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Homeschooling in Maryland

AHSG regularly receives questions concerning the legal requirements to homeschool in Maryland (or specific counties like AAC, PG or HC), so we thought it would be helpful to assemble this information for the convenience of our members. Do you remember that we offer a support meeting on the 4th Monday of every month (except for summer) to cover getting started, knowing what's enough, and avoiding burnout?  We are here to answer questions and provide advice and encouragement. Check our calendar for the monthly meetings. Also if you a first-time homeschool family you can request a mentor family to assist you with the ins and outs of homeschooling by contacting Elizabeth Milley at eamilley@startmail.com.

 

Note: This information is provided to help you get started, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. It is your responsibility to be familiar with the regulations and comply with them.

 

First steps

Every family desiring to homeschool MUST call the Office of Curriculum in their county. The packet should include the following:

  • The "Home School Notification" form
  • The Annotated Code of Maryland (COMAR) laws regarding home instruction
  • Guidelines for preparing a portfolio
  • An announcement concerning a homeschooling information meeting run by the county
  • A list of authorized umbrella groups

The Home School Notification form notifies the county that you are homeschooling your school-aged children. On the form, you will indicate whether you intend to (a) report directly to the county for review (which costs you nothing); or (b) join an umbrella group for this purpose (this will involve the payment of fees) or use an accredited correspondence-type school program such as Calvert with the teacher supervision option (this will involve the payment of tuition to the school).

There is also an option to participate in the standardized testing program through the county. Many homeschoolers prefer to organize their own ad hoc testing groups and a number of umbrella groups include the cost of standardized testing in their fees, but if you would like your child to be tested by the county, mark this box and the county will notify you at test time.

The Home School Notification form needs to be mailed in 15 days prior to beginning your homeschool academic year, so you may want to request it by early August. Note that the consent form is only necessary when beginning homeschooling OR if you add another child or switch from direct county supervision (choice an above) to (choice b) or vice-versa.

In Anne Arundel County, kindergarten is required, so all five-year-olds must be registered unless you request a waiver (if you feel your child is not ready or has a late birthday, for example).

The COMAR regulations should be read very carefully and understood by all homeschooling parents so you are fully aware of what is legally required of you. This is for your own protection.

Preparing your portfolio

According to the COMAR bylaws, parents are required to demonstrate that their children are receiving "thorough and regular instruction" in the requisite subjects. We recommend that you organize your portfolio according to the county's list of subjects and show samples of each child's work in each subject dated throughout the semester. It is advisable to set up your portfolio binder at the beginning of the school year and insert samples of work in the binder as the semester progresses. This helps avoid the last minute frenzy to find "evidence of instruction" when the portfolios are due. Include fields trips, projects, music and dance recitals, athletic leagues (copies of team pictures are perfect for this), as well as samples of written work and photocopies of workbook pages.

(By the way, since the portfolio is a county requirement, all of the umbrella groups require some version of it as well.)

Anne Arundel County requires the portfolio submission two times per year but this will vary from county to county, so please check where you live to get the most accurate details. You should be notified by mail or email of the due dates (typically in February and June). Some counties encourages dropping off the portfolio at their offices or mailing it in. We recommend that you get a receipt if you drop it off and use certified mail with "return receipt requested" if you use the Post Office. In either case, this will enable you to prove that you submitted your portfolio on time because sometimes they get "misplaced". If this happens, you will, unfortunately, need to reproduce your portfolio, but at least you will have proof that you complied with the original deadline.

Some counties have a face to face review that they meet at several county public libraries. In this case, you bring your portfolio with you and sit there while the staffer reviews it. This is more personal and is more representative of the type of "review" the law originally intended. It also gives you the opportunity to respond directly to questions about your child's work if the reviewer feels "evidence" is lacking.

If, after viewing your portfolio, the reviewer feel you are lacking proof of proper instruction, you will be given a timetable in which to produce it (usually 30 days).  Overall, AA county is considered a friendly county to homeschool and review in.

Umbrella groups

Many homeschoolers prefer to affiliate with and report to an umbrella group, which replaces the county in reviewing your portfolio. Most umbrella groups offer other services as well. A great advantage to umbrella groups is that they are run by homeschoolers, so they are in agreement with your decision to homeschool and are there to help and encourage you.  Umbrella groups differ in cost, services offered and educational philosophy. You will want to investigate a few to find the one that best fits your family.  Here is the link for The Maryland State Department of Education FAQ about Homeschool instruction http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/about/Documents/DSFSS/SSSP/HomeInstruct/HomeInstructionFAQ.pdfThis is the current link for the Nonpublic Entities Registered to Supervise Home Instruction of Maryland Students     http://nonpublicschoolsdb.marylandpublicschools.org/nonpublic/home_instruction/DisplayLocationsByCounty.asp.