Homeschooling in Alabama: What You Need to Know as a Parent

Alabama is one of the best states in the United States if you’re interested in homeschooling your children. The laws regarding homeschooling in Alabama are now some of the most lenient in the country and allow you to home school your child without much governmental intervention. You can do so through three different homeschooling programs in Alabama, the first using a state certified tutor and the second through a “church school”. Through the church school program (these are also known as cover schools), your home can qualify as a church school and all you have to do is work with existing church home school groups in Alabama. However, another MAJOR option has opened up as the state has introduced a new bill this year that recognizes home schooling.

New Bill Introduced

A new Bill introduced this year clarifies this law and holds that private schools can be started by any legal entity (i.e any parent). Before this law was passed you needed to be state certified and teach public school courses to be able to enroll your child in a home school. The other options were to create a church school or hire a private tutor that is certified by the state. The law also holds that these private schools are exempt from regulation by the government, including the state education department. The main requirement is that you must ensure your child meets mandatory attendance requirements that you must track. Thus you can easily educate your child at home.   This law was passed on April 2nd, 2014, and will be in effect on July 1st, 2014.

The most critical factor of the new law change is the official recognition of “home school” by the State of Alabama. Also, the law specifically states that the state has no interest in regulating “home schools”. These changes in the new homeschool law make it clear that homeschooling should be a much EASIER compliance process for all types of homeschoolers in Alabama.

If you are worried that home schooling your child in Alabama may lead to problems getting into college, you need not worry. The latest bill ensures that two or four year state colleges cannot deny a student purely on the basis of having attended a home school or any other nonpublic school. Additionally private and church school students will no longer have to take a GED test to apply for a college.

Homeschooling Programs in Alabama

As a parent, your top priority is ensuring your child gets the best upbringing and education possible. That’s why you are homeschooling them. It’s therefore important to choose the right homeschooling program. If you are going to join a church school, be sure to research what benefits these programs offer. Some of them offer curriculum material, guidance, monthly field trips, and all kinds of other benefits. These benefits can help your child massively, and be a great help in home schooling them properly. Some of these church schools don’t require you to be an active member of their church or to even give a devotional statement. Joining a church school and home schooling your child under their structure may be an excellent choice if you want to join a community of people home schooling their children. This is also an excellent choice as it can allow your child to make new friends very easily.

Online Homeschooling in Alabama

There are also various online support groups for home schoolers in Alabama. You can join anything from a free forum for other parents home schooling children, to enrolling in complete online home schooling programs which take care of all the material for you.   If you are a busy parent an online homeschooling program may be the best program for your family. Some programs are highly advanced and include interactive exercises and tests for the child to take part in. Online Homeschooling in Alabama is an option you should consider as an exciting and interesting teaching method. Online home school groups are definitely worth looking into!

Alabama Cover Schools

A cover school refers to a church program that allows you to home school legally. The term “cover school” is simply another word for a church school which we’ve already covered before. Due to the new bill it appears there is no longer a need to join a church or Alabama cover schools after July 1st, 2014. Since the Alabama Department of Education has chosen not to regulate “home schools”, there should now be a movement towards just filing a intent to homeschool and file any annual compulsory attendance certification. We will work diligently to make sure you are up to date on the latest information and process. At the Alabama Homeschool Expo, we will discuss the new law changes and what the steps are now to homeschool in Alabama.

Don’t be Afraid to Take the Leap into Home Schooling in Alabama

If you 100 percent feel that home schooling is the right choice for your child or children, then jump right into it! Don’t let other people hold you back (and yes there will be naysayers). There’s no denying that the public school system has a huge number of flaws, and a home schooling arrangement is far better for many children.   If you feel your child could benefit from home schooling in Alabama it would be unfair to force your child into a system he doesn’t belong in.

Sources-

http://www.hslda.org/laws/analysis/Alabama.pdf

http://www.hslda.org/hs/state/al/201404080.asp

http://northalabamahomeeducators.freeservers.com/schools.html

Alabama Homeschooling Laws

It’s popular and easy to homeschool in Alabama!

Alabama homeschooling law requires ‘compulsory attendance’ for all children between the ages of six and 17–though parents may have a child excused until age seven by providing written notification of such intent.  Also, children enrolled at a church school (which includes home schools, see below) may withdraw from school at age sixteen.

Home schools have two options in the state of Alabama.  Operating as a church school is the popular option.  Churches may operate a school as a non-profit ministry and actually establish individual schools within each home.  No teacher qualification or certification is necessary under this option. Parents file a form (provided by school superintendents) at the initial enrollment (not annually) of their child.  Attendance is to be kept for the school year and instruction offered in grades K-12. Church schools are required to report if a child no longer is attending.

No other regulations govern church schools. There are many church schools (covering all types of denominations! Even secular options like Sacred Grove Academy) already established with a Local or State focus. Church schools range in participation from just filing the form for you all the way to full class schedules. You should investigate whether joining an established church school program or establishing a new program for your family home study is appropriate. Home education has grown substantially in Alabama and this “law” has not deterred parents from selecting home education.

Wikipedia: [A church school] includes only such schools as offer instruction in grades K-12, or any combination thereof including the kindergarten, elementary, or secondary level and are operated as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches on a nonprofit basis which do not receive any state or federal funding.

HSLDA: According to an Alabama Attorney General’s opinion dated January 3, 1997, “[o]ther than the state laws requiring parents to report attendance and for church schools to report if a student is no longer in attendance at such a church school, there is no provision of Alabama law that permits or requires any state or local authority to regulate a church school.”

The second option involves private tutoring.  Under this option, teachers must be state certified and provide instruction at least three hours per day (between the hours of 8 and 4) for 140 days per year.  Tutors are required to file an education plan with the county superintendent, keep a register of work including hours and attendance as well as provide reports.  Private schools and/or private tutor options for education require teacher certification.  Standardized tests are not required.

Overall, it is easy to start homeschooling in Alabama! Make sure you take advantage of organizations that specialize in providing legal advice and general knowledge specifically for homeschoolers and Alabama homeschooling laws such as HSLDA and HLA.