You want to homeschool in Tennessee and aren’t sure where to start?
You can continue to read on or watch this short video…
If you’ve decided to homeschool your child, the first thing you need to do is withdraw them from your school district. Children that have been enrolled in public school for six weeks or longer must be formally withdrawn from the school system.
The best way to do this is with a signed Letter of Withdrawal. You may mail one to your child’s school via certified mail or hand deliver, however, all school property will need to be returned prior to your child’s withdrawal date.
The next step is deciding how you’re going to homeschool.
There are 3 Ways to Homeschool
You can register with…
- Your school district.
- An umbrella or church-related school.
- An accredited online school.
Registering With Your School District
Using this method, you would register with your local school district. You provide notice that you intend to homeschool, as well as submit all curriculum and homeschooling schedules. You also must provide the location of your school in addition to your qualifications as the parent/teacher, and names and ages of all homeschooled children for approval by the district.
Being the primary homeschool teacher, you must have a high school diploma or GED. You’ll maintain paperwork to submit to the school district at the end of each school year.
School districts also require proof of vaccinations and any health examinations or services, as required by law, however, medical or religious vaccination exemption forms are accepted by the State of Tennessee.
If you do not wish to vaccinate, you’ll need to file a medical or religious exemption form for each one of the children you’ll be homeschooling.
Grades 5, 7, and 9 require standardized testing that can be arranged with the local board of education for your school district. You may also schedule private testing, via proctor, at your own expense.
Registering With an Umbrella or Church-Related School
Our chosen homeschooling route is with an umbrella/church-related school.
Umbrella or church-related schools require you keep records similar to the same ones required by the school district. The umbrella school we chose has online recordkeeping software that automatically submits records with the click of the mouse.
I LOVE online recordkeeping software. I enter curriculum choices and the number of days school was attended, in addition to grades twice per year for each student. Once your student has completed their work for the grading period, you will enter their grades into the recordkeeping software system and submit.
Our family has been able to avoid standardized testing by enrolling in this type of school.
Our umbrella school provided the necessary forms to the public school district once the kids were registered.
My husband and I get to decide what curriculum to use and our umbrella/church-related school reviews our selections. In fact, I’ve never had them turn down a curriculum we’ve chosen.
Finding an Umbrella/Church-Related School
If you Google, “Tennessee Home Education Association,” you’ll find several different area organizations just waiting for you to click on their websites. Ultimately, they’ll be the ones to help you with locating an umbrella/church-related school in your area, but you can always choose outside of your area if you desire.
If you’re in Middle Tennessee, my area, you’ll go to the Middle Tennessee Home Educators Association to find more information about how to get started. For East Tennessee, you can check out Chattanooga-Area Homeschooling, or Smoky Mountain Home Education Association if you’re in the Great Smoky Mountains. West Tennessee, has West Tennessee Home Education Association to help you.
Registering With an Accredited Online School
Finally, enrolling in an accredited online school is also a homeschooling option.
If this is the option you choose, make sure that the school has legitimate accreditation status. Proof your child is enrolled in an accredited online school is required, but shouldn’t be difficult to provide.
Regional Accrediting Agencies
Any of the regional accrediting agencies listed below can issue accreditation:
- SACS CASI – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement
- NCA CASI – North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.
- NWAC – Northwest Accreditation Commission
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
- MSCES – Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools
- MSCSS – Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
- National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and affiliates (e.g., SAIS)
- National Council of Private School Accreditation (NCPSA)
Accredited Online Schools
Here are links to two accredited online school choices:
Besides the info you’ve just read, you can find more information about homeschooling by visiting the Tennessee Dept. of Education’s website.
Finding the best homeschooling option for your family is detrimental to your success. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Research these options on your own and take your family’s routines and schedules into account. Ultimately, you want to ensure you have chosen the proper fit for your children.
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