Not-Back-to-School
Survival Kit

Welcome homeschool challenges

It’s here—Your not-back-to-school survival kit!

Get all the information and resources you need for a for a successful start to their 2021-2022 homeschool year.

Back To School 1

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:
  1. The Virginia Home Instruction Statute (file a Notice of Intent to Homeschool with your local superintendent.)
  2. The Certified Tutor Statute (for certified teachers)
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. You may also hand-deliver the “Notice of Intent” to your superintendent’s office. In this case, ask for a hand-written receipt.
  3. 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, there is much help available–online, in books and magazines, and through the HEAV office.

You may purchase a complete curriculum, or 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 are able to 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. Here is a great introduction to learning styles. Check out our curricula resources page to find some of the post 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 acknowledgement from the superintendent, but HEAV recommends you keep any documentation as proof you have complied with law.

You do not need to keep track of days and hours. The only time requirement 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 include 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 in Virginia. Here is a list of local 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. Another option is attend homeschool field trips. Check here for a list of HEAV-sponsored Homeschool Days, as well as MANY others throughout the Commonwealth.

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. 

Please sign up for our weekly communications that includes teaching tips, field trips, unit study ideas, a homeschool Q&A, and more!

Last Chance! Homeschool Crash Course

Missed the July Crash Course? Now worries! We’re doing it again on August 10-12!

Get clear instruction, a connection with those who have done this, and a simple plan for moving forward — everything you really need to know to homeschool successfully.

Important Information You Need to Know

Documenting that you’ve complied with the law is YOUR responsibility, but it’s easier than you think.  You do not need t use the school districts forms OR give out more information than is required by law.

Top 10 NOI Questions

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 questions here!

Organization Articles

Check out some of our favorite articles on how to organize and plan for your homeschool year–without overdoing it!

Gearing up for Fall

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.

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.

Thank you to Our (Not)-Back-to-School-Sponsor!

Curriculum & Unit Studies

homeschool curriculum exhibit hall header

Curriculum Expo

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!

Back To School 3

Learning Styles

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.

Back To School 4

Choosing the Right Curriculum

There are SO MANY different curricula to choose from! Get a brief overview of six different teaching methods—from the classical approach to relaxed homeschooling. Hear lots of practical suggestions for choosing a curriculum and where to find the resources you need to find the best choice for YOUR family.

Unit Studies: Flexible Learning Tools

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!

Unit Studies with Amanda Bennett

 
Back To School 3

Integrating Themes into Learning

Themes communicate. If you spend ten minutes explaining to 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.

summer-geography-oceans-of-the-world

Homeschool Living Posts

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!

Blackboard with books in front of it

Homeschool Curriculum 911

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.

Simple Schooling

Back To School 7

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. In this session, Ginny Yurich, founder of 1000 Hours Outside, reveals how “just” playing outside offers a myriad of developmental benefits to your child, and how these benefits will extend through adulthood. 

Simple Homeschooling ~ Allie Casazza

Worry-Free Parenting: He Won't Get Married Diapers

He Won’t Get Married in Diapers

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!

Technology & Homeschooling

smiling family with tablet pc at home

Coming Soon

  • Kathy Koch
  • Covenant Eyes
  • Raising Kids Who Love Science and Technology

Gameschooling

Back To School 10

Coming Soon

  • Creative play articles
  • Homeschool Living Post
    Maybe an MP3?
    Maybe polls or reader input—favorite games?

Taking School on the Road

Travel School

Coming soon

  • Field Trips
  • Adventure of Homeschooling
  • MP3s Drive Thru History
  • Geography Resources
  • Traveling While Homeschooling