Connecticut has minimal home-based learning regulations, making it easy for families to teach their children at home.
Parents wanting to homeschool in Connecticut are recommended to submit a letter to the superintendent before beginning a home-based education to avoid truancy laws, choose or create a curriculum containing state-mandated core subjects, and are encouraged to maintain a student portfolio for personal records as well as providing documentation for future educational or employment goals.
Providing an equal opportunity education at home does not have to be complicated or challenging to do. Homeschooling offers various learning outlets for students and families that public school students might not have available in the typical classroom environment.
Homeschooling in Connecticut
Children between the ages of 5 and 18 are required by Connecticut law to enroll in an educational program. Parents can choose to enroll in public school, private school, charter school, or homeschool. When homeschooling, a parent or person designated by the parent, becomes the teacher. If a child is currently enrolled as a public school student, a withdrawal form must be completed to ensure the student is not marked truant and reported to the school board. Accordingly, if the student is expected to start or return to public school in the upcoming year, a withdrawal form will need to be on file.
To start homeschooling, make sure to know and follow state, county, and school district regulations. As a state, rules are very minimal. First, it is recommended to file a letter or notice of intent to homeschool with the local superintendent. The letter or notice of intent should be submitted within ten days of starting the homeschooling year or at the beginning of the public school year. A notice of intent to homeschool must include the name of the student, the teacher (can be parents, guardians, or tutors), subjects being taught, chosen method of testing (if any), and a general school year calendar stating what days instruction will take place. The notice can be turned in through the mail or in person.
An average homeschool day is two to 3 hours long, with the week being 4 to 5 days of instructional time. There are no current state requirements on how many hours or days a homeschooled student needs to meet each academic year.
The next step, if desired, is to prepare and maintain a student portfolio. The student portfolio should contain work from the student in each required subject, and some of the additional courses the student is studying. These portfolios are beneficial for the student’s family, the student, and can provide requested documentation for future college admissions and potential military or career opportunities. Not all school districts will request an annual review of the student’s portfolio, and it is not the parent’s responsibility to contact and arrange a meeting, but a portfolio is better to have than not have.
State-required school subjects are Math, Geography, Language Arts (reading, writing, spelling, English grammar), and history related to the United States, state and federal governments, citizenship, and a student’s current town. Outside of these subjects, the parent and student can decide to add additional courses the student would like to learn. With state graduation requirements and a future career path in mind, further studies focused on specialized skills and general knowledge would benefit students.
Currently, there is no state-level required testing or assessments that need to be completed by a homeschooled student. If a parent or student wants to evaluate where the student stands within their educational goals, it is optional to pursue testing. Testing costs are the parent’s responsibility, but results do not need to be shared with anyone other than who the parent and student choose to disclose the information. The Connecticut Department of Education or the local school district office can help with questions regarding testing windows, testing facilities, and which tests are recommended for the child’s age and grade level.
Graduation Requirements for Homeschoolers
Graduation for homeschoolers can be slightly different than that of their peers in public school. Public school graduation requirements state a student must earn 20 credits before graduating. Those 20 credits include 3 for Math, 3 in Social Studies, 4 in English Language Arts, 2 in science, 1 in Vocational or Arts Education, and 7 electives. Most of these credits will already be earned and applied to a homeschooled student’s transcript by following state-required subjects. Still, the remaining courses, including science, would be up to the family.
Unlike a public school, homeschool has the advantage of the parent issuing a diploma based on an approved transcript curated by learning goals established before graduation. Applecore is an excellent online service for keeping track of attendance, grades, and student transcripts. If a more formal version of a diploma is requested or wanted by the student, at the age of 19, a GED, or General Equivalency Diploma, can be obtained by passing the GED exam. The GED exam consists of four sections, including Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. The minimum score needed to pass the GED exam is 150 points on each section and a combined 600 in total.
Where to Find Homeschooling Curriculum
When using the internet to search for a homeschool curriculum, there will be an overwhelming amount of returned information. There are plenty of free resources available to help save money while still providing a well-rounded education for the student. The local library is a great place to find books, DVDs, and sometimes learning kits that can be borrowed. Libraries also provide community calendars for age and grade-appropriate peer socializing as well as tutoring services occasionally.
Some websites offer free learning lessons, such as language building and online classes. Duolingo is free for everyone and has an extensive library of languages to choose from. Khan Academy is a popular company that offers free resources to students. K12 brings public school to the home with a tuition-free virtual classroom that uses similar schedules to local schools and keeps students on track with their friends and peers who still attend publicly.
Moving on to a few membership learning plans, ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy use an interactive platform that engages students in the lessons. ABC Mouse is designed for early learners between 2 and 8 who are just beginning developing reading, math, science, and color skills. Adventure Academy is geared towards 8 to 13 year old who are interested in Math, Social Studies, Science, and Reading. Each offers a free 30-day trial before signing up.
For a comprehensive curriculum, AOP, Alpha Omega Publications, is a Christian-based company that allows the parent to choose between an online, digital, student-paced, or teacher-led curriculum. Suppose a pre-packaged curriculum contains more than what is needed or doesn’t work well with the child’s learning ability. In that case, School House Teachers is a website that allows educators to browse and choose lesson plans based on age, grade level, and subject. Lessons can be printed for workbook-type activities, taught online through the website, or both.
The websites and products listed here are only the beginning of what can be found for the homeschool curriculum. Understanding a student’s learning style will help choose the right curriculum. Supplementing curriculums with free or paid add-ons is also a positive way to add variety and balance to the homeschool year.
Homeschooling and Public School Activities
No state law allows homeschooled students the right to attend, join, or participate in public school classes or activities. Each school and school district can decide on their own if they want to allow home-based learners the opportunity to participate in school-based activities. Any student who would like to join a sports team, club, or take an in-school class should have a parent or guardian contact the school and discuss the policy, responsibilities, and expectations of each party involved should the student be allowed to attend or participate.
Special Education for Homeschooled Children
Families with children with special needs do not have to go through any extra steps or requirements to homeschool. Following the state-level regulations and the county and school district guidelines, all requirements will be met. An essential item to keep in mind is that students with special needs taught at home are not considered enrolled in a private school and therefore are not eligible to receive related services covered by the local school district or state educational funds. The Special Education Department of Connecticut may help with resources and information useful in determining if any services are available to help homeschooled students with special needs.
Homeschool Groups, Co-Ops, and Field Trips
Joining a homeschool group is a great way to share information, discuss curriculum, schedule social events, network with other homeschool families, host field trips, and more. For up-to-date legal questions and answers, as well as additional resources, the Connecticut Homeschool Association is full of information. TEACH, The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers in Connecticut, and CHN, The Connecticut Homeschool Network, are two other great groups for homeschool families.
For a more localized group experience, there are county, town, and neighborhood groups and co-ops that offer similar benefits as larger groups but might be more accessible and help create a community-based feeling. Homeschool groups and co-ops are excellent for group learning experiences, social get-togethers for parents and students. They are known to schedule group outings for field trips, camping adventures, and P.E. related activities. Using the schedule flexibility that homeschooling offers, field trips are beneficial to hands-on learning and breaking away from the textbook-style learning.