Certain states have homeschooling policies, procedures, and regulations that must be adhered to. Some have no requirements, while on the other hand, others prefer parents to submit forms and follow a specific process. Concerning homeschooling in Montana, a few steps to follow will be explained throughout the article.
To homeschool in Montana, you must notify the superintendent that you will homeschool your child. This should be done every school year. You will also maintain attendance and immunization records and teach the required subjects.
This article will focus on reviewing and providing parents with the correct information on enrolling children in a home-based learning program in Montana, your homeschooling options, and choosing a curriculum.
Homeschooling Options In Montana
Montana is well-known as a homeschool-friendly state. This is because they don’t require legal guardians to have any qualifications to teach their child, and the student doesn’t take part in the yearly standardized testing. However, parents that live in Montana only have one option to choose from when it comes to homeschooling.
If your child is seven years or older before the first day of public school, the student must attend school until the following: a) their sixteenth birthday or b) the date they complete 8th grade.
Before You Begin Homeschooling
Based on the statutes Section 20-5-109, Mont. Code Ann. states, “to qualify its students for exemption from compulsory enrollment under 20-5-102, a nonpublic or home school should do the following:
- Maintain records of the student’s attendance and immunization, to be provided to the school superintendent upon request.
- Should provide the minimum aggregate of 720 hours of the student’s instruction based on laws 20-1-301 and 20-1-302. This is per school fiscal year for the 1-3 grades. In addition, the pupil must receive 1,080 hours of teaching in grades 4-12th.
- The housing where homeschooling takes place should comply with local health and safety regulations.
- Parents should have an organized course of study or program that includes the essential and required subjects from public schools. The classes are English language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health, career education, and arts. These should be implemented as a standard instructional program to comply with accreditation standards, as the law states in 20-7-111.
- It is fundamental to notify the superintendent of the school’s district and report the student’s attendance every school fiscal year.
Choosing A Homeschool Curriculum
It is up to the parents to choose which curriculum suits and adapts the best to their household and satisfies the child’s needs while complying with Montana’s necessary subjects.
Some parents like traditional teaching styles and may acquire an educational program or buy textbooks to instruct their kids. In other words, they may follow a similar system to public schools’ way of teaching.
However, other households prefer to innovate with online learning. Montana doesn’t currently have a tuition-free full-time learning option, but Montana Digital Academy can reinforce the knowledge.
Some paid online learning institutions provide a full-time learning experience. Here is a list of these types of online schools with their respective prices:
- Alpha Omega Publications
- School House Teachers
- Abeka Homeschool
- ABC Mouse
- Adventure Academy
- Calvert Homeschool
For further information or educational resources for parents, you can visit Montana’s Department of Education, Montana Family Foundation, and HSLDA for guidance.
Record Keeping & Testing Requirements for Homeschooled Students in Montana
Record keeping is one of the essential steps for homeschooling. It prepares the student with proof of the education received if they enter the military, attend college, or perhaps even pass an employer’s background check.
Here is a brief list of things to keep in mind when record-keeping:
- Attendance records and immunizations: provide and maintain the student’s attendance days and the child’s disease immunizations or any medical or religious exemption.
- Textbooks and workbooks: list educational materials used to assist student learning.
- Student’s schoolwork: keeping samples as proof of the student’s work in class.
- Portfolios and test results
- Correspondence with school officials
- Additional documents show that the student received an appropriate education according to Montana’s law.
It is brilliant to keep these records for two years and save their high school records as proof of compliance with home education laws.
In the state of Montana, homeschool education must cover the same subjects that are taught in public schools. However, homeschoolers may not receive the same high school diploma as pupils in public schools.
Homeschool students can earn a “Montana High School Equivalency Diploma” by passing the HiSET exam. If students want to attend college or receive secondary education, they may have to take the SAT.
There are also some additional graduation requirements, according to law 10.55.905.
It is required a minimum of 20 credits of study for students to graduate, of which 13 credits are in the following courses:
- Four credits of English Language Arts
- Two credits of Science
- Two credits in Social Studies
- Two credits in Mathematics
- One credit of Arts
- One credit of career and technical education
- One credit of health enhancement with 1/2 credit each year
Field Trips For Homeschooled Students
Field trips are a fantastic idea to let homeschoolers learn about local areas’ history. Here is a brief list of incredible field trips destinations in Montana:
- Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail: this educational trip commemorates Lewis and Clark’s expeditions for a water route on the Pacific Ocean. Homeschoolers can tour the limestone caverns and hike or bike their way to the trails.
- Anaconda Smoke Stack State Park: This old copper company from 1919 is known to be one of the tallest brick structures in the world.
- Historical Museum of Fort Missoula: this museum has a rich history and presents exhibits, camps, and events for families. Homeschoolers may explore the twenty buildings by themselves or with a tour guide.
- Cathedral of Saint Helena: this cathedral was built in 1908 and had beautiful architecture with ceilings and glass windows. Tour guides and groups are available.
- American Computer & Robotics Museum: perfect for homeschoolers interested in technology, artificial intelligence, and robots. This was founded in 1990 to teach students about the history of computers.
- Makoshika State Park: one of the essential nature preserve areas in Montana. It contains dinosaurs fossils and is one of the largest parks in the state, with more than 11,000 acres.
Homeschool Montana’s Associations, Groups, and Co-Ops
Homeschool associations and groups can be extremely helpful in guiding you through the journey of homeschooling. They enhance this style of education and provide resources and networking opportunities to families.
Montana has a statewide association named “Montana Coalition of Home Educators” or (MCHE). It provides legal information, resources, and support groups in the state.
The following list will contain a few support groups and co-ops to look out for in Montana:
- Cascade County Homeschoolers
- Jefferson Valley Homeschool Association
- Helena Area Learning co-Opportunities
- Missoula Homeschool
- Home-Oriented Unique Schooling Experience in Montana
- Bozeman Homeschool Network
- Yellowstone Coalition of Home Educators
- Helena Area Christian Home Educators
- Flathead Home Educators Association (FHEA)
Homeschooling can be a little overwhelming since various requirements and regulations depend on the state. But homeschooling in Montana can be possible. The best thing is that it doesn’t require legal guardians to have certifications or qualifications to teach their kids, and the homeschoolers don’t take yearly standardized testing.
You can start homeschooling your child by notifying the superintendent, keeping attendance and immunization records, and providing a standard curriculum or educational program that includes all subjects given in public schools.
For further information or guidance, you can reach out to any of the associations and support groups listed in the article.