WHAT IS HOMESCHOOL?
According to NC law, the legal definition is as follows:
Homeschool –a non-public school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the parents or legal guardians or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of the academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction. General Statute 115C-563(a)
To open a homeschool in NC. you must send a Notice of Intent form to the Department of Non-Public Education (DNPE), either online or by mail. Go to the DNPE website to read the legal requirements recommendations, FAQ’s, statistics, and to submit the required forms. DNPE Requirements and Recommendations
How to Get Started in Homeschooling
Step 1: Find out your state’s legal requirements.
In North Carolina, if you have a child who is at least 7 years old and not older than 17, file a Notice of Intent (NOI) with the NC Division of Non-public Education. If your child is younger than 7, you just start homeschooling! If your child has been enrolled in school, you must go to the school to officially withdraw him or her. Homeschool Information
NC legal requirements:
Hold at least a high school diploma or its equivalent – you need to send a picture or fax in a copy of one of these – high school or college diploma, high school or college transcript, GED
Send to DNPE a Notice of Intent to Operate a Home School (NOI). The notice must include the name and address of the school along with the name of the school’s owner and chief administrator;
Elect to operate under either Part 1 or Part 2 of Article 39 of the North Carolina General Statutes as a religious or as a non-religious school;
Operate the school “on a regular schedule, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations, during at least nine calendar months of the year”;
Maintain at the school disease immunization and annual attendance records for each student;
Have a nationally standardized achievement test administered annually to each student age 7 or older. The test must involve the subject areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and mathematics. Records of the test results must be retained at the home school for at least one year and made available to DNPE when requested. The first standardized test must be administered within one year of the home school start date, and then annually thereafter.
Notify DNPE when the school is no longer in operation.
Notice what is NOT required:
No requirement to homeschool 180 days.
No requirement about how many days a week, how many hours a day, which hours or days….
No requirement about what courses to teach when.
No graduation requirements.
No requirement about mailing in test scores.
A homeschool is considered a private school in NC. You decide on your school’s scope & sequence (what is taught and when it is taught). You decide how material is taught and how to determine grades. You decide on your school’s calendar and schedule. You decide on your graduation requirements and when your child graduates, you issue your own diploma and create his high school transcript. (Not as daunting as it sounds – lots and lots of us have done it and can help.)
You only submit the Notice of Intent ONCE, to open your school. You do NOT need to file a NOI for each child as they become school age.
You will need to NAME your school! There are guidelines for this on the DNPE website, but basically, think of a name that would be suitable for all ages, since your school name cannot be changed once it is filed with the state. What sounds cute to a young child might not be something he wants printed on his high school diploma.
Step 2: Get Connected!
Join a support group! Lots of online support exists – Facebook, hundreds of websites, etc. Personal connections are vital to you and your children. Lighthouse Christian Homeschool Association North Carolinians for Home Education
Finding an experienced homeschooler in your area who can be a mentor and help you get started is a great idea. You might even go through a book together, like “Homeschooling 101: A Guide to Getting Started“ by Erica Arndt or “Home Education 101: A Mentor’s Manual” by Vickie Bentley
Step 3: Get Ready! Read. Read. Read.
Talk to other homeschoolers – in person or online. Research as much about homeschooling as you can.
What is your philosophy of education?
What teaching approach appeals to you?
What is your child’s learning style?
What are your goals for this child?
These answers will affect your choice of curriculum.
Write down “Why we are homeschooling” and keep it in a safe place where you can pull it out from time to time as a reminder!
There are numerous lists like the following with suggestions for great books to build your homeschool knowledge: Top Ten Books for Homeschool Moms
Can you start homeschooling before you know all these things?
Of course. But keep it SIMPLE and don’t go out and spend a fortune on a curriculum that your friend uses, because it might not be a good fit for you at all! If you can borrow it, great! There are places to buy used curriculum, such as Homeschool Gathering Place in Raleigh, and the people there are extremely helpful! Get books from the library. There are all kinds of free and inexpensive resources on the internet.
Step 4: Decide What To Teach.
The most important part of choosing what to teach your child is understanding exactly who your child is. Before you begin perusing curriculum catalogs and internet curriculum reviews, it is wise to find out how your child best learns. Learning Style inventories and personality quizzes are abundant in most homeschooling resource books or on the internet, and these are wonderful for understanding how your child’s mind works, and therefore which type of curriculum would be best for him or her.
What is your child interested in? What hobbies or interests do you have as a family? animals? gardening/farming? astronomy? cars? making music? One of the joys of homeschooling is the ability to customize and individualize your education plan to include interests and hobbies.
Look up the scope & sequence for your public school as well as private schools and from curriculum providers for a particular grade. This will give you an idea of what is taught in other schools. Remember that you can individualize the education of your child in North Carolina; you can decide what to teach when. Check your state’s homeschool law to see if there are legal requirements for what is taught, as this varies state to state.
Step 5: Choose your curriculum & resources for this year.
Families new to homeschooling quickly discover a dizzying array of choices when it comes to selecting homeschool curriculum. There is no more popular discussion among homeschoolers on the web than homeschool curriculum reviews. After sifting through the homeschool curriculum reviews, some parents will choose to get all their materials from one source, while other parents will mix and match homeschool curricula, trying to create the best fit for each child. Experienced homeschooling families will tell you that there is actually no single, best choice for homeschool curriculum. Make a choice that seems best to you right now and use it as a tool, adjusting and making changes as needed for your particular child and family.
CURRICULUM is a scary word, but it just means “a course of study, a plan of activities”. It could be a list of topics and library books and field trips. It could include “life skills” and “community service” and ” character development”. Recommend book: 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy ( previous editions of the book are 100 Top Picks and 101 Top Picks) –
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing Curriculum
Things to remember:
– Seek God’s best for your family through prayer and meditation on his Word. Do not allow other people’s opinions take the place of the Holy Spirit in guiding your decisions.
– Your children are unique, your family is unique. What works well for one family may not work for another. Likewise, just because something is not a good fit for one family does not mean that it wouldn’t be a wonderful choice for someone else!
– There is no perfect curriculum. Curriculum is a tool which you use, as the Lord leads, to develop your child’s understanding of the world we live in and to prepare him to serve God in the future and to live as an adult with adult responsibilities..
– You are never a slave to your curriculum, or to a particular set of learning outcomes, or even to a list of college admissions requirements. Curriculum can be adjusted, tweaked, combined, condensed, adapted ….even discarded. Your children are unique individuals, created in the image of God, with different learning styles, different strengths & weaknesses, different interests. You have an opportunity in home education to enable each child to blossom and flourish
Step 6: Create a plan.
Decide what your days will look like. This is completely up to you and does not have to mirror a public school schedule. What time will you get up? When will you do household chores? When will you do school lessons? When will you go outside and play? When will you start dinner? When is bedtime? Some families start their day at 6:30am and are finished with school by lunchtime! Some leave mornings for free time, and don’t start school until after lunch! Some interspersed lessons around other activities all day long. This doesn’t have to be a rigid plan, but will give you a starting point. There is no “best way”. Do whatever works for you.
WHAT IS HOMESCHOOL?