The Home Instruction Statute (§22.1-254.1) specifies four options under which parents can provide home instruction:
- Option (i): Holds a high school diploma
- Option (ii): Is a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education
- Option (iii): Provides a program of study or curriculum for the child or children (the program of study or curriculum may be delivered through a correspondence course or distance learning program, or in any other manner)
- Option (iv): Provides evidence that the parent is able to provide an adequate education for the child.
Regardless of the option chosen, “[a]ny parent who elects to provide home instruction in lieu of school attendance shall annually notify the division superintendent in August of his intention to so instruct the child provide a description of the curriculum, limited to a list of subjects to be studied during the coming year, and evidence of having met one of the criteria for providing home instruction” (§22.1-254.1 B).
In other words, you must:
- File an NOI each year by August 15th.
- Provide a description of the curriculum to be used (not as scary as it sounds).
- Provide proof that you qualify for the option you are filing under.
Note: If your child is 5 years old as of September 30th, you have additional options available. Please read Kindergarten Options for a full explanation.
The following sections detail how to meet the above requirements.
Filing Your Notice of Intent
Your Notice of Intent may be a letter stating your intent to homeschool or you may use the VaHomeschoolers Optional NOI Form or a form provided by the state or by your school division.
The law does not require that you use an official form, and many homeschoolers prefer to provide a letter instead, since NOI forms provided by school divisions are sometimes inaccurate or out of date with respect to the Home Instruction Statute. If you choose to use a form, many homeschoolers prefer to use the VaHomeschoolers Optional NOI Form.
NOIs must be submitted to your local school division superintendent by August 15 (if you know you are going to homeschool before the beginning of the school year.) You may, however, begin homeschooling at any time during the year. For more information on starting to homeschool after August 15th, see Starting Homeschooling Mid-Year. If your school division has a “homeschool coordinator” or other employee specifically designated by the superintendent to handle homeschool paperwork and questions, it’s fine to submit your NOI to that employee rather than directly to the superintendent.
You can find contact information for local superintendents here: Virginia Public School Division Staff. You may deliver your NOI either by postal mail or in person. Some school divisions have begun accepting NOIs via fax, email or other online methods. It’s a good idea to keep a copy (paper or electronic) of your NOI on hand in case of delivery problems or follow-up questions, and some parents prefer to obtain a delivery receipt, either by dropping off their paperwork in person and asking for a signed receipt or by sending it via certified mail.
Most school divisions send out acknowledgement letters upon receipt of the NOI; however, they are not required by law to do so. You do not need to wait for a letter to begin homeschooling.
Once you have sent in your NOI, you have complied with the law and nothing additional is required until evidence of progress is due at the end of the school year. For more information on evidence of progress requirements, see Homeschool Evaluation and Testing Information.
Note: The law only requires that you notify the superintendent of your intent to homeschool. It does not give the superintendent “approval authority.” As long as you provide what is required by law, you cannot be “rejected.”
Providing a Description of Your Curriculum
Regardless of which option you file under, you must provide a “description of curriculum” with your NOI. Please note that this does not mean that you have to use a “formal” curriculum or program of study. Effective July 1, 2012, a description of curriculum is limited to “a list of subjects to be studied during the upcoming year.”
You do not need to provide any additional information such as book lists, lesson plans, curriculum scope and sequences, or copies of textbook tables of contents, though in the past some superintendents have requested this. If your school division requests additional information beyond a list of subjects to be studied, please direct them to our School Division Resource page and to the language of the home instruction statute itself.
For additional information on writing curriculum descriptions, see All About Curriculum Descriptions.
According to VDOE’s Superintendents Memo No. 124, the superintendent has no authority to judge or reject the program of study submitted under this option although he or she is responsible for determining that what a parent submits is indeed a curriculum description and not simply a statement of educational philosophy.
Note: Homeschooled children are not accountable to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) and do not take the SOL exams.
Providing Proof that You Qualify for the Option Under Which You Are Filing
Option (i): Holds a high school diploma
To qualify under Option (i), provide a copy of your either parent’s high school diploma or high school transcript (the primary homeschooling parent does not have to be the one with a diploma). You may also qualify for this option by providing evidence of attainment of a higher degree such as an Associates Degree or a college diploma if those are easier to locate. Once a copy of your diploma is on file, you do not need to include one in the future; simply refer to the fact that the superintendent has a copy on file.
Note: The Virginia Department of Education’s Home Instruction Manual (p. 5) says that a GED is not considered a high school diploma for the purposes of satisfying option (i) of the home instruction statute §22.1-254.1. This is because the GED is “equivalent” to a high school diploma, not an actual “high school diploma” as required by law. Parents with GEDs who have received an Associate Degree or higher may substitute that diploma for the high school diploma. Parents with GEDs may also file under option (iii) or option (iv) of the home instruction statute §22.1-254.1.
Option (ii): Is a teacher of qualifications prescribed by the Board of Education
To qualify for Option (ii), provide a copy of a either parent’s current teaching certificate or statement to this effect from the Virginia Department of Education (the primary homeschooling parent does not have to be the one with a teaching certificate).
Once a copy of the teaching certificate is on file, you do not need to include one in the future, unless it has been renewed since last filing; simply refer to the fact that the superintendent has a copy on file.
Note: Parents with a valid Virginia teaching certificate may also qualify to teach their own child under the Approved Tutor provision. For more information, see All About the Approved Tutor Provision.
Option (iii): Provides a program of study or curriculum
Option iii filers may use any program of study or curriculum, which may be delivered through a correspondence course, a distance learning program, or in any other manner.
If you are using a specific correspondence course or distance learning program, you can provide notice of acceptance or other evidence of enrollment in the course or program, showing the name and address of the school and the courses in which your child is enrolled. If you are using a program of study or curriculum that you have developed or compiled yourself, you should provide a description of that program or curriculum.
There are no educational requirements for parents who file under Option (iii).
Option (iv): Provides evidence of being able to provide an adequate education
To qualify under Option (iv), provide evidence that you are able to provide an adequate education for the child. Although this may seem daunting, in reality it is not.
According to Superintendents Memo No. 124, this evidence includes the following: “To assess a parent’s ability to provide an adequate education, the division superintendent should determine whether the information submitted exhibits a mastery of language by the writer; whether it includes plans for instructional activities; and whether it presents a reasonable scope and sequence of content that shows a broad overview of what the parent plans to teach the child during the school year.”
There are no educational requirements for parents who file under Option (iv).
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.