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Homeschooling in Tennessee
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Thankfully, the requirements to homeschool in Tennessee are minimal compared to some states, but some laws regulate homeschooling in our state. I'm going to briefly tell you a little bit about the requirements, and I'll add some links if you'd like to research further. I'm also going to tell you about some wonderful opportunities we have here in Tennessee to keep lifelong learning an enjoyable experience for you and your children!

There are three different ways you may legally homeschool in the great state of Tennessee. They include independent homeschoolers, registering with a church-related school, or going through an online or distance learning school. I will give more details on each of these and share what I do as well.

The first way we will discuss this is as an independent homeschool family. This option is free. It may just take a bit more work on your part. To homeschool independently, you must have a high school diploma or GED. You will need to register as a homeschooler with your local school district in which your child would be zoned if attending public school. You need to submit a letter of intent to the local district, which must include several specifics, including the curriculum you plan to use. However, there are no particular subjects or curricula required. (There will be links at the end of this post to give more details about what is needed for the letter of intent.)

Along with the letter of intent, you will need to submit an immunization record or an exemption. You will also need to keep attendance, which must include 180 days of 4 hours of instruction time. This will need to be submitted to the superintendent or home school coordinator for your area. Standardized testing is required for grades 5, 7, and 9 when you homeschool independently as well.

The second way is homeschooling through a church-related school, which is also called an umbrella school by many. This is what we do, along with many of my friends in the homeschool community. With this option, you enroll in the umbrella school of your choice. You submit immunization records or exemptions to them.

If your child previously attended public or private school, the umbrella school should take care of transferring all records for you. The requirements for umbrella schools may vary somewhat, but the one we use requires us to submit grades and attendance twice a year. We also submit our curricula plans for the year when we register. One of the perks of using an umbrella school is having counselors there to help you along your journey. I know I will find that very beneficial more in the high school years with requirements for graduation and college acceptance if that is the path our children choose.

The third and final way to homeschool in Tennessee is to register with a Category III Distance Learning School. That would be a non-public, accredited online school. With this option, you would be required to use the assigned curricula and adhere to the school's specific rules. That school would then be the one to report attendance to the local school system in which you reside.

There is a link below where you can find more information on homeschooling in TN and a list of homeschool coordinators to find the authority in your specific city or county, depending on where you live. You'd need that if you choose to homeschool independently without going through an umbrella or accredited school. You can also find an intent to homeschool form as well as a current attendance calendar. You are not required to use those as there are several others available online, or you may choose to make your own. You can also find a list of accredited online schools. This link goes into further detail on the requirements as well as includes a FAQ section.

For more info on homeschooling in Tennessee, HSLDA has a wealth of articles you can check out here.

Field Trip Fun in Tennessee

Homeschooling in Tennessee is such a joy! This beautiful state has so much to offer outside the four walls of your classroom or home! Don't forget to get out there and enjoy the great outdoors, teaching your children all about God's creation as you observe it closely! I’ve got some ideas to get you started!

Tennessee is full of state parks that offer gorgeous lakes, rivers, waterfalls, caves, hiking trails, etc. Check out what's available near you and put some field trips on the calendar! A great way to start a new year of homeschooling is to sit down with your children and decide where they'd like to visit during the school year! We always go to the local pumpkin patch each year. It's a great place where the owner takes time to do a little lesson for homeschoolers on the hayride to choose a pumpkin. They also have a petting zoo filled with facts about their animals and many other exciting activities for children of all ages. You could visit a nearby farm or zoo and learn so much there while having fun as well. Tennessee has museums all across the state, many of which offer discounts to homeschoolers.

Many Tennessee families vacation in the Great Smoky Mountains. There are places like WonderWorks and Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and many others that offer homeschool days and/or discounts. Our family highly recommends both of those places!

Historic sites like Andrew Jackson's Hermitage or the Belle Meade Plantation offer homeschool days where you not only get in at a discount, but they also do special tours and activities for students! Our children had so much fun learning how to march, carry, and shoot a (wooden) rifle at Belle Meade. They also played a game where they drew cards and went to different stations to see if they'd survive the war! It was full of learning, but they were having so much fun that they hardly realized they were filling their minds with knowledge as well!

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Megen Smith - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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