Unsurprisingly the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire planet and boosted the growth of homeschooling. Homeschooling has been a legal teaching method since 1993 throughout the United States. How can people homeschool in the state of New Jersey?
Suppose a parent wishes to begin homeschooling in New Jersey. In that case, they must first withdraw the child from their current school and notify the district superintendent of the intent to homeschool. Once the parent receives approval, all that remains is to select the curriculum and begin the program.
In this article, we want to provide you with valuable information about homeschooling to be successful. Here you will find the main topics you need to know and understand for homeschooling in New Jersey.
When evaluating such an important decision for a child’s future, it is mandatory to research everything related to this new scenario thoroughly. Every minute invested will give parents better criteria to determine whether or not to take this big step.
The educational space that parents select at home for homeschooling will be a crucial factor for the success of this methodology. Below we will review some tips to take into account:
- The teaching area should have a flat surface.
- The seating should be comfortable.
- The room should have excellent lighting.
- The room should have enough space to store didactic support material. Order in the room is another aspect of great importance.
- When the student is alone doing homework, parents or guardians should be nearby to address any child’s concerns.
According to the 2018 report from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), New Jersey requires 180 school days per year in public schools. Educational experts recommend the same number of hours concerning homeschooling, as the state’s regulations make no specific mention of homeschooling.
For the state of New Jersey, these are the requirements for homeschooling:
- Every child between the ages of 6 and 16 must receive an appropriate school education in public, private, or equivalent elsewhere (homeschool). The local school board is responsible for ensuring compliance with this law. The board may bring charges against parents if it finds that truancy is occurring.
- Parents must prepare a letter of intent to apply for homeschooling.
The following steps must be followed to register a child for homeschooling:
- If the child is attending a public or private school, parents must provide the school with a transfer notification.
- The parents must prepare a letter of intent to the district school board. This letter of intent is a statement that the parents intend to provide the child with equivalent schooling at home.
- Parents must wait for the school board to approve the application.
- If the application is approved, parents should begin the process by selecting the appropriate curriculum.
According to estimates people have made, the average cost of homeschooling in New Jersey starts at $600 per child per year. This amount could be higher if parents hire additional services deemed necessary for this method of schooling.
For homeschooling to be successful, parents need to understand that the curriculum is an essential factor.
When selecting a curriculum style, you should consider the following elements:
- Whether the curriculum is religious or non-religious
- If you want to buy a ready-made curriculum or if you prefer to prepare each subject yourself
- The specific needs of your child and family
- What budget is available for homeschooling
- New Jersey law does not mandate parents to submit a curriculum to the school district. However, experts in this area recommend that parents submit the curriculum at least once a year to the school district. This act is proof that the child is receiving the equivalent of public school education.
- Parents must teach children in New Jersey language arts, mathematics, science, world history, civics, the U.S. and New Jersey history, health, finance, visual arts, and foreign languages.
Each homeschool curriculum offers its own learning platform and methods of operation to reach various learning and teaching styles. Here is a list of a few more commonly used programs to start your search:
One of the most frequently consulted aspects by parents who are new to homeschooling is whether the state requires record-keeping or periodic testing to evaluate the child.
New Jersey does not legally require parents to keep or submit specific records about homeschooling. However, it is best to keep a portfolio of all the education the child has received. If the parents decide to return the child to the traditional school system at some point, records will make this goal easier. Some of the information you can record in portfolios are:
- Test results
- The general outline of the curriculum used
- Samples of completed assignments, written work, or projects
- Annual progress reports
- The student’s attendance record
Standardized testing is not mandatory for homeschooling in New Jersey. However, many parents use frequent assessments to measure their child’s educational progress.
Under New Jersey law, homeschooling students do not have the privilege of receiving educational services provided by their local district organization free of charge.
New Jersey does not consider homeschooling students to be part of the private system. For this reason, they do not benefit from special education services. However, parents may go directly to the local school district for more detailed information.
Children who study under the homeschooling system have an option to participate in extracurricular or sports-type activities in public schools. To achieve this participation, parents must notify and make the request in writing to the school board.
In New Jersey, it is the parents who will set the graduation requirements for their children. However, the school superintendent must ensure that parents are following all New Jersey laws. Proper adherence to the regulations will determine whether the parents can award the diploma to the student.
Since graduation requirements depend on each household, parents may design and deliver their diplomas.
Field trips are an excellent educational tool for homeschoolers. Homeschooling families have much more flexibility for field trips. In New Jersey, there are many exciting places to visit.
- Historic Village at Allaire in Farmingdale. The Historic Village at Allaire is a living history museum that families can visit to understand better what life was like in the 19th century.
- Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. Children can participate in science experiments at the Liberty Science Center. There are activities for all ages in many fields of science.
- Monmouth Museum in Lincroft. History, science, nature are all present at the Monmouth Museum.
- Cheesequake State Park in Matawan. This unique park is between two different ecosystems. In this park, there are open fields, a white cedar swamp, and a hardwood forest.
- Montclair Art Museum in Montclair. This museum has works of American and Native American art. In addition, the museum has guided tours. It’s an ideal place for homeschool students to learn.
- Bergen County Zoological Park in Paramus. At this park, children will have the opportunity to see some of the rarest animal species in the world.
- New Jersey Botanical Garden In Ringwood. This garden has an impressive variety of plant species.
Fortunately for parents in New Jersey, several support groups, cooperatives, and associations are designed to assist parents in homeschooling. Below you will see some of them.
- Homeschool Connections of Monmouth County
- Homeschoolers of Atlantic Co., NJ
- Homeschoolers of Cumberland County, NJ
- Hudson County Homeschoolers
- Jersey Shore Homeschoolers
- Morris County Homeschoolers
- Skylands NJ Homeschool Group
- Somerset County Homeschooling
- South Jersey Homeschool Moms
Homeschooling is a huge responsibility, regardless of where the family lives. But particularly in New Jersey, that commitment seems to be a bit greater. New Jersey is a state that has a lot of flexibility regarding this method and few requirements. Parents must use this broad discretion wisely, with commitment and responsibility for the benefit of their children’s education.