramatically on the flexibility that other options tend to offer. 

  2. Prepackaged Curriculums - There are several companies that sell what we call “prepackaged curriculums”  By prepackaged, I mean a curriculum that has the student book, the teacher's book, tests, and lesson plans already made out for you. These curriculums allow you to pick a grade and you get everything you need for the year in one package.  Some of these programs even have the classes via DVD so that the student can watch a teacher present the material.  This differs from a virtual school in that you do the grading, record keeping, and set the pace yourself, but with the modest amount of extra work comes added flexibility.

  3. Partially Prepackaged Curriculums & Unit Studies – Some companies sell packages that provide all of the books resources, and scheduling for two or three subjects that might otherwise be difficult to plan and integrate.  For example, some programs use a history theme and coordinate literature, geography, and language arts with the period of history being studied. Other subjects, like math, are covered separately.  Some packages bundle history and literature selections that can be used simultaneously by students who vary in age by a couple of years, while leaving the math and language skill choices out of the package so that they can be chosen according to the needs of each child. 

  4. Customized or “Pick & Choose” – The most flexible option in the spectrum is to customize your curriculum child by child and subject by subject.  You can use a math program you like – and buy the level you think is appropriate; and then buy the resources for language arts – possibly from another publisher; and so on… down through the list of subjects you want to teach.  This approach requires the highest degree of planning and research on the part of the parent, but it can most precisely target each child at their own level and cater to their interests and strengths.

Most long-term home schoolers tend to end up somewhere in the spectrum between a partially-prepackaged curriculum and one that they customize on their own because it allows them to be flexible when a student excels in one subject but doesn’t move as fast in other areas.  However, beginners often feel more confident getting started with a program that has everything planned for them.  It is important to take into consideration your personality and those of your children as you evaluate your choices.

One resource that might be helpful would be Mary Prides Complete Guide to Homeschooling.  It describes the different approaches to home schooling and has very extensive resource lists.  A similar, but online source, is Cathy Duffy Reviews.  One other online source that comes highly recommended is The Old Schoolhouse’s “Simple Recipes for Successful Homeschooling” article.


How Do I purchase the resources I need?

The following is a list of popular curriculum suppliers that will give you some idea of what’s out there, but they are just a start.  Once you’ve had a chance to look things over and figure out what options you might be leaning towards, then we may be able to help point you toward additional resources.  Most suppliers will ship to APO addresses.  You may also want to search for the online recommendations of Cathy Duffy, Mary Pride, or Dr. Ruth Beechick, all of whom are prolific writers about home schooling.

General Resource Suppliers

  1. Amazon – Variety of resources including a very good collection of books on how to get started with home schooling.

  2. Rainbow Resource – Variety of resources, this site has tons of choices but isn’t very easy to navigate, you might want to request their catalog, which is a huge resource on its own with extensive reviews of many popular products.

  3. Christian Book – Variety of resources, a supplier with lots of great choices and an easy to navigate.

  4. Homeschool Super Center – Variety of resources.

Specialty Curriculum Providers

  1. Sonlight – Partially Prepackaged - Bundles history and literature with options to tie in different levels of language arts, science etc.….  Emphasis on reading great literature.

  2. ABEKA - Virtual School / Prepackaged Curriculum / Individual Subjects - this is the curriculum most commonly used in Christian private schools but they offer virtual school, prepackaged curriculums, and individual subjects to home schoolers.

  3. K-12 - Virtual School - Some states actually provide the necessary computer and materials for this program free to their residents and the students are considered to be receiving an accredited public school education in that state.  Many military families have been able to do this program for free even though they aren’t living in their home state at the time, but sometimes this requires asking the state for an exception to their usual policies.

  4. Accelerated Christian Education

  5. Lighthouse Christian Academy

  6. Morning Star Academy

  7. CLASS Home Schools

Online Home School Magazines

  1. Teaching Home

  2. This Old Schoolhouse


What requirements must I meet to home school?

Virtually any parent is equipped with the qualifications to home school their own children in both the legal and practical sense.  You do not need to be a certified teacher.  In fact in most states there are no educational requirements for the home schooling parent.  All of these points are amply validated in the recent Homeschool Progress Report 2009 commissioned by HSLDA.  Like most home schooling parents, you may not feel qualified to teach every subject, but most curriculums provide reference materials for the teacher/parent that are sufficient to help you through teaching just about any subject you want to tackle and you can enjoy the benefit of learning alongside your children. 


Is it legal to home school in Germany?

It is legal for U.S. citizens and their dependents that are living in Germany under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement to home school their children.  There is only one short policy letter from the Department of Defense (DoD) concerning home schooling and it does not set forth any requirements on home schoolers except that they must register with the DoDDS system if they want to use any of the school’s services.  Here is a link to the Home School Legal Defense Association’s interpretation of the DoD policy letter.  It has also been clearly established that while residing in Germany you do not fall under the jurisdiction of any particular state.  So, we are left without oversight, which can seem a little unsettling when you start out, but it really makes the job much easier.   


What if we’re not covered by the Status of Forces Agreement?

If you are not associated with the United States military and will be living in Germany under any other legal status, then you will probably not be allowed to home school.  You must approach your local school to discuss your options and should not expect to be granted permission to home school your children.  Unfortunately there isn’t much flexibility anymore.  For more information see our Legal page.

 

What are the testing, record keeping, and grading requirements?

While there are no legal requirements for keeping home school records while stationed here, keeping good records is useful for the lower grades and important for the upper grades.  High school records are especially important when it comes time to apply for college, vocational training, entrance into the military, scholarships, and for some employment. 


What about standardized testing?

Our support group conducts annual standardized testing (in the spring) with the Iowa Test of Basic Skills and other standardized tests can be purchased and administered.  This testing is purely voluntary and the results are reported directly to the parents, but it does yield a record of progress.  Some of us have found these resources from HSLDA to be helpful guides - here, here, and here.

Can you tell me more about your group?

Our group is an informal organization made up of over 100 civilian and military families who are living in the Stuttgart area due to employment associated with the U.S. Department of Defense.  We are very diverse in our approaches to educating our children and just as diverse in our reasons for choosing home schooling as an educational option.  The children in our group range in age from pre-school through high school.  We are made up of busy, vibrant families with extensive ties to the community and local churches who have committed to carve time out of our schedules to support and encourage one another.  You can see more about our group here.

What resources and support can your group provide?

We hold many social gatherings, academic events and field trips each year and even have a learning co-op emerging, which combines teaching resources for special topics while maintaining full parental involvement.  All of our activities are coordinated through the initiative and volunteer efforts of our members and only take place when sufficient interest is expressed.  Participation varies widely depending on the activity. 

All of our coordination and communication happens through membership in our email loop which also provides a venue for members to ask advice, and pass along information that would be of interest to the group.  Our email loop is essential for membership in our group and access is only available to our members.  To join our email loop follow this link and request a membership.

Each family is entirely and independently responsible for their own curriculum choices and the educating of their own children.  We do not provide curriculum resources to our members, collect dues, or assume any responsibility for the education of one another’s children.  All advice and help that we provide for each other and for those who are exploring the option of home schooling is offered purely on a voluntary basis by members of our group who take time out of their schedules to answer emails, field phone calls and sit down with those who need help.  If you have questions, the leaders of our group will try to assist you by connecting you with individuals that are qualified to address your questions and concerns.  To contact the leaders of our group follow this link.


How do I qualify to be included in the email loop?

To qualify for membership you must be living in, or have orders to live in the Stuttgart area under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and be home schooling at least one child.  We will also allow incoming families that have orders and definitely intent to home school join our email loop before their arrival.  Prospective members must complete the membership application available on our website and forward it to our group owner.  To join the loop, please follow this link.


Can your group help us with a service project?

I would like to thank you for thinking of our group with your idea!  Please keep in mind that, almost without exception, we keep to strict schedules and have full academic loads for our children that require, especially for the students who would be old enough to help, most of the “school hours” of every day.  However, we are sensitive to the fact that many of our high schoolers would like to be of service to their community, meet self-set goals, or require community service as a portion of their college admittance package.  As such we will limit which requests we pass on to those that seem best suited to the above guidelines.  Each family can decide for themselves whether or not to participate.  If you would like to suggest a service project contact us here.


I’m after-schooling / supplementing how can you help me?

We appreciate your interest in augmenting your child’s education and applaud your ambition.  However, inclusion in our group will probably not be a good way to meet this goal.  Most of our discussion via our yahoo group and at our meetings is oriented toward support and encouragement for those who are home schooling full time rather than sharing the kind of information you are probably looking for.  In the event that you decide you would like to home school your children full-time we would be happy to welcome you to our group and help you with any questions you may have.  In the meantime, if you are looking for good resources for educational materials try starting with the home schooling selections available from the following sources. 

  1. Amazon – Variety of resources including a very good collection of books on how to get started with home schooling.

  2. Rainbow Resource – Variety of resources, this site has tons of choices but isn’t very easy to navigate, you might want to request their catalog, which is a huge resource on its own with extensive reviews of many popular products.

  3. Christian Book – Variety of resources, a supplier with lots of great choices and an easy to navigate.

  4. Homeschool Super Center – Variety of resources.


Are there other home school groups in Germany?

There are other military home school groups.  Here’s a partial list:

  1. Kaiserslautern Area (Ramstein, Landstuhl, Vogelweigh)

  2. Viseck / Grafenwoehr / Hohenfels

  3. Weisbaden

  4. Darmstadt

  5. Baumholder

Should our family accept this assignment?

Yes!  I think most members of our group would heartily encourage anyone who is offered the opportunity to take this assignment!  Stuttgart is situated perfectly for exploration of the European continent and we have a wonderful community of Americans in the area to balance out the foreign experience with many of the comforts of home.  The opportunities for supplementing a home schooling education are amazing.


We’re headed your way how should we prepare? 

It is my pleasure to welcome you in advance to a wonderful community and a great group of fellow home schoolers.  I’m sure you will have many questions in the weeks to come and we would love to help you with answers.  Check our Moving section for answers to some of the most common questions, but if you have additional questions please feel free to contact us!