**A Quick Note from Beth... This podcast episode is just two moms having a conversation about state laws. Hopefully you'll find some advice you can use, but please note this is not at all a substitute for seeking legal advice. We are not lawyers and cannot provide legal advice. Natalie and I both highly recommend you partner with the Homeschool Legal Defense Association if you homeschool, but especially if you homeschool in a highly regulated state. The laws that we discuss in this episode are highlighted on the HSLDA website.**
“Homeschooling is the ultimate accommodation in your child’s education journey.”
Meet Natalie Vecchione
In this episode, I welcome back my guest Natalie Vecchione. She is the founder of FASD Hope, and also has a podcast of the same name. If you are parenting or advocating for a child with a confirmed or suspected Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, you can check out Episode 21 of the Flamingo Feathers Podcast.
Natalie is also experienced with homeschooling a child with special needs in a highly regulated state. She was kind enough to join me again to walk through the state laws and explain how she navigated the regulations. Because Natalie has experience homeschooling in New York state, we walked through the laws for that state. But you will be able to apply a lot of the wisdom to the laws of the state in which you reside.
Walking Through The State Regulations
In the episode, Natalie explained each of these laws.
- Notice of Intent (NOI)
Tip: Send all correspondence and documents via certified mail and call a week or two later to be sure that the school district received the paperwork.
- Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP)
It’s your plan for each child, what you plan to use for curriculum, etc. Depending on your state, you may have to submit one per child. Other states may require just one per family.
- Day, Hour, and Subject Requirements
Attendance can be based on hours or number of days of instruction (which is usually 180 days, or a total number of hours of school per year.)
Tip: There are no requirements on what days of the week or hours of the day have to be used for school. You can give breaks throughout the day or work around needs. You can even homeschool on Saturdays or on days that public school is not in session. There is a lot of wiggle room for accommodations, even in a highly regulated state.
Hours per day are not necessarily book hours or computer hours. You can be creative with the things you incorporate into your school time. Cooking, playing outside, etc. are all learning times.
“Hidden underneath all the regulations, there is flexibility.”
- File Quarterly Reports
Sample report templates are available on the HSLDA website.
Grades are given for the academic level on which they are working. If your child is chronologically supposed to be in 3rd grade, but working in a 1st grade curriculum, the grade would be given on how they are doing in their 1st grade curriculum. Different states and districts also accept different types of grades. Some states accept grades such as Satisfactory, Above Average, etc., while others require letter or percentage grades.
- Annual Assessment and Report
This may vary from state to state. It usually involves standardized testing or a written narrative.
Natalie used the Personalized Achievement Summary System (PASS) test because it is not timed and you can take it in chunks.
Other Tips For Homeschooling In A Highly Regulated State
Some help for record keeping:
- Get templates of the records you need and then just modify them each time you need to submit a new form.
- Keep a calendar with what you do each day in school and which days you homeschooled.
- Keep your records in a central place.
- Keep previous school work and records for a few years just in case you need them.
- Try to be neat with your record keeping.
Final Encouragement and Tips
Consider keeping a portfolio of your child’s work. Some states require you present a portfolio to the school district. But it’s a good idea even if it isn't a requirement for your state.
Find your tribe. Make connections with other families who can help you.
Always comply with your state’s regulations.
Rely on God. He’s the One who keeps it all together.
Join HSLDA or a similar organization.