The Seattle area offers countless opportunities for homeschoolers. As a large and diverse community, SHG members are always discovering and passing along new programs, classes, destinations, and discounts. This page provides an overview of some of the types of resources available to homeschooling families in Seattle and surrounding areas. For specific listings in each category, see the SHG Resource Directory.
It is important to familiarize yourself with the Home-based Instruction law for Washington State. The law requires the following of homeschooling parents:
You must be qualified to provide instruction by ONE of these four methods:
o having earned at least 45 quarter units of college-level credit, or
o attending a Parent Qualifying Course, or
o working with a certified teacher an average of once a week, or
o having been deemed qualified by the superintendent of your local school district
You must file a Declaration of Intent (DOI) to homeschool with the Superintendent of your local school district, listing any homeschooled child age 8 or older by September 15th or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school semester, quarter or trimester.
You must teach 11 required subjects over the course of your student’s academic career. These are reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation.
You must assess your student(s) annually by one of these two methods:
o having them complete a Buros-reviewed standardized test, or
o having their academic work assessed by a Washington State certified teacher
You must keep records, including annual assessment results and immunization records.
The Washington Homeschool Organization (WHO) is the best resource for help in understanding and interpreting Washington State’s Home-based Instruction law. WHO provides extensive resources and advocacy, holds an annual homeschool conference, and maintains a list of testing and assessment options. For more information, visit the WHO website: washhomeschool.org.
How to Homeschool
There are many ways to homeschool your children. You can re-create formal school structure at home, or you can wake up at noon and wear PJs all day. You can school independently as a single family, or you can outsource every subject. You can closely follow a specific curriculum, or you can unschool and let your children guide their own education. There is no ideal model that works for everyone. Homeschooling means you can find the philosophy and structure that best fits your family’s needs and personalities, and then you can adjust that system as necessary. Among the SHG membership you will find a wide variety of homeschooling styles and educational philosophies. If you have questions about any particular philosophy, style, or curriculum, there is a good chance you can find SHG members at Park Day or on the Online Forum who will be happy to share personal experiences on the topic.
Whether you are unschooling or are enrolled full-time in a Parent Partnership Program (see below), you may be interested in local classes. Many businesses and individuals around Seattle offer classes or lessons that are either specifically for homeschoolers or are popular among homeschooling families. Some classes can replace or supplement your home instruction in academic subjects like math, science, or language arts. Others provide arts instruction and performance opportunities for music, dance, drama, or circus. There are many nature and wilderness classes in the Seattle Area. And there is a wide variety of sport and physical education classes. For an extensive list of these local classes, please refer to the SHG Resource Directory.
Community Cooperative Groups (Co-ops)
These groups can be very small, informal, and low-cost or even free (e.g. I’ll teach your kids science, if you teach my kids history) or they can be large with dedicated spaces and hired specialist teachers. Homeschool co-ops generally offer, not only classes, but also social communities with their own park days and events. For a list of local co-ops, please refer to the SHG Resource Directory.
Parent Partnership Programs (PPP)
& Alternative Learning Experiences (ALE)
As homeschooling increases in popularity, public schools have responded by creating alternative homeschooling programs within the school system. These PPP/ALEs function, in many ways, like community cooperatives, but with a few important differences. In most cases, students enrolled in a PPP/ALE are not legally considered homeschoolers under Washington State’s Home-Based Instruction laws. They do not file Declaration of Intent forms and the parent’s educational program is overseen by a school district employee. For a list of local-area PPP/ALEs, please refer to the SHG Resource Directory.
Many options exist for local museum, outdoor, and performance field trips. By organizing group trips, homeschoolers can often receive discount admission prices or access to school programs that are otherwise unavailable to individuals. Some local museums and venues have homeschool days or educational programs available to homeschoolers. Join SHG to learn about upcoming group field trips or refer to the SHG Resource Directory for field trip ideas.
As a homeschooler you are often eligible to receive educational discounts from local retailers. Requirements to receive these discounts vary by retailer (and sometimes by employee). Some retailers will want to see your Declaration of Intent. For others simply telling them that you are a homeschooler is sufficient. For many it can be helpful to show a student or educator ID card. You can create these on your own or use a service that provides ID cards to homeschoolers. Homeschool Buyer’s Coop offers a free printable ID card, or they will laminate and mail it for a small fee. For a list of local retailers offering educational discounts, please refer to the SHG Resource Directory.