Q. Can I start to homeschool now? If so, what steps should I take to begin?
A. Yes, you may begin homeschooling after the school year has begun. The Virginia homeschool statute (§22.1-254.1 (B)) states:
“Any parent who moves into a school division or begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intentions to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements of this section within thirty days of such notice.”
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Know the law! This is a critical step when beginning to homeschool. If you know the law, you will have confidence and know your rights as a parent. For complete information, visit the law section of the HEAV website. You’ll find links to the actual statute and tips on what you need to know. For a comprehensive overview of the choices you have, be sure to view the Law Flowchart.
2. Complete a “Notice of Intent” form or write a letter indicating how you have complied with the law.
You may download a “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction” form here. On the form, choose one of the following options:
- show evidence of a high school diploma (attach a copy of your diploma or transcript, or higher degree), or
- submit your Virginia teacher certification, (attach documentation) or
- provide a program of study or a curriculum that may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program or in any other manner (attach an acceptance letter or evidence of payment), or
- show evidence that you are able to provide an adequate education for your child. (Carefully write a grammatically correct letter stating why you are able to provide a good education for your child.)
3. Include a description of your curriculum.
The law requires limited documentation of curriculum—just a description. To comply, you could write a brief description of what you intend to study during the year, or you could attach a list of subjects to be taught and the textbook titles. Your curriculum is not evaluated or approved by the superintendent; your description merely shows that a curriculum is in place
If your initial “Notice of Intent” does not include complete curriculum information because you are making still making curriculum decisions, you have 30 days from the initial notice to complete the requirements and fully comply with the law. However, once notice has been given in compliance with the statute, your family should be considered legal homeschoolers.
4. Notify your division superintendent.
There are two ways to notify your superintendent:
- You may mail the “Notice of Intent” form and attachments to your division superintendent. If you mail it “certified, return-receipt,” you will have a record of the date the superintendent received your notice. After the date of receipt, you may withdraw your child from school without concern for truancy issues.
- You may also hand-deliver the “Notice of Intent” form to your superintendent’s office. In this case, ask for a hand-written receipt.
If you will be withdrawing your child from public school in order to begin homeschooling, it is important to file your “Notice of Intent” form with your local superintendent before withdrawing your child from public school. Once you have proof that the superintendent has received your homeschool notification, there should be no confusion about complying with school attendance laws. However, if you first take your child out of school, then notify the superintendent, it may raise truancy questions and could possibly result in a truancy investigation with fines up to $100 per day.
As a homeschooling parent, you are not applying for permission or seeking the superintendent’s approval to homeschool. You are simply notifying the superintendent’s office of your intent to provide for your child’s education in a manner already approved by the Virginia General Assembly. The law requires a parent to notify the superintendent of his intent to homeschool, but does not require a parent to wait for “approval” from the division superintendent before withdrawing a student from a traditional school and beginning to homeschool.
5. Contact a local support group in your area.
HEAV networks with more than 220 support groups throughout the state. Here is a list of groups and their contact information. Local support groups provide opportunities for student involvement in variety of activities, as well as encouragement for new homeschooling parents.
Please contact the HEAV office at 804-278-9200 if you have homeschool questions. Our staff and counselors will be glad to help you! You’re also welcome to join us for one of our upcoming Homeschool Success Seminars. With this information, you’ll be sure to get off to a great start!