Delaware has three options for parents wanting to homeschool their children. With low state regulations, choosing a curriculum might be the only semi-difficult decision to make.
Options are single-family, multi-family, or single-family coordinated with a school district for homeschooling methods. Register the non-public school with the Department of Education. Report student enrollment at the beginning of the school year, on or before October 5th. Report student attendance at the end of the school year, on or before July 31st.
Homeschooling is an excellent alternative to public school. Having the ability to be flexible with scheduling, choosing which curriculum to use, and spending additional time with loved ones creates a rewarding home and learning system.
What Are My Homeschooling Options in Delaware?
State law requires children between 5 and 16 to attend school. If a child is not five before August 31st, they may be allowed to wait for another year after turning five before the next school year starts. Students already enrolled in a public school must be withdrawn to avoid any truancies and being reported to the school board for unexcused absences. The parent must have the student enrolled in a registered non-public school before being withdrawn from public school.
The steps for single-family and multi-family homeschooling are similar. Single-family homeschool is defined as having students of one singular family homeschooled by their parents or legal guardians within the home. Multi-family homeschooling is when multiple families have their children educated by one or more of the students’ parents or guardians in a home or other facility. Multi-family homeschools must designate one person to act as the liaison for the Delaware Department of Education. The liaison carries the responsibility of submitting enrollment and attendance records to the Department of Education as each school year starts and ends.
Before implementing a homeschool curriculum and schedule, a single-family or multi-family homeschool must register with the Delaware Department of Education. A student enrollment statement is required to be on file with the DOE, Department of Education, on or before October 5th. This statement will include the number of students enrolled as of the last day of school in September. At the end of the school year, an attendance report is required to be submitted to the DOE on or before July 31st.
A single-family, homeschooling in coordination with a local school district means parents or guardians primarily educate the student in their homes. Still, the same subjects taught in public schools are taught through homeschool. Permission from the superintendent is required to be considered coordinated with the public school district in which the family resides. Here is a list of Delaware school districts and schools. The superintendent will determine through a written letter from the parent or guardian if the child will be provided regular and thorough instruction on subjects in line with that of the public school.
The same steps of registering with the Department of Education and submitting enrollment and attendance statements remain the same for all three homeschool options. Parents and guardians do not need to have any teacher qualifications before homeschooling their children. There are currently no state-mandated subjects; however, a decent general education will include a basic understanding of math, language arts, science, and social studies.
Standardized testing and assessments are not required for homeschooled students, but are available through private testing facilities should parents want to have their child tested for academic progression. Homeschools coordinated with their school district should receive instructions from the superintendent on testing requirements unique to them.
The average homeschool year is made up of two to three-hour days for studies and four to five days a week of instructional time. There is no required number of days that need to be completed to make up a homeschool year, but attendance records are necessary for end-of-year reporting to the Department of Education. Applecore is an easy-to-use website to track attendance and grades for students. Days and hours for coordinated homeschools are up to the discretion of the superintendent. Homeschool curriculums are the parents’ responsibility, but the superintendent must approve what is used when homeschools are coordinated with the school district.
Graduation Requirements for Homeschoolers
Public school graduation requirements include 1 credit in P.E., 3 social studies, 3 science, 3 career pathway, 4 language arts, 4 math, 0.5 health education, and 3.5 in electives, making the total credits needed 22. Knowing public school requirements can help students and parents choose which classes to use in their lesson planning if they want to stay within the public school realm of studies.
There may be times when transcripts or grade requests are made to prove attendance or meet grade-level satisfaction for specific extracurricular activities such as Driver’s Education, college applications, sports teams, academic clubs, or potentially for future jobs and careers. Diplomas for homeschooled students are not issued through the local school district or Department of Education. It is the student’s parent’s responsibility and privilege to give a high school graduating diploma.
Finding a Homeschool Curriculum
Finding a homeschool curriculum does not need to be hard. Discovering and understanding the child’s learning style can help choose the right program or study method. There are numerous options available for homeschool lessons and curriculum packages. Here is a brief description of just a few programs available to families wanting to homeschool.
There are free curriculum and lesson add-ons available. Local libraries are a great place to start when looking for books and DVDs that can be borrowed. Khan Academy has free online classes for homeschool families. K12 is a virtual classroom for families wanting to stick with public schooling but at home. K12 is a tuition-free program using schedules and public school class lists to keep students on track with their educational goals and peers. Duolingo is free for everyone wanting to learn, improve, or freshen up on foreign language skills.
For a paid monthly or yearly membership, ABC Mouse, Adventure Academy, AOP, and School House Teachers offer a wide variety of learning material. ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy belong to the same company. They use an engaging, interactive learning platform that introduces early learners 2 to 8 to beginner reading, science, colors, and math skills. Adventure Academy works well with children 8 to 13 and dives deeper into science, social studies, reading, and math. Both offer a free 30-day trial before signing up on a monthly plan.
AOP, Alpha Omega Publications, is a Christian based company that provides curriculum accessible through an online platform, digitally, student-paced worktext books, or teacher-led workbooks. Memberships are available for monthly or yearly payment. School House Teachers is another paid membership program that offers parents and educators the freedom to create an individualized lesson plan unique to each student. Subjects can be browsed by age, grade level, and topic. With a single sign-on, the information can be printed for physical use or viewed online for teacher-led discussion and video viewing.
The companies and programs mentioned are only a quick sample of the kind of homeschool curriculum to choose from. Other well-known companies and curriculums are available. Each company should offer a FAQ page and have a live chat support system in place should a parent have any questions on any particular product before purchasing.
Do Homeschooled Students Have Public School Access?
There is no state law in Delaware, allowing homeschooled students access to public school sports and activities. Individual public schools and school districts have the authority to decide on their own if they will allow homeschool participation or not. Students wanting to participate in public school interscholastic activities can have their parent or guardian call the local superintendent or school to ask for verification on their participation policy.
Special Education Services for Homeschool Families
Homeschools classified as non-public schools are not eligible to receive funds from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Public and private schools are entitled to IDEA funding for special needs services, but they are not obligated to share with non-public schools.
Homeschool Groups, Co-Ops, and Field Trips
Throughout Delaware communities, there are homeschool groups and co-ops. Homeschool groups are typically smaller groups established by local homeschool families. Groups and co-ops will share homeschooling information, curriculum, lesson planning tips, and other resources. Co-ops are similar to groups and might offer group taught classes for students in the same age group and grade level.
Both are known to host social events for peer socializing and networking, P.E. related activities, and group field trips. Field trips are an excellent way to break away from the textbook-style learning and do more hands-on activities or real-life learning. Some field trip destinations might offer homeschool or group discounts too.