FAQ – New to Homeschooling

Where is the best place to learn about homeschooling in Virginia?

VaHomeschoolers has compiled a Comprehensive Guide to Homeschooling in Virginia which covers just about any topic you can imagine related to homeschooling in Virginia. It is the best place to start if you have any questions.

Exactly what do I need to do in order to homeschool my child?

Begin by reading the overview of the Compulsory Attendance Code which governs the schooling requirements in Virginia. This should tell you everything you need to know to begin the process, and it includes links to the Notice of Intent paperwork that you need to fill out prior to beginning homeschooling.

For general information on getting started with homeschooling, we also have a free video series, Video Guide to Homeschooling Your Child. This answers lots of frequently asked questions for new families. You can watch all the videos or just pick and choose the ones that most interest you. You also have the option of reading the transcripts for the videos instead of watching them.

What are the first steps in homeschooling?

Learn your state law, understand that homeschooling is legal, and that you can deal effectively with the superintendent’s office. Also, investigate different approaches and understand your child’s learning style. Then choose the method that makes most sense, and be willing to adapt it or throw it out as your judgment directs. Our video series,  Video Guide to Homeschooling Your Child will provide you with great general information.

Who may homeschool in Virginia?

Any parent or guardian may homeschool in Virginia.

Whom do I ask for permission to homeschool?

In Virginia, parents do not need permission to homeschool. They simply notify the local superintendent of their school district of their intent to homeschool, and meet certain criteria.

I did not decide to homeschool until after the Aug 15th NOI filing deadline. Am I stuck sending my child to school until next year?

You are not stuck at all. You may begin homeschooling at any time during the school year. According to the Home Instruction Statute (§22.1-254.1 B) “any parent who moves into a school division or begins home instruction after the school year has begun shall notify the division superintendent of his intention to provide home instruction as soon as practicable and shall thereafter comply with the requirements of this section within 30 days of such notice.” You can read more about it in Beginning Homeschooling Mid-Year.

How do I withdraw my child from school to begin homeschooling? Do I need to notify the school? Do I need to show the school office my paperwork?

To begin homeschooling, you should file your Notice of Intent (NOI) with the superintendent’s office (not the local school) as soon as possible. But there is no official paperwork to be turned into the school, no approval needed from the school and no requirement that you notify the child’s school. However, to avoid confusion and issues of truancy, as well as out of courtesy, you may wish to call or send a letter to the office at your child’s school to let them know you have chosen to withdraw your child and they will not be returning. You do not need to offer an explanation or show any paperwork.

At what age is my child required to attend school or begin homeschooling?

Compulsory schooling in Virginia begins when the child is age 5 as of September 30 of the school year. However, this can be delayed if the parents feel the child is not ready to attend school. Read Kindergarten Options for full information.

Who do I contact regarding the Notice of Intent (NOI) letters or forms?

File papers with your local school superintendent. The law does not require forms, and those provided by local divisions may contain errors, such as requesting more information than required by law. VaHomeschoolers has a convenient form available for those who prefer to use one. Some parents prefer the convenience of using a form, while others would rather write a brief letter for the Notice of Intent and provide their own format for the proposal and curriculum description. While using a form is not mandatory, it may expedite administration in some local school divisions.

Should I call the local superintendent before I send in my Notice of Intent?

Experienced homeschoolers often advise against it. The local division office may send you forms or information with their own take on the law, which may be confusing.

Must I file a separate Notice of Intent for each child?

Parents may submit one NOI letter or form that includes all children.

My family is military, and my child attends a DOD school on base at Quantico, or attends public school off-base while we live on base. Where should I file my home instruction paperwork?

File your homeschooling paperwork with the superintendent’s office of the New York/Virginia/Puerto Rico School District. (If your child is enrolled in non-DOD public school, you may wish to file a copy with that superintendent’s office as well, to avoid confusion and the possibility of mistaken truancy proceedings.) VaHomeschoolers contacted Carla Patrick of the NY/VA/PR School District Superintendent’s office, who explained that her office does not have its own separate home instruction policy, but follows Virginia law (so all of the requirements for notice of intent, curriculum description, etc. are identical). She also stated that homeschooled students living on-base at Quantico are eligible to enroll on a part-time basis in any class (including core academics, P.E., music and art) and may participate in after-school clubs and activities, with the exception of interscholastic competitive athletics and programs governed by the Virginia High School League. Ms. Patrick may be reached as follows:

Carla Patrick
Early Childhood Math/Science ISS
New York/Virginia/Puerto Rico School District
3308 John Quick Road
Quantico, VA 22134
ph (703) 630-7037

My child’s abilities are well above the supposed grade level. Should I file accordingly, or at the age-based grade level?

Most experienced homeschoolers recommend you report the child at the grade level corresponding to his age. This way, if there are any unforeseen problems–such as an extended illness–there is some wiggle room.

Do I have to include a description of curriculum?

Yes. This is required for those filing under any of the options within the Home Instruction Statute. You can read more about curriculum descriptions in Curriculum Description.

I received a letter back from my county saying they APPROVED me to homeschool. Since the law does not allow them to approve or deny me, only to determine whether or not I am in compliance, should I call them on this?

You are correct that the law does not refer to approval or denial. Many school divisions in the state seem to think that they are in the “approval” business rather than the “notification” business, and refer to “approval” on their acknowledgment letter. However, most school divisions are pretty reasonable in how they handle the actual notification process, regardless of what they may call that process in their letter.

How to respond here is a judgment call. If the word “approval” bothers you, you certainly could send a polite letter to the school division pointing out the exact language in the code.

However, if the school division is otherwise complying with the law and no “denying” is going on, then it may not be necessary to take any action at this time. It’s not unusual to have a school division which sends out inaccurate letters but actually complies with the law in practice. Frustrating, certainly, but not unusual. What some parents and advocates have done in a situation like this is hold on to the “approval” letter and wait until they have some other, more pressing business with the school division. For instance, if the district office decides to revamp their home instruction statute policies or someone on the school board asks you what you think about their policies. These would be great opportunities to bring up the “approval” language. It is more likely in these situations that you will receive positive outcomes.

Must I include a copy of the children’s vaccination records with my NOI?

Virginia law says you must provide the information if asked. Many homeschooling parents prefer to submit the information only after they are asked and most school districts do not ask for vaccination records from homeschoolers.

Who pays for homeschooling and how much does it cost?

Homeschool families pay for their homeschooling expenses themselves. State and local governments do not offer any materials, tax credits or funds for homeschooling.

How much you pay depends on how you do the homeschooling. Many families on a budget keep expenses down by using free books and resources at their local public library, or by purchasing used curriculum materials at resource fairs, online, from other families, etc.

On the other end of the spectrum, a prepackaged curriculum program from an accredited correspondence school or distance learning program might cost anywhere from $500-$2500 per child. How much you pay depends on which program you select, how many courses you choose, and the age of your child (the older your child, the more expensive the costs). However, you are not required to use these programs.

You may find it helpful to watch some of our free videos on Homeschooling in Virginia at our website in our Video Guide to Homeschooling Your Child.

Are homeschooling expenses tax-deductible?

No. The IRS Web site includes the notation “There is no deduction for your child’s home schooling expenses. These are nondeductible personal, living, or family expenses. Please refer to Publication 529, Miscellaneous Deductions.” Virginia also offers no homeschool deduction.

What happens if I don’t report?

Truancy is a class 3 misdemeanor on first conviction, a class 2 on second conviction. The civil process can involve “child in need of supervision” (CHINS) actions. When a school division discovers a non-reporting homeschooler, the reaction may be polite and reasoned, with perhaps a letter or phone call asking about the educational status of the child(ren). But, some people’s first serious truancy contact has been in the form of a summons to appear in court the following business day. There have also been people who, after years of “underground” homeschooling, encounter situations in which they need to reveal their status or forgo important opportunities. VaHomeschoolers encourages all homeschoolers to use one of the legal avenues for homeschooling in Virginia.

The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers is a non-profit public charity with 501(c)(3) status; your donation is tax-deductible to the extent provided by law. A financial statement is available from the Virginia Division of Consumer Affairs upon request.

Copyright © VaHomeschoolers
created by: dot org Web Works

Return to Top