On today’s installment of Homeschooling in the 50 States…and Beyond!, we hear from Emily about her experiences homeschooling in both Alabama and North Carolina.
Emily is a Christ-following, church-planting pastor’s wife who has homeschooled her two children for the past 8 years. She is the creator of Table Life Blog where she offers help and hope for the homeschool journey. You can also find her on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
Please note that these experiences, while they may discuss state requirements, are not legal advice, legislative summaries, or compliance recommendations. I encourage you to do your own research on your state’s current homeschool laws and seek help from official sources if necessary. The Home School Legal Defense Agency is a great place to start though you may find a more state-specific organization that you prefer to work with.
“We have homeschooled in two states since we began our homeschool journey in 2009—in Alabama from 2009-2013 and in North Carolina since then.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to meet the requirements for both states, but the process to do so is quite different.
Homeschooling in Alabama
Homeschool families in Alabama have two options for meeting state requirements: registering with a cover school or being homeschooled by a certified tutor. We chose the cover school option and found it to be an incredibly flexible choice.
By registering with a cover school, your child is technically “enrolled” in school and not required to attend local public schools. So, while you’re still homeschooling your child, all records, transcripts, and diplomas look similar to records from a public or private school. You just provide that information to the cover school as needed.
That said, you also have the option to choose the cover school that works best for your family. Some cover schools are literally nothing more than a legal “cover” for homeschoolers, meaning they don’t require meetings, portfolios, or curriculum plans from their enrolled families. On the other hand, some cover schools require homeschool families to use specific curricula, report attendance, and have frequent check-ins.
The great thing about all of that is that you can pick a cover school that meets your needs. If you need one that provides accountability and mentorship, you can have one. If you need one that does nothing more than satisfy the legal requirements, you can have that and homeschool your children with no expectation to report to anyone.
We chose a pretty basic cover school while we homeschooled in Alabama. We don’t have anything against a more involved cover school, we just didn’t feel like we needed that extra layer of help and found a more basic cover school to be a more affordable option. It turns out, like anything else in life, a cover school with lots of bells and whistles usually costs more in yearly registration fees than one without.
As far as our day-to-day homeschool life, we homeschooled preschool, kindergarten, and first grade by following a book-based curriculum where everything was planned for us and we have good memories of our time in Alabama.
Homeschooling in North Carolina
We left Alabama in 2013 and moved to eastern North Carolina because my husband accepted a job as an associate pastor for a church there. We were excited about the move, but I was a little hesitant about the prospect of homeschooling there because my research labeled North Carolina as a state with moderate homeschool regulation. Since our time in Alabama was so easy, I wasn’t excited about the idea of reporting to someone.
I’m happy to say that, while North Carolina may be labeled moderate, it’s not as big of a deal as I originally feared. It’s really just a matter of getting registered with the state’s Department of Non-Public Education and all of that is clearly laid out on their website.
I was used to registering with a cover school in Alabama, but North Carolina has homeschooling families file a notice of intent to register as an individual homeschool. In other words, each family selects a homeschool name and registers it as a school. Other than that, there are yearly requirements like maintaining attendance records and taking standardized tests.
Our day-to-day homeschool life has shifted from homeschooling one child to homeschooling two since we moved here and we now have an eclectic, yet Charlotte Mason-ish homeschool. Point being, even with the regulations, we’re free to call the shots and create a home education atmosphere that meets us where we are as a family.
All in all, we’ve discovered that homeschoolers have lots of freedom in North Carolina. We’ve also learned there’s a great homeschool community here and there are countless field trip opportunities all throughout this beautiful state. We love exploring all that North Carolina has to offer and we consider ourselves blessed to call it home.”
Read more about homeschooling from Emily at http://tablelifeblog.com/homeschool-101/!