To legally homeschool in Georgia, there are six essential steps that need to be taken before starting.
- Parents or tutors must have a high school diploma or GED
- A declaration of intent must be on file at the DOE
- There must be 180, four and a half hour days of instruction time
- Teach math, science, social studies, language arts
- Write annual progress notes for the student’s records
- Test every three years after 3rd grade.
As the use-to-be normalcy around us is ever-changing, more and more families are looking into homeschooling. Georgia has an easy to follow option for those parents and guardians who want to transition into home-based learning.
The Six Steps to Homeschooling Under the Georgia Homeschool Statute
Georgia is a low regulation state for homeschooling families. There is one option that allows legal homeschooling. Under that option, a notification of intent to homeschool, teacher qualifications, state-mandated subjects, and assessments are all required. Children between 6 and 16 are required by Georgia law to attend school. If a student meets all graduation requirements by the school year they are or will be turning 16, they can graduate early. If a student transitions from public school to a home school, a parent must complete a withdrawal form to avoid any truancies being reported to the school board.
The first step to homeschooling under the homeschool statute is to determine who will teach the child or children and verify they have a high school diploma or GED. This will serve as the guideline to meet the teacher qualifications. Once this is established, a declaration of intent to homeschool must be submitted to the Georgia Department of Education within 30 days of beginning homeschooling.
A declaration of intent must include the student names and ages and address the home-study program is located, the school system the homeschool is located in, and the 12-month period that has been designated as the current academic year. It is necessary to complete a declaration every year of homeschooling with a due date of September 1st. An academic year must consist of 180 instructional days. Each day is to be at least four and a half hours long unless the student is physically unable to comply.
State-mandated subjects include math, science, language arts, and social studies. Any classes outside of the required four are at the discretion of the parent and student. At the end of every school year, a parent or tutor must write a progress report stating the progress made in each subject studied. The progress reports must stay in the file for a minimum of three years. It is not required, but keeping student work samples in the student’s file can showcase student progression. The annual progress reports do not have to be submitted to any public school or school board official.
Once the student has successfully passed the 3rd grade, testing begins. Tests can be annual if a parent, tutor, or student wish, but state regulations only expect testing to happen every three years. A parent can administer the test if they are in contact with a trained person familiar with interpreting test results. Any test and evaluation result should be kept in the student’s record, but they do not need to be submitted to school officials just like progress notes. For further information or questions on this process, the Georgia Department of Education is an excellent resource.
Are There Graduation Requirements for Homeschoolers?
A public school high school student can graduate after earning 23 credits. The credits are four English, four science, four math, three fine arts, three social studies, one physical education, and four electives. Following the state-required subjects, most of a homeschooled student’s credits will have been met, and the rest decided on between the student and parent. If a student fast-tracks their education, they can graduate at the age of 16. As a homeschooling family, the parent or tutor can decide when a student has met graduation requirements and issue a diploma. Applecore is an easy-to-use program that helps parents and educators track student grades, attendance, and create transcripts.
Choosing A Homeschool Curriculum
When choosing a homeschool curriculum, start by understanding your teaching style and the student’s learning style. Knowing this information will help narrow down the choices you will want to compare. There are online quizzes that are quick and easy to take if you have not done so already. Another important step is to know what your household budget will allow for a paid membership to some of the well-known homeschool curriculum providers. There are also free ways to homeschool or add additional learning opportunities.
Starting with some of the free approaches to homeschooling, the local library is an excellent choice. A family membership to the library is free and allows each person to check out books, DVDs, CDs, and other educational materials. Khan Academy is a well-known company that offers free homeschool lessons. K12 is essentially public school at home. They follow a class list and daily schedule that keeps students on track and relieves some of the stress and anxieties parents may feel about teaching. As a rewarding add on to any homeschool program, Duolingo is free for everyone and a fantastic way to learn another language.
Paying for a home-based learning program does not need to be expensive. There are great programs and companies that offer multi-child discounts, annual discounts, or pay per subject options. ABC Mouse is set up to introduce early learners 2 to 8 to math, reading, science, and colors. Adventure Academy is from the same company as ABC Mouse but geared more towards children 8 to 13. They both use an interactive classroom platform that engages the student in the lessons and starts with a free 30-day trial before signing up.
Alpha Omega Publications, AOP, is a Christian based company that allows parents to choose between an online learning environment, digital, student-paced using worktext books, or teacher-led with workbooks. For the parents and educators that want the freedom to create an individualized lesson plan and curriculum, School House Teachers would be right up their alley. Lesson plans can be made by age, grade, or subject and printed for worksheet type learning or taught through discussion using the online interface.
This is just the beginning of the homeschool curriculum search. Using the learning and teaching styles that you and your child discover will help decide which program to go with. It is beneficial to include the student when searching to see what appeals to them and use the live chat options to answer any questions or concerns before choosing.
Homeschooled Students and Public School Access
Georgia does not have a law allowing homeschooled students access to public school sports or interscholastic activities. Each school and school district has the authority to make a final decision on homeschool student participation. Any student wanting to play a sport on a public school team will have to find an alternative way to play. The Georgia High School Association requires student-athletes to be enrolled in a public school to compete. It is best to directly contact the school to determine their policy on any other extracurricular activities for home-based learners.
Special Education Services for Homeschooled Students
It is essential for families homeschooling a child with special needs to follow state rules and regulations. To ensure IDEA funds are used to the best of their ability, homeschooled students are considered enrolled in a private school. IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is a federally funded program that helps students with special needs get the services they need. Public schools share funds with private schools, so everyone is provided with the same services. Contact the local school, superintendent, or the Department of Education to see if your family qualifies.
Homeschool Groups, Co-Ops, and Field Trips
Homeschool groups and co-ops are ideal for sharing homeschooling information with other homeschooling families in your county, school district, town, or neighborhood. Co-ops are known to schedule group field trips, networking events, offer group teacher-led classes, host holiday parties, share curriculum, and relay up-to-date information that could affect the homeschooling process. Some co-ops even create sport-related teams and have friendly competitions against other co-ops to encourage students to stay active, value teamwork, and enjoy social outings with their peers.