What is so great about homeschooling? In the United States, there are approximately 25 million homeschooled children. In other countries, it’s even more common than in America.
The requirements for homeschooling vary by state, but generally, they include the following:
- Notifying the local school district of your intent to homeschool by submitting a letter of intent, a notice of intent, or a private school affidavit.
- Providing a curriculum plan outlining the subjects and materials you plan to use.
- Keeping records of your child’s homeschooling progress and providing them to the school district upon request.
- Providing instruction in specific subjects as required by state law.
- Meeting attendance requirements as set by state law.
- Registering with a homeschooling organization or program, if required by your state.
- Following any additional regulations or laws set by your local school district or state.
- Providing annual assessments or testing for homeschooled students can be done through a standardized test, portfolio evaluation, or evaluation by a certified teacher, depending on the state law.
- Remember that different states have different regulations and procedures. You must check with your state’s Department of Education for specific guidelines.
The benefits of homeschooling can vary widely depending on what type of education program you choose. Some programs focus mainly on academics, while others are designed with special needs students in mind.
But regardless of how much time you want to spend teaching your child yourself, there are some basic qualifications required by most states to become an independent teacher or instructor.
First, let me start by saying that list isn’t necessarily exhaustive because each state has its own set of rules and regulations regarding homeschool licensing and certification. However, these six general qualifying factors will give you a good idea of the credentials and paperwork needed to apply.
Remember, every state is different. So make sure you contact your local Department of Education for specific information on your needs.
To find your state’s official website go here. http://www.nchexams.org. Then click “Find Your State” in the upper left corner and select your state from the dropdown menu. Once you pick your state, look down the page for links to the items listed below. Make a note of which ones apply to you specifically.
Homeschool Requirements – Qualifying Factors
1. A parent/guardian who is a U.S. citizen (or eligible noncitizen).
This requirement varies slightly from state to state. Generally speaking, parents must either be legal residents of the state they wish to reside in or obtain permanent resident status before starting classes.
If you plan to teach abroad, you might consider obtaining citizenship through naturalization after you complete your coursework. Since many foreign governments allow people to gain citizenship via private tutoring schools, this could save you a lot of money over paying tuition fees and books overseas.
2. One year of residency within the state where you live.
States generally require a minimum of years living within the state boundaries. This often applies only to those involved directly in public school instruction. Private instructors usually don’t need to comply with these laws unless they take extra measures like setting up shop somewhere else entirely. Teachers working overseas generally fall into this category.
It used to be possible for someone to circumvent this rule simply by moving across state lines without having earned citizenship. That practice was stopped in 1974 when Congress passed Public Law 93-380, entitled “An Act To Amend Section 439B Of THE EDUCATION ACT [20 USCA § 1219b].” This section prohibits nonresident aliens from receiving financial aid under specific educational assistance programs.
However, there are exceptions to this law. You won’t be subjected to these restrictions if you are enrolled in a degree program at an accredited institution. Additionally, if you were granted permission from the school to leave the country, you may be exempt from this provision. Please consult with your school administrator if you have questions.
3. An elementary school diploma or equivalent. Many states require completing at least one semester of college before applying.
Some states now accept GEDs or A.A. degrees. Others ask applicants to have taken courses equivalent to high school graduation exams. Check with your department of education for details.
4. No evidence of any developmental disabilities, mental illnesses, or substance abuse problems.
Many states require proof of passing scores on standardized tests. These range wildly between states and districts. For example, New York requires passing grades on statewide achievement test results, unlike Florida.
Each district sets its policies and procedures according to individual circumstances. Some states prefer to see letters from doctors attesting to your health, while others request copies of medical records. Again, check with your local office to learn what documents you need.
5. Verification that you meet all income eligibility requirements for free/reduced-price meals under federal guidelines.
All tutors employed outside of traditional public school systems must provide documentation that meets all federal meal subsidy guidelines. This includes verifying that your household meets the income limits established by the Free Lunch Program. Income limits differ among regions and states. Contact the Department of Agriculture for further details.
6. State-specific documentation.
Depending upon your state’s policy, you may need additional forms of documentation. For instance, Colorado requires a copy of your academic transcript and professors’ letters stating that you completed your studies.
Other states insist that tutors submit transcripts from multiple institutions indicating completion of bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
These requirements come straight from the DOE and can change frequently. As long as you keep up with current standards, you shouldn’t ever face legal problems.
Home School Licensing Requirements
Once you pass the initial qualification phase, you’ll probably receive notification from your local Department of Education that you’ve met the requirements. Then you need to register with the agency responsible for regulating private schools in your area. You may have several choices depending on the size of the city you’re located in.
Smaller towns may only have one government entity overseeing private homeschooling. Otherwise, larger cities tend to have departments dedicated solely to monitoring homeschool curricula, teachers’ training, and student progress reports.
Typically, however, the process begins with a phone call inquiring about your intentions. Afterward, you’ll receive a packet containing brochures and sample lesson plans.
State agencies typically charge nominal registration fees ranging from $25-$50 per family. They may also request that you send periodic updates documenting attendance rates, discipline practices, and overall performance. Tutors are encouraged to enroll in professional development seminars offered by the same organization annually.
Finally, state authorities conduct random compliance checks during regular visits throughout the school year. During these inspections, inspectors review your instructional materials and question tutors on class structure, subject knowledge, classroom management techniques, and parental involvement.
Although they cannot remove your license, violations uncovered during periodic reviews can result in fines and loss of privileges.
As mentioned earlier, each state handles things differently. Therefore, I recommend contacting your local Department of Education first to determine what steps you need to follow next.
Are You Eligible To Be Homeschooled?
You know why you’d want to homeschool in the first place. Now it’s important to realize that although homeschooling has proven successful for millions of Americans and Europeans alike, it’s certainly not suitable for everyone.
Whether you’re considering home schooling for religious or educational reasons, there are plenty of families around the world whose lives have been changed forever due to this decision.
Numerous resources are available online to help you decide if homeschooling is right for you. Here’s a quick checklist of questions to ask yourself:
Do you enjoy spending quality time with your child(ren)?
Is your schedule stable enough that you can commit to daily activities?
Can you afford to hire a qualified teacher?
Have you considered hiring a substitute teacher or supplementing your lessons with supplementary materials?
Would you rather stay home with your kids than send them to daycare?
Does your faith support your desire to educate your children at home?
Remember, no two situations are identical. Even if you think you’re ready to begin homeschooling today, nothing beats sitting in on a few classes to determine if this works for you.