I love living in Germany, but I am so grateful that I am not a German citizen. Don’t get me wrong, I love the adorable villages, the food, the rich history, the beautiful markets. I love almost all of it, except for the part where they legally can not Homeschool their children.
In the States, Homeschooling is slowly becoming less of an “extreme” choice. There are Homeschooled kids everywhere. We have support groups and conventions. Companies cater to our needs, and oftentimes, communities embrace us with classes and activities.
Here, Homeschooling is deviant. Once, at an American community information fair, my friend and I had a little table up where we were handing out fliers for our local Homeschool group. A German woman stopped at our table, and grilled us extensively about what made us qualified to teach children. She was very disapproving, and left with her lips pressed in a hard line and one final “tut tut”.
Over the last couple years, she’s hardly been the only German to share with me their dis-concern about my choice. I had a well meaning friend give me a long list of Kindergartens that would take my kids (even the littlest) because it “would be better” and on occasion I get comments from people we bump into at museums.
Mostly, we’re left alone, thankfully, because we are American military. We’ve never been pushed about our choice.
Just because I haven’t been pushed, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be prepared with a solid understanding of my right to Homeschool under the law.
As an American military family stationed overseas, we are protected under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and answer to the laws of the federal government in regards to Homeschooling. The Department of Defense has no restrictions on Homeschooling which means I do not have to be registered, nor do I need to keep and submit any records or proof of progress to any one. I also have the right to seek access to the local American Department of Defense school, to use the school for classes, resources, and even curriculum.
I have a copy of the Department of Defence policy on homeschooling, and I have a passport with my SOFA stamp, and that information makes me feel safe.
I could never homeschool without being armed with this information, and you shouldn’t either.
Before you do anything else, if you are making the choice to homeschool, you need to figure out what the laws of the land are where you live. Some states and situations (like mine here overseas) make homeschooling easy and have little to no oversight. Some have strict regulations on what records you keep, what classes you teach, and even will require you to share your progress with the school board.
Know what you are required to do.
Follow the law.
It’s so much better to just do what is asked of you (and never a bit more, my friends) and keep you and your family safe from persecution than it is to be ignorant of the law and risk repercussions.
To find your state laws, look at your state’s government website and search for the information. Print the actual law, and read it, mark it up, and dig through it until you understand it. Overview websites are helpful for this, but you do need the actual law in your records somewhere (I always recommend going to the source first).