There are many reasons why parents choose to homeschool their children, but there are also some things you need to know before you begin your journey into this new world for your family. The following article will help guide you through how to start homeschooling in North Carolina.
To start homeschooling in North Carolina, follow these steps:
- Research and familiarize yourself with the homeschooling laws and regulations in North Carolina.
- Notify your local school district of your intent to homeschool by submitting a notice of intent.
- Keep records of your child’s homeschooling progress and provide them to the local school district upon request.
- Provide instruction in specific subjects as required by North Carolina state law.
- Meet the attendance requirements as set by North Carolina state law.
- Register with a homeschooling organization or program if desired.
- Follow any additional regulations or laws set by your local school district or state.
- Start homeschooling and keep records of your child’s progress.
- Be aware that North Carolina requires annual standardized testing for homeschooled students in specific grades.
- Remember that North Carolina allows different homeschooling options; you must check with your local school district for specific guidelines.
The idea of homeschooling has existed for many years when families would teach each other’s children within the community as an alternative to public schools and orphanages. Today, however, with so many people choosing to homeschool their kids, the term “homeschooling” comes to describe just about any schooling done by those parents without professional teachers.
Several homeschooling options include unschooling (deciding which subjects to study based on interests), Christian-based homeschooling, Waldorf-educated homeschoolers, Montessori-trained homeschoolers, virtual academies, online programs, and companies known for printed materials.
Regardless of the educational philosophy behind the choice, most agree that the best way to learn is through hands-on experience. That means that if you’re going down the path of homeschooling, you’ll want to find a high-quality course of study that fits your needs and provides enough flexibility to tailor it to your child’s unique learning style.
In addition to finding a good curriculum, you’ll also need access to books, supplies, and equipment like computers and tablets. Don’t forget to set aside time every day to devote solely to studying!
So, where do you even begin looking for a quality curriculum that meets your standards? How much money should you budget for textbooks? What kind of technology might you need? These questions and more can all be answered once you’ve learned everything else necessary to start homeschooling in North Carolina.
What Is Homeschooling
As mentioned earlier, the definition of homeschooling varies depending on the individual’s approach to educating children. If you live in North Carolina, you may have already encountered homeschooling firsthand. Many area churches offer afterschool programs to prepare students for local standardized tests such as the MCAS and FCAT.
This practice is becoming increasingly common throughout the United States due to increasing pressure from government officials and increased demand for better results in academic testing.
But what happens when these church groups aren’t available? Or what if you’d instead not take part in organized religion altogether? Then consider homeschooling.
A simple Google search for homeschooling will bring up plenty of links offering information on various topics related to starting a home education program.
Homeschool Curriculums & Materials
Once you decide to pursue homeschooling, you’ll want to pick a curriculum. As previously discussed, there are no complex rules when selecting a homeschool curriculum, although experts across the country generally agree upon certain factors.
First, you should select something that provides instruction in areas relevant to your goals and interests. Second, look for a curriculum that offers flexible options for adjusting classes to suit the skill levels of individual learners.
Third, make sure whatever homeschool coursework you use passes current federal guidelines. Finally, remember that you won’t necessarily need to purchase expensive textbooks or fancy software to succeed in homeschooling.
One popular option for homeschooled students is Open Source Learning, which refers to taking online courses. Sites like MIT OpenCourseWare and Harvard Online give away lectures and assignments from top universities worldwide that may appeal to homeschoolers in their last high school years.
They often include video demonstrations and interactive quizzes to supplement traditional text-heavy lessons. Students can access hundreds of hours of lecture videos and thousands of pages of homework instructions while saving time and money over conventional education models.
Another great source of homeschool material is YouTube. Parents can browse channels full of informative tutorials for almost anything they want to teach, whether cooking skills, computer programming, or advanced algebra problems.
Although we usually think of YouTube as a place for uploading funny cat clips, it actually serves quite well as a tool for teaching math, science, history, geography, art, writing, music, and foreign languages.
Online tutoring services are another valuable resource for homeschool educators. Whether you need help with grammar, calculus, or trigonometry, chances are you can find a company willing to provide expert guidance.
Some companies specialize only in providing test preparation assistance, whereas others cater to all sorts of subject matter. One site you should visit is Tutor.com, which features thousands of tutor profiles ready to assist students in virtually any imaginable subject.
Home Education Laws In North Carolina
Now that you understand what homeschooling entails let’s talk about the legalities involved. Before beginning your homeschool adventure, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with home education regulations under North Carolina State Law. According to North Carolina General Statute §18B-1003(6):
Public elementary and secondary private education shall be provided pursuant to applicable statutory provisions governing public elementary and secondary education. Private primary and secondary education shall be provided pursuant to applicable statutory provisions governing private education.
This statute makes it illegal for public schools to compete against homeschools during regular class periods unless the Superintendent of Public Instruction gives special permission. However, according to NCSU Law 18B-1101(c) of the same code section, parents may legally withdraw their child(ren) from public schools whenever they wish.
Although homeschoolers receive fewer benefits than public school students, North Carolina still gives them financial aid via tax credits to encourage parental involvement in education. Tax Credits Available Credit per pupil range from $1,000 -$4,200 depending on income level.
Most importantly, homeschool families are exempt from paying homestead property taxes. Also, homeschooled students are eligible for military tuition discounts, which vary by branch of service.
Finally, there are a few perks for homeschooling families, too. Under North Carolina General Statute §115C-406, homeschool students may register for Advanced Placement exams instead of attending college preparatory classes.
Additionally, students enrolled in an approved degree-granting college can obtain student loans, sign leases, apply for jobs, and open bank accounts without being classified as employees or independent contractors.
Starting Your Home School Experience
With all of the above information, you now have the tools to start homeschooling your child(ren) successfully. Now it’s time to put them to work. Read on to discover ways to make the process easier, quicker, and less stressful.
Before diving headfirst into homeschooling, you’ll want to research potential funding sources. Federal grants and scholarships exist for qualified applicants, and your first step toward homeschool freedom should involve investigating these opportunities thoroughly. Once you identify possible funding sources, contact local agencies directly to see if they accept applications outside standard application procedures.
When searching for homeschool materials, remember there’s nothing wrong with buying prewritten worksheets and flashcards. However, getting your child accustomed to reading independently is essential, especially early on, because it lays the foundation for future self-sufficiency.
You shouldn’t feel obligated to buy expensive textbooks, either. Lots of excellent homeschool materials are readily available online for minimal cost. Just search Web sites like Amazon or eBay for book titles, lesson plans, and supplemental materials pertaining to whichever subject(s) interest you most.
For extra convenience, you could always join a co-op group or homeschool association dedicated to helping newbies succeed. Groups like the National Home Education Resource Center are run by volunteers committed to teaching fellow members in person or remotely.
Other organizations, like Academies of Our Own, focus exclusively on supporting families pursuing homeschool alternatives to public/private institutions.
Lastly, remember that homeschooling isn’t limited to children younger than 18. Adults can enroll in distance learning programs offered by major universities, complete certification courses in various fields, and even earn degrees.