How to Begin Homeschooling in North Carolina

Follow the Laws to Avoid Issues Later On

Boy learning mathematics
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If you're considering homeschooling, learning the requirements of your state is one of the first steps. Homeschooling in North Carolina isn't complicated, but it's important to understand how to get started and how to follow the law. 

Making The Decision

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 child’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 has 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 to Homeschool in North Carolina

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 the age of seven. 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 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

A 180-day school year is recommended but not required.

Deciding What To Teach

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 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 may not work for another. What works for one subject may not work on 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 feel free to select a diverse blend of materials and activities.

Locating Resources

Making the decision to homeschool your child and choosing the curricula you want to begin with are just a part of the homeschooling experience.

The homeschool community has grown exponentially, and the resources available to homeschoolers now can seem endless in scope. Some common resources to investigate are:

  • Online Homeschool mega-sites, such as NHEN or About Homeschooling for researching specific homeschool information
  • Online homeschool forums and Facebook groups
  • Homeschooling magazines and newsletters
  • Online homeschool articles and blogs
  • 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 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

Many museums, state parks, and businesses offer special classes and discounts for homeschool students. Check your local resources for opportunities available to you as a homeschooling family.

Keeping The Dream Alive

When your homeschooling adventure begins, everything is new and exciting. Your homeschool books smell like they came straight off the printer. Even lesson planning and record keeping seem more fun than chore at first. But be prepared for the honeymoon phase to ebb and tide. No one has a perfect homeschool year, month or even week.

It is important to intersperse your daily curriculum with field trips, play dates and hands-on activities. North Carolina is full of educational destinations that are an easy day’s drive. Also, take advantage of your city’s visitor’s center or website to discover treasures in your own town that you might have overlooked.

Whether you chose to homeschool from the beginning or came upon homeschooling accidentally, you are bound to experience slumps. It is almost certain that over time your homeschool will relax into something more familiar and predictable, but that is also the time when you usually notice that this homeschooling thing is more than just a passing phase.

You have become one of the over 33,000 families in North Carolina who are proud to call themselves homeschoolers!