There are three options for homeschooling in Tennessee:
- Operating as an independent home school
- Category III remote learning school
- Church-related schools
To operate as an independent home school, parents must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Like other states, parents must notify the state of their intentions to homeschool, provide instruction for at least 180 days each year, maintain attendance records and test children at grades 5, 7 and 9.
Testing must be administered by the commissioner of education, an approved, professional testing service or a person designated by the commissioner.
Parents also have the option of sending their children to a Category III accredited school, which must also report attendance information to the local school system.
Church-related schools are another option for homeschooling. They must be operated by a church organization and be accredited.
If you’ve been thinking about homeschooling your children, but you have concerns about whether it’s the right move for you and your family, here are some important considerations and tips from Northgate Academy to help you get started.
No Need to Doubt
The first thing to know is that you’re not alone, and homeschooling is a valuable and educationally viable option for you and your children. The homeschooling movement has picked up steam since the pandemic hit, shining a light on the woeful state of the U.S. public school system. No matter what others might try to tell you, homeschooling was officially recognized as a legal option in all fifty states in 1992, so there are many success stories and much research backing the movement. In fact, by 2005, 1.9 to 2.4 million children were taught at home. Today, homeschooling continues to thrive, and the U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2021 that over 11% of families were homeschooling. Further statistics have found that of those students, 25% who returned to the public schools tested at least a grade level above their recommended level of education.
If you have any doubts about the validity of homeschooling as a choice for your family, remember that the days of homeschoolers being “social outcasts” have long passed. In fact, parents are doing a great job making sure their homeschooled students are socialized and experiencing a well-rounded life with 98% of homeschooled students participating in an average of 5 activities outside their home. Traditional schools simply do not allow for that kind of experience. The benefits of homeschooling and its acceptance have even led to tax credits being offered for homeschool families in many different states.
Independent & Supported Learners
The next thing to consider is whether or not homeschooling is right for your teen. In order to determine this, it’s important to understand that not all students excel in a less monitored homeschool environment, so it’s important to tailor the program you use to their needs. Some teens learn very well independently but still need a variety of curriculum and a deadline, and homeschooling ends up being a place where they can excel. Others need a little more guidance, so setting them up in a more monitored system might be a better option. Northgate Academy works with many different homeschool families to tailor a plan to fit their students’ needs. In fact, we offer a fully accredited high school diploma with self-paced courses that allow your student to finish a grade level in as few as 2-3 months or in as many as 12 months. By enrolling your student in a homeschool program online, like those offered through NGA, you have the support of a dedicated staff keeping your student on track to graduate either early or on time.
Homeschooling today doesn’t mean that you are spending days at a time pouring over curriculum designs for your children. Many options are available for parents interested in homeschooling their children. You can sign up for individual courses or enroll your students full time in an online program.
This means that as a homeschool parent, you can instead use your time supporting your child in their academic and personal growth. You can plan interactive educational experiences, plan trips to visit family and friends around the country, or just get to know your growing, changing child a little better. Instead of worrying about the curriculum like the beginning days of homeschooling, you have the option to be an active, present parent with the knowledge that your child is learning from an accredited school whose mission reflects the needs and beliefs of your family.
One of the best reasons to homeschool your child is that it gives them time to explore when you take out all the 15-minute attendance sessions and busy work of brick-and-mortar schools. You can explore as a family by taking advantage of travel, or they can explore interests of their own. They can start creative projects, design their own STEM experiments and activities, or plan a community service project. When you homeschool your children, the time wasted in traditional schools is recovered and can be spent on exploration into the topics your student is actually interested in.
Northgate Academy offers both core and elective classes to help you on your homeschooling journey. If you are interested and would like to know more, feel free to call us at 800-339-7132 or text us at 763-412-4701.