Homeschooling in New York State has a formidable reputation. The homeschool regulations here are among the toughest in the US, and many new homeschoolers or those new to New York are nervous about them. I’m one of those new homeschoolers — my oldest child turned 6 in May — and yes, I’m a bit nervous (or perhaps terrified)! Many of my friends have done this before, so I have lots of support from moms (and dads) who claim the regulations are very manageable.
Here’s the basic rundown of what is required to start homeschooling in NY state. The actual legal wording and a great FAQ are located here.
- Parents must submit homeschool paperwork for the year if the child will be older than six years old by December of the school year. These are the children who are considered first graders in the school system.
- By July 1, parents must send an “intent to homeschool” letter to the superintendent of their local school. (Or within 14 days after you pull your child out of school, if you start mid-year.)
- Within ten business days, the school district must send you a copy of the regulations and a form to write out your Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP).
- Then the parents have four weeks or until August 15 (whichever is later) to fill out the IHIP and send it back.
- The school then must accept the IHIP or notify the parent of a problem within ten business days or by August 31 (again, whichever is later).
- Assuming the IHIP is approved, the parent must submit a quarterly report on student progress at four evenly-spaced intervals of their own choosing through the year.
- At the end of the year, the parent must have the child’s progress assessed.
Whew! That feels like a lot to me, but I’m going to take it one step at a time. Right now I’m sending in my letter to the superintendent. It is VERY basic, and looks like this:
We are sending this letter of intent as required of Section 100.10 of the Regulations of New York State Commissioner of Education.
We intend to homeschool our daughter, Child’s Name (DOB 00/00/0000), who will be entering grade K, for the 2014-2015 school year.
Okay. Not bad, so far.
In a couple of weeks, I’ll get my IHIP. On the IHIP I will need to list a grade for the student. My daughter is six years old and doing first grade material, but I will list her as a kindergartener. The regulations say specifically that the child’s grade does not have to match their age. The required subjects for kindergarten are quite minimal (moreso than first grade) and with kindergarten and first grade becoming more unreasonably rigorous, and children’s development at these ages so asynchronous, I feel that it is best to give her that extra year. Since we tailor her schoolwork to where she is academically, she can move at her own pace. If needed, I can “skip” her ahead in a few years when it is clearer what her needs are.
I must list what we will do for each state-mandated subject. NY only requires these subjects in K:
(a) Patriotism and citizenship
(b) health education regarding alcohol, drug, and tobacco misuse;
(c) highway safety and traffic regulation, including bicycle safety; and
(d) fire and arson prevention and safety.
After I file my IHIP and it is accepted, I will need to file four quarterly reports detailing how much we have covered, how well she did in each subject, and how many hours of “school” we did over that quarter.
Then, at the end of the year, we will need to submit an assessment. One method of assessment is standardized testing, but this is not required for children in grades K-3. The alternative is an assessment written by a “qualified individual” who is agreed upon between me and the school district. This sounds intimidating, but everyone I know has been allowed to assess their own child, so hopefully it won’t be too bad!
Angela is raising a daughter and twin sons in a tiny city in Central New York. She and her wife, Kelly, hope to travel more when the children are a bit older. She enjoys gardening, furniture refinishing, and making miles upon miles of lists.