Deciding to homeschool your child is an incredibly significant decision, and one that will certainly change your life. People decide to homeschool their children for many different reasons, some of which include: dissatisfaction with the public school system, desire to train their child within a specific religious framework, frustration with their child's current school situation, in order to meet a childâ€™s special learning needs, or wishing to keep a close family bond throughout the early school years.
If you live in North Carolina, one or more of the other 33,000 families in the state who have already decided to homeschool one or more of their children may also influence your decision. Most everyone in North Carolina probably knows at least one family who have chosen to homeschool their kids. These families are wonderful sources of information and support as you make this important decision, and they can give you an honest appraisal of the ups and downs of committing to the homeschool journey.
Following the Laws
Homeschooling in North Carolina is not overly regulated, but there are a few edicts that everyone must follow. North Carolina does not require you to register your child as a homeschooler until he or she reaches age 7. Depending on the age your child is when you begin homeschooling, you may complete one or two grades before you even formally register your school. Approximately one month before your child reaches the minimum age (or one month before you plan to begin homeschooling an older child), a parent (or guardian) then sends a Notice of Intent to the North Carolina DNPE. This Notice of Intent includes choosing your school's name and certifying that the primary supervisor of the homeschool has at least a high school diploma. Besides the requirement to file the Notice of Intent, North Carolina has the following other legal requirements for homeschooling in the state:
- Operating on a 'regular schedule' at least nine months out of the calendar year
- Maintaining immunization records and attendance records for each child being schooled at home
- Administering a nationally standardized test to each child at least once per school year
- Making attendance, testing and immunization records available to the DNPE for examination each year
- Notification to DNPE when deciding to terminate your homeschool
The most important part of choosing what to teach your child is understanding exactly who your child is. Before you begin perusing curriculum catalogs and internet curriculum reviews, it is wise to find out how your child best learns. Learning Style inventories and Personality quizzes are abundant in most homeschooling resource books or on the internet, and these are wonderful for understanding how your child's mind works, and therefore which type of curriculum would be best for him or her.
Families new to homeschooling quickly discover a dizzying array of choices when it comes to selecting homeschool curriculum. There is no more popular discussion on the web than homeschool curriculum reviews by homeschool families. After sifting through the homeschool curriculum reviews, most parents end up mixing and matching homeschool curricula, trying to create the best match for their child. For families with more than one child, choosing a homeschool curricula can even be more problematic. What works for one child, doesn't work for another. What works for one subject may not work on the next. What works one year, may not work the next. Experienced homeschooling families will tell you that there is actually no single, best homeschool material. Rather than feeling torn between homeschool resources, parents should select a diverse blend of materials and activities.
Making the decision to homeschool your child and choosing the curricula you want to begin with are just the first course of an incredibly elaborate banquet of homeschooling experiences. The homeschool community has grown exponentially in the last ten years, and the resources available to homeschoolers now can seem endless in scope. Some common resources to check out are:
- Online Homeschool mega-sites, such as NHEN or About Homeschooling for researching specific homeschool information
- Homeschool Message groups for giving and receiving support via email or digest
- Homeschooling magazines and newsletter subscriptions
- Online homeschool articles, blogs, and e-zines
- Local or regional support groups, often including curriculum and resource sharing, as well as group field trips and outings
- Books about homeschooling from your favorite bookstore, or for free at your local library
- Statewide homeschool organizations, such as NCHE, HA-NC and NCAA whose goals are to support the rights and resources of those choosing to homeschool in North Carolina
- Homeschool programs available through your local library, YMCA, 4H-Club, or Parks and Recreation department