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3 Ways to Find Your Homeschooling Law and 3 Reasons You Should

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3 Ways to Find Your Homeschooling Law

and 3 Reasons You Should

By Linda Dobson

homeschooling

 

Chances are that it could be the legal nut and bolt – and the fears surrounding it – that will give you great impetus to start researching homeschooling and your family’s place in it. While it’s ludicrous that in the twenty-first century an American could potentially go to jail or lose custody of her children for taking responsibility for their education, these extreme scenarios do play out on rare occasions.

3 Ways to Find Your Homeschooling Law

Much closer to home for you when you start homeschooling is to find out what regulations or laws your state sets forth for homeschooling. You can accomplish this via any one of three main sources:

  • look up your state’s homeschooling law on the Internet;
  • get your state’s homeschooling law from a local or state homeschooling support group; or
  • check with your library or an attorney versed and/or practicing education law.

From one of these sources, get a copy of the law or regulation as written, not someone else’s interpretation of it. Read it, then question experienced homeschooling parents about it until you feel that you comfortably understand everything it says.

3 Reasons to Find Your Homeschooling Law

There are three important reasons to take this step.

  • Only you can decide if you will comply with the law or not. In rare cases a law will have a requirement that you are unable to comply with. More often, noncompliance is a result of philosophical disagreement with requirements such as providing grades, administering standardized tests, submitting Individual Educational Programs for special needs children, or similar issues.
  • If you plan to comply, the law lays out exactly what is expected of you. Knowing this, you can decide how you will go about gathering what you need, and stop worrying about those things you don’t need to do.
  • Knowing the law prevents you from being coerced into providing any more information or paperwork than is expressly required. Do not put it past any school official to ask for more information than is legally permissible. If such a request is made of you, ask the district to send you a letter. Answer said letter in kind, mailing it return receipt requested. Keep this correspondence in writing, as well as the signed evidence of receipt, to furnish proof of what has transpired in a way phone conversations can’t do. Ask the school personnel to cite the law that gives them the ability to request this. Chances are good you won’t hear back, and you just may have inspired them to read the homeschooling law for the first time! If they persist, a local attorney who knows how to look up education law is usually all you need to resolve differences.
See also Free first Year Homeschool Legal Advantage Membership for Parent at the Helm Readers

Providing too much information to school personnel sets a dangerous precedent: If given this information by one family, administrators often become more inclined to ask it of others. New homeschooling parents, proud and eager to share all their wonderful educational activities, are understandably prone to “overreporting.” Control the urge and save your excitement for reporting to your mother-in-law.

Your Homeschooling Law’s Bark Is Likely Worse than Its Bite

Many state laws sound worse than they are in practice, and a local homeschooling support group goes a long way in easing your mind when members tell you how it actually plays out.  “I wish that someone had told me not to take the first year of homeschooling so seriously,” Vickie Heffner explains about laws. “Unfortunately, we were in a state that required documentation, and I worried about doing enough or doing the right things. We are now in a state that requires minimum interference with homeschooling,” says the Colorado resident, “and my second daughter is reaping the benefits of that, especially considering that she is a late reader and can’t sit still very long. We were lucky enough to unschool her and not worry about state requirements.”

For more information on starting homeschooling, read The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start by Linda Dobson.
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