Wisconsin is one of the states where you can find the greatest legal flexibility for homeschooling. This flexibility makes it easier for parents and students to focus on the learning experience. Because of this, Wisconsin parents are aware of the positive impact homeschooling has on their children’s education.
To homeschool in Wisconsin, parents must file a notice of intent with the Department of Public Instruction and meet two requirements:
- Parents must guarantee 875 hours of instruction each school year.
- Present a sequence-based curriculum, where children progress by building on previous knowledge.
It is becoming increasingly clear that homeschooling is not a temporary study alternative. This time is crucial to analyze what is best for your family responsibly. Therefore, homeschooling in Wisconsin and all its relevant aspects will be the main topic of this article.
Unlike other states, Wisconsin offers only one option for homeschooling. The only homeschooling option is for the parent as guardian, and teacher, and solely responsible for the child’s education.
Wisconsin also does not consider online schools to be homeschooling. This is significant for parents who want to start homeschooling for the first time since they must be aware of the commitment and time they must invest to succeed.
Some of the relevant things you should know before you start homeschooling in Wisconsin are:
- Parents are not required to follow a state-chosen curriculum. Parents are free to choose their curriculum.
- Parents are not required to take the state-mandated tests required of public school students. On the contrary, parents can decide what kind of assessment they wish to give the homeschooled student. This means the student is not required to take the annual standardized tests.
- Parents are not required to have school officials review and approve curricula, nor are they required to submit progress reports or test results.
- Wisconsin law does not require parents to be certified, nor does it require any specific qualifications. For Wisconsin, homeschooling is equivalent to private school, and teachers in these schools are not required to be certified.
- Student attendance in homeschooling is mandatory for children between 6 and 18.
- The hours required by law under homeschooling are 875 hours per school year. No regulation stipulates a specific number of hours of classes per day.
- You must teach compulsory subjects are reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and health.
In Wisconsin, parents are solely responsible for selecting the curriculum they feel is best for their children. Some families purchase a curriculum, while others prefer to create their own using a particular approach to achieve academic goals.
Some families prefer not to use curriculum but rather let life experiences be a significant source of learning. Most families combine these three styles to create a unique curriculum with the best of each world.
Schoolhouse Teachers is a valuable resource for parents who want to customize their child’s learning path but stay within the state’s regulations. Schoolhouse Teachers is highly ranked, providing extensive lessons for all ages, grades, and learning levels.
Calvert, Abeka, Alpha Omega Publications, Carson Dellosa, and Evan-Moor are other options to look into for printed textbooks and learning materials. Also, remember to take full advantage of free resources available through the local library, community center, recreation facilities, and homeschool groups or co-ops.
Another common occurrence is that as the family gains experience in homeschooling, they find that the curriculum’s focus changes over time. Hence, being flexible and open to change benefits this process.
Another trend observed today in the curricula selected by families is their strong inclination towards a technological approach. In this type of curriculum, technology-based interactive elements and activities predominate. Some characteristics of this type of curriculum include:
- Plans that offer secure, ad-free online learning.
- Practice with interactive software to deepen the learning process.
- Multimedia lessons, similar to video games, convey complex concepts in a fun way.
- Classes are short and offer online evaluation options.
- All classes match curriculum objectives.
Before starting an online curriculum, check your district’s guidelines and regulations to ensure online learning is accepted as a proper form of education. Should your child ever attend public school, it is best to have documentation supporting the chosen home-based learning method.
Wisconsin law does not require the parent to keep homeschool records; however, doing so may be helpful to you in the future. They can be beneficial when the student is preparing to enter college, the military, or Social Security.
Among the records you should manage are the following:
- Work samples for each school year.
- Tests and quizzes.
- Extracurricular activities.
- Home school certificates.
- Attendance and immunization records.
The state of Wisconsin has no additional requirements for homeschooling special education children. If you have a child with this condition, you must only comply with the regular rules established by the state.
Wisconsin also does not have a law entitling these students to receive state-funded special education services. However, school districts may offer exceptional services at their discretion. You should contact your school district for more information.
A school board may allow the homeschooled student to have access to certain activities in public schools. Each school board will establish what the student’s minimum admissions standards are.
The school board may ask the family to submit a statement confirming that the student meets the age, academic and disciplinary requirements. Under this scenario, homeschooled students may:
- Participate in school district athletic and extracurricular activities.
- Homeschooled students can take two classes per semester at any public school if they meet all requirements.
Given Wisconsin’s flexibility, explaining the state’s testing and graduation requirements is pertinent, as these aspects have great relevance to homeschooling methodology.
Wisconsin does not require testing of any kind as a requirement for compliance or graduation under the homeschooling approach. But even though these assessments are not mandatory, many parents choose to have their children participate in these tests. This purpose is to evaluate and demonstrate that they are at the same level as students in the traditional schooling system.
This action is not unreasonable since if the family decides to re-enroll the child in a public or private school at some point, these institutions will require the results of these tests.
In Wisconsin, the graduation requirements for homeschooled students depend solely on the parents. That means that if the family follows the law to the letter, they can determine what their child must do to graduate.
Another element to consider with this system is that parents can tailor the child’s curriculum to the life they want after graduation. The parents are responsible for issuing the graduation diploma when the child meets the requirements set by the parents.
To make homeschooling a well-rounded experience, field trips for academic and recreational purposes will be an ideal and necessary complement. Fortunately, Wisconsin has many fantastic places that will be exceptional classrooms for homeschooled students.
- Pattison State Park, Superior. This park has 9 miles of hiking. We can see Manitou Falls, the fourth-highest waterfall in the Rockies. Here you will find a great place to take panoramic pictures of the falls.
- Forts Folle Avoine Historical Park, Danbury. This logging trail allows visitors to see what life was like for fur traders. Here history becomes fun for children and adults alike.
- Fred Smith’s Concrete Park, Phillips. This concrete park is a unique attraction to appreciate Mr. Smith’s concrete sculptures. You will be among horses, cowboys, Indians, loggers, and even a giant bear.
- Madeline Island Museum, La Pointe. This museum has unique artifacts from the fur traders and Native Americans of Wisconsin.
Not only will you find Wisconsin a state with open arms for homeschooling, but you can also count on many associations and groups willing to provide you with the advice you need. Some of these groups are:
- Muirland Life Learners.
- Wolf River Home Educators.
- F.I.S.H. Home Education Network.
- Splendor of Truth Catholic Home Educators.
- Appleton Christian Homeschool Fellowship.
- Ozaukee Homeschoolers.
- Valley Home Schoolers, Inc.
- Master´s Touch Homeschool Group.
- Milwaukee Area Home Learners.
- Menomonie Area Homeschool Group.
One of the main lessons learned from this tour of homeschooling is that Wisconsin is one of the states where this practice is easier to carry out. The only thing remaining is to responsibly comply with the established regulations to focus all the energy and dedication to ensure that the children have the best possible education within the family unit.