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Welcome homeschool challenges

HOW TO START HOMESCHOOLING IN VIRGINIA

YOUR NOT-BACK-TO-SCHOOL SURVIVAL KIT

Not ready for summer to end? Neither are we!

Let’s ease into it together with our “not-back-to-school” survival kit.
It will be painless—we promise! Each week, we’ll share exciting resources, videos, mp3s, and audios on much-needed topics.

This first week, enjoy these ideas for creating homeschool spaces, flexible scheduling, and tips on teaching “multiples” or “onlies.”

Check it out now, and visit frequently for more resources!

homeschool family beginning

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, 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 a comparison of tests.

Alternatively, parents may submit an evaluation from a qualified evaluator. Learn more here.

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.

List of local school divisions and addresses.

Also check out the Testing FAQ for more questions and answers from “Homeschool Q&A,” the popular feature in HEAV’s weekly e-newsletter, the Virginia Homeschool Update. 

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.

Another option is to 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, including teaching tips, field trips, unit study ideas, a homescool Q&A, and more!

Week 6 - Healthy Living

Airing the Addisons: with Ginny Yurich of 1000 Hours Outside

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Airing the Addisons radio show while they interview healthy living advocate Ginny Yurich of 1000 Hours Outside. (Recorded at 2021 Homeschooling with Confidence: Unstoppable)

Now That We Can Teach 'Em, What Will We Feed 'Em? ~ Joel Salatin

While education choice has steadily gained credibility and status in our culture, food choice is suffering from a tyrannical food inquisition. Why is local-integrity food so expensive? Why can’t you get raw milk for your children? This session exposes the food orthodoxy of the USDA and FDA for exactly what it is—an assault on liberty and personhood. What good is the freedom to educate if we can’t choose the fuel for our brains and bodies to function normally.

Keep Your Homeschool Healthy

Cold and flu season will soon be upon us, so now is the perfect time to incorporate some soap science into your homeschool. Modeling good health and hygiene practices is your primary method for instilling lifelong habits in your children.

Sue Becker (The Breadbeckers) will share how to improve your health as well as your learning skills by changing the foods you eat and learning what foods to avoid. One of the first organs affected by nutritional deficiencies is the brain. Simply put, you can’t learn if the brain is malnourished. Incorporating simple dietary changes—with healthy foods that taste good—can make the whole family, as well as your brain, happy and healthy

The Effects of Omega-3 on Health, Behavior, and School ~ Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

The incidence of children diagnosed with food allergies, asthma, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADD, ADHD, dyslexia, and dysgraphia has skyrocketed—more in boys than girls. Why?  UCLA School of Medicine has found that boys’ need for DHA is three times higher than that of girls.

Learn how to recognize the signs of possible learning disabilities in your children—whether they’re in preschool or high school—and the importance of early intervention. What effect will learning disabilities have on adult life? Can accommodations help? What about related disorders? Put your mind at ease and have your questions answered!

Top 10 Homeschool Day Snacks ~ Jamie Erickson

Ten “recipes” make a two-week plan, thanks to Jamie Erickson of The Unlikely Homeschool!

Pro Tip: Schedule literature readings during snack time.

BREAKING NEWS…
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.

Week 5 - Homeschool Days & Field Trips

Looking for field trip ideas this fall? We’ve got you covered! Just consider all that our great state has to offer. First, check out HEAV’s website for everything from “anytime” field trip locations to specially designated Homeschool Days across the Commonwealth.

Maybe you have the time and means to make it a more in-depth endeavor! This article covers everything from day trips to cross-country excursions—and even international travel!—with great insights to make your trip successful.

Field trips are great educational supplements, to be sure, but sometimes “let’s take a walk” is an inexpensive, healthy way to get out, appreciate natural beauty and historical significance, and strengthen family ties.

We admit it. Dave Stotts is one of our favorites, and so is history—and the fact that we can’t actually travel around the world won’t stop us from including Drive-Thru History in our travel school resources. Virtual travel is a thing, too!

In these workshops, Dave shares stories, insights, and helpful hints for engaging students in the “adventure of history.”

Power of Adventure in Learning (Part 2) - Dave Stotts of Drive-Thru History

Get a FREE Homeschooling Beginner Bundle

Chock full of timely information, tips, and ideas, this bundle includes 4 MP3s, a 52-page booklet, printables, and more!

Week 4 - Extracurricular: Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship for Kids

Homeschoolers are in a unique position to tap into an entrepreneurial lifestyle. Whether you run a full-fledged business or experiment with entrepreneurship on a smaller scale, family entrepreneurship practices problem-solving, encourages ingenuity, fosters teamwork, and is a great way to learn and hone unique skills.

Work with Your Kids So They Want to Work with You ~ Joel Salatin

Centered around 10 commandments to make the kids love working with mom and dad, this challenging and far-reaching presentation offers techniques to eliminate dawdling, cultivate persistence, and stimulate innovation.

Raising Entrepreneurs ~ Candice Dugger

Yes, entrepreneurship can be a solution for anxious, stressed, or troubled children–even as young as age 9! Candice shares how you can raise entrepreneurs.

Kids Can Code! It's Easier Than You Think ~ Jeremy Moritz

Software engineering is among the fastest-growing careers today, and it will only grow. Your children and teens can learn valuable programming skills—now!

How to Get Into Filmmaking ~ Justus McCranie

You want to be a filmmaker, but where do you start? Should you spend a lot of money? Should you start with what you have? In this session, we will discuss the best routes to take when getting into film.

Week 3 - High School & Ready to Launch

5 Reasons to Homeschool Your Teens

Many parents see the value of homeschooling children in the early years, but sometimes second-guess their decision once their teen hits high school and transcripts, college, sports, and social activities take a larger space on the stage. This article lays out the reason homeschooling your child through high school is just as important as the early years.

College Panel with LaNissir James, Paul Hastings, Kathy Koch, and Hal & Melanie Young

Preparing your teens for their post-graduation goals requires advance planning. This is for college-bound teens headed into careers, and those desiring to explore training, employment, and workplace skills.

Equipping Your Child For A Focused Future ~ James R. Glenn

Presented at HEAV’s Virginia Homeschool Convention
In an age of information overload, we need decision-makers. Young men and women who become masters of making decisions have an exciting future ahead of them! Join us as we talk about what tools parents can use to train future generations to become the focused leaders of the information age.

Discover the ins and outs of college, everything from admissions to insider secrets on scholarships. Best of all, you’ll learn that paying for college doesn’t require you to take out a second mortgage!

4 Year Academic Plan for homeschooling Teens

Even if your student isn’t planning to go to college, it’s a good idea to have a good academic plan in place, just in case his or her plans change. This article lays out the basics for a four-year academic schedule.

A New-Collar World: Skills~ Ryan Collins and Nathanael Miller

Presented by Ryan Collins and Nathanael Miller at the 2022 Virginia Homeschool Convention.
Skills like software development, data science, and cybersecurity are high-potential careers, and hiring managers are falling over themselves trying to find enough qualified talent who display skills and high character. These high-paying, high-growth careers often don’t require a four-year college degree.

Week 2 - Learning Styles & Curriculum

911 Curriculum

Get a simple and practical strategy to cover the foundational subjects—and give yourself time to customize.

5 Flavors of Homeschooling ~ Sonya Shafer

Save yourself time and money. This user-friendly introduction to teaching methods and learning styles gives you the tools you need to find the best fit for YOUR family.

Adapting Curriculum for Your Child’s Learning Style ~ Melinda Boring

You’ve planned a great lesson, but before you even begin, your child asks, “How long is this going to take?” Epic fail! Not really, but this situation can be avoided if you use techniques that maximize your efforts.

Ask Me Anything Q&A: The Ins and Outs of Choosing the Right Curriculum

What more can we say? Sometimes you just need to hear from a real person. Our panel at the 2021 “Unstoppable” event answers questions from the audience!

Week 1 - Homeschool Spaces & Teaching Multiples or "Onlies"

Setting Your Schedule Free! ~ Kyndra Steinmann

School should only take 45 minutes. Or was that 45 minutes for each grade level? Or may 35 minutes for each subject, a 45-minute lunch, and finish by 2 p.m…or 3 p.m…or dinner? Let it go! It doesn’t have to be that way. You have so much freedom in how and when your child learns.

Notebooking and Multi-Level Teaching ~ Heidi St. John

Wondering how to teach your fifth grader and your sophomore at the same time? Notebooking is a wonderful skill using the show-and-tell approach that let your children write more, learn better, and have a beautiful record of what they have learned at the end of the year.

Multi-Grade, Multi-Age, Multi-Learning Styles ~ Julia Nalle

Juggling lessons across different age levels may seem daunting, but Julia Nalle can help you make a plan for teaching history, literature, writing, Bible, geography, art, science, and more—across multi‐age levels, drawing from both a classical style and a Charlotte Mason approach.

Challenges of Teaching an Only Child

Many homeschool resources skew toward large-family solutions, but the fact is MANY of us are homeschooling just one child. We face a different set of challenges, but we gain blessings in rich relationships and experiences that would be lost if we ruled out homeschooling our “only.”

Homeschool Spaces

What does your homeschool space look like? For some of us, we can’t organize the schedule until we organize our space. We need a command center! Check out these ideas for organization and storage—plus, find out what six mistakes to avoid.

Is It Dysgraphia? ~ Dianne Craft, MA, CNHP

Is your child “allergic” to his pencil? Could be that he or she has one of the most common and most misdiagnosed processing glitches in children–even in gifted children. Find out the symptoms and how to correct it.
Bonus! Listen to the workshop referenced in the article that demonstrates the powerful midline exercises.

More questions? Please call the HEAV office at 804-278-9200. Our staff and counselors will be glad to help you!