Last night I read about what we will be responsible for legally. I looked online and found that there are three options for South Carolina homeschoolers. You can read about them here. The first option, which involves independent accountability to the school district, is unappealing to me because it would require my children to participate in statewide testing. I believe these tests prompt many educators to "teach to the test," which is one of the things I am trying to avoid by homeschooling. I don't want to stifle my children's natural love of learning with paranoid preparation for a standardized test. If homeschooled children do not meet grade-level requirements on these tests, they may be placed in public school, given "special handicapped services," or have instructional support at the discretion of the school district and the expense of the parents. I'm sure it doesn't happen often, but I don't want the possibility of it to impact my children's learning negatively.
We will probably be going with option 3, which involves joining a homeschool association. The one I found for our area costs $40 a year per family. They support statewide testing but do not require it. Academic transcripts are provided and a graduation ceremony is held for seniors each May. We would still be required to keep records and samples of the children's work and activities, but obviously I enjoy keeping records of things (see this blog). I can't imagine anyone not keeping a portfolio of their kids' work.
I am probably getting concerned about this prematurely, anyway. Suzi wouldn't be starting kindergarten until 2012, and all it takes is a signed document to forgo that. Until fall of 2013, we can homeschool her without answering to anyone. I'd imagine by that time Suzi and I will be accustomed to homeschooling and taking care of any legal stuff will be a small addition to our routine.
What I'm still concerned about: I'm not sure what to do about grades. Specifically, I don't know how it will affect my children's chances at college acceptance and scholarships if we decide not to do grading in the traditional sense. I haven't seen any info on how homeschooled children are evaluated for these things, and I imagine I will, but I have really just started reading. Anyone have any insight on this?
I am excited to do this. As Suzi gets older, I am enjoying spending time with her more and more and I honestly can't imagine handing her over to someone else to teach all day. As I collect information and my intentions evolve, I am going to keep posting on this. I'm sorry if it bores you, but it'll help me keep track of things!
If you homeschool, what are you responsible for legally where you live? Has the legal aspect been as trying as you thought? Does your school district follow the letter of the law and check up on things to the full extent they are allowed, or is it reserved more for situations in which they have reason to be concerned?