If you are wondering what action to take first when you want to start homeschooling, read this article and complete the free checklist linked below.
When preparing to homeschool, first research your state law. Failure to abide by legal homeschooling guidelines leaves you at risk of truancy charges. Each state has different requirements. Research your specific state to understand what the law requires of you as a homeschooling parent.
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association is a national group that represents the interests of homeschooling families in the USA and abroad. Visit their site for an interactive map of homeschooling laws in the USA. Click on your state to find simple instructions on following homeschool law there.
Who may homeschool my child?
Unless otherwise allowed by your state law, only biological parents or legal guardians may homeschool your child.
Many states do allow other individuals (such as tutors or religious satellite schools) to teach for you. These individuals must meet specific guidelines and submit paperwork to be approved to teach your student.
What educational level must I have to homeschool?
The minimum educational requirement for homeschooling parents in the USA is a high school diploma or a GED.
If your state allows another individual to homeschool your child, that person must also meet specified educational requirements.
What paperwork must I complete to notify the school or district of our decision to homeschool?
Depending on your state, you may be asked to submit a letter to the superintendent, your school office, or a state office of education. You may be asked to submit proof of membership from a homeschool group or association. You may even be required to have the notice notarized. Some states require yearly notice of your intent to homeschool. Others require it only once.
Must I register with a homeschool accountability group, umbrella school, or some other homeschool association to homeschool in my state?
Some states require this type of membership, others do not. If your state requires it, these memberships must be renewed annually. Investigate several options as each will have specific costs, requirements, and benefits with membership.
Compare the costs/pros/cons/benefits. Become a member of the one that will best meet the needs of your family.
Must I submit proof of medical care and/or immunization status once I opt to homeschool?
The most restrictive states, like Pennsylvania, do require this type of information. The state’s guidelines will instruct you on the specifics of how to submit the required documentation. They will also provide the forms.
How many days must we do school work, and what subjects must we teach?
Compulsory attendance generally begins at age 6 in the USA. It ends at age 17 or 18 depending upon the state. Academic instruction must take place during the specified years.
At a minimum, most states require 180 days of instruction. Some states also specify the number of total hours instruction must occur.
Generally, each state specifies subjects required for 1st-6th grades and 7th-12th. States may also list a specific set of courses high schoolers must take to qualify to receive a diploma.
Must my student take yearly academic achievement tests?
The testing policy for homeschool students varies from state to state. In less restrictive states like South Carolina, yearly testing is optional. In more restrictive states like Florida and Pennsylvania, yearly testing is required. Each state and/or homeschool association will provide information about testing opportunities for homeschoolers.
What records must I keep for my homeschool?
Homeschooling families keep attendance records, a daily record of academic material covered (academic planner), and progress reports/grades.
Parents are responsible for grading the material covered in each subject. If a parent enlists outside help, that person or group maintains the same records.
In most states, parents are required to keep a portfolio of work samples completed in each subject by each student. Some states may also require yearly portfolio evaluations with approved evaluators. Portfolios help substantiate a student’s progress through your curriculum.
What if I move once we begin homeschooling?
If you move within the state, follow your state’s guidelines to notify the appropriate entity. If you are a member of a homeschool association or umbrella group, you must notify that group. They will update your records and advise you of any other needed steps you must take.
If you move out of state, notify the specified homeschool group or school personnel.
Before the move, investigate homeschooling law in your new state. Be ready to comply with their law upon arrival to avoid any truancy issues.
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Do you know other folks who want to start homeschooling but don’t know how to start? Be sure and send them a link to this article!