There are many homeschool requirements that families should meet in order to avoid legal problems when homeschooling their children. However parent qualifications for teaching are not required in order to begin homeschooling your child.
Many homeschool parents struggle with what they think is required in order to homeschool their children. They imagine they need to need to recreate public school at home, which leaves them feeling inadequate. They lack an educational background or struggle in a particular subject, so they think they will hold their children back in some way.
Parents are not required to have a teacher certification or even a college education, although some states require homeschooling parents to have a high school diploma. However, many states do not outline qualifications for parents in their state homeschool statute.
Pay attention to how your state statue is worded as well.
Here in Florida, our state statue says that parents must “direct” instruction, which means I can have other adults teach subjects that I am less proficient in as long as I am aware of what’s being taught.
There are also online programs available that can provide entire curriculums or just specific subjects. My oldest son was learning computer programing at 10 years old with the help of these programs.
You’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work that you have to do.
You feel like there is no way that your child could possibly learn all this information in a timely manner without it being a burden on both of you.
You are worried about how your child will be able to keep up with their peers if they don’t spend hours each day studying for tests and completing homework assignments.
What if homeschooling isn’t right for my family? How can I know if it’s right for me?
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be overwhelming or burdensome, but it does take some preparation and commitment from both parent and student!
Let me tell you right now that you are enough.
Discover Your Reasons Why
Regardless of your reason to homeschool, you made the decision because you genuinely want something better for your child than what the local school district can provide.
Homeschooling also offers you the opportunity to work with your child at their own pace. The important thing is that you understand each other. If both of you are struggling with math or reading, make it a point to work on it together, illicit the help of another adult, or hire a tutor until it clicks for both of you.
You can make sure that there is enough rigor and challenge for them without feeling overwhelmed by their schoolwork.
Homeschooling should encourage a love of lifetime learning, for the student and the parent. It should not feel like a chore or an additional burden. So when you are feeling overwhelmed by curriculum, relationship problems with your child, or school politics in general, take a break and come back to it when both of you are ready.
You are qualified to homeschool because you understand that there is no one-size-fits-all path to success. Homeschooling your child is an opportunity to create a life full of opportunities by empowering them with knowledge.
And who doesn’t want that for their children?
Understand Homeschool Requirements
Homeschooling requirements for your child are not hard to understand!
Some state laws have more stringent rules for homeschoolers than others, but you can make this work. You don’t need to know math or reading really well to teach it. You can purchase a curriculum that has all of the information you and your child need to know. You can learn right along side your child.
Homeschooling is different than public school because there is no one-size-fits-all path to success. It’s a chance for your child to have more opportunities in life by learning more things!
Researching Requirements by State
The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HLDA) is an excellent resource for learning more about your homeschooling laws by state, but it is only a starting point. Learn how to find and interpret your state homeschool statute so you can defend your homeschooling rights with source documentation.
You will need to look into the specific homeschooling laws for your state (or country), but there are some common requirements that need to be considered.
Compulsory Attendance Laws
Parents do not need any special certifications to homeschool their children, but they are required to provide a certain level of accountability. Requirements will vary by state with some wanting parents to maintain attendance records with other states only requiring registration.
Attendance records are usually required to show the student is completing at least 180 days of education per school year. This is within a calendar year, not a school year, which means more flexibility to take time off during the year and school during the summers.
This requirement does not mean 180 day of academic time sitting down to books. It can include learn life skills or doing nature study. It can be field trips to amusement parks to study the physics of roller coasters or trips to the zoo to learn about exotic animals.
Our philosophy is that every day is a learning day.
There is also no requirement that says how long your school day needs to be. In fact, it’s usually best to keep young students to only a couple hours of book work per day. The rest of the day should be filled with play and nature study.
It’s important to keep some kind of a record of when you are “doing school” if for no other reason than to track your consistency. If your state has a requirement to track attendance, this will also make it easy for you to document that you met the requirement.
Your Notice of Intention
In most states, homeschool families must declare their decision to homeschool by filing a Notice of Intention with their local school board.
This is typically done by filling out a simple form and submitting it to the local school board. You can find these forms on your state’s Department of Education website or they may be available from your local homeschool support group.
Regardless of which form you use, make sure it meets the documentation requirements for your state according to the homeschool statute.
Mail the Notice of Intention to your school district as Certified Mail so you can receive proof of delivery.
You are not asking the school for permission to homeschool your child. This is simply a notification that you intend to homeschool your child. You can pull them from the school district the day after you send it.
There are many states that couldn’t care less which curriculum you choose when you make the decision to homeschool your child, although there are some states that at least want a record of what you are using.
It is important that you understand your state laws and what you are required to report. There are local school districts that have been known to overstep and ask for information about your chosen curriculum when it is not required by law.
While it may not seem like a big deal, these laws are in place for a reason, and we respect the rights of all homeschoolers not allowing the local school district to overstep the law.
Portfolios and Records
Most states want some record of what is being taught throughout the school year. Homeschooling parents can usually fulfill this requirement by keeping a portfolio.
This can be a binder with schoolwork and projects, but it is not required to be anything specific.
Some parents are going to an online option so they don’t have to keep papers, and it can easily be emailed to evaluators.
The portfolio is just a sampling of the student’s work, so you don’t need to stress about keeping everything. A good practice to keep is to look over all school work at the end of each week and put the best work into a binder for the portfolio.
A lot can happen throughout a homeschool year, and it’s important that homeschool parents capture that information so there is no question about what was going on during the academic year. Plus, portfolios make a nice keepsake to see your child’s progress through the years.
Testing and Evaluations
Many parents choose to homeschool their children because they do not agree with the emphasis placed on standardized tests in the public school system.
Does this mean homeschoolers are completely exempt from standardized testing?
How do you know if you child is learning enough or on grade level?
Assessment requirements vary by state, but you do have options. In many states, you can have a certified teacher evaluate your child at the end of each school year. This annual assessment can then be submitted to the school district in place of test scores.
The school district will usually send you an annual notice of when your evaluation is due, but you are ultimately responsible for knowing when it is due.
Keep in mind that the annual assessment will usually only determine if your child is progressing, not if they are meeting or exceeding state standards.
Is this a problem? No.
Homeschooling is an individualized journey. Your child may progress faster in some subjects and slower in others.
They may struggle for the first few years of homeschooling, then rocket forward and surpass everyone else seemingly overnight.
Exercise the option that you feel is best for your child and will lead to further growth in their journey.
Prepare to teach your child at home
You can cut down on a lot of the chaos and overwhelm of homeschooling by preparing ahead of time.
This doesn’t need to be a long, drawn out process. Homeschool planning can be as simple as outlining what you want to teach your children for that week.
In fact, planning the entire year out when you first begin may be more of a detriment than an asset.
While it is a good idea to know which curriculum you want to use or the subjects you want to teach for a school year, you may find that your child doesn’t respond well to your initial plan.
Give yourself and your child enough grace to make changes as necessary. Spending more time on a subject may mean you don’t cover the entire curriculum that year, but it’ll be better for your child in the long run.
Your child is more important than a checklist.
Here are a few things you’ll need to begin the school year:
- Calendar or planner to plan out your school days
- Curriculum or teaching plan
- School supplies (notebooks, pencils, folders, etc.)
- Craft supplies (construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, markers, etc.)
- A space where the child can work without distraction
Forget everything you thought you knew about how a teacher should act. Instead, adopt the mindset and actions that your student needs in a teacher.
Many students learn better when their teachers take on the roll of mentor rather than disciplinarian, and homeschooling is not exception. In fact, homeschooling gives us more opportunity to nurture and mentor our children than teachers are able to do in a modern classroom setting.
You also have the freedom to incorporate more life skills into your homeschool. Teach your children how to complete household chores, how to budget and pay bills, and how to meal plan, shop, and cook. They’ll learn how to be more functional human beings and you’ll be teaching them reading, math, and problem solving skills.
Remember that it takes time to adjust to this new lifestyle so don’t get discouraged if things aren’t perfect from the start or if there are some bumps along the way. You’ll figure out what works best with practice!
Preparing for College
Even before high school, parents worry about how their child’s education will effect their ability to get into college.
Parents worry that homeschooling will not properly prepare their children for college. They question if their child will receive a high school diploma or if they’ll be required to get a GED.
As your child’s teacher, you create their transcripts and diplomas. Yes, you really do have that authority.
But what should they learn?
As your child enters high school, you’ll want to start considering what they want their future to look like. If they want to go to college, look at the prerequisites for their desired major.
They may also be able to earn college credit while in high school by participating in dual enrollment in a local community college.
Your best approach will be to create a plan for your high school student as early as possible. The more prerequisites they can accomplish as a freshman and sophomore, the earlier they can apply the college and the better they can increase their chances of acceptance.
Your homeschool program is an individualized journey. Your child will progress at their own pace, learn what they need to learn, and excel in life based on how you teach them.
Remember that homeschooling is not about what others think, but about what is best for your child. You are taking this journey because you want to give them the opportunity to be the best versions of themselves.
It is about preparing them for their future, not just the next grade level or standardized test score.
You can do this!
Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my article, if you liked it please share with others who want to begin homeschooling their children!