Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the law in Indiana concerning home educating?
Homeschools are considered private schools under the law in Indiana. Here are the general guidelines.
* All children from 7-16 must be enrolled in a school that teaches in English. Kindergarten is not mandatory.
* Parents need to keep track of attendance and be ready to show that as well as give an enrollment of how many children are in each grade. This would usually be asked by a local or state school superintendent.Home educators need to provide instruction for the same number of days required by public schools. Right now it is 180 days.
* Homeschools need to offer an "equivalent" education to what the child would receive in a public school. First graders need to work on learning to read, etc.
This should not be considered legal advice. We are not lawyers. If you have specific legal questions, we recommend you contact Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA).
2. How do I withdraw my child from a public school?
Since every family's situation is different, you first may want to obtain legal advice. (i.e. Go to above HSLDA link.) Note: These suggestions do not constitute the giving of legal advice.
* Send a letter to the principal of the public school your child is currently attending.
* Include your name, address, and the names of the children who are going to be homeschooled.
Some things to include in the letter would be the date of the withdrawal and to ask the school to send their records to you. You could also reference the state legislation which makes homeschooling legal by saying that the private school in your home meets the requirements mandated by the Court of Appeals in the Peterman case (State v. Peterman, 70 N.E.2d 50 (1904)) and that you will keep attendance records and meet for the same number of days that the public schools are in session.
-taken from the IAHE 2004 Convention Program & written by Scott A. Woodruff from HSLDA
Also know that technically you are transferring your child from a public school to a private school- your home! This is the more correct terminology under the law, and when corresponding with officials, it may be prudent to use the word "transfer" rather than "withdraw." Sometimes individual schools or school districts have student withdrawal forms. This should be considered an additional step to the ones listed above.
3. Do I have to register as a homeschool with the state?
There is no law that requires you to register with the state. At one time the Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) asked that homeschoolers voluntarily register with the Indiana Department of Education, especially if you were transferring your child from a public school setting. However, HSLDA has never recommended that home educators register. We believe it is up to individual families to decide. You can go to the Indiana Department of Education website and read what they have to say.
Please note: If you are ever pressured or told by anyone that you must register, please notify HSLDA of the situation. Many times it is a misunderstanding of the law, and HSLDA can clear it up with a phone call. You may have to be a HSLDA member for them to do that!
4. Where do I find curriculum?
The home education curriculum market is amazing, exciting, and yet can be overwhelming for a beginning homeschooler. Here are a few things to think about.
First, you need to decide what you want your homeschool to look like. Do you want it to look like a traditional school? Do you want others to evaluate your child's work? Do you want to teach several children at once? Spending some time answering these questions before you start looking at curricula will help reduce your confusion. Some websites that either help you think through the different styles of teaching and learning that can be accommodated in the home education environment or have curriculum reviews are Christian Book Distributors, Home School Marketplace, Choosing Your Curriculum, or Homeschool Highlights. Homeschooling books from the Tippecanoe County Public Library such as Mary Pride's The Big Book of Home Learning will also talk about the varieties of curricula that are out there.
Many parents want to check to make sure what they choose for curriculum covers what the state says a child needs to learn. This can be checked by going to the Learning Standards page of the Indiana Department of Education's website where one can search for the scope and sequence by subject and grade level.
Please know that your curriculum preferences may change as you develop a better sense of your philosophy of teaching and as you learn your children's strengths, weaknesses, loves, and dislikes. Therefore, please don't agonize over curriculum decisions. Pick one that you think you like and try it! One recommendation we often give first time homeschoolers is to buy a packaged curriculum for the basics such as reading, writing, and math. This will help make sure the basics are covered well and will reduce a great amount of stress that first year. There is no such thing as the perfect curriculum, and you'll drive yourself nuts trying to find it!
When you think you know what style of curricula for which you're looking, make sure you check out Buy the Book Coffeehouse which has a homeschool section of used books! You will be able to see some materials and maybe find some good bargains! This local store is at 5 points (1538 Main St. in Lafayette). Their phone number is 765-471-1400.
Sites to buy used homeschooling material are Homeschool Classifieds and HSLDA's Curriculum Market.
5. What about teaching the harder high school courses?
Homeschoolers have tackled this problem in a variety of ways.
*One is to join a cooperative. A cooperative (or co-op) is a group of families who meet regularly, and parents, who have an expertise in a given subject, will teach a group of children. Since it is a co-op, all families are expected to do their share - even if it means manning the nursery so someone else can teach a class. This works well for subjects that are hard to do with just one student. (Ex. speech, debate, drama, etc.)
* Other parents send their child to the public schools, Christian schools, or Ivy Tech to take those subjects that they feel inadequate to teach.
* Sometimes parents hire a private tutor.
* A newer option for many high school homeschoolers is to take courses on-line. Sometimes these can count for both high school and college credit.
* There are video courses available as well.
* However, one of the most powerful options for the homeschooling parent is to take the course along with your high schooler and learn with them! It can be a wonderful experience, and the high schooler sees that learning is a lifetime adventure.
6. What about getting into college?
Because of the quality of students who have graduated from homeschooling, more and more colleges are open to homeschoolers and even actively recruit homeschoolers. Getting into a college for homeschoolers is basically the same for them as any other student - good SAT scores and a transcript showing the student has completed the Indiana Core 40. Colleges will accept a transcript prepared by the parent, and homeschoolers can take the SAT at any SAT testing center.
7. What about socialization?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions by critics of homeschooling so when most homeschoolers are asked this question you may see them roll their eyes! First, we need to understand some definitions. Socialization means providing the student with enough "people" experience so that they're ready to be a contributing and well-adjusted person in society. Now, which situation would be more conducive to molding a child into a reliable, responsible adult? The child spends most of his time one-on-one with a loving adult and maybe different age groups sprinkled in, or the child spends most of his time in a group of peers who don't have anymore idea about the "real world" than he has. What most people mean when they ask this question is, "What about socializing?" (By this they mean hanging out with other kids their own age.) Most homeschoolers are involved in a variety of experiences where they make friends and socialize. See Area Resources for a good listing of those opportunities.
8. What about testing?
Testing is not required in Indiana. However, many parents like to test their child to see how he compares with other children and to give their child practice in taking these kinds of tests. There are a few achievement testing options in this area. For the last few years, GLHEA has arranged for home educated children to be tested in a local Christian school. Homeschooled children go to the school and are tested along with the regular students. Testing usually occurs in the spring and preregistration is during the preceding fall. GLHEA publications notify home educators of these details. Another option is for the parent to test their own child. The Iowa Tests of Basic Skills can be given by a parent to his own child if the parent has at least a bachelors degree. You can get these tests and find more information from Bob Jones Press. Occasionally, a homeschooling parent will become a certified Stanford Achievement Test administrator and will test a few students. This testing has several requirements and can also be obtained from Bob Jones.