Getting Started

Home Schooling in Iowa

The Home School Assistance Program (HSAP) is one of the legal options under Iowa law in which a family may homeschool. A school district which elects to provide a HSAP must provide an Iowa licensed teacher to supervise the enrolled families. The teacher must have sixteen (16) supervising contacts with the enrolled family throughout the school year. Eight (8) of the contacts must be face-to-face, with the remaining eight (8) contacts being a phone, e-mail or other contact. A HSAP may provide other optional services, but all HASP's must provide the require certified teacher supervision of homeschooled families enrolled in the program.

Why Families Choose to Home School

Linda Dobson, in her book “The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child”, states the following: “What is it about the act of homeschooling that draws people from every political, philosophical, economic, ethnic, religious, and geographic quarter?

  • They recognize a need in their children's lives- be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual - and homeschooling fills it.
  • They recognize a need in their family life- time to be together to share what they value, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual - and homeschooling fills it.

Families choose to homeschool for a variety of reasons. One might be a proactive homeschooler (one who loves the idea and it fits with his lifestyle), a reactive homeschooler (one who does not like the drawbacks of other schooling options), a reluctant homeschooler (all other options have been eliminated), or a temporary homeschooler (homeschooling for a trial period). Knowing the reasons behind your decision to homeschool will help determine your philosophy and goals, and enable you to make homeschooling work for your individual family.

Common Approaches to Home Schooling

When deciding on an approach to homeschooling, a parent considers the needs of the student, the lifestyle the family desires, and the learning styles of both parent and child. Common approaches to homeschooling generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Traditional Approach: a more structured, textbook approach; closely parallels subjects taught at public/private schools; school-at-home.
  • Unit Study Approach: study of a topic includes aspects of basic academic subjects (math, reading, writing); more hands-on and uses libraries and community resources rather than textbooks.
  • Interest Initiated or Unschooling Approach: student's interest directs areas of study/learning; parent supports and facilitates the students learning with “real-life” experiences.
  • Eclectic Approach: combines traditional, unit study, and unschooling; parent will use anything that encourages enthusiasm for learning and meeting the student's needs.

Other viewpoints influencing Home Education include:

  • Classical Approach: highly structured educational style; based on method called the trivium developed by Dorothy Sayers; a three part process of literally training a child's mind; emphasizes ancient disciplines and classics.
  • Moore Formula Approach: embraces readiness principle for all tasks; researched by Raymond and Dorothy Moore; uses the student's interests and a balance of study, work, and community service.
  • Charlotte Mason Approach: uses intellectually nourishing “living books” and narration (a child's telling in his own words - written or orally); developed by British educator Charlotte Mason in the early 1900s; makes time for nature observation, art and music appreciation, and hospitality.

Choosing Curriculum

Choosing the appropriate curriculum for your child(ren) will be dependent primarily on the approach you choose. There are many sources available to help you choose the curriculum that fits your family's needs. Books, catalogs, and the internet are all useful in finding curriculum. Your supervising teacher and the MHSAP Resource Library can help you to get started. Start simple and don't be intimidated by the number of choices available to home schoolers. Trial and error and a sense of adventure in your home school journey will help you discover what works best for you and your children.

Enrollment Procedures

  • MHSAP Enrollment
    To enroll in MHSAP, you must fill out the enrollment form supplied by the MHSAP office and submit a current immunization record. If you live outside of the Marion District, you must also apply for open-enrollment to opt out of your resident district. (See Open Enrollment Procedures)
  • Open Enrollment
    Open enrollment application is available to anyone who does not reside in the Marion School District, but wishes to enroll in MHSAP. An open enrollment application must be filled out in and a copy sent to both the family's resident district and to the Marion District offices. Forms are available through the MHSAP office or from your resident district offices. Deadlines for open enrollment application are March 1st of the year preceding the school year for which open enrollment is desired, for students in grades 1-12. Families wishing to enroll Kindergarten students must file forms with the receiving district by September 1st of the school year of enrollment into kindergarten. There is a “good cause” category for filing after the above deadlines which relates to a change in the student's residence.
  • Dual Enrollment
    Dual enrollment is an option for all homeschooling families. Dual enrollment allows a student to enroll in MISD classes or extracurricular activities. Anyone who is enrolled in MHSAP can check the dual enrollment option when filling out the MHSAP Enrollment Form.
  • Orientation Interview
    Dual enrollment is an option for all homeschooling families. Dual enrollment allows a student to enroll in MISD classes or extracurricular activities. Anyone who is enrolled in MHSAP can check the dual enrollment option when filling out the MHSAP Enrollment Form.