Here’s what you need to do…
1.Know the law.
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.
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.”
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 Virginia Homeschool Law Flowchart.
2. Notify Your Superintendent.
Complete a “Notice of Intent” or write a letter indicating how you have complied with the law.
Download a “Notice of Intent ” here. You will need to choose one of the following options:
- Show evidence of a high school diploma (attach a copy of your diploma or transcript, or your spouse’s)
- Submit your Virginia teacher certification (attach documentation)
- 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)
3. Include a description of your 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.
If your initial “Notice of Intent” does not include this description of curriculum because you are still making curriculum decisions, 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.
4. Send Your Notification.
There are two 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’s office 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” to your superintendent’s office. In this case, ask for a hand-written receipt.
Withdrawal from Public School
If you are withdrawing your child from a Virginia public school to start homeschooling, it is important to file your “Notice of Intent” with your local superintendent before withdrawing your child from public school.
Once you have proof that the superintendent has received your 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.
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 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.
Find Your Superintendent
Here is a list of superintendents’ addresses and phone numbers throughout the state. (Note: Many large school districts have delegated the responsibility to collect the Notice of Intent to an individual other than the superintendent. HEAV recommends you call the superintendent’s office and ask where to send your NOI.)
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.
5. Choose your curriculum.
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. 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)
6. Contact a local support group.
HEAV networks with more than 220 support groups throughout the state. Here is a list of homeschool support 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.
7. Assess your child’s progress.
End-of-year testing is sometimes the cause of stress and confusion for parents who have just started homeschooling. It needn’t be! s§ 22.1-254.1(C) of the Virginia homeschool statutes requires that parents provide evidence of adequate progress by August 1 by submitting
- any nationally normed standardized achievement test; or
- an equivalent score on the ACT, SAT, or PSAT test;
- an evaluation or assessment, including, but not limited to,
- an evaluation letter from a person licensed to teach in any state, or a letter from a person with a master’s degree or higher in an academic discipline,
- or a report card or transcript from a community college or college, college distance-learning program, or home education correspondence school.
Don’t be intimidated by testing. Most homeschool students do very well, but more than that, testing is a measure of how effectively your teaching methods work with your child. You can use testing results to adjust your curriculum, teaching style, and teaching time to fit your child’s individual needs.
Please contact the HEAV office at 804-278-9200 if you have additional homeschool questions. Our staff and counselors will be glad to help you!
More Homeschooling in Virginia Resources
Homeschool Success Seminars
You’re also welcome to join us for one of our upcoming Homeschool Success Seminars. These are filled with practical information and have been attended by hundreds of new homeschooling parents. With this information, you’ll be sure to get off to a great start!
How-to-Begin Homeschooling Webinars
Decided to homeschool, but don’t know where to begin? Maximize your success with practical information from a veteran homeschool parent and teacher who has helped thousands of parents get off to the right start! Get the homeschool information you need right now with these recorded webinars. Watch from the convenience of your own home! Available Webinars:
- Introduction to Homeschooling – FREE!
- How to Begin: What You Really Need to Know!
- Know the Law: Notifying and Testing Demystified
- How to Choose Curriculum
Helpful How-to-Begin Articles
- Basic Info for Virginia Homeschoolers
- What Will It Cost Me?
- Homeschool Success Seminar Series
- Virginia Law FAQs
- Beginning After the August 15th Deadline
- The Fourteen Days of Home School
- Suggested Resources
- Suggested Reading