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Homeschool FAQ

We realize that as a new homeschooler (or even sometimes a veteran homeschooler), you probably have many questions. On this Homeschool FAQ page, we will attempt to answer those questions and guide you to other pages where you can find more information. If you don’t see what you want to know here, just email us at nche@nche.com.

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How do I start homeschooling in NC?

This depends on how old your student is. If the student is under age 7, you can skip to #3 because the compulsory age in NC starts at age 7. For more information see Open Your School.

    1. If you are a parent legal guardian or someone living in the household, you can open a homeschool in NC.
    2. The main thing you need to do is submit an online “notice of intent to operate a home school” (NOI) with the NC Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE). But first, you need to pick a name for your homeschool and get your high school diploma or its equivalent ready.
    3. Determine how you are going to homeschool (your approach), what materials you are going to use (your curriculum), and what schedule you are going to keep.
    4. Enjoy living life with your children!

At what age should you start homeschooling?

That depends on what you really mean by that question. If you mean when can you actually start working with your child, that process begins at birth. As you parent your child, doing all of the things that a good parent should do, you are homeschooling. There are appropriate learning activities at all ages.

The time to start book work, such as reading, writing and arithmetic depends on the readiness of your child. There is no right age for all children to start these activities. In reference to the NC law, the compulsory attendance age is seven. So, if you have started homeschooling in the early years, the year that your child turns seven you need to notify the state that you are opening a homeschool. If you are withdrawing a student from a school in mid-year, it is recommended that you wait until you get confirmation from DNPE that they have received your notification. For more information about opening a homeschool and homeschooling before age 7 see our Open Your Homeschool page.

Is it ever too late to start teaching my children at home?

It is never too late to start homeschooling. However, the sooner you start the better. There are great advantages to homeschooling during the first years of training. Families who start homeschooling later in the educational process will have difficulties to overcome, but the effort is worth it. Homeschooling is beneficial for students no matter when the process is begun. It is important to note that you cannot open a NC homeschool after your student turns 18.

How do I withdraw my child from public school?

You need to tell the school that you have notified DNPE that you have opened a homeschool and that you are withdrawing your student from the school. It is best to document your decision with a letter and give the date at which you will start homeschooling. See Open Your School for more information.

What are the requirements for homeschooling in NC?

Once you open your school, you have a few requirements to meet the law. Go here for more information on the Homeschool Law

  • Maintain immunization records on each student or have a valid waiver.
  • Operate on a regular schedule, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations, during at least nine calendar months of the year.
  • Administer a nationally standardized test that measures achievement in the areas of English grammar, reading, spelling, and math, to every student each year, and maintain the results on file for one year. For information on tests and testing services, see Test and Testing Services.
  • Notify the NC Division of Non-Public Education, when changing your address or closing your school.
  • Maintain attendance records on each student annually

How many days a year do I have to homeschool?

The NC homeschool law doesn’t specify the number of days a homeschool must operate during a year. The law requires that a homeschool must operate on a regular schedule, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations, during at least nine calendar months of the year. This law leaves a lot of flexibility in a homeschool’s schedule.

How many hours a day should we have school?

This will vary by the age of the student. The older the student the more academics he will do. The law does not require a certain number of hours per day. Every homeschooling family needs to determine what will fit their family. It could range from 2-4 hours per day in elementary school to 8 or more in high school.

Can I homeschool during the summer?

Yes, many families homeschool year-round. This provides for more breaks throughout the year and more continuity of study. However, many homeschoolers find that our culture makes it more difficult to homeschool during the summer. So, the type and intensity of schooling is likely to change during the summer months.

Can someone else teach subjects to my child that I feel inadequate to teach?

Yes. The law states that a homeschool administrator can “determine additional sources of academic instruction.” This would include tutors, online classes and outside classes. 

How much does homeschooling cost?

This varies greatly. The biggest cost is in the time and energy it takes from the parents, especially the one doing the primary teaching. Many times there is also the loss of a second income. A general estimate of curricula cost would be between $100 to $700 per student per year. In 2010 a survey showed that in NC the average amount spent per student per year was $400-$600.

Can homeschoolers get financial support from the state?

Not usually. There are a few special programs where the homeschool family can receive a grant, but this does not apply to most homeschooling parents.

Do you get a tax credit for homeschooling?

No, neither North Carolina nor the federal government offer tax credits to homeschools.

How do I know what curriculum to use?

There is no simple answer to this question. There are many good products for homeschoolers to consider. Homeschool parents must study and research to determine the best curriculum for their family. There are books that describe the resources available. It is a good idea to talk to other homeschool parents about what has been successful and unsuccessful for them. Parents need to select learning materials that fit their child’s learning style and their family. You can learn more about types of curriculum on this page. and about the different curricula on this page

Where do we get our curriculum?

Homeschoolers generally get their curriculum and other resources from two main sources, local homeschool stores, vendor halls, and online. NCHE’s annual Thrive! Conference is the biggest vendor in the state with over ninety vendors. It is held on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in Winston-Salem. There are other smaller book fairs held throughout the state. Check with a local support group about local availability. Don’t forget the public library! Wise homeschoolers will get to know how to use and what’s available at their library.

Should I get accredited curriculum for my homeschool?

Schools are accredited, not curriculum, and by its very nature, a homeschool can’t be accredited. Chose the curriculum that fits your budget and works best for your family.

What courses does the state require my child to take?

The state does not set the curriculum for homeschools. It is up to the homeschooling parents to determine what courses their students take each year.

What are graduation requirements?

As with any private school, a homeschool determines the graduation requirements for their students. For more information about typical coursework, see Courses and Credits.

Can homeschooled students get into college?

Homeschoolers can, and many do, go to college. Homeschoolers go through much the same process as non-homeschoolers to get their student into college. There are many colleges who desire homeschoolers and welcome them. On the other hand, there are probably a few colleges who are suspicious of the homeschooling process and make it more difficult for homeschooled applicants. However, this does not mean that we cannot get accepted by these schools; we just have to work a little harder. More and more, colleges are seeing what good students homeschool graduates make and are changing their attitudes about us.

What is a local support group?

From the early 1980s homeschooling families have sought support, encouragement and fellowship from other like-minded parents. These groups of families united to form homeschool support groups. These groups are run by volunteering homeschooling parents. There are many support groups in the state, and they vary in size and personality. NCHE recommends that a homeschooling family join one of the groups in the local area. Support groups help the homeschooling parent by organizing opportunities for them to learn more about how to homeschool and encouraging them in their choice. Support groups also provide opportunities for the students to do things that are best done in a group such as field trips, choirs, sports, competitions, etc. Homeschoolers who join support groups are more likely to succeed in their homeschooling efforts. There are many different types of groups that provide support; it could be a group in your church, a co-op, a homeschool sports league. What ever the type of group, it is important for you and your students to find ways to associate with other homeschoolers.

How do I find homeschool groups?

Our mission is to help you connect with other homeschooling families and groups across the state–including mentors, local and regional homeschool support groups, state-wide activities, athletics, and more! There are many different types of homeschool groups which means there is definitely a tribe for you! NCHE highly encourages finding a group to connect with. This page will help you find a homeschool group in your area, NCHE Regions and Local Groups.

What is a typical homeschool day?

Every homeschooler has their unique way of homeschooling. One of the beauties of homeschooling is the ability to plan your schooling to fit your family. Most homeschoolers do academics in the mornings and outside activities in the afternoons. As the students get older and need more academics, schooling may spread to the evening hours.

Are parents qualified to teach their children?

Yes, most parents have what it takes to homeschool their children. Parents love their children more and know them better than anyone else. They also want the best for their children. It is this love, knowledge and desire that makes the parent well-suited to be the teacher for their children. That said, it does take effort to learn how to homeschool. The first thing we study is our children. The better we understand them, the better we will be able to teach them. We also need to study educational philosophies, learning styles, curricula (what kind and what’s available) and how to teach different subjects. So, parents who love their children and are willing to put forth the effort make the best teachers for their children.

What about socialization?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions about homeschooling. The truth is that homeschoolers are generally better socialized than children who go to institutional schools. Parents are the best socializers, teaching their children how to get along with others. Many people have the misconception that homeschoolers are isolated and kept away from other children. This is not true for most homeschoolers. Homeschoolers have many opportunities weekly to be with people outside their family. One difference is that homeschoolers have an opportunity to socialize with people of all ages, not just their age-mates. Therefore they learn to relate with different ages.

The age barrier is not as strong with homeschooled children as it usually is with children who go to school. Studies bear this truth out. There have been several studies to evaluate the socialization of homeschooled children, and they have all shown that the homeschooled students have social skills on a par with or better than students taught in a classroom. Homeschool students tend to be more inclusive of people who are different from themselves, and homeschool graduates believe that homeschooling better prepared them to engage the real world.

Can someone else homeschool my child?

According to the North Carolina law, a homeschool family can homeschool the children of one other family. NCHE does not provide information on families who are willing to homeschool other children. Very few families are willing to tackle the task of homeschooling children outside their family. However, even though this is rare, it does happen occasionally. It usually is done by homeschoolers who are family members or close friends. Homeschooling is about parents teaching their own children, and this is the norm.

If I start homeschooling, will my child still be able to participate in extracurricular activities at a public school?

Generally speaking homeschoolers do not participate in public school activities. There are a few exceptions to this rule, and it is up to the individual school to decide this. If you are interested in participating in an activity at a local public school, contact the principal to check on the possibility. Under current regulations, homeschool students can not play sports on public school teams.

How does multiple family co-op teaching work for homeschoolers?

Homeschool co-ops can provide a positive element to the homeschooling process. A few families meet once a week, (this is the usual, but it can meet less often). They pick a common topic to study and the mothers share the responsibility of planning an activity. The mothers are usually all present and involved in the activities (the children are not just dropped off for another mother to teach). During the rest of the week the children work on learning about the topic in their homes. Generally as the students get older, typically high school, parents specialize in a topic and add reinforcement to the student’s learning in that area.

If I put my children back in public school after homeschooling, will they still be on grade level?

Grade level placement of incoming students is up to the subjective decision of the public school principal. However, the principal is supposed to take nationally standardized test results into consideration. Good records of the books and other materials that are used when teaching and a transcript of the student’s progress will help to give the principal reason to place your children in the grade level that you expect.