October 19, 2016

Homeschooling in New York State: Q & A session #1*

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.


13 comments:

  1. Hi. You had mentioned on another post that the PASS test was best suited for your family. Test only goes up to eighth grade,though. We value your opinion and wondering what test would you suggest for ninth grade and up? Thanks for your help.

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    1. My personal next best would be the CAT test. I know many other families choose this as well. You can order either the paper version, or they also have an online version. It's timed, which I don't like, but I believe pretty much every other test apart from the PASS is timed. I think it's an overall good option. Thanks for the question. Good luck!

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    2. Thanks and God bless :)

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  2. Hi my daughter is in 8th grade and i want to homeschool her next year for 9th grade.I found an accredited online option called keystone that i could pay for.I waa wondering if you know if i would still be able to send her back to highschool for 10th grade if i choose keystone.My plan is to move to a better district.

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    1. Yes, you will be able to send her to highschool for 10th grade. You'll simply register her as a new student, according to whatever requirements the new school has. Some schools - not all - require a report card or transcript. If that's the case with your new school, you should just need to tell them that she homeschooled the previous year. They will then most likely have her take a placement test to assess whether or not she's on track with their 10th grade program. If there's any subject in which they feel she's not up to par, they will suggest options for getting her up to speed, but they should not hold her back.

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  3. hello
    I am considering homeschooling my daughter starting next September 2017. I am nervous about it. She will be entering 6th grade, and if i homeschool it would be for grades 6-8 only. How do you know what curriculum to use? worried I would not have her prepared for high school. help! lol

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    1. First, set your worries aside! I was terrified that I would fail my kids. This year, we sent my oldest to a private school for 9th grade, and I found out that even though I was sure I hadn't done enough or done well enough to prepare him, he has held his own academically. You can do this! As far as curriculum, I did a lot of research to figure out what I thought would work best for my kids. Google. Facebook homeschool groups. Asking friends who also homeschool. Eventually, I narrowed it down to what seemed right for us, and just bought it. Some of it worked. Some of it didn't. The beauty of homeschool is that if you feel something isn't working, you can make a change at any point throughout the school year. To help give you jumping off point, here is a link to the blog post I made about the curriculum we chose for my oldest when he was in 6th grade: http://foursquarepegs.blogspot.com/2014/09/great-curriculum-adventure-ii.html. Good luck!

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    2. My apologies, but I gave you the wrong link to our curriculum choices, although there are one or two 6th grade items in the one I gave you, the correct link is this: http://foursquarepegs.blogspot.com/2013/07/great-curriculum-adventure.html.

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    3. thank you for your reply. I guess my worries is more with math. she's currently doing common core, so I am wondering if i did something different for grades 6-8, what would happen for high school.. but i now understand how curriculum is very individualized decision

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    4. I honestly don't think it would have too much effect on her. It would take some getting used to on her part, but if she is doing well in whatever you choose to use, she should be fine. There are, however, some common core options out there if you're concerned about that and want to keep her up to speed on that whole aspect of math.

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  4. I am going nuts trying to figure out everything in regards to the annual assessment for my 6 year old. Should she take an achievement test? And which is the best for her age? How to go about ordering it and if it can be taken at home in NYS? Also information on if I wanted to go the written narrative route and what that consist of?

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    1. There is no legal reason for your 6 year old to take a test. Testing in NY is not required until 4th grade. However, if you WANT to do a test, you certainly could. Testing can be done at home, yes, as long as your district doesn't object. You would probably want to use the CAT test, as it doesn't have an age limit. You can find more information in my post here: http://foursquarepegs.blogspot.com/2013/06/annual-assessments-new-york-state.html and you can find an example of a written assessment here: http://homeschoolinginnewyorkcity.blogspot.com/2005/08/sample-annual-assessment.html

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