Homeschool Q&A: Can I Begin Now?

Posted on Oct 27 2010 in Homeschool Q&A by Yvonne Bunn

This post is part of a series titled, “Homeschool Q&A.” The series features questions HEAV has received from parents on a variety of topicsand the answers!

Q. I’ve decided I want to homeschool my child. Is it too late to begin? What do I need to do to take him out of school?

A. Yes, you can homeschool now. You may begin homeschooling after the August 15th deadline if you have recently moved into a school division or if you decide to begin homeschooling after the school year has begun. If you begin now, it’s important to understand the Virginia law and the choices you have. Visit the law section of the HEAV website for complete information, as well as links to the actual statute and tips on what you need to know. For a comprehensive overview of your legal choices, be sure to view the Law Flowchart.

Here’s what you need to do.

1. Write a letter of intent OR download, print, and complete a copy of the Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction form. If you have questions about the Notice of Intent, look at our newly updated Notice of Intent FAQs. If you don’t find the answers you need, be sure to give me a call at 804-278-9200, or send an e-mail to support@heav.org.

2. Include a description of your curriculum with the Notice of Intent. If this is not possible, you have 30 days to select your curriculum and provide a curriculum description. The law requires limited documentation of curriculum—just a description. To comply, you may write a brief description of each subject you intend to study during the year, or you may simply attach a list of subjects to be taught and the textbook titles or resources you plan to use. Your curriculum is not evaluated or approved by the superintendent. You can purchase new or used curriculum at some book stores depending on the area in which you live. The Internet is also a good source for researching and buying curriculum after the school year has begun. To help get you get started, HEAV has a limited list of curriculum resources here.

3. Notify your division superintendent. You can mail or hand-deliver your Notice of Intent and curriculum description. If you mail your NOI, send it “return/receipt” so you have a record of the date it was received. If you hand-deliver it to your superintendent’s office, ask for a receipt. For your convenience, here is the contact information for local division superintendents.

4. Withdraw your child from school after you have evidence your NOI has been received. If your child is attending a government school, file your Notice of Intent or letter before you withdraw him from school; this will prevent the possibility of confusion. After your division superintendent has received your NOI or letter, you may begin homeschooling. You do not have to wait for a response from the superintendent in order to begin. You are not asking or waiting for the superintendent’s “permission” to homeschool. You are notifying the superintendent of your intent as the law requires. There is no waiting period.

5. Contact a local support group in your area. HEAV networks with more than 200 support groups throughout the state. You can find a list of groups and contact information here. Many support groups provide group activities, field trips, and sometimes co-op classes for students. Experienced parents in the group can also offer encouragement as you get started.

6. Find some helpful resources!
These are some of the very best, practical books on homeschooling that may help you as you begin:

The Virginia Homeschool Manual: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Education in Virginia
One of the most comprehensive resources available to Virginia homeschoolers is the Virginia Homeschool Manual. It will help you homeschool from pre-school through high school, college, and beyond. Almost 1000 pages of solid, helpful information.

The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling
Debra Bell’s book is a great homeschooling book, especially if you’re looking for practical ways to schedule your day, work through each subject, and learn about popular methods.

100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
Cathy Duffy’s book is an excellent choice to help you specifically with kindergarten through high school curriculum choices.

Mommy Teach Me
Making the Most of the Preschool Years

If you have a preschooler, these two books can help you get started.

The High School Handbook
This book by Mary Schofield is perfect for high school students.

All these books may be purchased from our online HEAV bookstore.

We can help!
Sign-up for HEAV’s FREE weekly e-mail newsletter, the Virginia Homeschool Update, and HEAV’s quarterly magazine, the Virginia Home Educator. We’ll let you know about upcoming events, museum homeschool days, and important news. You’ll also receive encouragement and support through helpful articles and great resources–all for free!

To get your specific questions answered and learn what you REALLY need to know to homeschool, watch our Virginia Homeschool Updates for information about our How-to-Begin Homeschool Success Seminars. These practical, information-filled seminars will give you the tools for a successful homeschool year.

I hope this information will help you get off to a good start. You can do it—just take one step at a time. HEAV is here to help you be successful. Please call our office at 804-278-9200 or e-mail your questions to support@heav.org if we can help you further.

Wishing you much success!
Yvonne

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