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Legal Options for Home Schooling

Legal Options for Home Schooling (from SCHEA website)

(For the full description of the law see http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/South_Carolina.pdf.)

There are three options for home schooling legally in South Carolina.

    • Option 1: Through the school district. This requires you to have your curriculum approved by the district, to take year-end standardized testing, and to have a portfolio of all your child's work.
    • Option 2: Through SCAIHS. This is an organization run by homeschoolers for homeschoolers state-wide. They require a great deal of accountability and in return they provide a great deal of help.
    • Option 3: Through an Option Three association. (See the side bar for Option 3 groups)  Again, run by homeschoolers for homeschoolers, third option groups have different requirements. Some of them are local, others are state-wide. Some require testing, others don't. Some provide more services such as curriculum counseling and recordkeeping while others expect the parents to handle these things.

Make sure you check all the requirements and fees before signing up with any one of them. Either way you go, there are certain basic common requirements set by the state:

  1. The parent or legal guardian must be the primary instructor (you can still use tutors, co-op classes, and other helps, but the bulk of the instruction must be under the guidance of the parent or legal guardian).
  2. The parent or legal guardian must have a minimum of a GED.
  3. The instruction day must be at least 4 1/2 hours long if you are teaching under the school district. For safety reasons, it is best to do those hours during "normal" school hours; however, that is not mandatory. You do need to be aware, though, that if you are not teaching during the day, your children should not be out running around unattended in public--particularly younger children. While it is totally legal, it also raises red flags and tends to lead to complications you really don't want. This does not mean your students cannot participate in homeschool activities, Key Club projects, apprenticeship opportunities, etc. Just use common sense during regular school hours and remember not everyone loves home schooling. Second, there must be 180 days of instruction each year. If you are pulling your child during the school year, the days she has already been in school count towards those 180. You can do 180 days any way you want: four-day weeks; school six weeks, take off one; teach Aug-Nov, and take off Dec; school year round; whatever works into your schedule as long as you do at least 180 days between July 1 and June 30.
  4. You must teach the core curriculum, which includes math, history, science, reading (in 1st-6th grade) or literature (for grades 7-12) and writing (grades 1-6) or composition (grades 7-12). You will not necessarily need to teach every subject every day, but you do need to cover them. For instance, you might teach one semester of history and another semester of science. You might do reading three days a week. Where possible, you can combine material at different grade levels. This works particularly well in subjects like history and science.
  5. You must keep a portfolio of your child's work. This would include sample copies of work from each of his subjects, projects, special papers, descriptions of field trips, sporting events he participated in, community service projects, debate , TeenPact, etc.
  6. You must keep some kind of "plan book" of what you are teaching. This can be a notebook, journal, or spiral notebook that tells what you did on each day of school in each of the required subjects. You can make your own or buy one ready made at a school supply store. It can be as simple or as complex and detailed as you want, as long as you are keeping a record of what you are teaching. It's also a good way to document how many days you are teaching.
  7. You must keep records of grades, otherwise known as a "progress report," that would correspond to a report card of some type. Again, this can be as simple or as detailed as you care to make it, especially depending on the grade level. In first through third grade, grades can be Excellent, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory. By the time your student is in high school, you need to be familiar with the Uniform Grading Scale, especially if you are doing your own transcript.

*If your child is already in school and you suddenly pull him out, the school can charge you with truancy. There are serious legal consequences to that charge-including jail time.