How do you like homeschooling in your state? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking into possibly relocating soon. One of my big concerns is being able to homeschool.
I know there is a map that shows which states are easy/tough with laws but I'm sure there has to be people who homeschool in "tough law" states and was wondering how that really works out. So I'm wondering if you wouldn't mind sharing which state you homeschool in and how well that is working for you.
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#2 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 03:57 PM
 
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I live in one of the easy states, New Jersey. It works out really well for us. No reporting and no state tests.

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#3 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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#4 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 04:54 PM
 
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I think Ga is pretty easy - just submit a letter of intent to HS to the local BOE and standardized tests every 3 years after 3rd grade. I'm pretty sure that is all that is required.

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#5 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 05:11 PM
 
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I've homeschooled in both Colorado and California.

Colorado is pretty easy. You have to write a letter to your school district about your intent to homeschool. You have to keep attendance records, test records, immunization records. Also, there is testing every other year after 3rd grade, I think? I can't remember exactly because that is the year we moved to California.

California is extremely easy to homeschool in. In October, the family is required to file an affidavit with the state and that's about it. You also need to keep records of certain things "just in case", but there's no required testing, reporting, etc.

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#6 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 05:58 PM
 
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I think that even in the "difficult" states it's not actually all that hard. I live in Massachusetts which is supposed to be one of the hardest states to HS in, and I've never heard of anyone having a problem. All you have to do is send in a letter at the beginning of each year promising that you'll make sure your child learns how to be a literate, functional member of society. And then at the end of the year districts are allowed to ask for a portfolio. Some do and some don't. Everyone I know buys one of those "complete curriculum" workbooks at Barnes and Noble, the kid fills it in, and they turn that in. Those books are thick, but I think they're pretty easy and it only takes a few days to speed all the way through them.

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#7 of 54 Old 02-02-2010, 07:25 PM
 
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Originally Posted by kewb View Post
I live in one of the easy states, New Jersey. It works out really well for us. No reporting and no state tests.
Yeah... and no attendance, no notification unless you pull them midyear... there's nothing. There's "easy despite what the actual rules are" and then there's "nothin". I'll take "nothin".

Add to it that we have NYC & Philadelphia as a day trip pretty much no matter where you live on top of our own museums and enrichment programs. Many of the museums/attractions run a discounted and/or special "homeschool day" and there are plenty of communities/support groups (there are more secular here than I've seen in a lot of places).

We've scoped relocation to NC, TX, and IL (where we're being force to move due to job relocation). As I understand it, IL isn't horrible, either--no testing, attendance, or registration requirements, AND a very small tax credit. But TX was equally awesome to NJ as far as I could tell in terms of laws/regulations plus they explicitly grant special ed services to homeschoolers where in NJ, it's case law that sets precedent vs. being explicitly given (which just means that if you have a wretched district, you have to argue with them... but I did it and didn't need a lawyer).

NC was hard. Testing (even for special ed students), attendance, etc. No thanks.

VA apparently has organized their homeschoolers such that they employ a lobbyist to their legislature. But I recall thinking "no way" when I saw their rules, too. I just don't remember all of them. I DO know that they require registration that asks you to state if you're homeschooling for religious reasons or not--which struck a nerve in me because it made me think that at the core of our constitution, religious rights are guaranteed and those registered religious would escape some potential future regulation that the others wouldn't. Call me an alarmist, but uhhhh... have you seen the gov't lately?

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#8 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 12:31 AM
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Originally Posted by peachsara View Post
I think Ga is pretty easy - just submit a letter of intent to HS to the local BOE and standardized tests every 3 years after 3rd grade. I'm pretty sure that is all that is required.

Standardized testing is every 3 yrs starting in 3rd grade, not after 3rd grade.
Also we have to file a monthly attendance report.
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#9 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 12:47 AM
 
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You don't declare that you are homeschooling in NC until child is 7 in June. Then, you just have to keep attendance and vaccination records and take a standardized yearly test. It's obviously more than nothing, but it's far from challenging.

I have to say that here is a lot more about choosing a place to live than just the homeschooling laws. I've lived in RI, NJ, PA, TX, CA, NY, and DH has lived in MD, VA, TX, CA, and we are happier in NC than anywhere else we've been. Love it here for 100s of reasons.

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#10 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 12:54 AM
 
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I'm in MN which is one of the tougher states. The only thing that confuses me is exactly when to start reporting- it says between 7-16 and I don't know if that's the year that the child turns 7- so I'd report at 6 with DD1 turning 7 midyear, or the year she starts out being 7.
Other then that, keeping records day-to-day really isn't that hard, and standardized testing is a bother but only once a year.

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#11 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 12:55 AM
 
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Connecticut's a good state in which to homeschool. No registering with the state, no mandatory standardized testing or portfolio review, you only have to file a letter if you've enrolled in the school system and are withdrawing, and even then, that's all you're legally required to do.
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#12 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 12:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sha_lyn View Post
Standardized testing is every 3 yrs starting in 3rd grade, not after 3rd grade.
Also we have to file a monthly attendance report.
Thank you for clarifying that! We're not yet to the age where we have to report, so I'm a slacker on the laws.

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#13 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 12:47 PM
 
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Idaho is very easy to homeschool in. You don't have to register or participate in testing.
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#14 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 01:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Marimami View Post
You don't declare that you are homeschooling in NC until child is 7 in June. Then, you just have to keep attendance and vaccination records and take a standardized yearly test. It's obviously more than nothing, but it's far from challenging.
Every time this topic comes up on a thread, people who live in states with more regulation appear to get offended that their state isn't considered "easy". Of course you can adjust to things, but that is actually quite a bit when you're new to it and/or accustomed to doing nothing--especially if you're someone who is not really great at record-keeping (I happen to be good with it, but many aren't).

It is what it is. NC has a number of requirements that other states don't. But...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marimami View Post
I have to say that here is a lot more about choosing a place to live than just the homeschooling laws.
I totally agree with this. At the same time, when we were trying to figure out where to relocate, it was easier to look at homeschool & vax laws FIRST to narrow the choices--because really, we would've had to literally throw a dart at the map otherwise. Our trip to NC taught us that, actually. We were pretty well set on moving there and went for a week during which time I attended a homeschool conference. I was concerned it would be a lot of religious homeschoolers and we wouldn't fit in there. But in fact, there were other things that I never even considered that sent us back to NJ in search of other options (some related to homeschooling there and some not).

It was a nice trip, but a monumental waste of time and money that we truly didn't have. So after that, the short list included states that had homeschooling and vax laws that we felt more comfortable with. After that, we could look at those states and decide if they were "for us". If they weren't, THEN we could widen the net and give in on things if need be.

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#15 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 03:58 PM
 
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We live in Central NY, it is NOT EASY to homeschool here! We must report that we're homeschooling by the fall that the child turns 6. And, here is everything else:

* submit notice of intent by july 1 or 14 days before starting to homeschool if during middle of year.

* send IHIP for each homeschooled child by aug 15th. IHIP must include childs age, grade level, list of syllabi/curriculum/plan of instruction, dates for submission of quarterly reports, and name of person giving instructions.

*submit attendance record(180 days) to superintendent upon request.

*file quarterly reports which must include # of hrs of instruction during quarter, description of material covered in each subject, and grade in each subject.

*file annual assesment with last quarterly report. For grades one through three, the written narrative evaluation may be used. In grades four through eight, the written narrative evaluation may be used every other year. Beginning with ninth grade, standardized testing must be done every year.

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#16 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 04:10 PM
 
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We are in New Mexico and I think it is easy to homeschool here but we do have to register with the state and keep immunization records. I have never heard of anyone being asked to provide the immunization records however. We do not have to provide sample work/ portfolios or take standardized tests.

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#17 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 07:43 PM
 
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We are in VT, which is listed as a "hard" state but I think it's more like a moderate state, legally, and a terrific state culturally.

Cons: You do have to apply for approval of your hs program to the state; you have to fill out a lot of paperwork and provide a description of your "minimum course of study".

If your child has not been in a VT public school before, you have to get a form stating that your child is not disabled (you can hs a disabled child, but you have to fill out additional paperwork showing how you will accomodate your child's disability). This can be signed a doctor or state-licensed teacher. It's not really that hard to get (and you only have to do it once per child) but it is annoying, and I've never heard of another state that had this requirement.

You have to do a yearly assessment.

Pros: After you have "successfuly hsed" for two years, you do not have to provide the minimum course of study anymore.

You have several options for the yearly assessment: a standardized test, sending in a portfolio of work, or having an evaluation done by a VT-licensed teacher. There are a number of pro-hs teachers who will do these assessments for a small fee.

The biggest thing of all though is that the general attitude here is pro-hsing - the home study dept actually comes across as helpful and pro-hsing.

My impression is that hsing is fairly common here (don't have actual statistics), common enough that the populace at large is a lot less likely to think it is "weird" than in other areas. I have never had a negative reaction here when I tell people we hs - usually the response is neutral and unsurprised, or even positive. There are many hsing groups, opportunities for hsing students, etc.
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#18 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 07:49 PM
 
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NC isn't as bad as it looks on paper, really.

The testing took maybe an hour out of our time and the attendance records are just making sure you have 180 little check marks per year on your 'official' record sheet. I'm horribly lazy about administrative tasks and it's really no big deal.
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#19 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 11:13 PM
 
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I live in Wisconsin, and I think it's very easy to homeschool here. In the summer, I receive a form from the state that asks for the gender and grade level of the homeschooled students (and ungraded primary or ungraded high school are options), my name and address, and requires I promise to meet the very basic academic standards laid out in the state's homeschool law. I mail it in by October 15th, and I'm done for the year. No testing, end of year reports, no description of our curriculum.

As an added perk, homeschoolers are allowed to attend classes at their local public high school, as long as there is room in the class.

We live very close to Minnesota, and may move there at some point. The law in Minnesota is a PITB if you don't have a Bachelor's degree, but if either parent does have a B.A., it doesn't seem too bad. You need to send a simple letter to the school district at the beginning of the school year, and then at the end of the year you need to test, but don't have to share the results with anyone. Minnesota is the only state I know of where you can get a state tax deduction for homeschool expenses.

I certainly wouldn't go out of my way to move to a state with high regulation, but I can't see the details of a homeschool law making the choice for me, unless I had a kid who had been diagnosed with a serious learning disability. I *think* North Dakota has banned homeschooling children with special needs (it could be S.D. and I don't remember the details).

Aside from that special case and the handful of really high regulation states (like NY), generally homeschool laws affect what you do a few days out of the year, while a million other aspects of the place you live affect you every day.
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#20 of 54 Old 02-03-2010, 11:55 PM
 
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Illinois is really easy. No registration required. No testing. Nothing to turn in.

The only downside to this is that if a family is investigated for possible truancy, and sometimes it happens, the burden is completely on the parents to prove that they are homeschooling in the required subjects and that the children are receiving an education that is equivalent to public school, and the law does not clarify what would count as proof. For that reason, I am keeping pretty detailed records about everything we cover each day, just in case I ever need them.

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#21 of 54 Old 02-04-2010, 01:25 AM
 
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i live in PA...and while I havent had to do the reporting yet, I've done all the research know what is expected of me....notorized affidavit, submitting objectives, some testing, attendance and medical documentation, covering specific subjects, submitting portfolios and logs of work and materials, yearly evaluation and report, etc...............i dont think it's not do-able, but i certainly wish we didnt have all of these requirements!
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#22 of 54 Old 02-04-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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AZ is great... just file the affidavit the year you start (or the year the kid turns 7) and no one ever bothers your again.... I love it and its probably the only thing I love about AZ right now.

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#23 of 54 Old 02-04-2010, 12:27 PM
 
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Illinois is really easy. No registration required. No testing. Nothing to turn in.

The only downside to this is that if a family is investigated for possible truancy, and sometimes it happens, the burden is completely on the parents to prove that they are homeschooling in the required subjects and that the children are receiving an education that is equivalent to public school, and the law does not clarify what would count as proof. For that reason, I am keeping pretty detailed records about everything we cover each day, just in case I ever need them.
I am in IL and have never had to do a thing.....and am about to graduate my oldest this spring. As far as the truancy issue, I have only heard of that being a problem for families who did not properly and officially withdraw their kids from the public school. I have never heard of that issue for families whose kids have never attended school.

In IL homeschool=private school.
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#24 of 54 Old 02-04-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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I live in upstate New York, this is our first year of home schooling. The paper work is a pain and so is the record keeping. How hard it is seems to vary from district to district. Our district doesn't seem to care as long as my kid isn't costing them time and money, he's eligible for OT that we pay for ourselves. The next district over is a stickler for dead lines, investigating home schoolers and making strange and illegal demands.

Since we live in the area because of DH's job, I'd be happy to move at some point. I love the area and the people (lots of friends), but the economy sucks, the taxes are high, COL is insane (except house prices), and it's cold. Compared to VT, where we lived before my job is sadly diminished in terms of both responsibilities and scope of practice. However, I would not want to home school in VT.
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#25 of 54 Old 02-04-2010, 01:40 PM
 
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We live in Oklahoma and currently have complete freedom to homeschool without interference. Like many states it seems that our legislature does something almost every year that could affect us, but so far so good. The local universities are also friendly to homeschoolers and I think that's a major consideration.

The only negative is that some families get really harassed after pulling their kids out of school. We've always homeschooled but I've met folks who had CPS at their home shortly after deciding to homeschool - not fair.

Overall we love it and don't have to report anything.

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#26 of 54 Old 02-04-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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We live in VA and operate under the Religious Exemption clause which exempts us from any government interference.
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#27 of 54 Old 02-05-2010, 02:46 AM
 
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I live in PA and have talked about the laws w/ some hsers and they say it looks worse than it is. It must not be THAT bad b/c I know some people who are as dumb as rocks who hs their kids here and have had no problems w/ the authorities. I do wish that my state did not have so many laws about it, though. Bonus is, if you never sign your kid up for school, you do not have to start keeping records until they are eight. As in, dds bday is in April, so it would be the fall that she would technically be going into the third grade before I had to turn anything in to anyone.

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#28 of 54 Old 02-05-2010, 11:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by laundrycrisis View Post
Illinois is really easy. No registration required. No testing. Nothing to turn in.

The only downside to this is that if a family is investigated for possible truancy, and sometimes it happens, the burden is completely on the parents to prove that they are homeschooling in the required subjects and that the children are receiving an education that is equivalent to public school, and the law does not clarify what would count as proof. For that reason, I am keeping pretty detailed records about everything we cover each day, just in case I ever need them.
I'm in IL and don't do a thing. It's great!

I never thought about that. We were investigated by CPS about a year ago and they asked to see my "curriculum" so I showed them our many, many, many homeschooling books and other books and that was fine with them. I'm not about to start keeping records for that, though. He didn't even begin to ask for anything else. Strangely enough, he said that he loved homeschoolers and thought it was great, but that and co-sleeping warranted my being further investigated (charges were dropped as it was nonsense charges).

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#29 of 54 Old 02-05-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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I am also in Illinois and have a fairly easy time with homeschooling here. In my particular area, I haven't heard of anyone getting investigated, but it might be because there's a very strong homeschool presence. The libraries, YMCA, orchestra, and the kid museum in the area have a lot of programs going on for homeschoolers, so just on participation on those alone you could show that you're doing something with schooling. I've seen the reports of other districts doing some really sketchy things though. It definitely helps to know the laws of the state backwards and forwards.

I keep fairly detailed records anyway just because of my personality-type, but I wouldn't want to have to be subjected to having to 'prove' things.

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#30 of 54 Old 02-05-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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http://www.hslda.org/laws/default.asp



This map color codes the states. Stick to green and yellow for "easiest".

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