How We Homeschool in Nebraska

by Kimberley McGee
homeschool in nebraska
As part of our How We Homeschool series, we reached out to a family to ask how they homeschool in Nebraska. We get a lot of parents asking how to homeschool in different parts of the country and the world. 
Alyssa Riggan is a stay-at-home mom of two kids, 3 years old and 9 months old! She started homeschooling last year. They attend a co-op as well as church and other activities around town throughout the week as a large part of their homeschool, which they pair with Abeka. She shares homeschool tips and insight on her site, Teaching With Faith.

What inspired you to start homeschooling?

I started homeschooling for a few reasons.  First off, my daughter’s birthday falls right after the cut off for school and I felt like she at this time can handle more advanced curriculum.  At 2 years old, I started her with a learning through play curriculum.  She finished that before the summer and then at the beginning of the current school year we started a 3 year old curriculum even though she wasn’t 3 years old yet.  

Why not choose public school at this time?

I feel as though homeschooling gives me the freedom to let her go with her flow of learning and not hold her back.  I feel as though if she went to public school, she would be held back because she is advanced for her age.  Another reason is that we used to live near Washington, D.C. and I felt as though the schools were very political.  

As a Christian family, we felt as though there were issues in the schools that we didn’t want to discuss with a kindergartener.  We do believe we need to have these conversations at one point, but we wanted control over those situations.  With that, we are a one income family and cannot afford private school.  A new reason that we have added to our list is the freedom to travel and move.  

Do you plan to continue to homeschool?

My husband is an Assistant Professor at a local university and working on obtaining tenure.  If he achieves this, in a few years he might want to take a sabbatical and move for a year or so somewhere else.  If our children are in school, we would have to unenroll them from school and then reenroll them where ever we end up.  This would mean an interruption in schooling.  

So if we are homeschool, we will just have to research homeschool laws and set up our homeschool in our new location.  We also would want to discover this near area for the year or so we are there so homeschooling gives us this freedom.  This is a lot to say we love the freedom that homeschooling can give us in varying aspects of our lives.

What are some of the benefits you have found with homeschooling?

The biggest benefit I have found with homeschooling is freedom.  We love that some days we can take a break or travel or go exploring and not have to deal with attendance anywhere.  We are able to either work ahead or just pick up where we were at when we return.  Also it gives us a ton of new learning experiences that cannot happen in the classroom.

What has been a surprise in your homeschooling?

I am surprised how much my daughter has learned even on things I haven’t officially taught her.  We have been doing walks in the evening as a family and she has picked up on right vs left.  She usually gets it correct.  I hav never officially taught her this concept, but she has just picked it up.  She is also now able to figure out what letter different words start with.  We have worked on this a little, but now she will randomly just say “b..b…bowl, B starts bowl.”  She has learned a ton in even just the last year.  I can’t wait to see her learn more!

Do you feel there is a stigma to homeschooling and have you had any family respond adversely to your decision to homeschool?

The biggest issue we discovered is many people believing that socialization only happens in the classroom.  We just show them how social our daughter is and how easily adaptable she is to new situations.  We moved to our current location about a year ago and we visited many churches in the area when we first got here.  She would just go right into any class without any issues.  She is very social and able to talk to anyone.  I have stopped trying to have the conversation with others about socialization and I just let my daughter’s action speak for itself.


What tips can you offer those who are considering homeschooling? 

One of my biggest tip, especially for little ones is to have fun.  Right now, my daughter asks to do school everyday (including weekends) which shows she is excited about it.  There are a few days where she gets board with work while we are working, depending on why she wants to stop I will let her take a break or move onto another activity.  We keep it active and fun.  We also keep it short.  School usually lasts about 30 min/45 minutes.  No need to be sitting at a desk all day. 
For all ages, make homeschooling work for your family.  Some families work great with unschooling and travel schooling. Those parents are great at making lessons on the spot.  Other families need to make homeschool more like school at home.  They need a plan and need directions.  This is more like me, I use a structured curriculum and add in learning activities as warranted but still make it fun!  

What about socialization?

Also find your tribe.  We have linked with a great local co-op that includes littles as much as older children.  This works great for us because my daughter not only interacts with other preschoolers, but also middle schoolers and high schoolers.  She plays out in the field with them during the free time and has a blast.  The older girls help in the nursery and love on my children.  I love the multiple ages all working together to have a safe and fun day!

What curriculum do you use or have used that you enjoyed and why?

We use Abeka curriculum with a lot of added activities.  I worked at a daycare preschool for a few years where taught Abeka K3 and K4.  I loved the phonics program that was laid out very logical for children.  I love that they included the Bible in all areas of learning.  I also have a lot of activities that I have done over the years as a preschool teacher that I have also used.  I believe that all children learn through play the most, but I have to have a plan and the Abeka curriculum gives me that plan.  I am excited to start teaching cursive next year with this program.  

Can you offer tips for homeschooling in your area? Any good groups you can share for our readers who may be moving and/or live in that area?

Homeschooling in Nebraska is pretty simple from my research.  Parents have to fill out some forms with the state and local public school at the beginning and every year.  Then you have to teach a certain number of hours in different subjects, but this is only looked at if you are audited.  There is no yearly exam or portfolio needed.  There are a ton of great groups in our area for homeschoolers.  One group that is highly recommended if you are a Christian homeschooling family is HOPE.  Also we have two major co-ops in our area, Lincoln Friday Classes and C.L.A.S.S. Inc.  Also you can check out Nebraska Homeschool to get other groups as there are also a ton of homeschool groups throughout the state.

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