Starting a Homeschool
There are a number of clearinghouse-type Web sites that provide information regarding specific homeschooling requirements for each state. Don't rely solely on the summary of information you find there -- use the links provided to actually visit the appropriate state agency for direct legal information. Some of the most comprehensive listings can be found at the following Web sites:
- National Home Education Network
- A to Z Home's Cool Homeschooling
- Home Education Magazine
- About.com: Homeschooling
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA)
As an example, let's say you're interested in homeschooling your child, and you live in North Carolina. The National Home Education Network provides a link to the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (NCDNPE). When you visit the NCDNPE, you'll find very detailed information regarding the process for notifying the state of your intent to homeschool as well as a summary of the rules set out in chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes. In addition to the requirements, the NCDNPE provides a helpful list of reminders and some recommendations.
Chapter 115C of the North Carolina General Statutes defines homeschooling this way:
Here's what else the North Carolina General Statutes has to say about homeschooling:
"Home school" means a nonpublic school in which one or more children of not more than two families or households receive academic instruction from parents or legal guardians, or a member of either household.
- When a child is of compulsory school attendance age (ages 7-16), you must file a "Notice of Intent" to operate a home school with the Director of the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education or a member of the director's staff. If at any time you decide to terminate the operation of your home school, you are also required to notify the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education.
- When you fill out the Notice of Intent, you are required to choose between operating under the qualifications of a "private church school or school of religious character" or under the qualifications of a "qualified nonpublic school" (a.k.a. "independent school"). While the requirements are the same for both classifications, your selection provides some statistical information in regard to the purpose of your decision to homeschool (religious reasons vs. other).
- North Carolina law requires that the person(s) providing academic instruction within a homeschool hold, at the very minimum, a high school diploma or its equivalent. When you submit your Notice of Intent to the NCDNPE, you should attach photocopies of documentation that proves you meet this requirement.
- Any requirement related to safety and sanitation inspections shall be waived if the school operates in a private residence.
- You are required to create and maintain annual attendance and disease immunization records for each
pupil enrolled in your home school. The home school must operate on a regular schedule, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations, during at least nine calendar months of the year.
- Each qualified home school must administer, to each enrolled student, a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measurement sometime during the school year, every year. The test has to measure achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling and mathematics. Records of the results of these tests must be made available for one full year after testing.
- As a way to assure that all North Carolina high school graduates possess the same "minimum skills and that knowledge thought necessary to function in society," students attending the eleventh grade (or its measured equivalent) have to take a nationally standardized test or other nationally standardized equivalent measure that gauges competency in the verbal and quantitative areas. Students must achieve a set minimum score in order to be graduated from high school. Records of the results of these tests must be made available for one full year after testing.
NC Home School Estimated Statewide Enrollment By Type
2003-04 School Term
You should now have a good idea of what homeschooling is and be able to find out how to meet your state's requirements. But you're not quite finished laying the groundwork yet. It's time to start thinking method.