Homeschooling Laws in Georgia

If you’re interested in home schooling your children, you’d better be finding out how to do it legally.  Home schooling is legal in all fifty states but each state has it’s own rules and methods of doing it.

Before we begin this discussion, let me first say that I am not a lawyer.  I have never played one on tv.  I do not want to be a lawyer.  You should consult with your own attorney before taking my advice about ANYTHING.

It is currently legal to home school in all 50 of the states, but each state has their own particular rules that must be followed.  To find out the laws for your state check out the Home School Legal Defense Association, who has detailed information about each state’s requirements.  We plan to join the HSLDA when Phoebe starts first grade just as a little backup.

For Georgia laws, you can check out their requirements here. My interpretation of the laws – AGAIN, I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY, THESE ARE MY INTERPRETATIONS OF THE LAWS – are that Georgia doesn’t require anything too terribly difficult.

The rules as they are on the website:

    • Parent or guardian must annually submit to the superintendent of the local school district a Declaration of Intent to Utilize a Home Study Program by September 1 or within 30 days after a program is established. The local school superintendent will provide a form upon request for this purpose to be returned to that office.
    • The declaration must include the names and ages of the students, the address where the program is located, and the dates of the school year.
    • Parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program provided the teaching parent or guardian possesses at least a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) equivalency diploma, but the parents or guardians may employ a tutor who holds at least a high school diploma or a general education diploma to teach such children.
    • The home study program must include, but is not limited to, instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.
    • The school year must include the equivalent of 180 days of at least 4-1/2 hours of instruction per day unless the child is physically unable to comply with this requirement.
    • Monthly attendance reports must be sent to the local superintendent at the end of each month. The local school superintendent will, upon request, provide the reporting forms.
    • Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm referenced tests. The student must be evaluated at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade. Records of such tests shall be retained.
    • The instructor shall write an annual progress assessment report in each required subject area for each student. These reports shall be retained for at least three years.

My interpretation in a nutshell:

  1. Anyone who is teaching my kid must have a high school diploma.
  2. I have to keep records of what my kid is studying and her progress.
  3. She needs to learn the basics: readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatics and some science and social studies and we need to spend at least 180 days every year studying these things.
  4. I have tell my local school district that I am homeschooling by September 1st every year.  I also control when our calendar begins and ends.  Additionally, I have to send a monthly attendance report to my local school district.  The forms will be provided to me upon request although the GHEA has an Excel version HERE.
  5. Starting with 3rd grade, we need to do some sort of standardized test but we don’t have to give the results to anyone.  We will have to do these tests again in the 6th, 9th, and 12th grades.

See?  Not too bad…

Now an extra added bonus to this is that Georgia has compulsory schooling for kids from 6 to 16 with keeping in mind being that a kid has to be 6 on or before September 1st to start first grade.  So in this case, even though we will be home schooling this Fall, I do not have to start following these rules until 2014.

Are you considering home schooling your child?  How do you feel about what it means to do it legally?

UPDATED: May 9, 2012: The law has just recently changed.  Please see Homeschooling Laws in Georgia: REDUX.

Bracelet #1

In a more perfect world, I would have started with an easier bracelet but that’s not how I roll.

bracelet1-1This bracelet is based on Right Angle Weave and I’ve found a couple of links to get you started on that if you like. You can go here or watch this video to learn it.

I got this particular pattern from this website and she’s got several things there that are very nice and not too difficult.

This bracelet uses Swarovski Crystals in the colors Garnet, Sian and Crystal AB. They are all 4mm bicones and are probably the easiest ones to find. You’ll also need a #12 beading needle, some Fireline (this is actually fishing line), some coordinating seed beads and a clasp.

Another angle of the bracelet.

bracelet1-2And get used to the creepy hand.  I got it especially for this project!

52 Bracelets

pinkpearlssmI have been making jewelry for a very long time.  Really since I was a kid.  I loved beads and bracelets and earrings and anything that shines and sparkles.  Maybe my nickname should be “Magpie” and not Hyppychick – but I digress.

Starting this coming Friday, I’ll be posting a new bracelet every week.  And yes, the name of the series is “52 Bracelets”.  Where I can, I’ll teach you how I did it.  Where the technique is someone else's, I’ll give you the link.

What to do with 40 pounds of chicken (or it’s a Zaycon chicken event!)

IMG_0102Saturday, I picked up a package of 40 pounds of chicken breasts.  Yes, FORTY POUNDS of chicken.

The chicken came by way of Zaycon*, a company that sells wholesale meats at wholesale prices to consumers. 

What to do with all that chicken?

Ideas for you:

I made 11 taco kits, 8 bags of chicken with teriyaki sauce for the grill, and 3 bags of chicken prepped and ready to cook.  I put all the fat and trimmings into my crock pot and made 92 ounces of chicken stock.  Now all I have to do is thaw out what I need when I need it.

It only took a couple of hours to prep all that chicken and we’ve go tons of meals in the freezer as a result.

*The link to Zaycon is a referral link and I do receive a small credit if you sign up.

Be Informed

Storm%20Siren-C_1You’re at home.  In the distance, you hear a siren.  Not a police or fire siren but an odd horn type siren.  What does it mean?  Do you know what you should do? – FEMA and Homeland Security’s Preparedness website – lists 3 key steps to preparedness.  One of these steps is Be Informed.  In this case, it means understanding what you should do if you hear a warning siren or a message scrolling at the bottom of the TV or an Emergency Broadcast System Alert.  It also means learning about what the risks are in your area like hurricanes or tsunamis or tornados and having the knowledge to know what to do if one is coming your way.

Things you can and should do:

  • Make sure everyone in your family knows what to do when they hear emergency warnings.
  • Get a NOAA Emergency Alert Radio. You can get them for about 30 bucks on
  • Make sure everyone in your household can communicate in a disaster.
  • Sign up for your county's Emergency Notification System.  Many counties and localities have First Alert type systems that will text or call you in the event of danger in your area.  In my county, Douglas, the website is First Call. The next county over, Paulding, uses a system called Code Red.  Your local government website should have this information.  You can also check out FEMA and your state’s Emergency Management website for more information.

These are simple things that take very little money and time but will go a long way in telling you what you need to do.

72 Hour Kit Challenge: Part 1

 What is a 72 hour kit?

A 72 hour kit is the grouping of items that would be needed should there be an emergency.  It’s called a “72 hour” kit because 3 days is about how long it takes for emergency crews, Red Cross, local rescue groups, etc. to get mobilized during disasters.

Odds are, you already have most of the stuff that should be in your kit.  Odds are, there will be very little that you actually have to purchase.  However, do you know where a battery operated radio is in your house?  Could you lay your hands on a wrench in less than 3 minutes?  Get your kit together and you’ll know exactly where it is.

I’ll be posting a master 72 hour list that I’ve compiled from a number of sources but for right now, let’s start on simple things.

  • Storage for your kit – this can be a large rolling trash can, a rolling suitcase, backpacks, duffel bags, etc.  Think in terms of mobile.  If you have to evacuate, you need to be able to take this stuff with you.  And remember, even a small child can carry a lightly loaded backpack. 
  • A Sewing Kit – useful for many things
  • A battery operated radio
  • A flashlight – I prefer battery operated versus the crank kind.  Nothing like having the thing go dim after you’ve cranked your brains out to getting it to work.
  • Batteries!!!  Get enough for at least two rounds in the radio and the flashlight.

Another note on the storage: even a cardboard box is better than no kit.  If funds are an issue, just start gathering things in whatever large container you can find.  I’m actually going to use a large plastic storage tote for mine until I can get something else like a suitcase or something.

More items will be coming next month on the 3rd.

Those pesky household files

Household-DrawersmWhere do you keep the “stuff” of daily life?  You know what I’m talking about.  The copy of your auto insurance policy for the next six months?  The bills that need to be paid?  Warranties, manuals, that kind of thing?

I had that stuff all over the house.  Some of it was in my desk drawers; some of it was in John’s desk drawers; some of it was in a file cabinet in the closet.  Heck, we had tax returns in three different locations.

Well no more.

As part of our Spring Cleaning, we gathered all that “stuff” together and weeded out the old paperwork: old paperwork on cars we no longer own, manuals for printers we’ve gotten rid of, THREE YEARS of old utility bills.

Then, I reorganized it into a new filing cabinet that we got.  I have a whole drawer dedicated to the paperwork that matters.

We are using a product called “Freedom Filer” to help keep things organized.  They have a completely logical way of looking at files.  Basically, everything is color coded and the labels make it very clear what you need to do.

For example, we have all of our tax returns going back to before we got married.  I worked for a major tax preparation company during college and the one thing I learned was NEVER THROW AWAY YOUR TAX RETURNS.  Yes, I know everyone says you only have to keep them for 7 years or 10 years or whatever.  I know that I had clients that were audited back as far as the clients could produce returns – one went back 15 years and the Federales still wanted another year to review.

So I don’t EVER get rid of old tax returns.  This system makes it very simple to store and retrieve if necessary.  I usually keep a folder called “TAXES” on it.  At some point during the year, I can’t find that file so I make another folder called “TAXES” – now I have two.  Then if I can’t find either of those, I make a third “TAXES” folder and make a note that somewhere, in all the files, there are THREE folders. This system makes it so much easier. 

even-year-taxThis year, 2012, is an even year, so things are filed in the EVEN TAX YEAR folder.  Everything during the year that needs to be kept for tax purposes can be thrown into this folder.   It’s a nice blue tab that looks different than all the other tabs and is easy to both see and get to.  No digging through a zillion manila folders looking for “Taxes”. 

Next year, when I do my taxes, I’ll pull this folder out and haveodd-tax-year everything to get my taxes done.  then I’ll put my completed return in the drawer and move it to the back of the cabinet.  The ODD Tax Year folder will have it’s contents moved to a folder marked TAX YEAR 1 because the year, 2011, ends in 1.  Then, I can start gathering everything for it.  Easy-peasy, right?

In-BoxsmI have one folder near the front of the file called In-Box.  This is where all the mail goes – minus ads and catalogs – until I can file it or pay it.  It works BEAUTIFULLY!!  I used to just pile things up on a corner of my desk.  But with a three and half year old and a 1 year old, I’d find writing on things or my mortgage bill in the toy box. Now, I go through the In-Box about once a week when I pay bills and file everything away.  You do have to be pretty disciplined, but this system makes it easy to file things away quickly.

Yes, this system is 33 bucks.  Yes, that’s 33 bucks just for the labels.  But I’ll tell you this: I am enormously happy with this system.

What do you use to keep your paper monster under control?

How Freedom Filer works

Quick Disclosure: I am an affiliate.  Some photos in this post  will take you to Amazon and if you make a purchase, yes, I get paid.  However, I only link to products that I have actually used and approve.

Prepared Not Scared

Storms knock out all the utilities.  You are alone with a small child.  Would you be prepared?

SFOG2In September of 2009, I was at home alone with my then 15 month old daughter, Phoebe. The area had been having heavy rains for several days. During a storm a couple of days before, lightning struck nearby and fried our cable box, two telephones and my husband's brand new iMac. Luckily, my cell phone would let me check the weather and emails.

Right after we dropped off my husband at MARTA that morning, the bottom fell out of the sky. If you experienced it, then you know what I'm talking about. The rain fell so hard I literally couldn't see more than 10 feet from my front door. During the worst of the rainfall that day, my washing machine, which I had turned on just moments before, made a strange whining noise. I quickly realized that we didn't have any water and I turned off the machine before there was any permanent damage. I used my cell phone to call the water company to find out what was happening and the power went off as I heard a recorded message telling me that the water system was overwhelmed by the rain and service was unavailable. So there I was, with a young child, no water, no power, and with no other way to communicate with the world besides a cell phone with a battery at 50% while a storm raged outside the likes of which I never hope to see again.

I was scared. But I thought quickly about my resources: what did I have? I had several cases of bottled water as well as a couple of gallons of water I had bought weeks before. I also decided to brave the rain and pull a large plastic trash can out into the deluge for water to flush the toilet. I may not have electricity or a way to find out what was going on, but, by golly, I was gonna get to go to the bathroom! We had peanut butter and bread so we were ok for food for a day or so. Luckily, the power came back on within a few hours and the water came back on the next day albeit with a boil water order.

The next few days are now marked as one of the largest and most expensive floods in history.

Our family was lucky and had a few things at hand. But this story also shows that the emergency doesn't have to be a terrorist attack or a Zombie apocalypse for preparedness to be important.

Over the next few months, this space will feature some preparedness information for you and your family. I will be issuing challenges for you to complete. Completing one task a month will get you on your way. I will also challenge you to put together your own 72 hour kit. This kit contains everything you might need in the event of an emergency. You probably already have a lot of these items on hand but have no idea where they all are! So we’ll have our own little scavenger hunt to make it fun!

Our theme for this whole series is not to scare you, but to make you aware and more importantly PREPARED.

"Prepared, not scared" is my motto.

What have you learned from emergencies that you have incorporated into your daily life? Let me know in the comments!