Virginia is constantly growing in the number of homeschoolers, adding nearly 45,000 students towards the end of 2019. If this seems like an appealing option, it is essential first to understand what this process looks like and the requirements for parents to comply with the law.
Based on the laws of Virginia, parents currently have four legal options to choose from to homeschool their child. These are:
- Under home instruction.
- Religious exemption.
- With a certified tutor
- Through a private school.
In addition to this, guardians need to file a notice of intent with the local school division.
There are several homeschooling curriculums and local support groups that parents have access to, which will be covered in today’s article.
Virginia currently has four options that parents can choose from when deciding the style of homeschooling they prefer.
This section will prioritize providing all the requirements and information to make the best decision for the student and the family.
1. Home Instructor Qualifications
The Home Instruction Statute states that parents should have an educational qualification to exercise this homeschooling style.
Here are the requirements:
- Have a high school diploma or any higher education degree.
- Have an active Virginia Teacher’s license.
- Supply your child with a curriculum as the home instruction program.
- Provide proof that you are capable of giving your child a level of education that meets the state’s standards.
2. File annual notice with your local school division
It is fundamental to file this notice to express that you intend to take responsibility for your child’s education and provide home instruction. In addition to this, it is essential to provide home instructor qualifications.
Here is some vital information to take into consideration:
- It is necessary to provide a curriculum description with a list of the subjects that will be taught to each child.
- This notice needs to be done every year by August 15th.
3. Provide annual testing.
Each August 1st, it is required to provide the evaluation to the superintendent, so they can analyze if your child has achieved a sufficient level of education and noticeable progress. This, however, doesn’t apply to children that are five years old or younger by September 30th, which is the beginning of the school year.
Here is a list of the four types of testing styles you can submit:
- Grades of a standardized assessment like ACT, SAT, etc.
- Evaluation letter from a teacher or a professional with a master’s degree or higher qualification.
- Report cards of a home education school.
- An assessment that the local division determines if the child is achieving the education standards.
This is often chosen to justify homeschooling your child to achieve a religious education. In this case, it is necessary to follow these steps:
- Submit the application letter to your local school division: it should state the excuse based on the state’s religious exemption statute, describe the importance of the child following these beliefs, and that you are currently teaching them these values.
- Wait for a response from the school boards: should a delay occur, it is best to send out a reminder and provide a notice of intent in case they persist in waiting for the approval before proceeding.
A certified or licensed teacher in Virginia can ask the local division to approve their request to teach the child at home. For this option, children must comply with mandatory attendance requirements.
The law allows students enrolled in a private school not to be present physically as long as their attendance sums up with the same amount of hours of instruction required per day and during the public school year.
After reviewing the various homeschooling options in Virginia, there are some additional pieces of information to take in mind:
- The school-age requirement for students to enroll in homeschool is from five years old to up to eighteen years old.
- There isn’t any mandated subject required to be taught for each grade. This relies heavily on the parents, and it is essential to teach core subjects like mathematics, science, literature/English grammar, history, etc.
- Testing requirements are only required for option one.
Choosing A Homeschool Curriculum
When choosing a curriculum for your children, it is necessary to evaluate if it meets the student’s needs and aligns with your family’s values. Here are some options of online homeschool programs to choose from:
- Time4learning: this curriculum gives independence for students to choose what they like and learn at their own pace with lessons including games and multimedia.
- Calvary Online School: this provides Christian education for children in kindergarten, all the way to twelfth grade, and includes the opportunity to complete an accredited high school diploma.
- NorthStar Academy: this online school delivers quality education with qualified teachers driven by their faith.
- Acellus Courses by Power Homeschool Services: this is a video-based education with various America’s best teachers and students learning at their own pace with guaranteed success.
- Alpha Omega Publications: using a Christian-backed philosophy, this company offers home-based learning options online, digitally, or in printed form.
- Schoolhouse Teachers: offers a vast collection of customizable lesson plans to cater to all ages, grades, and learning levels.
- K12: for those families wanting to follow a public school education, this option allows children to learn from home online while sticking to a similar schedule to their peers.
- ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy: using an interactive platform accessible from computers, phones, and tablets, ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy engage young learners from pre-school through the elementary years.
Even though it is not necessarily required by the state’s law to keep records of your child’s education, parents are heavily encouraged to do so. Record keeping is a great way to provide proof of the education they receive, especially if they want to pursue higher education, join the military, or perhaps, or in some cases, pass an employer’s background check.
It is necessary to take in mind to follow the appropriate record-keeping standards depending on the homeschooling option the family chooses.
Additionally, to maintain state records, you should keep the following information:
- Samples of students’ work at school and a portfolio.
- Test results and attendance.
- Report of the textbooks and workbooks used in class.
- Any other additional documentation that may be helpful.
Field trips are a fun way of teaching your child through historic sites, museums, aquariums, state and national parks. In addition to this, they’re a great way of spending time outside and enjoying different environments.
We compiled a list of the most common field trips destinations in Virginia for homeschooled students:
- Norfolk Botanical Garden: The best time to visit this site is during spring and up until autumn. It has around three acres, and there are several activities that kids may enjoy like fish-feeding, boat tours, and eating at the restaurant. HEAV also has sponsored homeschool days for this place.
- George Washington Memorial Parkway: kids can learn about history on this trip since they will learn about the first president and how America evolved into what we know it to be today. This parkway has a variety of sites, great for exploration and activities.
- Virginia Marine Science Museum: students love visiting this place thanks to its exciting artifacts like tanks and interacting with the whales, sea turtles in the aquarium, and dolphin sightings.
Homeschool Associations, Groups, and Co-Ops In Virginia
Homeschool Associations and Groups are beneficial and great at guiding parents interested in starting this education style.
Here is a list of the most well-known groups, co-ops, and associations:
|Homeschool Associations||Homeschool Groups||Homeschool Co-Ops|
|Home Educators Association of Virginia (HEAV)||Richmond Area Homeschoolers||CHATT|
|The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers||Hampton Roads Homeschool Groups||Assisi Bridge Co-Op|
|Page County Homeschoolers||KINDRED Homeschool Collective|
|Warren County & Surrounding Areas Homeschool Groups||Northern Virginia Secular Co-Op|
|Central Virginia Homeschool Groups||Grace Church Homeschool Co-Op|
|Cornerstone Community Group||St. Nicholas Cottage School|
|Western Hanover Homeschool Group||Christian Heritage Home Educators (CHHE)|
|Norfolk Homeschool Support Group||Trinity of Woodbridge Homeschool Co-Op|
Homeschooling in Virginia is becoming extremely popular. Currently, there are four options that parents can choose from: under home instruction statute, religious exemption, with a certified teacher, and a private school. Each option has its requirements that need to be met to enroll. The good thing is that there aren’t any mandated subjects, and guardians can choose the curriculum that best satisfies the child’s needs and aligns with the family’s values.