Homeschooling is a movement looking to break away from traditional standardized education, stemming from dissatisfaction with the academic offer available, whether regarding curricula, religious beliefs, the perception that children are not thriving or progressing in general within institutionalized academia, among others.
Kansas doesn’t contemplate homeschooling as is. Yet, it does recognize, by law, “non-accredited private schools.” Start your journey by registering under this category and meeting the minimum legal requirements, select a class structure that matches your needs, and be ready to start this adventure.
Families who register under this modality can begin their journey as early as age seven, the state’s compulsory attendance age. Let’s explore Kansas’ stand on this alternative system of education.
For legal purposes under the Kansas Statute 72-53, homeschooling is comparable to “private schooling,” which is not approved as is. This modality is available for children at compulsory attendance age all the way to completing the child’s high school education (commonly at or around eighteen years of age).
The first step to begin your homeschooling journey is to comply with the Statute and register your homeschool as a “non-accredited private school,” which will allow the state to recognize your child’s education as valid later on. This is performed by submitting a form with your private school´s name and address (which is how your homeschool must be referred to at all times when interacting with state officials). It must also include who will keep the new school’s necessary records for the state’s board of education, referred to as “official custodian.” This process is free of cost but needs to be renewed yearly as long as your children are homeschooled.
You must also plan and schedule all academic work for the year, provide your school with a competent instructor, periodical testing (not standardized), and at least 186 days of proper instruction.
Although no official approval or accreditation is required (hence the name of the modality), compliance with these points is mandatory. It will be supervised through the “pupil records” by the state board of education.
As a case-by-case requirement, if children are already enrolled in another traditional school, the institution must be notified to effectively transfer the custodianship of the student to the new private school/homeschool.
Kansas does not have mandatory class-content requirements. Multiple specialized companies offer engaging, pre-structured curricula for each grade from elementary through high school. It is best to review the average grade requirements, pinpoint any deficiencies or aspects that would be better reinforced or strengthened at home, and from there, decide whether you will establish your class plan or proceed with a pre-made commercial one. You’ll find programs pursuing overall academic performance, community-focused, college-prep-oriented, math and science-oriented, or more focused on structure. To start your search for the most suitable curriculum for your child or children, here is a list of popular programs others have found success with:
- School House Teachers
- Alpha Omega Publications
- ABC Mouse
- Adventure Academy
There are currently available free, paid-in-full, or subscription-based plans. Hence, options are available in an approach and cost range to meet your needs.
“Student records” is defined as all records, files, and student data in present or past attendance to any school, despite the type. The “official custodian” is defined as the officer or employee of the school responsible for the pupil records, their maintenance, and custody.
The law doesn’t state any specifics as to what these records should contain. However, information regarding the requirements for potential enrollment in traditional schools, colleges, the military, background checks for employment, and other activities your kids may face, later on, does give you an idea as to the information you should keep about your children’s education.
Some of the most common records to keep are grade reports, attendance, curricula (textbooks and workbooks used per grade), samples of schoolwork, official correspondence with the education board, test results, evaluations, and other available evidence of the student’s education as mandated by the law. Applecore and Homeschool Panda are two great examples of online programs available to support student record-keeping for attendance, grades, and transcripts.
Homeschooling can also become a source of income in receiving official funding in extraordinary circumstances, such as schooling children with special needs. In terms of requirements, the State of Kansas doesn’t have any specific regulations applicable for kids with special medical conditions or disabilities.
Yet, under special federal or state programs, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools that foster children in need of unique academic resources or education in general due to disabilities may qualify for additional funding. And, in the particular case of Kansas, you’ll be registered as a private school so that benefit may apply.
Given the natural constraints of homeschooling, regarding facilities, coaching, special classes, or subjects that require a certain level of expertise to be taught, homeschooled students may eventually want, or need, to take part in lessons or activities of various kinds (including sports, clubs, or teams, among others) imparted on formal institutions in their district.
In Kansas, this is not restricted by law. Yet, it is essential to consult in your school or academy of choice to determine whether there are specific guidelines applicable under a general agreement between the schools in your particular district. Some fields, like competitive sports, have intrinsic limitations, as athletic associations limit participation on teams to students actively enrolled in the institution they represent, under risk of disqualification in tournaments.
Kansas does not require by law standardized testing for non-accredited private school students. However, it does need testing to be performed to assess their progress. This is also important in keeping up with posterior requirements to validate the completion of grades and education in general.
Homeschooling provides the liberty to complement the curriculum with additional activities that may reinforce lessons or broaden the academic experience. Field trips are an optional resource and are not mandatory or regulated by law, but encouraged to make the learning experience more wholesome, well-rounded, and interactive for your kids.
Like any other movement or guild, homeschooling is not a stranger to private associations, support groups, and cooperatives (co-ops in short). And the homeschooling community in Kansas is no exception.
Although no official Association is registered, there are multiple communities available for families to benefit from the valuable resources available to the conglomerate. Some of these groups include:
- Christian Home Educators Confederation of Kansas (CHECK),
- Midwest Parent Educators (MPE),
- Reno County Homeschool Connection Ltd.,
- Loving Our Kids (LOK) Homeschool Group, among others.
Co-ops work with an organized structure to offer a middle ground between homeschool associations and groups. Operations are volunteer-based and provide resources to complement the homeschool experience, offering special classes requiring particular expertise, foreign languages, athletics, art, clubs, and perks such as discounts in admission to museums, zoos, etc. In Kansas, several are available, such as the Ellis County Homeschool Network, the Vine and Branches Enrichment Group, and the East Wichita Homeschool and Heart-Full Arts Homeschool Co-ops.
Kansas is not among the strictest states to homeschool in. A statute provides a general framework for education outside the traditional institutionalized system without being so lax that no structure is required. With the aid of available commercial resources and a diverse support community, this state is one where studying outside the box can become a more than successful endeavor.