How to Start Homeschooling in Virginia
Wondering how to start homeschooling in Virginia?
Follow these simple steps to comply with the homeschool statute.
Begin Homeschooling in Virginia with Confidence!
You’ve decided to embark on a new journey! See “Seven Steps to Begin Homeschooling in Virginia” below.
Parents choose to homeschool for MANY reasons–a personal conviction, school environment considerations, unmet academic needs, bullying, a desire for family time, and so many others. Whatever your reason, you may find yourself overwhelmed by questions and in need of encouragement and facts on how to get started on the right foot.
Providing that encouragement and equipping you with accurate answers those questions is the heart of HEAV’s mission, and we are privileged to be a part of your homeschool journey.
Kids at Home Because of School Closure?
Welcome! Don’t worry–you’ve got this! We’ve homeschooled for decades. We know the ropes, and we’re here to help!
1. If you start homeschooling this year, you’ll need to file a Notice of Intent as soon as you decide to homeschool.
2. Enjoy this blessing of time with your children—and experience a bit of the amazing, crazy, beautiful messiness of homeschool life.*
3. Get some resources and answers to frequently asked questions here.
4. Consider attending one of the “Homeschool Crash Course” webinars to find out everything you need to know to get started!
Get Your FREE Homeschooling Beginner Bundle
Chock full of timely information, tips, how-tos, and ideas, this bundle includes 4 MP3s, a 52-page booklet, printables and more!
Seven 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, 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.
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.
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.
More Homeschooling in Virginia Resources
Virginia Homeschool Convention
Held in June each year, HEAV’s annual homeschool convention is an excellent way to get everything you need–all in one place! Fellowship, expert information, and a multitude of carefully selected speakers and resources all add up to an experience that can change the life of your family.
How-To-Begin Homeschooling Webinars
Decided to homeschool, but don’t know how to start? 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.