Getting Started on Your Homeschool Journey
There is so much information about homeschooling that it can seem overwhelming. We've gathered information to help you make your homeschooling decision and to inform you about laws and other legal issues. Here you'll find research and statistics that support the notion that homeschooling provides specific advantages to children and families. And we'll help you take the first steps on the road of your own homeschooling adventure.
Why Homeschool?
The first step to homeschooling is making your decision to home educate your child. It is important to become informed and knowledgeable about some of the main concerns you may have. Explore these areas of our website to learn more about the initial decision to homeschool.
How to Begin
You've decided to homeschool your child! But what comes first? For many parents, knowing where to begin in the homeschooling process can be confusing. Although there seems to be so much information available, it may be hard to get your questions answered. We've put together some resources to start you on your journey, giving you the information and motivation you need to successfully begin to homeschool in Virginia.
Legal/Homeschool Laws
Laws that regulate home education vary from state to state. It is important to understand the legal requirements in your state and to be aware of legislative and other legal issues that affect homeschoolers in your community. We've compiled resources that will help you become informed. Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and the vast majority of homeschoolers face no problems, you may find that you need legal assistance at some point in your homeschooling career. We've compiled a list of resources to help you find the support you need. And if you'd like to become more involved in working towards homeschooling freedoms, we discuss some of the issues facing homeschoolers that we hope you find compelling.
History of Homeschooling
How did homeschooling start? When did it become legal? Who were the key players in making homeschooling the social movement it is today? The story of the history of homeschooling in the United States is a compelling tale of dedication, innovative ideas, and personal conviction and sacrifice. We have put together a history of this educational and social phenomenon, hoping it will inspire you to learn from the early and more recent pioneers of home education in America.
What's Popular
Homeschooling and Child Abuse: No Connection
Recent news stories have highlighted several isolated cases of child abuse and presented them as indicative of problems in the homeschooling community, because they happened within families who claimed to be educating their children at home. Some of these reports have suggested that federal or state regulations requiring background checks and monitoring of homeschooling families would minimize such cases of child abuse. However, there is no need for intrusive regulation of the homeschooling comm...
Should You Homeschool Another Person's Child?
Imagine this situation: You are happily homeschooling your children. Your sister-in-law has said many times that she would love to be able to homeschool her children too, if only she and her husband didn’t have to work full-time. She wonders if perhaps you wouldn’t mind including her children in your family’s homeschooling. She would file the Notice of Intent with the local superintendent, but you would do the actual instruction in your home. You tell her you’d be happy to—the more the merrier! ...
Home Education Tax Credit? No, Thanks!
Before supporting a home education tax credit, we homeschoolers need to fully understand the legislation and its potential to benefit or harm us.
Option 1 Notice of Intent (NOI) - Sample from Arlington County School District
Sample of an option (i) NOI that has been accepted by Prince Arlington County Public Schools.
Homeschooling Advocacy: Know Your Local Policies
Locate the homeschooling policies and regulations for your local school district. Read the policies carefully to learn about how your school district handles homeschooling issues. Make copies of the policies and keep them in a safe place for future reference. Share what you’ve learned withyour family and friends.
Attorney General Terry Nov 1988 Opinion
Families who homeschool based on the Religious Exemption may be interested to read a few Attorney General opinions that a school board has the right to review a family’s claim for Religious Exemption every few years or even annually. Religious beliefs, however sincere at a point in time, may change. Thus the school board’s recognition of an exemption could theoretically change as well. If so asked, the family could simply write to the school board, informing them that their status was unchange...
Virginia Department of Education Public School Divisions
List of state school districts, including Superintent's name, address, phone number, and more.
Virginia Department of Education
This is the official website for the Virginia Department of Education.
22.1-255. Nonresident children.
Any person who has residing with him for a period of sixty days or more any child within the ages prescribed in § 22.1-254 whose parents or guardians reside in another state or the District of Columbia shall be subject to the provisions of § 22.1-254 and shall pay or cause to be paid any tuition charges for such child that may be required pursuant to § 22.1-5 or shall return such child to the home of his parents or legal guardians.
Guide to Homeschooling in Virginia
VaHomeschoolers' Guide to Homeschooling in Virginia is your one-stop source of information on homeschooling in the Old Dominion. The step-by-step guide walks parents through the paperwork process. It includes a Notice of Intent form, information on filing options, state law, options for curricula, a sample proposal, testing and assessment options with pros and cons, links to local support groups, legal questions and more.
Homeschooling Advocacy: Know How to Write Effective Talking Points
It’s not enough to plan a meeting to talk about homeschooling with lawmakers, policymakers, bureaucrats, or the media. You have to have something to say when you get to the meeting. Successful homeschooling advocates get around this problem with a secret weapon: talking points.
Virginia Home Education and Religious Exemption Statistics 2001-2002
These are the statistics for the total number of home educators in Virginia during the school year 2001-2002, as well as those homeschooling under the religious exemption rules. Compiled by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
Growth in the Number of Virginia Homeschoolers
Virginia homeschoolers can make use of either of two main state statutes when homeschooling. One is a general homeschooling statute, the other a religious exemption from compulsory school attendance statute. Thus the proportion of homeschoolers registering under the religious exemption statute is not an accurate measure of the proportion of Virginia homeschoolers who may be homeschooling for religious reasons in whole or in part. The Commonwealth of Virginia Department of Education began gatheri...
Virginia Home Education and Religious Exemption Statistics 2000-2001
These are the statistics for the total number of home educators in Virginia during the school year 2000-2001, as well as those homeschooling under the religious exemption rules. Compiled by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
Be an Advocate for Homeschooling in Virginia
Just as educational philosophies and approaches can vary significantly among homeschooling families, so, too can our degree of comfort with and interest in taking the role of a “homeschool advocate.” While some homeschooling parents feel driven to right wrongs in the world or to push for change for the better, others prefer to avoid conflict if at all possible, and many of us fall somewhere in between, willing to take on important issues that hit close to home, if only we knew how to go about i...
Resources
Kingdom of Children : Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement (Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology)

More than one million American children are schooled by their parents. As their ranks grow, home schoolers are making headlines by winning national spelling bees and excelling at elite universities. The few studies conducted suggest that homeschooled children are academically successful and remarkably well socialized. Yet we still know little about this alternative to one of society's most fundamental institutions. Beyond a vague notion of children reading around the kitchen table, we don't know what home schooling looks like from the inside.

Sociologist Mitchell Stevens goes behind the scenes of the homeschool movement and into the homes and meetings of home schoolers. What he finds are two very different kinds of home education--one rooted in the liberal alternative school movement of the 1960s and 1970s and one stemming from the Christian day school movement of the same era. Stevens explains how this dual history shapes the meaning and practice of home schooling today. In the process, he introduces us to an unlikely mix of parents (including fundamentalist Protestants, pagans, naturalists, and educational radicals) and notes the core values on which they agree: the sanctity of childhood and the primacy of family in the face of a highly competitive, bureaucratized society.

Kingdom of Children aptly places home schoolers within longer traditions of American social activism. It reveals that home schooling is not a random collection of individuals but an elaborate social movement with its own celebrities, networks, and characteristic lifeways. Stevens shows how home schoolers have built their philosophical and religious convictions into the practical structure of the cause, and documents the political consequences of their success at doing so.

Ultimately, the history of home schooling serves as a parable about the organizational strategies of the progressive left and the religious right since the 1960s.Kingdom of Children shows what happens when progressive ideals meet conventional politics, demonstrates the extraordinary political capacity of conservative Protestantism, and explains the subtle ways in which cultural sensibility shapes social movement outcomes more generally.

Real-Life Homeschooling: The Stories of 21 Families Who Teach Their Children at Home

The book that shows homeschooling in action!

What does it really mean when parents say they homeschool their child or children? For Rhonda Barfield -- a homeschooler for the past 10 years -- the definition is as diverse as the 21 families she studies in this eye-opening book.

Real-Life Homeschooling

From the city to the country, apartments to split-levels, you'll enter each household and see education in action. Discover the challenges and rewards of tailoring instruction to each child's needs while catering to his or her inquisitiveness and curiosity. See why the number of children being taught by their parents is growing nationwide -- at home, there are no overcrowded classrooms, no unknown dangers lurking in the halls, and no doubts as to the quality of the education.

Whether you are just contemplating homeschooling or are a veteran seeking fresh ideas and help in overcoming obstacles -- look no further: Real-life Homeschooling shows just how practical and rewarding it is to educate children and provide them with what they need most -- you!

They're Your Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate

For many people, their schooling was uncomfortable, tedious, and sometimes a waste of time and energy. This book offers the idea that the public school system is tragically flawed and that we are able to do better for our own children. Sam Sorbo, mom of three and wife of actor Kevin Sorbo, took the leap into homeschooling and found the joy and success she was seeking. Included are strategies for working parents, those who are scared to take the leap, and anyone who wants the best for their children. 

Homeschoolers' Success Stories : 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives
Despite their growing numbers, many homeschoolers still find their experience somewhat isolating. This collection of short biographies aims to alleviate some of that loneliness. While the stories profile modern-day homeschool grads and students, famous homeschooled personalities from the past are offered up early in the book for historical inspiration. John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, photographer Ansel Adams, poet Robert Frost, and songwriter Irving Berlin join the long list dug up by author Linda Dobson. And just in case there were any doubts that fame has eluded today's homeschooled, Dobson throws in actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the Hanson singer siblings, and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. The people whose stories are told here are successful entrepreneurs, Ivy League students, and athletes, such as Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and U.S. ski team member Todd Lodwick. But to Dobson's credit, she unearths a healthy array of "regular folk" as well. Their stories are no less interesting and, most importantly, they dispel the notion that homeschooled children are over-the-top achievers and freaks of nature. Among the subjects here are an Arkansas state trooper, a private chef, an art gallery owner, and a Cost Guard Reserve seaman.

Each chapter begins with a photo and yearbook-style sketch of the personality, complete with favorite areas of study and a memorable quote. The biographies are short and insightful, with the author often injecting her own thoughts. Dobson, the mother of three homeschooled children, has written numerous books on the topic (The Homeschooling Book of Answers and Homeschooling: The Early Years, among them) and is a news editor and columnist for Home Education Magazine. In her casual, succinct writing style, she brings to life personalities that have little in common beyond their method of education. Some were taught at home completely; others for only a few years. They offer advice, warnings, and fond memories. And their overriding message is that homeschooled people are just as diverse and interesting as the students found in traditional schools. "We are not alone," is the cry heard from these pages. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

Should I Home School?: How to Decide What's Right for You & Your Child

Have questions about homeschooling? This book has the answers. The information in this book will help you decide if homeschooling is right for you and your child. 

Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.
The Exhausted School: Bending the Bars of Traditional Education
These 13 essays, presented at the 1993 National Grassroots Speakout on the Right to School Choice, illustrate how education reform actually works. Written by award-winning teachers and their students, these essays present successful teaching methods that work in both traditional and nontraditional classroom settings. “Gatto’s voice is strong and unique.” — Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul
The Homeschooling Revolution
A readable, scholarly overview of the modern day homeschooling movement. Includes vignettes from homeschooling families, war stories, research information, media reaction, footnotes, and statistics.
Homeschool Open House
Personal insights from 55 families worldwide about a real day of homeschooling. Includes homeschool illusions, family culture, learning and family style, parenting strategies, chores and organization, family management, personal empowerment, decision making, change flexibility, resources, and questions to consider before deciding to homeschool. A private tour of homeschooling homes and reflective thoughts from families. Also includes five year follow-ups from families in HOMESCHOOLING: A PATCHWORK OF DAYS.
A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
In 1991, shortly after receiving both the New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year Awards, John Gatto resigned to begin a new career as an education reform advocate. In this collection of 16 essays, Gatto analyzes the problems of American education and suggests solutions for revitalizing the system — prescriptions that run counter to current trends.
Featured Resources

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America's National Parks: The Spectacular Forces That Shaped Our Treasured Lands
From stunning mountain ranges to arid expanses of desert, America has been blessed with an incredibly diverse land -- and the vision to protect it for our and future generations to enjoy. These lands are ours to view, wander, learn from, and revel in...
America's Spectacular National Parks
The concept of the national park is an American contribution to world civilization, and it remains a defining characteristic of our country. From the rocky shore of Maine's Acadia to the barren crater and lush rain forest of Hawaii's Haleakala, Ameri...
Elementary Geography
Elementary Geography is a reprint of the original work by Charlotte Mason. It includes her ideas about teaching children about their world, with poetry selections throughout the book. Explores ideas of place from space to our earth, seasons, map...
Discovery of the Child
Maria Montessori went beyond the conventions of the day to seek a new way of knowing and loving a child. In THE DISCOVERY OF THE CHILD, she describes the nature of the child and her method of working more fully with the child's urge to learn. With 16...
The Letter Factory Game
Teaches Phonics! The race is on! With two games in one, children play together and learn letter names and sounds with actions and music. Wacky Professor Quigley guides players every step of the way so no reading is required! Games automatically adjus...