How To Create a Great IHIP In NY

How am I supposed to know what I want to cover over an entire year? How do I choose a curriculum? I don’t even know what my kids is supposed to learn this year?! HELP!

The Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) is the second basic requirement for a homeschooling family in NY. The IHIP should be through of like a map; you should have a starting point (where your child is at now) and an end point (where you hope they will be at the end of the year) and a general idea of how you’d like to get there. Just like with a real map, there are lots of ways to get to the end point. The key in writing an IHIP is to not be so specific that you box yourself into one route and miss all the other opportunities for exploration along the way.

The Basics

Please remember that no homeschool paperwork needs to be filed until the year in which a child turns 6 on or before Dec 31 (or Dec 1 if you live in NYC). If you want to homeschool before that, go ahead! You can even sit kindergarten out without penalty. Regardless, paperwork still is not required until age 6 in NY.

According to the NYS homeschool regulations, the IHIP must include the following:

  1. The child’s name, age, and grade.

  2. A list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks OR plan of instruction to be used in each of the required subjects listed. (* Please pay attention to that word ‘OR’ (emphasis mine). Most people create a plan of instruction and skip the curriculum, textbooks, and syllabi.)

  3. The dates you want to submit your quarterly reports, spaced in logical intervals.

  4. The names of individuals proving instruction. (If you know them. Not everyone does at the time they create their IHIP.)

  5. A statement if your child is complying with the homeschool regulations by enrolling full-time in a program at a degree granting program. (This is generally for the oldest homeschoolers so, ignore this if you have littles. )

The part of those requirement that hang people up the most is #2. Frequently, well-meaning parents start writing down every single thing listed in an effort to make the IHIP look '“good”. In realty, that’s a whole lot of unnecessary work that will not serve you. Why? Because a homeschool student in NY is expected to complete 80% of the material outlines in their IHIP by the end of the year. The more you write in the IHIP, there more you have to cover to get to that 80%. Do yourself a favor and keep it simple and focused on one option.

Most people choose to write out a plan of instruction. Curriculum or textbook lists can be quite simple, however, such lists can also box you into something you may find your child doesn’t do well with. Writing a plan of instruction allows you flexibility and creativity and, if well-crafted, gives you wiggle room to change the plan as needed.

A Well-Crafted IHIP

Well-crafted IHIPS have 3 things in common.

  1. They include all of the required information.

  2. They use language and detail the DOE understands and respects.

  3. They are vague enough to allow flexibility throughout the year.

#1 is easy to attain with a little attention to detail and double checking. But how to balance #2 & 3? How can you possibly give detail and use DOE acceptable language while still being vague? It’s actually not as hard as you think.

First, decide what your educational philosophy and goals are. Will your child self-direct their learning? Do you wish to base the bulk of your child’s education around nature and outdoor experiences? In your family, is literature a central component of an excellent education? Are you aiming to prepare your child for a rigorous post-secondary education? What do you hope you child gains by the end of this year? Is confidence a greater indicator of growth than math scores for you?

Knowing where you are headed and why will help you fill in the blanks as you create your IHIP. After all, there’s no point in searching out math textbooks to list on an IHIP if your child will be a self-directed learner. Likewise, there’s no point in trying to figure how to get baking into the math section of your IHIP if your kiddo is working a rigorous math curriculum with a private tutor that can just be listed and described.

Next, get familiar with Department Of Education (DOE) language. Use the exact subject names as written in the NYS regulations. If your child takes Biology in 9th grade, list it as such and indicate that this is a science credit. Do not just list names of classes that fall under the ‘electives’ heading, actually give them a label of “Electives” on your IHIP. This may sound slightly silly but matching your wording to theirs creates an instantly readable document for them.

You can also peruse the NYS benchmarks and standards for students in your child’s grade. You’re not looking to emulate exactly what the state does in public school, you’re looking to get an idea of what they think are appropriate standards and what language they use to communicate those standards. You need to speak their language in order to effectively translate your goals into something the DOE will understand.

Finally, put it all together. It may seem daunting, but it’s really just about thinking more fully about what learning looks like and wording it eloquently. Here are a couple of examples of effective translation in a well-crafted IHIP:

  • Before: My 6 yr old will play and not focus on academics this year.

    After: Deandre will explore arithmetic everyday, through organic exploration. Opportunities to add, subtract, and multiply will be provided regularly. Conceptualizing the value in numbers will be encouraged and estimation will be a key practice in developing his number sense. We will utilize dominoes, workbooks, calculators, dice, and number beads to enhance his math practice whenever practical or desired. Counting and grouping will be two skills we focus on this year.

  • Before: My middle schooler will read and write.

    After: Renee will engage with the written word on a daily basis. Written materials including but not limited to books, newspapers, magazines, and recipes will be freely accessible and offered. Renee will be encouraged to identify and discern genre, audience, tone, voice, and message in anything she reads. When applicable, we will encourage juxtaposition of texts to one another. In an effort to link subjects to one another, we will also encourage Renee to identify historical context, political climate, and cultural pressures for each piece she reads. Opportunities for discussion, debate, and analytical processing will be provided as appropriate and desired. When appropriate, we will explore the history and personal story of the authors whose work she engages with.

What to Include

I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you of what subjects should be included in your IHIP. All the beautiful translation in the world is useless if you aren’t addressing the subjects they request.

  • Grades 1-6: arithmetic, reading, spelling, writing, the English language, geography, United States history, science, health education, music, visual arts, & physical education. For those whose first language is not English, bilingual education and/or English as a second language where the need is indicated.

  • Grades 7-8: English (two units); history and geography (two units); science (two units); mathematics (two units); physical education (on a regular basis); health education (on a regular basis); art (one-half unit); music (one-half unit); practical arts (on a regular basis); and library skills (on a regular basis).

  • Grades 9-12: English (four units); social studies (four units), which includes one unit of American history, one-half unit in participation in government, and one- half unit of economics; mathematics (two units); science (two units); art and/or music (one unit); health education (one-half unit); physical education (two units); and three units of electives. The units required herein are cumulative requirements for grades 9 through 12 (meaning if your child does not have to address all of these every quarter as long as they cumulatively meet the unit requirements).

  • * ADDITIONALLY, the following must be covered at least once in grades 1-8: United States history, New York State history, and the Constitutions of the United States and New York State. AND the following must be covered sometime between grades 1-12 : patriotism and citizenship; health education regarding alcohol, drug and tobacco misuse; highway safety and traffic regulations, including bicycle safety; and fire and arson prevention and safety.

Commonly asked questions about the IHIP

Do I have to use the forms the DOE sends me?

No. You can use their forms or not. I usually suggest not because the forms they send generally do not allow you to write enough info to satisfy them. Either way is fine.

Can I include activities like dance, Tae Kwon Do, baking, and swimming to an IHIP?

You can, but where those really go is in the quarterly reports. You might talk more generally about agility, muscle strength, balance, and aerobic exercise in the IHIP and then list specific activities like dance, swimming, etc in the quarterly as evidence of how those IHIP goals are being met.

Can I include summer activities in my IHIP?

Yup! There’s nothing barring you from including all that fabulous summer exploration and learning in your homeschool paperwork. The homeschool school year officially runs July 1- June 30. That explicitly includes summer.

What if the school district doesn’t approve my IHIP?

In NYS, school districts cannot approve or deny any IHIP. What they can do is tell you if your IHIP is in compliance with the NYS regulations or not. Your best defense against this is to get to know the regulations well and to craft an IHIP that is in clear compliance.

Still, districts have kicked back paperwork before and they’ll do it again. If it happens to you, don’t panic! There is a process in place for those IHIPs deemed to be “out of compliance” and that starts with an opportunity to simply correct the mistakes in the IHIP. It’s really not that scary, though you should always make sure that whats being asked of you is within the bounds of the regulations. Districts have and will sometimes ask for more than is legally allowed. You can find an complete description of the process in the NYS homeschool regulations.

That’s a decent rundown of how to produce a well-crafted IHIP in NYS. If you have any more questions, ask them in the comment section or reach out to me directly!

The Absolute Basics of Homeschooling in NY

The Absolute Basics of Homeschooling in NY