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I would like to homeschool my child – where do I start?
1. Learn about homeschooling laws. You are not required to notify the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) that you will be homeschooling your students until September of the year in which they turn 7 years old unless they have previously been enrolled in a public education program.
Families choosing to homeschool under the registered nonpublic school (not seeking state approval) option are simply required to complete an annual registration form indicating your intent to homeschool. The benefit of registering as a nonpublic school is that there is no additional documentation required, however, students in this program are not eligible for TOPS scholarships or participation in local school activities(Note: this option is often referred to as the “private school option” by local homeschool families). Visit the Department of Education of Louisiana website for more information.
Registering your student in the BESE approved home study program makes them eligible for the TOPS scholarship program if they have completed a minimum of two (2) years of the home study program and are allowed to participate in local school activities at the discretion of the school principal. There are no requirements for the initial registration except for a copy of the student’s birth certificate. Upon renewal of the home study program, students must provide one of three forms of paperwork. A standardized test score, curriculum packet, or a teacher statement. IMPORTANT – BESE does not approve your curriculum or your student’s transcript nor does it provide a diploma. What they are approving is that your curriculum is of equal quality to that offered in the public school system.
2. Withdraw your child from their current school. If your child is currently attending a public or private school, you will need to withdraw your child. If you are planning to begin homeschooling after the school year is complete, you will need to notify the school that your student will not be returning. Helpful information can be found at HSLDA If your child has never been enrolled in school, this does not apply.
3. Connect with other homeschool families. Support – whether virtual or in real life – is vital! Local support groups provide in-person support for parents and activities for students. Virtual support groups offer a wide variety of ideas and friendships not constrained by geography. Support groups can also offer help with the next step, defining your educational philosophy.
4. Define your educational philosophy. Don’t worry, you don’t have to have EVERYTHING figured out before you begin, but you may want to have some idea of what you’d like your homeschool to look like. Many parents come to homeschooling from a traditional school background so that is all they know. As homeschoolers, we are not confined to “school at home,” but are able to create a truly customized education for our students. Excellent resources for this step include “102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum” by Cath Duffy (2014). This book offers a great introduction to different homeschool philosophies, learning styles, and specific curriculum materials.
5. Keep good records. Whether you are homeschooling under the BESE approved home study program or the registered nonpublic school (not seeking state approval) option, at the very least, you will need to keep records of attendance, curriculum, and progress just in case you need to reference them in the future. If you have chosen the Home Study Program to gain access to the TOPS program, you will have to send in an annual report. It will be either a core curriculum sample, test scores, or a progress letter from a certified teacher. There are no requirements to send in annual records if you have chosen the nonpublic school (not seeking state approval) option.