If you are thinking about homeschooling your child, you may feel the legal wording of your state's homeschooling laws are difficult to understand. The "jargon" can be very confusing - and it may leave many unanswered questions in a parent's mind. The good news is that homeschooling is legal in every state in the United States.
For this article, I will be using the state of Tennessee as my example. It is important to understand that each state has their own laws for homeschooling. My hope is that as you read along, you will learn how to interpret your state's homeschooling laws.
The first thing you should do when considering homeschooling as an educational option for your child is to find the homeschooling laws in your state. The Home Schooling Legal Defense Association is a great place to start your search. Here you will find laws, requirements and tips for each state. In the state of Tennessee, there are three options available for parents who want to homeschool.
- The first option available (in the state of Tennessee) is to sign your child up to homeschool through your local school board or district. The deadline to enroll children as homeschoolers is August 1. Registration can be extended until September 1. However, you may have to pay a small late fee. Under this option, to homeschool your child through the eighth grade, parents or guardians must have a GED or a high school diploma. Parents who want to homeschool their high school child much have a BA/BS degree. When you sign up under this option, you are required to file an attendance sheet which shows you have schooled your child for at least four hours per day for a total of 180 days. You are also required to have your child tested in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades.
- The second option available (in the state of Tennessee) is to register your child as a homeschooler through a Church Related School (CRS). These institutions act as blankets between you and the state and you are not required to report anything to the local school district. You are accountable to the CRS in which your child is registered. Parents and children must meet the requirements of the CRS in which they have enrolled. Each CRS is different, so be sure to understand what the requirements are before you enroll. There are CRS programs which have minimal requirements -- such as attendance sheets and yearly testing. Others may require you to use certain curricula, attend regular meetings, turn in grade cards and more. Under this option, parents can homeschool their high school child without having a BA/BS degree.
- The third option available (in the state of Tennessee) is to have your child listed as an attender of a CRS, although the child is actually being schooled at home. Your home is simply considered a satellite campus of the CRS. You will have to meet the requirements of the CRS, and each have their own rules. Be certain you understand what is expected of you and your child before you register. Under this option, you can educate your high school child without having a BA/BS degree.
After you have chosen which route you would like to take to meet the requirements of homeschooling, the rest is up to you. That is the beauty of homeschooling. You are in charge of your child's education. However, you are strongly encouraged to join a homeschool support group in your area. These groups are a great way to meet like-minded parents. They are also a wonderful place to learn from individuals who have been homeschooling for years.