hsp handbook

Mission Statement

The Sovereign Grace Home School Program exists to glorify God by helping members of Sovereign Grace Church educate and disciple their children.

Philosophy Statement

God has given parents the command to bring up their children in the training and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:4-7). God has called all Christian parents to raise their children to know Him and to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). We believe that the local church is a means of grace to help parents accomplish this task. Along with diligent character training and the teaching of theology, parents must give careful consideration to the academic environment in which they place their children. While we do not believe that homeschooling is God’s will for every family, we do see clearly in Scripture that parents have the prerogative and responsibility to choose the educational method they believe best suits the needs of their children and their goals in exercising the parental responsibility to train their children (Proverbs 22:6). For those members of Sovereign Grace Church (SGC) who seek to train and educate their children through homeschooling our Sovereign Grace Home School Program (HSP) is available to support and assist them. We seek to do this in four ways: 1) help prepare students for life by articulating a vision of academic excellence, 2) establish and adhere to systems of mutual accountability, 3) coordinate group activities, and 4) facilitate entrance into higher education and the workplace, all the while urging students and parents alike to live for the glory of God.

The Nature of Education

We believe that the goal of education is to discover God’s truth and to apply it to our lives. This enables us to effectively serve Him. Since God’s truth is limitless, we view education as a life-long process of seeking after the truth. The primary source of God’s truth is the Bible, which we believe is the complete and final revelation. All other sources of instruction are secondary and must be measured against the standard of God’s Word. We further believe that education must be balanced. Luke 2:52 says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Similarly, true Christian education must encompass the mental, physical, spiritual, and social aspects of human development.

The Role of the Parent

We believe that children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and that parents are to “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This means that parents have the ultimate responsibility before God to provide for godly instruction for their children. We further believe instruction happens in the daily activities of life (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). As the child matures parents have the responsibility to seek the Lord for the academic education of their children. Whether they choose to provide home instruction or to enroll their child in a public or private school, parents cannot before God abdicate their primary responsibility for godly training. In a homeschooling environment, the father takes the role as the “headmaster” of the home. He guides and directs the mission and vision of the family’s education, giving support and care for his wife. The wife has a complementary role, usually acting as the primary “teacher” in the family. In submitting to God and her husband, she takes on the daily activities of fulfilling the mission and vision of the family’s education.

The Role of the Church

Ephesians 4:12-13 states that the purpose of the church is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” The pastors of SGC have made it a priority to assist parents as they embrace their God-given responsibility to educate their children. The HSP is provided as a service to those families in SGC who choose to educate their children at home.

Program Overview

Sovereign Grace Church (SGC) through the ministry of the Sovereign Grace Home School Program (HSP) provides:

1. Involvement in an SGC ministry

a. Pastoral and spiritual oversight from SGC

b. Involvement and fellowship with other SGC homeschooling families

2. Enrollment in a state approved program

a. Provides a legal standing with the state of Maryland involving no direct oversight from public school or Maryland Department of Education officials.

          1) Homeschool families bear the responsibility to send a Home Schooling Notification Form to their county school. Information regarding this form is contained in this handbook.

          2) Families accepted into the HSP are covered legally in the sense that they are involved in a state-recognized home school satellite program. In the event of some legal course of action taken against a family, the HSP does not offer legal consultation or representation. Families are encouraged to consider joining the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) to secure this kind of protection (The HSLDA offers many things including legal help and protection, resources like training and seminars, news alerts on legal proceedings, court decisions, laws being voted on, etc.).

b. Satisfies the compulsory attendance statutes.

Admission Policy and Procedures

The HSP is a ministry of SGC to its members. Families who are involved in the HSP must be in agreement with the philosophy and policies of the church and be members in good standing. Admission to the HSP is deemed a privilege and not a right.

Criteria for Admission

1. Both parents* are members in good standing of SGC (i.e. regular participation in Sunday services, regular participation in care group, regular participation in parent/teen ministries if applicable, and tithing regularly).

2. Both parents are in agreement that homeschooling is the best alternative for the children they are seeking to enroll, and accept full responsibility for the education of their children.

3. The parents agree to provide regular, thorough instruction for all children enrolled in the HSP, in accordance with state regulations.

4. The parents agree to maintain work samples in required subject areas and have these available for review.

5. The parents agree to pay all fees in a timely manner.

6. The parents agree to provide Academic Plans and the appropriate quarterly progress reports if requested, for each child enrolled in the HSP.

7. The parents agree to submit to one home visit per year by a reviewer.

8. The parents agree to accept the pastoral team of SGC as their final authority in matters related to the ministry of the HSP.

9. The parents agree to the statements in the Statement of Agreement below.

*An applicant who is a member of SGC may submit a request for a waiver to the requirement that "both parents" be members of SGC. This request must be submitted in writing to the pastors, explaining reasons for the request. The pastors will review each request on a case-by-case basis and provide a response to the applicant within 30 days of receipt of the request.

Nondiscrimination Policy

The HSP does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, or ethnic origin in the administration of it educational policies, admissions policies, or programs. The HSP admits students of any race, color, national, or ethnic origin to all programs and activities with equal rights and privileges. We believe that Christ came to all ethnic groups, saving some from all ethnic groups, thus glorifying himself through all ethnic groups. We count it our privilege to serve students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds who otherwise qualify for admission.

Enrollment Procedures

1. Arrange for an interview with the pastor who oversees the HSP. Both parents should be present at this time.

2. Submit the New Family Enrollment Form to the church office.

3. Arrange for transfer of records from previous schools, if applicable.

4. A Home Schooling Notification Form is to be filed with your county school superintendent at least 15 days prior to the first day you start homeschooling in Maryland. This is the only form required for homeschooling families by the State of Maryland at this time. You must fill it out your first year, and update it only if (1) you add another student to your home school or (2) one of your students is no longer enrolled in the HSP. To obtain the Home Schooling Notification form, call the Pupil Personnel Worker (Pupil Service Office) of the public school that your student would attend. Click here for a list of Pupil Personnel Service Offices in Harford County; click here for a link to Baltimore County Pupil Personnel Services. If you are unsure of the public school your child would attend, contact Harford County Public Schools or Baltimore County Public Schools. More information on current homeschooling bylaws for Maryland can be found here.

5. In subsequent years, only an HSP Registration Renewal Form with applicable fees needs to be submitted to the church office.

Continuance in the HSP is dependent upon successfully fulfilling the above criteria.

Statement of Agreement

The following are principles that SGC holds to be essential for us to work together with parents to ensure a truly Christian and God-honoring education. Parents involved in the HSP must be able to make the following affirmations:

1. We believe that God has given us the primary responsibility for training our child.

2. We desire to have our child receive a distinctively Christian education. We understand that the doctrines of SGC will be considered a part of the curriculum of the HSP and will be often used, referred to, and drawn upon for inspiration, insights, and correction, as well as to illuminate academic lessons and all activities.

3. Our goal for the instruction of our child is academic excellence built on the foundation of Christian character. We will seek to develop our child’s character according to the standards of God’s Word.

4. We will make a wholehearted effort to improve in our ability to parent our child, and will attend all scheduled parent meetings and conferences and will take advantage of printed materials that are made available to us.

5. We will endeavor to develop and maintain a godly atmosphere in our home by exercising control over inappropriate influences on our child and by modeling a Christ-like life to the best of our ability. We will seek to teach biblical principles and truths to our child, and make relevant applications of God’s Word to the circumstances of our family life.

6. We will demonstrate our faith to our child through personal devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and through faithful involvement at SGC. We understand that this includes regular attendance at corporate meetings and involvement in a care group.

7. We willingly desire the HSP to review our homeschooling and progress throughout the year in order to help us determine where deficiencies may exist and how to remove those deficiencies. We recognize that we need to maintain minimum standards to be eligible for continuance in the HSP.

8. We will maintain integrity in all of our dealings with SGC, which includes the full payment of annual registration for inclusion in the HSP.

9. We understand it is our responsibility to inform SGC in a timely manner if we withdraw our child from the HSP.

Program Oversight and Requirements

A key component to the HSP is the oversight and assistance provided by our “reviewers.” Reviewers are home educators with experience who are assigned to each family in the HSP for the purpose of providing ongoing assessment and adherence to our standards and requirements. These individuals are available as needed to assist your family through consultation, encouragement, and prayer. They can and seek to assist families in the choice and use of appropriate curriculum and in the evaluation of students’ work and ongoing progress.

Record Keeping Requirements

1. An Academic Plan is to be filed with the HSP Coordinator by September 30. For those registering with the HSP after September 30, an academic plan is to be filed within 30 days of joining.

2. Quarterly Progress Reports (QPRs) are required for:

• The first and second year that families that are beginning to homeschool
• First year that families are homeschooling in the HSP
• Other families that will benefit from the structure of the QPR as determined by the HSP.
• As determined by the HSP reviewer and coordinator

3. Annual Home School Reviews

4. High school grades are to be turned in at the end of each semester and averaged at the end of the year. If your student is not halfway through a credit course by the end of the first semester, select “Incomplete” for that course (this will not become part of the permanent record). When the student has finished half of his work for that course, turn in the grade.

5. If a high school student enters the HSP after high school has begun, credits may be awarded for previous work based upon documentation of that work, interviews with the parent(s) and student, and/or the results of an assessment test.

6. The requirements of this high school program may be altered for a student with special academic needs.

Academic Plan

An Academic Plan is a written description of courses, including textbooks and/or books, each student will take during the year as determined by the parents and in accordance with the HSP required subjects. Please include the number of chapters per textbook that will be covered. Parents should plan a sufficient amount of academic study for each child.

Quarterly Progress Report

A Quarterly Progress Report (QPR) is the equivalent of a report card. The purpose of the QPR is to document the progress each student is making in accordance with the Academic Plan submitted. This document should reflect that regular and thorough instruction is taking place in the home.

Each QPR is a record of the curriculum that each student has studied, the parent’s method of evaluating the progress, and the grade the student has earned in each subject.

Four QPRs per student should be submitted online each academic year that they are required. Due dates are at approximately nine-week intervals from the date the student begins the academic year. Any family that foresees a need for an extension should notify their reviewer prior to the due date.

Annual Review

Every family is legally required to submit to an annual review. The HSP assigns a reviewer who conducts the review, typically in the spring/summer.

Families are to maintain samples of relevant materials for your reviewers. It is suggested that the parent journal activities for those subjects that do not have written work. Keep in mind that the purpose of our reviewers is not to judge your children’s progress, but to protect you by making sure you have sufficient documentation and are providing regular and thorough instruction in your home.

Testing

The HSP recommends that all 3rd, 5th, and/or 8th graders participate in standardized testing in the spring, as a way for you to track their performance. High school students in 9th, 10th and 11th grades are urged to take the PSAT test in the fall. More information about the SAT can be found at www.collegeboard.com.

Resolution of Conflict

If a family disagrees with any of the decisions made by the HSP, the parents should first make a direct appeal to their reviewer and then to the HSP Coordinator. If conciliation does not take place, the parents may ask for a meeting with both the HSP Coordinator and the pastor who oversees the HSP. The decision of this pastor, in conjunction with his fellow members of the SGC pastoral team, in all cases will be considered final.

Communication

Documents and forms, including Academic Plans and QPRs, are can be accessed through our church website. Other communication will be sent to HSP families through email.

Liability

Parents are expected to maintain health insurance for their own children and to provide compensation for any damage caused by their children. The HSP can accept no liability for any injury or damage caused as a result of its activities.

Required Subjects

The following courses are mandatory requirements to participate in the HSP, and most are also required by the State of Maryland.

Grades K-2:

1. Bible
2. Science (1/2 year)
3. Social Studies (1/2 year)
4. Language Arts, including reading, phonics/spelling, and handwriting 
5. Math
6. Art, Music, Health, and Physical Education

Grades 3-8:

1. Bible
2. Language Arts, including reading/literature, grammar, composition, spelling, vocabulary, handwriting, and phonics where appropriate.
3. Science
4. Social Studies
5. Math
6. Art, Music, Health, and Physical Education

Grades 9-12: (Credit Requirements for Diploma)

 General Diploma  
Bible
Science (Biology required, 2 lab courses from any/all of earth, life, environmental, & physical science)  3
Math (Algebra & Geometry required, plus 2 additional math course) 4
Social Studies (World & US History & local/state/national Gov't. required)
English
Physical Education 1/2 
Health 1/2 
Technology
 Fine Arts
Other: 2 credits World Language/Advanced Technology & 3 electives (Art & Music recommended) OR 4 Career & Technology Program AND 1 elective (Art & Music recommended)
   
TOTAL 24 

A self-designed 4-year English program should include the following elements:

General Diploma:
• Complete at least one year of Grammar/Composition with four short compositions per year and one research paper demonstrating correct use of references and bibliography.
• Give at least one speech to a group outside the immediate family.
• Read at least 4-6 books/year with at least one classic/year when not using a literature textbook. With a literature textbook, read 2-4 books with at least one classic/year.

College Prep:
• Complete at least two years of Grammar/Composition with four short compositions and two research papers demonstrating correct use of references and bibliography.
• Give at least one speech to a group outside the immediate family.
• Read literature textbooks and 15 additional books.

The student must complete a total of 24 credits in the subject areas outlined above. A credit will be determined by any one of the following criteria:

1. Coverage of at least 3/4 of a standard textbook in the course area

• Parents should maintain a portfolio of the student's work in that subject area. That work should include answers to exercises, tests, quizzes, reports, etc. The student need not complete the textbook; however, the student must cover enough material to ensure overall knowledge of the subject. If you choose to skip 1/4 of a textbook, record what you are skipping. The exception to this would be in the area of math. For example, all of Algebra I must be completed for the student to go on to Algebra II. (NOTE: A self-designed English course must also contain all of the components listed above).

2. 120 logged hours spent in the course area (150 hours for a lab course).

• Time recorded may include time spent working on projects, viewing related, videos or films, going on a related field trip, studying independently, attending a class, as well as actual instruction time. (NOTE: A self-designed English course must also contain all of the components listed above).

3. Completion of a semester course at a college or business school.

• To use this option, you must retain a copy of the student's grade report from the college or school from which the course was taken.

4. Passing the Advanced Placement Exam in the course area.

• To receive credit, student's test report must be retained.

Probation

1. Academic Probation

If at any time during the school year it is the opinion of the HSP Coordinator that a student is not making sufficient progress, the HSP Coordinator will send a letter to your family notifying you of the deficiency and requesting a conference within 30 days. This conference may include the pastor who oversees the HSP. A plan of action will be mutually derived upon for reversing the deficiency, and a date will be set for another home visit in approximately 60 days to assess progress. During the 60-day remediation period, the student will be placed on Academic Probation. If the HSP Coordinator determines that the deficiency has been addressed and remediated, the student will be removed from Academic Probation. If the deficiency has not been satisfactorily addressed, the HSP Coordinator may either continue the Academic Probation period or meet with the pastor to recommend that the student is dismissed from the HSP.

2. Administrative Probation

If your family fails to submit required documents (i.e. Academic Plan, Quarterly Progress Reports), your family shall be placed on Administrative Probation and will be notified by mail. Failure to comply promptly or repeated delinquency may result in dismissal from the HSP.

High School Home Schooling

Your family is entering a new stage of homeschooling—that of guiding a young person through the final years of education at home, while preparing for God's call on his or her life. While this task may seem intimidating, the HSP is here to assist you. We ask that you prayerfully seek the Lord's will for your student in every step of this process.

While careful record keeping has always been important in your homeschool, it becomes extremely important when a student enters high school years. You must now begin thinking in terms of credits. Your student will be covering fewer subjects each year, but those subjects will require more work and in-depth study than on the elementary level. We will assist you in awarding credits that college or other schools will accept. For us to do that, record-keeping procedures will change for the high school student.

There are some records you will want to keep yourself, particularly if your student is interested in college. Colleges are looking for well-rounded students displaying initiative, independence, and industry. It is especially important to include any awards, honors, letters of appreciation, clubs, employment, hobbies, field trips, or anything else the student does beyond the required course work. If your student is involved in any volunteer activities or holds a leadership position, these should be documented by a letter of reference from the immediate supervisor. Personal references or letters of recommendation from your pastor, youth leader, employer, instructor—or anyone who can attest to the student's activities—are important.

Many high school students take the PSAT test in the ninth, tenth, and eleventh grades. The National Merit Scholarship Committee looks at the scores received in the eleventh grade. Taking the test in earlier years helps prepare students for the test in the eleventh grade. Taking the PSAT prepares the student for the SAT, which is usually required for admission into college. We recommend students take the SAT in the eleventh grade and then again early in the twelfth grade. Taking the test more than once is recommended since many colleges will consider the top scores.