The process to legally homeschool in Arkansas is relatively easy by following a few essential steps.
Parents can homeschool under the homeschool statute. An annual written intent to homeschool must be on file with the local public school superintendent. Notification can be done by mail, e-mail, in person, or electronically. A 14-day notice is necessary before public school withdrawal when a student is enrolled in public school.
Homeschooling has many benefits that are often overlooked in comparison to public schooling.
What is the Arkansas Homeschool Statute?
The Arkansas Homeschool Statute is a regulated program that allows parents and legal guardians to homeschool a child rather than enrolling in public school. Children between the ages of five and seventeen are required to attend an educational program. If a child turns six years old after the first of August, the parents can waive the required attendance for one more year. Any child that turns six before the first of August must enroll for the upcoming school year.
To begin homeschooling, a written notice of intent to homeschool must be on file with the local public-school superintendent no later than the fifteenth of August. There are no mandatory forms to be used for this notice of intent, but it is a good idea to use one for an outline of what information you must include. The Arkansas Department of Education is an excellent resource to find state educational forms if you are having trouble locating any. A written notice must be completed every year that a student is going to be homeschooled. The notification can be submitted to the superintendent via e-mail, through standard mail, in person, or electronically when available.
If you are still having trouble finding an intent to homeschool form, the information that you must include is:
- The student’s name, date of birth, gender, grade level
- Name and address of the school each child last attended if there is one
- A statement from the parent(s) accepting the responsibility of the child’s education
- A statement of any plans of the child to participate in public school interscholastic activities
- A statement of plans for the child to pursue a GED if close to a graduation date
- Homeschool mailing address
- Current telephone number
- Name and signature of the person providing homeschooling to the child
When a student is transitioning out of public school and into homeschool, the notice of intent to homeschool must be completed 14 days before a formal withdrawal. A withdrawal form can be completed at the same time as the 14-day notice, but take note that the student must continue to attend public school until the last day of the 14-day notice has ended. Some superintendents will waive the 14-day notice depending on situations and circumstances. A new notice of intent will need to be on file with the latest local superintendent should an out of county move take place at any time during or before public school has started.
While homeschooling, a parent is responsible for maintaining student documents, attendance records, creating transcripts, and issuing diplomas. These records may be requested in situations where necessary, such as Driver’s Education, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or showing eligibility for Social Security benefits. Homeschoolers are not required to take any standardized tests. Still, if a student or parent wants to evaluate the student’s progress, they are welcome to call local schools for testing schedules and recommendations for testing facilities that work with homeschool families.
The minimum required days and hours for students who attend public school can vary from those that homeschool. Kindergarteners must attend a six-hour day, four to five days a week, averaging around 180 days every school year. First grade through twelfth grade is to attend six hours a day, five days a week, for 178 days. A homeschool schedule can look similar to a public-school schedule should the parent and student choose, or it can be adjusted to work in favor of maximized learning routines. The average homeschool schedule consists of two to three-hour days, 4 to 5 days a week, with 120 to 160 days for a school year. Parents do not need any teacher qualifications to homeschool.
Where Do I Find Homeschool Curriculum?
To start looking for a homeschool curriculum, consider starting an online search of popular and well-rated programs or companies. A local library is also an excellent resource for free information and borrowed materials to help with lessons. Other free resources include Duolingo and Khan Academy. An online, tuition-free option of public school that is still considered homeschool is the Arkansas Virtual Academy. The Arkansas Virtual Academy serves K – 12, is teacher-led, supports a school community, follows a class schedule, and offers materials to be used at home to qualifying families.
Young learners just beginning their educational journey will be excited to learn when they sign-in to ABC Mouse. For a small monthly membership fee, children will learn through interactive lessons teaching reading, science, math, and colors. From the same company is an interactive learning experience for children eight to thirteen with Adventure Academy. Alpha Omega Publications is a Christian-based company with an online, digital, student-paced, and teacher-led homeschool curriculum. If creating an individualized curriculum sounds better than a pre-packaged one, School House Teachers has a great list of age and grade level courses that can be printed for use or viewed online through a single parent sign-on.
The list of homeschool options continues beyond this one. It is best to determine what kind of homeschool education your child will learn better from and what classes you would like to be available outside of the four core subjects, Language Arts, Science, Math, and Social Studies.
School Sports for Homeschooled Students
Homeschooled students can participate in public school sports and other activities regulated by the Arkansas Activities Association if they meet all requirements. Public and homeschool students must follow all the same policies of the activity they wish to join. Deadlines for reporting and notifying to officials will remain the same, and any test and grade results will need to be provided when requested to ensure the student is capable of maintaining passing grades while in an activity. If students withdraw from any school associated with the Arkansas Activities Association, they must wait 365 days before trying out for another school. School districts have the option to adopt a policy allowing homeschooled students to take one or more academic classes to meet any potential requirements of the sport, event, or activity they want to participate in.
Special Education Regulations for Homeschoolers
Families with special needs must follow the same state regulations for homeschooling. A written notice of intent to homeschool, withdrawal from public school if applicable, and maintaining education records by the parent are still required. There are not any extra steps or requirements needed to start homeschooling a student with special needs. However, if a child is identified under IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, they are eligible for the same services available to students attending private schools. The Arkansas Department of Education may be able to help you if you have any questions about IDEA qualifications and testing.
Homeschool Graduation Requirements
Arkansas public school graduates need 22 credits to fulfill graduation requirements. The credit breakdown is 4 Language Arts, 4 Math, 3 Social Studies, 3 Science, 6 Career Focus or other Electives, and 0.5 of each Oral Communication, P.E., Health and Safety, and Fine Arts. Knowing what public schools require of students, homeschool students can focus their high school years on necessary classes to obtain similar graduation credits like their peers.
Arizona Homeschool Association, Groups, and Co-Ops
The Arkansas Homeschool Association is a state-level association that serves families of homeschooled students. They can provide information on state laws, homeschooling notices, any potential changes that would affect homeschoolers, and other questions you may have. Homeschool groups and Co-Ops are smaller groups within the county, town, and neighborhoods that work together to help with curriculum support, homeschool questions, peer interaction, social networking, group teaching, and local events. These are very beneficial teams to be a part of should any questions or concerns come up throughout the homeschooling process.
Field Trips During Homeschool
Field trips are the best part of homeschool, just like public school. Homeschooling allows for scheduling flexibility and freedom. If tensions are high, book learning is becoming tiresome, students are struggling to maintain alertness while online learning, schedule a field trip to liven up yourself and your student. A field trip can be a great break away from the everyday routine and offer a hands-on approach to a lesson taught in real-time.