Have you considered homeschooling? By Jennifer Smeltser

When parents choose to homeschool their children, a lot of thought usually goes into the process before making the decision. Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, but that does not mean you should not consider the challenge if you are feeling led to take the lead role in your child’s education. With the growing number of families seeking alternatives to public school, many common questions arise. If you have considered homeschooling as an option, the answers to the following questions may help you in making your decision.

Is homeschooling legal?
Homeschooling is legal in Tennessee. There are three ways to legally homeschool, which include registering with your local school district; through an accredited online school or under an umbrella school like HomeLife Academy. The decision as to which direction to go is usually based on criteria such as the amount and type of support you want for your school; curriculum choices and the parent involvement as a teacher. 

How much time will it take to homeschool?
Students are required to complete four hours a day of either traditional or non-traditional learning activities for 180 days per year. For the homeschool parent, the time you spend outside of school is determined by the way you decide to homeschool. Time must be given to the preparation of the material you use, the actual teaching and record keeping. 

Will my child have to be tested?
Homeschooled students that are registered through their local school district will be required to test with their peers in the fifth, seventh and ninth grades. The administered tests are the same standardized tests required of all public school students. Also, if a student re-enters a public or approved private school after being homeschooled, they will be required to take a placement test. Students in kindergarten through eighth grade will take a standard placement test and students in ninth through twelfth grades will be tested in each subject. 

Do I need a college degree to homeschool my children?
Tennessee only requires homeschool teachers to have a high school diploma or GED. 

May homeschoolers participate in public school sports?
At this point, the participation of homeschool students in public school sports is determined by the individual school district. Students that are registered to homeschool through their local school district are eligible to try out for school sports teams. Children registered through an online or umbrella school may have to obtain approval from their school district to try out. If that proves not to be an option, homeschoolers may participate in sports through the local parks and recreation department as well as organized private leagues. There are a number of competitive homeschool leagues across the state. Many homeschooled students have gone on to earn athletic scholarships to college.
You may learn more about homeschooling in Tennessee for kindergarten through eighth grade and the high school grades by visiting the HomeLife Academy website.

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