Homeschooling in Sweet Home Alabama
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Did you know Helen Keller was homeschooled in Alabama? Due to an early childhood illness, she lost her sight and hearing. Helen was homeschooled by a private tutor, Ann Sullivan. Because of Helen Keller's home education, she was the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree who was also blind and deaf. From the time of Helen Keller's homeschooling in the early 1900s to 2014, when the state passed an updated legislature to be more accommodating to homeschool families, to today, the resources and opportunities in Alabama for homeschooling families have grown.



Compared to other states, the State of Alabama has "low" regulations regarding home education. In "Sweet Home Alabama," there are three options from which parents can choose to homeschool their child legally. Parents can use a church school, a private school at home, or hire a private tutor. Each of these three options provides different benefits, resources, and requirements.

 

Option 1: Enroll in a Church School – (most used)

 

The first option is to enroll in a church school (also known as a cover school or umbrella school). Church schools do not receive state or federal funding and are usually set up as part of the ministry in that church. Learning with church schools can occur at home or through an onsite program.

 

Steps to follow for using a church school

 

  1. Enroll in a church school.
  2. How to find a church school: There is a nonprofit organization called Homeschool Alabama, formerly called the Christian Home Education Fellowship, which lists church schools sorted by regions within the state. Here is the available list from their website: Church Schools in Alabama. Before enrolling in a church school, note that each one has different benefits, resources, and fees, as well as policies. Ensure you understand the requirements and application process for the ones you are considering.  

     

  3. File a church school enrollment certificate.
  4. You must notify your local school district in writing that your student is enrolling in a church school. Individual forms may be found on your local school district website. This only needs to be done one time, not annually.  

     

  5. Keep a record of attendance.
  6. Church schools are required to maintain a record of attendance for each student. However, church schools can set their policy on attendance and the number of instructional days. 

                 

  7. Comply with any policies established by the church school.

These policies may include required subjects, total instruction days, teaching qualifications, and assessments.  

 

Potentional Benefits of Church School

 

Every church school is different in the benefits and services (as well as cost) they provide to students. Some of the different benefits you may ask about before enrolling are:

 

  •  College prep & information
  • Sports/Music/Art programs
  • Transcript Help
  • Field Trips
  • Activities/Electives/Enrichment courses
  • Curriculum/Lesson Planning Counseling
  • Graduation Ceremony (kindergarten and/or high school)
  • Issuing diploma (individualized/advanced/general)
  • Dual college credit for high schoolers
  • Learning pods
  • Standardized testing or assessments
  • Resources for special needs
  • Fellowship with other homeschool families
  • School IDs

 

 Option 2: Enroll in a Private School 

 

According to the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, a private school is defined as a school "established, conducted, and supported by a nongovernmental entity or agency offering educational instruction in grades K–12 or any combination thereof, including preschool, through onsite or home programs. A home may be the location where a child receives the instruction as a student attending a private school. A parent may establish a home-based private school, or the home may be an extension of an existing private school." (https://hslda.org/post/how-to-comply-with-alabamas-homeschool-law)

 

For more information on establishing a home-based private school, see the Alabama State Regulations as part of the U.S. Department of Education:  here

 

Steps to Follow for Using an Extension of an Existing Private School

 

  1. Notify your local independent school district or superintendent.
  2. Within five days of the public school starting, the private school that the students are enrolled in must let the public school know the address and names of all school-age children attending the private school for the year.

  3. Keep a record of attendance for the school year.
  4. There is no set number of days of instruction for private schools; however, each school can set its own requirements.

  5. Keep a record of proof of immunization.
  6. Private schools must show a student's proof of immunization but can allow for medical or religious exemptions.

  7. Students must participate in physical education through private school.

Every public and private school (except church schools) must teach physical education.

 

Option 3: Hire a Private Tutor 

 

  1. Private tutors must be Alabama state-certified teachers. (Yes, a parent that is an Alabama state-certified teacher can meet these qualifications and be the private tutor.)
  2. Follow the requirements for required subjects and the required number of instructional days.

 

Educational Requirements

  • Subjects taught must match the public-school subjects being taught.
  • The private tutor must teach a minimum of three hours a day.  
  • One hundred forty instructional days are required.
  • Teaching must be between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM.
  • Private tutors must maintain records and submit reports to the county or city
  • Record keeping must include tutoring schedule, courses taught, attendance, and hours of daily instruction.

 

Fun Facts About Homeschooling in Alabama 

 

  • The Alabama High School Athletic Association allows homeschool students to participate in local public-school sports.
  • Six- to seventeen-year-olds are required to attend school. There are some options for parents of six-year-olds to delay one year with the school board's approval.
  • No matter which of the three options you choose, you must notify your local school district where your child will be enrolled in school.
  • High school graduates of church or private schools are not required to have GED to be admitted to a state school.
  • Students with disabilities are eligible to receive testing through their local school district.

 

For more information on options for homeschool families or how to use these services, visit the Coalition for Responsible Home Education.

 

Homeschool Resources and Educational Opportunities

 

Homeschool Legal Defense Association: https://hslda.org/

Homeschool Alabama: https://www.homeschoolalabama.org/school-listings

Fieldtrip ideas:

  • com:

 https://fieldtripdirectory.com/category/destinations/alabama/

  • The Homeschool Mom:

 https://www.thehomeschoolmom.com/homeschooling-in-alabama/field-trips/

  • S. Space & Rocket Center Homeschool Programs: 

https://www.rocketcenter.com/homeschool



Meet the Author


Melinda Davis - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant
www.homeworksbyprecept.com/Melinda-Davis


 

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