Getting Started: The Nuts and Bolts


So, you’ve decided to homeschool. Now what? You know it’s legal, but how do you make sure you are legal?! This post is all about making sure you do everything you are supposed to do officially, so that you can take the plunge into the world of homeschooling.

States vary quite a bit on what they require for documentation concerning your homeschooling. I happen to live in the highly regulated state of New York, so this topic, for sure, is on my radar for beginners! The first thing you really need to do is to check into what your state requires. You can find out more information at the HSLDA website if you need a quick reference. For starters, most states request a “Letter of Intent”. This is a letter to your school district (or whomever will be handling your documentation) detailing your intentions of schooling your child (or children) at home. Typically, each child will need his own set of documentation. So, for this school year I sent in three letters of intent. Compulsory education begins at age 6 here so I am not required to report on my Kindergarter.

There are states with no requirements of notification or evaluation. What a luxury! Some states require only a letter of notification. Still others require the letter of intent along with some evaluation which falls into a more moderately regulated category. NY and a few other states are highly regulated. They require not only a letter of intent and a summary evaluation at year’s end, but they also require some type of regular reporting throughout the year and/or a home visit. Be sure and check what your state requires before getting too far. You’ll want to let someone know you are homeschooling right away.

We pulled our oldest son out of the public school half way through first grade so the school was checking up on us to see that we had turned in our proper paperwork. If you do need to report, it’s important to verify who you are reporting to. In our case, we report to a county staff person rather than our local school, but it does vary from place to place even quite close to here.

I don’t want to sound all foreboding and scary, but you do want to make sure you are in compliance with your state laws regarding homeschooling. It makes for a much more pleasant experience and we want to be sure we are upholding our end of the deal.

If you live in NY, I have a document for those just starting out on how to make sense of our requirements. Use the email button over in my right hand side bar to contact me. Here we turn in the letter of intent, an IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan for each school aged child), 4 quarterly reports and then either a narrative year end assessment or a standardized test score for each student. The testing doesn’t have to begin until 4th grade and can be administered every other year until grade 9 and then it’s every year.

Each state is different and hopefully if you are just beginning, you’ll know someone who can help you contact the right officials to make a great start on your homeschooling journey.

This probably was more a utilitarian than an inspirational post on starting out, but it’s an important distinction to make so I wanted to be sure and start with the real beginning! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question.

Happy Beginnings!


Don’t forget to stop the rest of the 10 Days Hop Blogs!
We have partnered with 16 of the most inspiring, lovely, and just plain awesome bloggers in the homeschool community to bring you 10 days, 160 posts full of resources for those starting out, burned out or need new ideas.

The idea for this blog hop was modified (aka stolen) from Darcy’s 31 Days to a  Better Photo, but that is ok because Amy is her cousin and families are allowed  to do such things. Using this idea we hope that many people in the homeschooling cyber-world feel encouraged, inspired and recharged in their own homes.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

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  1. Great start to this series! I remember the days of being afraid and tentative and trying to dot every i and cross every t. I've come so far in the last 6 years but I still learn more every year. Thanks for taking part in this blog hop! I look forward to reading the rest of your posts!

  2. Thank you very much! Is it normal for most states to require you to turn in attendance records every month? Georgia is a moderate regulation state. Oh to be in one of those states that doesn't require any reporting! I'm sorely tempted to move to Texas!

  3. Crystal here in NY we turn in our HOURS each quarter. I turn in a quarterly report with the hours we schooled (which generally need to add up to 180 days a year) around the normal report card time for schools. You can rearrange your school year, but I just go with the norm for my own sanity. Additionally, we begin in August and end by the end of May. I just report at the normal times. It works for us. That frequent an attendance record seems like a lot, but I'm not familiar with all the regs. I would say it is NOT the norm though.

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