Moving to Virginia? Beginning after the deadline? Starting mid-year?
Want to Begin Homeschooling Now? You Can Do It!
You want to begin homeschooling…now. How do you get started? What can you do if you missed the deadline? Do you have to wait another year to begin?
Be PreparedNo matter what the circumstances, get complete and accurate information about homeschooling options before you begin contacting local officials. Local school divisions will gladly give you information, but may add policies beyond the requirements of the law, or be unfamiliar with recent legislative changes. By being well informed, you’ll know what to expect and be better prepared to make important decisions.
You can begin homeschooling at any point in the school year.
Virginia 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:
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 submitting your Notice of Intent, keep evidence of submission, such as a certified mail receipt, a time-date stamp from an email, a signature for a hand-delivered NOI, or a fax confirmation receipt—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.
Virginia families who have submitted a Notice of Intent to homeschool must submit proof of progress by August 1 of the following year.
This may be in the form of a nationally normed standardized achievement test. In this case, the student must have a composite score in or above the fourth stanine in order to continue to homeschool. The fourth stanine begins at 23rd percentile.
Many good tests measure different aspects of learning; however, not all tests meet Virginia’s statutory requirements for evidence of progress.
Click here for more testing information.
Where to Send Homeschool Test Results
Your test results or evaluation letter should be sent to the same person to whom you sent your notice of intent—your division superintendent or his designee.
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.
This is a critical step in the withdrawal process. When you know the law, you will have confidence when notifying your division superintendent. Visit the law section of the HEAV website for complete information, links to the actual statute, and tips on what you need to know. For a comprehensive overview, be sure to view the Law Flowchart.
Additionally 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 if you are a teacher, (attach documentation) or
- Provide evidence of acceptance by a correspondence course or a distance-learning program (attach receipt for payment or confirmation letter), or
- A letter stating that you are able to provide an adequate education for your child. (SOLs and details concerning all options listed above are available here.)
The law requires limited documentation of curriculum—just a description. A curriculum description is now limited by law to a list of subjects to be studied during the coming year. Examples of subjects could include math, algebra, geometry, history, world history, American history, handwriting, science, biology, physics, language arts, grammar, composition, British literature, music, art, rhetoric, Latin, foreign language, macroeconomics, etc.
Help is just a phone call away! HEAV has experienced phone counselors available to help you, Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (804-278-9200)
HEAV networks with more than 220 support groups throughout the state. You can find a list of groups and contact information under Support. A local support group is familiar with the homeschool climate in your area and can usually tell you what to expect. Experienced parents in the group can also offer encouragement as you get started.
NEW! HIGH SCHOOL MENTOR PROGRAM
A nine-month program for homeschool parents
Even experienced homeschoolers know the thought of “high school” can be intimidating. With HEAV’s mentoring program, you’ll be equipped to guide your child to excel in academics, relationships, and work.
Plus, every step of the way, you will enjoy weekly meetings with your “tribe” — your mentor and close, like-minded parents who share this journey with you.
New School Division Residents
Are you a new Virginia resident, or have you moved within the state from one school district to another? If you want to educate your child(ren) under Virginia’s homeschool statute, the law requires you to comply with Virginia statute §22.1-254.1. When you move within the state from one school district to another, the law requires you to inform the division superintendent in your new locale “as soon as practicable” that you are in his district and will begin homeschooling.
You may inform your superintendent by either calling the office or sending a letter, or you may choose to file a “Notice of Intent to Provide Home Instruction” form. You will have thirty days from your notification date to complete the requirements in order to fully comply with the homeschool statute. As a courtesy, but not required by law, you may let the superintendent of your previous Virginia school district know that you have moved from his district. They will no longer expect yearly evidence of progress. Since you have relocated, all correspondence regarding your Notice of Intent and evidence of progress should be sent to the new superintendent.
Virginia parents who decide to begin homeschooling after the August 15 deadline may also begin midyear. According to the language in §22.1-154.1 (B) above, parents are allowed to begin homeschooling after the school year has begun. Parents should follow the same procedures as those for new residents.
However, this does not mean that parents who already teach at home can be lax about the yearly deadline. It clearly refers to parents who begin to homeschool for the first time after the school year has begun. The deadline can be enforced if a parent willingly avoids or carelessly neglects to notify the division superintendent by August 15.
Withdrawal From Public School
If you plan to withdraw your child from public school in order to begin homeschooling, your should understand the homeschool statute before you begin.
File your “Notice of Intent” with your local school superintendent, in accordance with Virginia Code 22.1-254.1, before giving notice of withdrawal from school. Keeping your child home before notifying the superintendent could result in a truancy investigation. Truancy charges can include fines up to $100 per day and six months in jail.
If your initial “Notice of Intent” to the superintendent does not include complete information because you are making final curriculum plans, you have 30 days from the initial notice to complete the requirements and fully comply with the law. However, once you have given notice, you should be considered legal homeschoolers, and are free to begin homeschooling.
The law does not specify “how” you should withdraw your child from school. Read more here.
What Happens If Something Goes Wrong?
If for some reason the superintendent responds negatively,
- Respectfully ask him to put his decision and/or requirements in writing and to mail you a copy,
- Discuss the requirements of the law with experienced homeschoolers, give our office a call (804-278-9200), and/or seek legal counsel, and
- If all else fails, within thirty days you may appeal his decision before an independent hearing officer. The cost of the hearing will be apportioned by the hearing officer based on his findings. Never ignore official correspondence or telephone calls.
Know the Law, Know Your Rights
It is important for you and your child to begin your homeschooling experience on a positive note. Know the law. Understand your rights as a parent. Decide what to do and how to prepare for success. Virginia does not have onerous laws. Meet the requirements, and you can homeschool…now!
*If this statute cannot accommodate your religious convictions, please refer to Religious Exemption or read related articles in the Virginia Homeschool Manual for more information.
[Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. The purpose of this article is to inform interested parents of options under the Virginia statute.]