Your “Options” for Homeschooling in SC

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homeschoolWhen our family began making plans to homeschool, my first concern was how to do it legally. I had taught in the public school system for more than a decade and had no desire to inadvertently break any truancy laws in the process of educating my own daughter. Where to begin?

To my delight, the answers were not hard to find. The rules for homeschooling in South Carolina are spelled out plainly in legislation. There are also good explanations on the website for Carolina Homeschoolers, and also on the website for the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (which has information about the other forty-nine states too). All of these are great resources when you are doing your own research.

Please note: The summary below is NOT legal advice, but my understanding of the law as stated in the South Carolina Department of Education link above.

To sum up, there are three pathways, or “options”, for homeschooling in South Carolina. All three options require:

  • Parents to have a high school diploma or GED
  • Instruction in math, science, reading/literature, writing/composition, and social studies
  • 180 days of schooling
  • Records demonstrating attendance, instruction, and progress

The primary differences are summarized below:

Option 1

Sign up to homeschool through your local school district. If you choose this option, your curriculum must be approved by your school district and you will participate in state testing.  If at any time the district believes a homeschool is not operating the according to what is spelled out in the legislation, they can give the parents 30 days to correct any deficiencies before withdrawing their approval.  Your school day is expected to be four and a half hours long (not counting lunch and recess).

Option 2

Sign up to homeschool through SCAIHS, the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools. There is an annual fee per child that ranges from $340 to $450, depending on how many children you are enrolling. (If your child is in kindergarten, though, the fee is only $25.) If you choose this option, your curriculum choices must be approved by SCAIHS, you are required to get your child tested annually, and you are accountable to SCAIHS to demonstrate that you are fulfilling all legal requirements of homeschooling. They also provide many services to parents. SCAIHS must report the number and grade levels (but not names) of homeschooled children to local school districts.

Option 3

Sign up to homeschool through “Option 3 accountability group”, which is an association of homeschooling families of no fewer than 50 members (the approved list can be found HERE) These accountability groups then report the number and grade levels (but not names) of homeschooled children to local school districts. Generally, Option 3 accountability groups are less expensive than SCAIHS.  The amount of support they offer parents varies from group to group, so checking them out yourself and seeing what they offer and what you need is the best bet. Families must submit mid-year and end-of-year reports of attendance and keep records of work done in the areas of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, but there is no set curriculum that must be followed, so there tends to be more flexibility with Option 3.

South Carolina homeschool laws are not the most lenient in our country, but neither are they the strictest. I am thankful to live in a state that makes homeschooling very doable, and I am grateful to the homeschool advocates around our state who have lobbied for options two and three over the years.

If you homeschool, which option do you use? Tell us why it works for your family!

 

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Kristi is a pastor’s wife, mother, writer, and former public school teacher for English for Speakers of Other Languages. She grew up all over the United States as an Air Force brat, but moved to Columbia in the 1990s to attend Columbia International University, and has called the Midlands “home” ever since. Her days are kept full with the antics and activities of her children - homeschooling, church activities, American Heritage Girls, and Trail Life - as well as writing and leading her Columbia-based pregnancy loss ministry, Naomi’s Circle. Kristi is a contributing editor for “Rainbows and Redemption: Encouragement for the Journey of Pregnancy After Loss” (www.rainbowsandredemption.weebly.com) and a co-author of “Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother“ (sunshineafterstorm.us). She shares her thoughts about faith, family, and femininity on her blog, This Side of Heaven (www.thissideofheavenblog.com).

9 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Kristi,

    I appreciate your heart for homeschooling and all that you are doing for our homeschooling community as I read through your blog.

    I wanted to point out one correction that you may want to bring attention to.

    It is located under you description of homeschooling under Option 3.

    ” Families must submit mid-year and end-of-year reports of attendance and keep records of work done in the areas of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, ”

    According to state law, families are not required to submit any information to their associations. Parents should have this information within their student’s portfolio. This information is for their records.

    There are Option 3 accountability associations that ‘may ask for’ the above information to be submitted. But it isn’t the law that parents must submit this information.

    See: http://ed.sc.gov/agency/programs-services/125/documents/SCHomeSchoolLawSection-59-65.pdf

    I have an accountability association that is just starting this coming year 2014-2015 and so I am cementing this information in my brain. 🙂

    Blessings for the journey.

  2. Kristi,

    So happy to have found your blog today! We are currently homeschoolers in GA, but my husband will be starting a job in Columbia in the fall, so I’m starting my research 🙂

    I noticed you use CC, and we’d like to continue doing that as well (this will be our 2nd year, and I’m a Challenge B tutor). If I may ask, which Option do you use? Or more to the point, which option works best when you participate in CC? Does the community serve as an Option 3 “support group”?

    Feel free to contact me via email, if that’s easier/more secure…

    Hope to hear from you with some good news 😉

  3. I am so new to this. I did homeschool my son for a couple of month this past year before enrolling him in a private school. I was so completely lost. My son has autism and several different medical and learning issues. I am looking once again for an alternative course outside of traditional schooling because I just cannot seem to find a school (or one that I can afford) that works well for his learning speed and style. Is there anyone who can help me with more in depth information about homeschooling or alternative schooling for us?

  4. We are also looking for different options…we have 2 homeschoolers 7 and 8..both have fetal alcohol syndrome. ..they are currently in the special education program in connexus…we feel like they just keep piling up assignments for them even though we have had repeated meetings for IEPs and such. …We feel like no one is listening. …they have brain damage. ..they don’t need MORE WORK. ….frustrated

  5. Hello! I have a 5 y/o son that is severely Autistic and is non-verbal. We live in Spartanburg County, SC. He is currently enrolled in ABA therapy 35 hours a week. I was told that he needs to be enrolled in kindergarten this year. We have attempted a Child Development Center through the school district with an IEP and I refused to send him to the location where they wanted to place him. How does homeschooling work for my son’s situation?

  6. Hello. We are new to homeschooling as well and my son will be entering 4th grade. I am looking for an “Option 3 accountability group” as well as a reasonably priced curriculum. My son was diagnosed with severe Type 1 Narcolepsy w/ Cataplexy this past spring but we have struggled with school attendance for years due to the excessive daytime sleepiness and extreme anxiety that sometimes accompanies narcolepsy. Please email me any advice you have in these two areas. My Husband as also diagnosed with the same disease and can no longer work. My family had to move in with my parents so that I would have help caring for the two of them so with that in mind, I am obviously looking for the cheapest option available. My son is very smart and I am with him 24/7 for any help, support or teaching he needs. I am looking for something semi structured to help me with record keeping and guide me on what to cover daily. I looked into online school but this won’t work for him bc of the time required to sit in front of a pc. He falls asleep often and really needs to move around to stay alert and awake. Thanks so much for any help or advice you can offer and I look forward to hearing from you when convenient for you.

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