|Questions about homeschooling in NY?|
Here are some answers!
"We decided homeschooling is the best option for our family, but we don't know where to begin. How do we know what's required to teach? What do we need to send to the school district? Is Kindergarten mandatory? What about testing? Do I need to be a certified teacher? Help!"
Over the life of this blog, I've encountered all these questions, and more, so I thought it was time to address all the questions I've come up against in one post. Hopefully, you'll learn everything you need to begin your homeschooling journey or to streamline the journey you're already on. In either case, good luck! And always feel free to ask any questions I may have missed by commenting down below.
My child will be 6 on December 21st. Should I send my Letter of Intent (LOI) now? (A.K.A., what is the compulsory age of attendance in New York State?)
The compulsory age of attendance in NY is 6, however, the cutoff is December 1st, so if your child turns six after December 1st, then you do not need to send in an LOI or do anything else to alert the school of your choice to homeschool until the following school year. For example, if your child turns 6 on December 21st of 2016, then you would not need to send in your LOI until the 2017-18 school year. If, however, your child turns 6 on or before December 1st, then, yes, you will need to send your LOI to the district for the current or upcoming school year as per the state's regulations, which I'll discuss a little later on.
Is Kindergarten mandatory?
Technically, there is no "grade" that is mandatory. All NY requires is that children be in attendance beginning at the age of 6 until the age of 16. As far as homeschooling is concerned, you are free to decide at what "grade" level your child should work. If you feel your child is too advanced for Kindergarten when you begin schooling, then you are free to begin them at 1st grade or any other grade level you feel is appropriate.
Do I need to de-register my child from their school? The school told me I need to come in to sign some forms before I can take my child out of school, is that true?
Simply put, no. If your child's school insists that there is something you must do - some paperwork to fill out or forms to sign or procedure to follow - before they'll "let" you withdraw your child from school, then be prepared to confront them with the state regulations. If your child is of compulsory attendance age, there is nothing you need to do other than to turn in your Letter of Intent as outlined in the regulations. If you feel your child's school is going to give you a hard time in this area, you may want to have a copy of the state regulations on hand with which to make your point and to make it known that you are familiar with what's required and don't intend to let the school give you the run-around.
We just decided to homeschool our kids, but it's now January, and the school year started in September. Can we still pull our kids out? Or do we need to wait until the end of the school year? I read somewhere that the Letter of Intent is due by July 1st. Is it too late now?
Normally, the Letter of Intent is due by July 1st before the upcoming school year. However, the state regulations make provisions for those who decide to homeschool after the school year has already begun. In that case, your LOI is due within 14 days of when you begin homeschooling in your district. So, you can pull your child from school at any time during the year, and within 14 days from the day you pull them, your LOI is due.
We just moved to the area, and the school year has already begun. Can we still homeschool? Or do we need to enroll our kids in the public school until the next school year?
Just as the state regulations make provisions for those who decide to begin homeschooling after the start of the school year, so it is with those who move to a new school district after the start of the school year. Your LOI will be due within 14 days of when you begin homeschooling in your new district.
Do I need to be a certified teacher in order to homeschool my child? What qualifications do I need?
The only provision NY makes for a person to homeschool is that the person doing the teaching needs to be "qualified". As the parent, there is nobody more qualified to teach your children than you are. You know your child's educational needs better than anyone. And if ever you found yourself thinking you are unable to teach your child something, then you know how to find a way to teach that thing to them, whether it be a tutor, or a video tutorial, or homeschool co-op class. You have what it takes. You know your child's needs. Therefore, you are qualified. Thankfully, the state of NY doesn't require anything more than that in order to teach your child at home.
*Nothing written in this blog post is intended to be construed as legal advice. This is simply the author's understanding of the New York State home education regulations through 6 years of homeschooling her own children in the state.