Homeschooling in North Carolina
Monday, 13 July 2020

  • Tags:
  • Journey
  • New Homeschoolers
  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Record Keeping

As North Carolina residents, we are privileged to live in a state with beautiful mountains, an amazing coastline, large cities, small towns, access to great medical care, an abundance of churches, and plenty of entertainment options—all within just hours or even minutes from most any area of the state. We also have many reputable colleges and universities peppered throughout the state.

Thankfully, we also have options for educating our children from preschool through high school. In addition to the many public, private, and charter schools, there are nearly 100,000 home schools operating under the guidance of the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education. That number has been increasing by over 9,000 schools per year for the past five years.

As you consider the option of homeschooling, I'm sure your mind is flooded with questions about how, or even if, you are up to the task. Thankfully, the process for North Carolinians is straightforward, and there are many resources available. In this article, I will attempt to answer the what, why, who, when, where, and how questions that face families new to homeschooling in our state.
First, it is important to understand the definition of homeschooling in North Carolina. "' Home school' means a nonpublic school consisting of the children of not more than two families or households, where the parents or legal guardians or members of either household determine the scope and sequence of academic instruction, provide academic instruction, and determine additional sources of academic instruction." General Statute 115C-563(a) Since the mid-1980s, North Carolina parents and guardians have been legally granted the right to choose the curriculum for their children and either teach it themselves or oversee the content's instruction.

Why in the world would anyone choose to homeschool when public and private school options abound? Historically, many people made a choice based on religious convictions and the desire to provide a Christian education that was no longer available in public schools and often unaffordable in private schools. The Columbine High School massacre in 1999 prompted a 60% increase in parents inquiring about educating their children at home as concern for safety became a headline. We each have our own "why." Maybe yours has something to do with bullying, lack of academic rigor in your local schools, over-crowded classrooms, health issues, concerns about new regulations, a desire to devote more time to sports, hobbies, or activities outside the classroom, consistency during moving or traveling, or a desire to tailor the curriculum to your child's interests and abilities.

As you consider the homeschool option, I encourage you to discuss the "whys" with your spouse and children. Then take time to prayerfully consider the option before you make the decision.

Who can homeschool or be homeschooled? According to the NC Division of Non-Public Education, a parent or guardians desiring to homeschool their children must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Students who will be at least seven years old during the upcoming school year should be registered. If your student is over the age of 18 when you begin homeschooling, there is no need to register that student. For more information, see NC Home School Requirements and Recommendations.

It has often been said that all parents are teachers. That is true of all good parents. Learning begins at birth, and the parent is the child's primary teacher as they grow and develop. NC parents may choose to homeschool their children at any point during their educational years. Although not required, some families choose to begin formal education with a reputable curriculum before the age of five. Play is important in the development of young brains and muscles and should not be ignored as we attempt to teach the basics, such as colors, numbers, shapes, and letter recognition.

Many more parents choose to bring their children home from brick-and-mortar schools in elementary, junior high, or even high school. I have even known parents who made a choice to begin homeschooling their 11th or 12th-grade students!

In North Carolina, the statistical home school year is July 1- June 30, and the compulsory age for school attendance is seven years old. When opening a new home school, you should submit your Notice of Intent after July 1 for the upcoming school year. Then, you, as the parent/administrator, can determine the schedule of operation for your school. Some families try to mimic the public school's schedule as closely as possible, particularly if they have some children still in a public or private school.

Many families choose a year-round schedule, allowing shorter, more frequent breaks in instructional time. There are even some homeschools who begin their school year in January rather than the traditional August/September start dates. It is recommended (not required) that students receive at least 5 hours of instruction each day for nine calendar months (180 days) per year.

I've often pondered the fact that those who educate their own children often do so outside the four walls of their own homes. In my own experience, I have memories of lessons happening in the car, at the park, at co-op meetings, at grandma's house, and even in waiting rooms! Before homeschooling was popularly appreciated by the general public, we tended to stay at home (inside, even) during regular school hours to avoid questions and glares from neighbors and grocery store clerks. Today, when I mention homeschooling, I am usually met with more positive replies like, "I wish I could do that," or "How do I get started?"

Thankfully, there are no regulations concerning where we can or cannot provide instruction to our children. Although learning can take place in almost any location, it is important that your students have a designated area that is comfortable, well-lit, and organized to enhance their experience. A designated classroom is nice but not necessary. Having an area or room allotted for school helps with organization and provides a sense of authenticity to your school.

Once the decision is made, there are just a few steps to opening your home school in North Carolina. After July 1, file a Notice of Intent (NOI) to operate a home school with the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education. Instructions to file are found HERE. You will be asked to submit a high school diploma (or equivalent) as the teacher and to provide a name for your home school. Here are some Instructions for Selecting a Home School Name 1. From the NC DOA Division of Non-Public Education.
2. Keep an Attendance Record.
3. Keep a Record of Immunizations unless you have a waiver.
4. Determine the schedule and curriculum that you will use for your students.
5. Provide annual standardized testing for each student. These test results should be kept for a minimum of one year.

As you begin your journey, there are many resources available for information and encouragement. These are just a few to get you started. 1. North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE) This is your starting point for up-to-date articles and advice about homeschooling in NC. NCHE also monitors state and national legislation affecting our home schools. They provide an annual conference and graduation, as well as links to local support groups and leaders.
2. NC DOA Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) This is where you file your Intent to Operate a Home School in NC and receive information about the requirements and recommendations for homeschooling.
3. Consider joining the They advocate for our freedom to homeschool and provide legal counsel and advice.
4. Join a local support group (or two). A list of groups by region is provided by NCHE.
5. Enlist the help of a HomeWorks by Precept Homeschool Consultant to help you navigate this new territory. HWP Consultants are homeschool moms and dads, just like you. We have the experience to share and are happy to help you with the BJU Homeschool curriculum, scheduling, organization, and any questions you may have.
6. Choose a reputable curriculum, such as BJU Press Homeschool curriculum, that appeals to all types of learners and provides stimulating instruction with academic rigor and Biblical integration.

In conclusion, I suggest that you bathe your decision in prayer and surround yourself with people who can instruct and support you in your journey.

Meet the Author

Kaye Roberts - Veteran Homeschooling Mom