Homeschooling 101

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Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

Homeschooling. What is it? How does it work? And everything else you need to know to get started.

What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is choosing to educate your child at home rather than sending them to a public or private school. As a parent, your right to educate your child at home is protected at both the federal and state level. 

What are the requirements for homeschooling? 

Homeschooling requirements vary by state. In Rhode Island, schooling is mandatory for children between the ages of 6 and 18 or until they graduate from high school. At any point during those years, you may choose to educate your child at home. You do not need any special training or teacher certification for this. The only requirements are that you teach the required subjects (Reading, Writing, Geography, Arithmetic, History of the United States and Rhode Island, Civics, Health, and Physical Education) and that you teach at least 180 days out of the year as the public schools do. You can find a more detailed question and answer page about the legal requirements of homeschools in RI on the ENRICHri website and you can check the Homeschool Legal Defense Association website for general information on homeschooling in any state.

How do I get started homeschooling?

If you decide to homeschool you must inform your school district by sending a Letter of Intent to the office of your superintendent. (If your child is already enrolled in public school you must also send a letter of withdrawal.) No other documentation is required. Sample letters can be found here. If your district requests any additional information you should contact a local homeschool advocacy group (such as ENRICHri) or HSLDA  before submitting anything beyond your LOI.

What is an LOI?

LOI is a common abbreviation used in homeschool groups that stands for ‘Letter of Intent.’

What are ENRICHri, RIGHT & HSLDA?

ENRICHri & RIGHT are the two largest homeschooling organizations in the state. ENRICHri is a non-religious homeschool support and advocacy group. RIGHT stands for the Rhode Island Guild of Homeschool Teachers and is based on Judeo-Christian ethics. HSLDA stands for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association which serves to help the homeschool community navigate legal issues related to homeschooling. You can read more about these organizations in the Homeschooling Resources Guide.

What is a Co-Op?

A co-op usually refers to a parent-led community where homeschool families come together to teach and take classes together. Co-ops come in many different sizes and may offer classes in any variety of subjects from art to science, foreign language, language arts, etc… Some co-ops require parents to volunteer, some do not. Some are drop-off actives, some are not. 

How is homeschooling different from distance learning? 

Homeschooling is very different from the ‘school at home’ approach, ie. distance learning. With distance learning, you must log in at certain times of day, submit everything electronically, and meet assignment deadlines just as if your kids were attending school. Homeschool families have complete control over their schedule, including which days and hours to do school work. Homeschoolers may also use as little or as much technology as they want and have the freedom to choose whichever curriculum best suits their children best.

What if I’m only planning to homeschool temporarily? 

If you are only planning on homeschooling temporarily it is a good idea to keep pace with what your child’s peers will be learning in public school. One way to do this is by using a curriculum aligned with the common core. You also have the right to borrow textbooks from the school district which are exactly the same at the ones your child would be using if they attended public school. You can find a more detailed response to this question here.