It wasn’t so long ago that I was homeschooling my son for the first year, and I remember feeling so confused about what was required of me and of him, and also what wasn’t. If you look online for more than 30 seconds, you’ll find such a mix of information, which can be frustrating and overwhelming. And so, it is with this in mind, that I wanted to put together an article explaining exactly what all is required for homeschooling in our home state of Alabama. For this article, I went straight to the source, the Alabama State Department of Education website. I also called and spoke with supervisors at several county Board of Education offices. Further information can be found on their respective websites, but I wanted to talk about all of the main points, and get to the bottom line of the most important aspects, quickly and concisely. For reference purposes, here’s the link to the Non-Public School FAQ’s page for the Alabama State Department of Education. (If you don’t live in Alabama, I would suggest visiting the comparable websites for your home state, as well as contacting the Board of Education for your county. But this article can still be helpful to you, in that it may help you know some of the most important questions to ask)
NOTE: This is not intended to be legal advice. Homeschool laws can change, so check for updates through the ALSDE website if needed.
Q.) To homeschool my child, am I required to register with/give notice to the state of Alabama?
Q.) To homeschool my child, am I required to give notice to my county Board of Education?
When you decide to homeschool your child, written Notice of Intent to Homeschool must be provided to the superintendent at the Board of Education (BOE). If you have a cover school, the necessary form will be provided to you, which you will then take to your local board of education. If you do not use a cover school, then you can create a basic document that contains all of the necessary information (discussed next). Some county BOE’s have standardized forms that you can fill out at their office and leave there. Just call them up and ask if they do. Either way, I suggest keeping a copy for your own records.
You don’t have to do this annually; only once per child. You will need to do this for each child that you homeschool, at the time each of them starts homeschooling.
Q.) What information do I need to submit to the Board of Education in the Notice of Intent to Homeschool?
*Child’s name and date of birth
*The school year (i.e. 2019-2020)
*Parent/Guardian name and signature
Q.) Is there a deadline to giving notice to the Board of Education?
The deadlines are different, based on various factors, and even based on your local county’s board of education standards. For example, if your child was previously enrolled in public school, and you pull them out sometime during the school year, you have 3 days from then to notify the board of education of your intent to homeschool. If your child has never been enrolled in public school, then the deadline issue isn’t quite as finite. Some offices say that they want notification prior to when the school year begins. Some say they want it no later than the first week of the public school year. To be honest, even after calling several county school boards, as well as the state department, I found that there wasn’t really a definite answer to this question. Just more of a general rule. Get them notified as close to the start of the school year as you can. Personally, I take my notifications to the school board sometime in the first week of the public school year. I did, however, find that for other states where there is a bit more regulation on homeschooling, there was also a more specific answer to this question. So, if you live outside of Alabama, definitely call up to your local board of education for the answer to this question.
Q.) To homeschool my child, am I required to enroll in a “Cover School?”
Cover schools are only optional in the state of Alabama. Depending on your preferences, cover schools can be a valuable asset. For example, cover schools often send out emails informing you of local events or activities that you can attend for educational purposes. Things like field trips, or plays that are put on by a local drama club. Often times, if you attend as part of the cover school group, you will get discounted tickets. Some cover schools even provide services like annual graduation ceremonies, or official transcripts (based on the information provided to them by the homeschooling parent). Cover schools charge annual fees to enroll. Each one has its own set of criteria in regards to attendance records and grade reports.
Q.) What ages are children required to be enrolled in school?
A.) Children aged 6 – 17 are required to be enrolled in school.
Q.) Are there requirements on how long a school day must be, or what activities constitutes ‘school work?’
There are no requirements on what subjects or material must be taught, or how long a school day must be. It is totally up to the parent.
Q.) Is there a minimum number of days that constitutes a ‘school year?’
The public school system requires 180 days of school per year. For homeschooling, there is no legal requirement. If you are enrolled in a cover school, they likely have their own standards in regards to a calendar school year. For example, we were previously enrolled in the cover school Everest Academy, and there was a requirement of 160 days of attendance to qualify as a completed school year.
Q.) Are there any requirements on me, the teacher? Do I need to be certified, or have a diploma/GED?
Q.) Is there any paperwork that I’m required keep for records/documentation, in regard to homeschooling?
Legally speaking, there is nothing that you are required to keep in terms of paperwork. HOWEVER, YOU MAY WANT TO KEEP SOME THINGS just in case you ever find yourself in a situation where you need evidence of homeschooling. For example, we once found ourselves being audited by the government, but it wasn’t a financial audit. We were being audited due to the number of dependents we were claiming (we have a large family), and the purpose of the audit was to prove that my husband and I truly and fully cared for all of our children (dependents). Didn’t know such an audit exists? We didn’t either. But it does, and we had to provide things like grocery bills, property deed paperwork, and school records. Thankfully, I keep attendance records for each child that is of homeschooling age, signed and dated at the end of each school year. It’s nothing fancy, just a document I created using Microsoft Word. Each school year I also have a 4” ring binder for each child that holds all of their graded work for that particular school year. None of this is necessary, but it’s not a bad idea either. You just never know if/when you may need it.
Here is the attendance record that I made and use. I print out one page for each child, and keep it for the whole school year. At the end of each school year, I file it away for my records. You’re more than welcome to use it yourself, if you’d like!