I would like to homeschool my child – where do I start?
1. Learn about the homeschooling laws. You will want to acquaint yourself with the homeschool regulations in Louisiana. In Louisiana, you are required to register our homeschool with the state on an annual basis once your child turns seven (7) years old. If your child is less than seven (7) years old, you are not required to register them as a homeschooled student. Below are two options under which you may register:
Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) approved Home Study Program
Registered Nonpublic School (not seeking state approval)
The home study program requires submission of a curriculum “packet” and/or standardized test scores. The benefits of registering as an approved home study program is that students participating in these programs for 11th and 12th grade are eligible for TOPS scholarships (pending other eligibility criteria) and are allowed to participate in local school activities at the discretion of the school principal. 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.
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 craft 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.