7 Steps to Begin Homeschooling in Virginia
This is a critical step when starting to homeschool. If you know the law, you will have confidence and know your rights as a parent.
There are three basic options for homeschooling in Virginia:
- The Virginia Home Instruction Statute (file a Notice of Intent to Homeschool with your local superintendent.)
- The Certified Tutor Statute (for certified teachers)
- The Religious Exemption Statute (for those with a sincere religious objection)
Most parents homeschool under the Home Instruction Statute §22.1-254.1 (B), which 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.”
For complete information, visit the law section. You’ll find links to the actual statute and tips on what you need to know.
For a comprehensive overview of your choices, view the Virginia Homeschool Law Flowchart.
Download and complete a “Notice of Intent” or write a letter showing how you have complied with the law. You will need to choose one of the following options:
- Attach a copy of a high school diploma or transcript (either yours or your spouse’s)
- Attach your Virginia teacher certification
- 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)
- 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)
Once the paperwork is submitted, you may begin homeschooling.
*Make sure to keep all documentation proving that you have submitted what was required by law.
Under option iv, the local superintendent has the responsibility to review the information you provide to determine if you have the ability to provide an education. Learn more here.
Description of Curriculum
The law requires a limited description of curriculum—just a list of subjects you plan to study during the coming year. (e.g., history, science, math, language arts, music, etc.) Your curriculum is not evaluated or approved by the superintendent; your description merely shows that a curriculum is in place.
Perhaps your initial “Notice of Intent” does not include this description of curriculum because you are still making curriculum decisions (for instance, if you are beginning mid-year.) In that case, you have 30 days from the initial notice of starting to homeschool 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.
There are several ways to send the notification:
- You may mail the “Notice of Intent” 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.
- You may also hand-deliver the “Notice of Intent” to your superintendent’s office. In this case, ask for a hand-written receipt.
- Some districts provide for email or online submission. Check the website of your local school district.
Withdrawal from Public School
If you are withdrawing your child from a public school to start homeschooling in Virginia, it is important to file your “Notice of Intent” with your local superintendent before withdrawing your child from public school.
After the date of receipt of your NOI, you may withdraw your child from school without concern for truancy issues; 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. That could possibly result in a truancy investigation with fines up to $100 per day.
You Are Notifying…Not Asking Permission
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 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 you are not required to wait for “approval” from the division superintendent before withdrawing and beginning to homeschool.
Find Your Superintendent
Here is a list of superintendents throughout the state.
Get a Receipt
Once you’ve found your superintendent’s address for mailing or hand-delivering your Notice of Intent, be sure to mail the Notice of Intent “return-receipt” for verification the superintendent has received it. If you take it to the office, ask for a date-stamped receipt showing they have received the Notice of Intent from you.
What do I teach my child? As you prepare to start your homeschooling journey, few questions loom larger in your mind. Fortunately, much help is available–online, in books and magazines, and through the HEAV office.
You may purchase a complete curriculum, choose single subjects from different publishers—or even create your own, according to your own vision and your child’s learning styles!
When looking at curriculum options, you may want to study educational philosophies first and then find a curriculum that supports your vision. If you can identify one or two methods that fit your family, you will be able to narrow down the curriculum options. This strategy will save you lots of time (and money!) in the long run by providing more focused research.
Check out our curricula resources page to find some of the most popular homeschool curriculum providers, as well as information on finding used curricula.
HEAV has curriculum counselors who are happy to help as you narrow your choices.
Give us a call Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (804-278-9200)
As soon as you have submitted your notification, you are free to begin homeschooling. You do not need to wait for acknowledgment from the superintendent, but HEAV recommends you keep any documentation as proof you have complied with the law.å
You do not need to keep track of days and hours. The only time requirement is given in 22.1-254 (A) state, in part, “…during the period of each year the public schools are in session and for the same number of days and hours per day as public schools.” (Interestingly, in recent years, public school days and schedules are not the same throughout Virginia–some districts even have year-round school now.)
The homeschool statute, 22.1-254.1, does not require homeschoolers to keep any records of the days and hours parents teach, nor does the homeschool law require homeschoolers to turn in forms or attendance records. Neither does it define “school” as the time spent sitting at a desk and completing worksheets. For most home educators, “schooling” also includes field trips, life-skill lessons, music, art, sports, reading, and much more.
Take into account that a typical public school day has quite a bit of unproductive time and may also include times for study hall, physical education, and library visits.
With these facts in mind, you should be able to create a homeschool schedule that is reasonable and fits your family’s needs.
Truth be told, the element that often makes the difference for successful homeschooling is the support you find within the community. Gone are the days when homeschoolers were few and far between—once you look, you’ll likely find many connections available to you.
Social media groups are a great option. HEAV’s Homeschooling in Virginia page is a wonderful place to get tips and ideas on curriculum, field trips, teaching methods, and more
Of course, making a personal connection is invaluable! HEAV networks with more than 220 support groups throughout Virginia. Here is a list of local groups and their contact information. Local support groups provide opportunities for student involvement in various activities and encouragement for new homeschooling parents.
You may have many additional questions as you move along your homeschool journey. HEAV is here as we have been for 37 years, providing accurate information and encouragement for any parent who needs help.
You Can Do It!
Yes, you can! Just as we do as parents, as homeschoolers we have doubts and periods of uncertainty, but take heart. You CAN do this–not perfectly, not without work, but with excellence and joy!
This session was recorded at Homeschooling with Confidence: Equip. Encourage. Simplify.
What does your homeschool schedule look like? How does your plan flow through the year? Whether you’re a natural planner or more inclined to go with the flow of things, there is something for you in this Homeschool Living.
Reality Check: ! 1984 Called and Wants Its Regulations Back*
We just wanted to throw this in here! It’s an entertaining read, to be sure, but an important one.
Imagine what your back to school schedule would be like without HEAV. Thanks to many years of diligent and strategic work in the legislature, homeschooling has been made more accessible for all Virginia families.
You aren’t the only one with questions! Every year, we get many Notice of Intent questions—from new homeschoolers and veterans alike—about specific situations and how to handle them in their NOI.
Get ACCURATE answers to the most frequently asked back to school questions here!
Thank you to Our (Not) Back to School-Sponsor!
Curriculum & Unit Studies
The homeschool convention with its humongous exhibit hall wasn’t possible in person this year–so we brought the exhibit hall to you. Looking for homeschool curriculum—a full program, an online curriculum, or traditional texts? Or perhaps you’re looking for unit studies, camps, or colleges. Browse some of our favorite convention exhibitors here, and join the Facebook group to get awesome deals, freebies, and specials as you head back to school!
Just what ARE learning styles—and are they really critical to teaching effectively?
Do you have a constant talker? A child who is easily distracted? A child who (fill in the annoying behavior? Before you decide that your children are just trying to frustrate you, consider your options in finding their learning style strengths.
Amanda Bennett is one of our favorite “go-to” experts on unit studies. This article from the Virginia Home Educator explains the why of unit studies. In short, unit studies allow children learn to think and reason and understand the deeper connections of things just as they were created—as one part of an amazing world!
Themes communicate. If you spend ten minutes explaining the responsibilities of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh, your child may remember 25% of the information. Have him sit on a pharaoh’s throne for ten minutes, delegating the responsibilities himself, and he’ll remember every detail for years. The more developed the theme, the richer the experience—and ultimately, the more vivid the memory.
If you haven’t had the luxury of time to research curricula and learning styles yet, don’t fret! This article will provide guidance regarding a simple, stress-free way to begin your family’s home education journey.
Ginny Yurich ~ 1000 Hours Outside!
BONUS! This workshop was recorded at Homeschooling with Confidence: UNSTOPPABLE in June. We just love it so much, we decided to share here! In the last few decades, childhood has largely moved inside. With so many great opportunities that vie for our time, it’s easy to consider outside play as frivolous, especial as you head back to school. In this session, Ginny Yurich, founder of 1000 Hours Outside, reveals how “just” playing outside offers a myriad of developmental benefits to your child that extend through adulthood.
by Sandra Modersohn
Worry-free parenting? Maybe there is no such thing, but we DON’T have to sweat the small stuff! The things you’re worried about now—what your child is doing or not doing—may seem hard now, but will seem simple in a few months, and silly in 10 years.
Learn to relax now, and enjoy these fleeting years!
by Jennifer Murff
Need we say more? You KNOW what she’s talking about! You see the perfect mom on Facebook–the mom YOU were going to be–and realize you can never measure up.
Real homeschool living doesn’t happen in a classroom! Discover all sorts of engaging and relevant resources to make your studies come alive as you build your own unit studies–whether it’s back to school time or midyear!!
Taking School on the Road
From Our Friends at HSLDA…
Make the World Your Classroom
“Why did you choose to homeschool?” As a homeschooler, you are bound to be asked that question more than once. (Spoiler alert: This article gives you a good one-line answer for the well-meaning, curious friends and neighbors.)
But there is more to it than the “why.” It is also about the “how!” There are many ways to learn, and homeschooling brings many options to the table.
Take advantage of the flexibility and authority you have in homeschooling! Not all of us can afford to travel abroad or take a month off and travel the country (but we can dream!) Still, you can enjoy adventure and excitement even close to home. Creating a unique homeschool experience is limited only by your imagination.
Field trips are a vital part any educational plan–they make learning fun and memorable, and bring to life what otherwise might only be words on a page.
Homeschool Days – special days set aside for homeschoolers to gather as a group – were initiated by HEAV many year ago, and today such these special events abound across the Commonwealth. Some are sponsored by HEAV, but there are MANY others–the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Technology & Games
by Nathanael Miller
How do you raise kids to love science and technology–and what does it look like?? Hear it from a homeschool graduate, NASA strategy analyst, and a homeschool dad.
by Dr. Kathy Koch
Understand how technology is influencing children’s beliefs and behaviors. Learn how technology is the root of some of your biggest concerns. Discover the five big lies technology is especially causing young people to believe and communication patterns and practical things to do to help them mature even as they keep using technology. You’ll find hope in this message!
Introduction to Apps for Kids ~ Leah Nieman
The number of apps available these days is mind-blowing. Join Leah as she unravels the mystery of what apps should—and should not—require of users and learn how to select great apps for your child.
by Megan Mora Fuenta
Need to take a break? Try including some fun, fresh “gameschooling” lessons, or try using games as family activities to introduce and reinforce concepts and lessons and keep the material fresh in your students’ minds.