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According to recent statistics, homeschooling is on the rise in the Peach State! And with good reason: One of the most homeschool-friendly States, homeschooling in Georgia has relatively few limitations.
So if you're curious about how to homeschool in Georgia, you've come to the right place! And scroll down to get all this info in an easy-to-use guide!
First things first
Thinking about homeschooling? While I'm a fierce proponent of home-based education, I also understand that it’s not for everyone! There’s a lot to think about, and a lot that comes with making the plunge. The sacrifices are huge and many, but I’d be remiss not to add that the benefits are equally enormous, if not more so.
But if you're still reading this, I'll assume you’re planning on moving forward, so let’s continue with what you need to know to do a GREAT job!
Legal Shmegal Stuff
The Georgia homeschooling law is pretty laid back, and while it doesn’t entirely make sense, it does allow for quite a bit of latitude.
You can find the official document here (courtesy of HEIR.org), and the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) offers a plain-English summary on their website, too. (They also offer the summary in Spanish.)
Basically, we are required to:
1) file an Intent to Homeschool form once a year by Sept 30 OR within 30 days of establishing a program;
2) establish a beginning and ending date of your school year;
3) provide the equivalent of 4 hours each day of English (reading and language arts), science, math, and social studies)
4) maintain this schedule for a total of 180 school days within the dates you provided in step 2, and
5) have your kids do standardized testing in 3rd, 6th, and 9th grades. And you’ve got quite a few options here, too.
Standardized Testing Options and Resources
The myriad of options available to homeschool families can really be mind-boggling! Before we dig in, let me remind you that our goal is NOT to duplicate the traditional school at home, but rather to tailor it to best serve our children's educational needs and prepare them for the future. The same goes with testing: the point is not to duplicate what the public school does, but rather see what tools best show how they are progressing and where they may need a bit more work.
That said, HSLDA has a very good article on standardized testing, complete with contact information for purchasing. It is worth your time to read through and consider the points they make in their article.
A2ZHomesCool has been around for a looong time, and their "Testing Services for Homeschoolers" has links to purchase various achievement tests, as well as some interesting topical articles (you may especially want to check out the article Test Scores: A Guide to Understanding and Using Test Results if you're new to the standardized testing process).
And finally, Time4Learning has a listing of tests by State, but bear in mind that this format refers to tests used by traditional public schools, not tests that homeschoolers necessarily have to take. While their pointers are geared towards non-home-educating parents, you can find some nuggets of good advice here.
You are required to maintain records (which you should do for your own benefit, anyway) for a period of 3 years, but are not required to submit them to your local Board of Education (hence, the “doesn’t entirely make sense” comment).
No shots, no health exams, no umbrella group, no submitting lesson plans for review, no interviews with the Board of Ed…heck, we don’t even report to our local Board anymore. Your intent to homeschool form is filed with the State!
That being said, however, I would make 2 recommendations:
1) Join HSLDA. Every year. HSLDA provides free legal representation to its members should the need ever arise. And even with our lax laws, I have known a family who required their services, and read about others. Here’s the catch: you have to be a member before you need them! Think of it as an insurance policy. Also, your fees go towards paying for those services to those who are in need. So by joining, you are helping to ensure that other families maintain their ability to educate their own children as they see fit!
2) The other thing I’d recommend is to find and join a support group. Georgia Home Educators Association (GHEA) has a listing of groups, and that’s a good place to start, but you could also ask at your church, or even your local library, if you’re in a bind. Yes, there are many rural areas in Georgia, so you may find yourself limited, but you also may be surprised! Over the years we’ve been members of support groups that really helped our family as we got started, or went through rough spots. None of them are perfect, but like everything else: you get as much out of it as you put into it!
Now, Where Do I Get My Stuff?
Sorry, Virginia, nobody's out there with either the "perfect" or totally free curriculum for the year, although you don't have to spend a fortune! Georgia residents can register for the (online) GA Virtual Academy, but my experience with them wasn't exactly stellar. They only have a limited amount of free space for homeschoolers, materials are often outdated (as in dead links), and it's tough to get connected with the teacher when there's an issue.
But the silver lining of being responsible to obtain your own materials is this: the world is your oyster, friend! Actually, there are so many different styles and methods and resources for homeschooling materials that it can make your head spin! Which is why I and other homeschool bloggers, the friends in your local support group, the folks at HSLDA and GHEA, and regional curriculum fairs (see below) are available!
So, get started looking at some of these resources below (they open in a new tab, so don't worry about losing your place here):
- FREE Homeschooling
- Homeschooling Resources
- iHomeschool Network blog - check here for reviews, recommendations, and suggestions
A curriculum fair is a wonderful, magical experience, and I’d suggest every homeschooler try to attend one at least once in their journey. A curriculum fair, or homeschool convention, or homeschool conference, or whatever you want to call it, is a place to get your hands on curricula and look through it, talk to the publishers or salespeople about adapting it to your unique situation and precious kiddos, listen to speakers on a myriad of topics, meet a slew of other homeschoolers, and realize you’re not alone! My husband and I have an annual weekend “date” each year at one in Atlanta, and the one year we missed it recently…well, suffice it to say he was not happy about it!
Here’s a list of curriculum fairs in Georgia and neighboring States - Updated for 2020
(FL) FPEA Florida Homeschool Convention - May 21-23 - This is the largest homeschool convention in the country, serving more than 15K attendees each year on Memorial Day weekend.
(various) Teach Them Diligently - June 11-13, Athens, GA; Feb 27-29, Nashville, TN; March 26-28, Rogers, AR; May 7-9, Mobile, AL; April 2-4, Waco, TX; May 21-23, Denver, CO - The focus of this conference is to "celebrate the focus of homeschool families: to disciple their children to glorify God."
(GA) Southeastern Homeschool Expo - July 23-25 - The Cobb Galleria in Atlanta is host to this premier event, which usually wraps up the convention season (spring/early summer).
(TN) CSTHEA Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association Curriculum Fair - Dates TBA - Camp Jordan Arena, East Ridge.
(SC) Lowcountry Homeschool Convention - May 29-30 - Charleston Southern University in North Charleston
(SC) Great Homeschool Conventions - March 19-21, Greenville Convention Center in Greenville.
(AL) Alabama Homeschool Expo - ongoing
(AL) CHEF Christian Home Educators Fellowship of Alabama/Teach Them Diligently - May 7-9 at the Mobile Convention Center
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But homeschooling isn't all about the books!
There’s plenty to do and places to explore in the Peach State that can enhance your studies or serve as a cornerstone for history or science or delight-directed learning! Field trips are a great way to break up the monotony or form the basis for a unit study. Take a look at some of these links to help you get started:
Albany Field Trip Guide – A travelogue of historic Albany, GA, with a link to download your own guide to turning all your field trips into real learning opportunities!
South Georgia DayTrippin' and GeorgiaGrown Trail 41 – Two unique pathways, lined with neat places that provide both learning opportunities and a boost to Georgia’s agri-tourism business.
Georgia State Parks – Georgia boasts an amazing program to enhance your home education efforts in its State Park system. Check out their list of parks and historic places and find one near you. Before you head out, visit your local library where you can obtain a free parking pass, too!
Hodgepodge is a great blog for field trip opportunities in the Atlanta area, as experienced by veteran homeschooler Tricia Hodges and her family!
If you have a specific destination in mind, feel free to check out the Visitor's Bureaus in these major cities. They’re bound to include some destinations in some of their outlying rural regions, too.
If you have middle- or high-school-aged kids, you’ve come to the right spot, because I'm all aBOUT homeschooling all the way!
Admittedly, I didn't start out with that approach,
When we began homeschooling in Georgia, my hubby and I believed we’d do this until high school, and then probably move to a locale with a better school district. But over the years, well… As high-school loomed closer and closer, I gained more confidence, had established friendships with other moms who’d graduated their kids and were uber-encouraging, and the pieces just fell into place. Our oldest son travels extensively with his own videography business, our oldest daughter was a Fulbright scholar and had her Master’s degree by the time she was 24, child #3 has just entered a business apprenticeship program post-high-school, and #4 graduates high school this coming spring.
But I'm nothing special…so if I can do it, I know YOU can!
What You Need to Know to Homeschool High-School in Georgia
I get asked all. the. time. “What do homeschoolers need to graduate in Georgia?” And I answer this all. the. time: “There are no State graduation requirements for homeschoolers!”
Now, there IS a listing of what Georgia public school students need (scroll to page 3) to have completed in order to get their State-issued diploma. But your student isn’t getting one of those!
I propose the following as a basic outline, but I suggest that once your child starts high school, and has a general idea of where they even MIGHT want to go to college, that you contact the college and see what their admission requirements are, and build his or her course of study from those requirements.
And make sure you check out 100 Resources to Craft a Rich Homeschooled High School Experience for more invaluable resources!
College-bound high school course of study:
|English (include: US/British Lit, Composition, etc)||4|
|Math (basic: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2)||4|
|Science (basic: Physical, Biology (lab), Chemistry (lab), Physics)||4|
|Social Studies (World and US History, Govt/Economics)||3|
|Foreign Language/Fine Arts||3|
But that being said, don't forget that there is a place for creative and "gifting-directed" electives in a robust high school program. So definitely add a fair amount of them to the above recommendations - whether or not your teen is college-bound.
Got high school transcripts?
Transcripts are neither a thing to be feared nor intimidated by! They’re simply a standardized way to translate your child’s high school studies and experiences into, as my husband calls it, “education-eze”: a way for administrators in the traditional education system to understand. If you’re in need of a transcript template, you can use this one here. This is the one I used to successfully get 3 children into a private college and GA State system schools.
To help you pay for that college education
- There's Georgia's scholarship program, known as the Hope Scholarship…
- ...and the skinny on Dual Enrollment
Thanks to the GA lottery our high school Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors are eligible, as long as they meet certain criteria, to take dual enrollment classes at any local college in the GA State system. They can earn high school AND college credit at the same time…at NO cost to you. It even covers the cost of their books. If you play your cards right, your son or daughter can graduate high school with an Associate’s degree!
That sure makes homeschooling in Georgia pretty sweet, huh?!
Find more information at GAfutures.org.
That pretty much "sums up" our introduction to homeschooling in Georgia! Of course, once you're in the thick of it, we offer a continual stream of information, support, and encouragement to fellow homeschoolers from all walks of life, in lots of places!
Still a little anxious about getting started?
You can do it - but sometimes we all need a little hand! Maybe "Crafting a Thriving High School Experience for Your Teen" is just the ticket. All online, work at your own pace, lifetime access...just like having someone come alongside you as you teach those high school years... A course just for you, homeschool momma 🙂