Southeast Texas
Home School Association

 
 
   

Commonly Asked Questions Regarding Homeschooling


Absolutely, Yes. The Texas Supreme Court, in the 1991 decision which upheld the appealed decision of a lower court in the Leeper vs Arlington ISD case, determined that parents have the right to homeschool their children so long as they have a written curriculum, pursue homeschooling in a bonafide manner, and adequately cover 5 specific topics: grammar, reading, spelling, mathematics, & good citizenship. Although a homeschool is not accredited, it is considered an official private school; it falls in the same category as a parochial institute.


What is the cost/expense of homeschooling?  

Do not be fooled. Homeschooling is not a less expensive option or at least not in comparison with public education. There are not any discounts or vouchers or exemptions on your taxes related to the costs of homeschooling; and, you will have several expenses.

To be in compliance with Texas laws, you will be required to acquire written curricula for each subject to be taught. Depending on the number of children in your family, which you are teaching concurrently, and the differences in their ages/grades & interests, you be required to obtain a significant number of textbooks, workbooks, answer keys, & potentially teacher guides. Further, if you do not already have such items as a computer, television, & DVD player, you may find it necessary to purchase them. Similarly, if you are not an expert or do not feel adequately confident to teach some of the subjects, you may desire to subscribe to a teaching service or to enroll your student(s) in a partnership/coop education program. Naturally, each of these comes with a cost.


What should I do if a truancy or CPS officer comes to my door?  

Most importantly, do not panic; and, do not consent to having your children interviewed, your homeschool materials evaluated, or your home invaded without obtaining proper legal counsel. If you join the HSLDA, you will have access to their services, which includes the immediate access to their legal counsel & expertise for just such an instance; they will be able to properly explain the laws both to you and the officers.

It is very important that you not become hostile or confrontational with the officers. On occasion, a truancy or CPS officer will be accompanied by a police officer; unless they have a warrant or you become unruly, they have no right to admission into your home. Frequently, the police officer is present for intimidation purposes only. If you remain poised & calm and if you immediately contact the HSLDA representative who can speak on your behalf to these officers, the situation will be resolved without any further issue.

If you have recently decided to homeschool or moved into a new neighborhood, you can pre-empt many issues surrounding truancy by letting those living around you know of your decision.


Can someone else homeschool my child?  

According to the Texas Supreme Court decision in legalizing homeschooling, children are to be educated under the supervision of their guardians. Generally you as the parent will need to take responsibility for the actual education, however, you are permitted to delegate the instruction to others, such as a grandparent, a coop program, or a subscribed/enrolled course. Before you consider having your child participate in such a delegated education course, you should determine how you will track their progress & document its completion; you should also determine how you will handle the possibility of a truancy investigation.


What exactly am I expected to teach my child?  

Homeschooling must, over the course of your child's education, cover 5 specific topics: grammar, reading, spelling, mathematics, & good citizenship. You are not required to cover each of these courses on a daily basis. Just as a student at the public school may have a rotation of courses on different days or even across different years, a homeschooled student has equivalent flexibilty to complete the courses.

Historically, there has been much debate regarding exactly what is meant for the 'good citizenship' course. Most consider it to include the combined study of geography, history, & government. By ensuring you cover these, you certainly won't be inconsistent with other educational choices; and, a truancy investigation would find it very difficult to prove you weren't meeting state expectations.


How should I go about selecting the curricula?  

Choosing your curriculum is one of the most important tasks you will undertake. There are many options to choose from and with some time and research you will be able to choose that which is best for your student. Cathy Duffy has a wonderful book that helps take some of the guess work out of choosing a curriculum. The book is titled "Top 100 Picks for Home School Curriculum." Her book can be ordered online or found at most of the home school stores in the Houston area. To find out the store nearest you click on "Home School Partners" on our website at www.sethsa.org

Here are just a few of the main stream curriculum companies for you to consider in your search. The complete list of publishers & available alternatives is much larger.

  • A Beka Book (www.abeka.com)
  • Accelerated Christian Education (www.aceministries.com)
  • Alpha Omega (www.aop.com)
  • Bob Jones University Press (www.bjup.com)
  • Christian Liberty Press (www.christianlibertypress.com)
  • Rod & Staff (www.rodstaff.com)
    Christian Education Ministries (www.christianeducationministries.com)
  • Saxon Math (www.saxonpublishers.com) - math only
  • School of Tomorrow (www.schooloftomorow.com)
  • Sonlight Curriculum (www.sonlight.com)

How should I withdraw my child from their current school enrollment?  

If your child is currently enrolled in a public school you will need to formally withdraw your student. We recommend that you write a letter to the school informing them of your decision to home school. You can write your own letter, or you can use the Letter of Assurance and Intent to Home School from our website. When you withdraw we recommend that you send the letter by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested.

When you withdraw your student, you might want to consider requesting a copy of report cards or transcripts that you do not already have. This information is something you will want to keep during the child's school age years.

You are not required by law to register with any agency or the school district, nor are you required to show your curriculum or the students work to any agency or school district.

When delivering the letter, you will need to go to the school and return any school property in your child's possession (textbooks, sports equipment, musical instruments, library books, etc.). Take these items and the letter to the school office to officially withdraw. The school administration may ask you to sign forms they have created specifically for their school, but you are not required to do. Again, there is no State of Texas authorized form for withdrawing your student and registering as a homeschool parent.

Should you encounter difficulty during the process of withdrawing your student from a public school, we will help you in every way that we can. If you have additional questions about withdrawing your student from public school please contact us at staff@sethsa.org or 281-756-9792.

THSC's instructions for withdrawing students and a sample withdrawl letter.

TEA instructions regarding handling withdrawing students.


What is the next step(s)?  

For compliance with Texas education law, you must have a written curricula in hand to be classified as a homeschool. Therefore, prior to withdrawing your student, you should obtain the curricula which you intend to use. If you have sufficient time, it's always best to attend a local conference or book fair to help you evaluate the curricula options. However, several local homeschool bookstores, which you can find linked on our 'Homeschool Partners' page, stock curricula which can be immediately purchased.

Once you've obtained your curricula & withdrawn your student, you merely need to establish a pattern & habit of schooling. Initially, this may be cumbersome; however, you should begin to find that your schedules begin to stablize in a couple of weeks.

If, after you've begun, you decide the curricula you purchased does not work for you & your student as you expected, don't be afraid to make changes. One of the most significant advantages of homeschooling is your power to choose! It may cost you more to switch, but both you & your child will do better if you enjoy the curricula.

One of the fears which many new homeschool parent face is teaching the advanced subjects, such as Algebra, Biology, & Chemistry. If you've chosen to begin teaching your children while they are still small, you need not be intimidated by these giants; you have lots of time to prepare. If you're approaching the time to incorporate these subjects into your homeschool, there are resources available to help!

On our 'Homeschool Partners' & 'Other Resources' pages, we have provided referals to groups that teach these killer courses & to suppliers of the materials.


What records or documents should I keep?  

The exact records required depend greatly upon the ages/grades of the student and your ongoing commitment to continuing homeschooling in the upcoming years. During the student's high school years (9th through 12th/graduation) or anytime preceding a planned enrollment into the public education system, you will need to maintain copies of significant assignments and grades reflecting course progression. With these, you will be able to produce a homeschool transcript which will be necessary to prove the courses the student has completed and the grades earned.

For your convenience, we've provided samples of the most common student documents. These have no special approvals nor guarantees. They are simply examples that others have used as guides. Please feel free to use these in your homeschool. If you desire, you may also modify them. We ask, however, that you not attempt to sell these.

Sample Document   Download Formats
Student Report Card   MSWord   PDF
Student Transcript   MSWord   PDF

Note: Click on the desired format & 'Save' onto your local computer; then Open to modify & print for your student(s).


How do I assess my child's progress?  

By having daily contact with your child, you will actually have a much firmer grasp of how well your student is progressing than many of your peers whose children are in the public schools. You will be aware of those areas where your student is struggling & those where your student is excelling. However, if you desire to formally measure their progress, you may choose to have them take a standardized achievement test; this is not, however, a requirement under Texas laws. Two common tests are the Iowa & Stanford achievement tests.

Some of the achievement tests will have stipulations or requirements regarding how/when or by whom it is administered, such as the Iowa which requires someone having a college degree.


How do I give grades for my child's assignments?  

One of the great advantages of homeschooling is the freedom from being forced to comply with trivial matters. Grades don't help your student learn; grades only help parents evaluate progress when there's no regular interaction with the students' learning. Since homeschool students & parents interact regularly, you, as the parent, will already have a reasonable understanding of your child's progress. You will quickly find that, unless external factors dictate a requirement for grades, such as high school graduation or public school enrollment, grades have little meaning in the homeschool on a daily basis. It's much more important that you & the student understand which questions & concepts are understood & which are not. You can accomplish this goal by simply checking assignments using the answer key.

When you determine that official grades are required, it is strongly recommended that you follow a consistent scale & credit equivalent so they are interpreted properly. The most common grading scale is: A(90-100), B(80-89), C(70-79), D(60-69), & F(0-59), with a passing grade being something in the A, B, or C ranges. These are calculated as simply #right/#possible. Typically, this scale is used for grading individual assignments; however, reports, such as the transcript, which are viewed beyond the course & by officials, will usually be expressed in GPA credits. Therefore, converting these grades into GPA credit equivalents becomes A=4, B=3, C=2, & D=1. The conversion calculation is: sum(course credits)/#course hours.

For example: A student taking a single course in each of English, Math, Science, Music, PE, and Religion subjects is enrolled in 5.5 course hours (PE ranks as a minor subject & only earns 1/2 credit compared with the others which each earn a full credit). If the student earned 4 As, 1 B, & 1 C; the GPA is (4 + 4 + 4 + 4 + 3 + 2)/5.5 or a 3.82 semester GPA. The same calculation can be applied using the grades across all semesters to compute the overall GPA.

Most homeschools do not award an 'honors' credit or graduation, since it is very difficult to demonstrate that the student was performing advanced work. If your student, however, has enrolled in a course through a coop, local partnership, a dual-credit, or other forum which can justify it, you may grant an extra 1 credit for the corresponding A or B earned in the course. If the overall GPA exceeds 3.5, the student can be classified as an 'honors' graduate.


Can my child participate in any public education programs?  

In Texas and most ISDs, homeschool students cannot participate in extracurricular activities sponsored by the school system, such as band or sports. Similarly, homeschool students are not currently eligible to participate in UIL competitions, although some individual competitions are available, such as the Spelling & Geography Bees, the Debate tournament, & the tryouts for the state choirs. Texas law, however, mandates that the local schools allow homeschool students to participate in any standardized testing, such as the PSAT, which is offered.


What happens if we decide later to re-enroll in public education?  

Admission of homeschool students into the public education institutions, prior to graduation, remains one of the most difficult hurdles. The ISDs have a significant variety of policies which affect homeschool students. Texas law, however, states that the standards cannot be stricter. This enrollment will require that a transcript of the students coursework, and possibly of major assignments, be submitted. Nevertheless, the homeschool student being enrolled into the public school will frequently be required to take a series of achievement tests to demonstrate their competence in each subject. Based on the overall evaluation of these tests, the student will be placed in the equivalent grade within the school. Unfortunately, the parents will be responsible for the costs of this testing.

TEA instructions regarding enrolling homeschooled students.


When (or how) does a homeschool student graduate?  

Following the stipulations of Texas education law, actual graduation criteria from a homeschool are primarily the responsibility of the parent. The homeschool graduate should have achieved, at a minimum, a grasp of the five required course materials: reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, & good citizenship. However, since any post-graduation educational institution, particularly colleges & universities, will expect students to have mastered the same materials as their public education counterparts, most homeschoolers will incorporate additional materials & subjects, such as Sciences, Foreign Languages, & Music, into their education as well. Further, as a private school which is frequently based on a particular religious belief, most homeschool graduates will have courses surrounding Biblical Studies and/or Religious Doctrines.

A typical student transcript will incorporate the following studies, during the 'high school' or 9th through 12th grades:

CreditsSubject
3-4English, including Composition & Literature
2-3Mathematics, ideally Algebra 1&2 and Geometry
1-3Science & Lab.
1-3Foreign Languages
1-2Geography & History
1Government, including Texas & US
1-2Physical Education
1Health
*Other Electives: Accounting, Art, Drivers Ed, Music, Religion, etc

A typical transcript should have a minimum of 22 credits, where each full year studying a major subject earns 1 credit and each full year studying a minor subject earns 1/2 credit.


How does a homeschool graduate enroll in college?  

Under Texas law, a homeschool graduate is recognized just as a student from any private or parochial school. The curricula is not considered accredited. However, it is legitamite & valid.

The homeschool graduate applies to the college of choice, provides a parent-generated transcript, takes & submits achievment test scores, and completes school-specific applications. Officially, there should be no significant differences that a homeschool student encounters during enrollment. Within Texas, the college or university must consider the homeschool graduates' applications on an equal level with any other private-school graduating students attempting to enroll; of course, if your student applies to colleges & universities in another state, their laws will differ & additional requirements may arise.

Typically, the homeschool student should be classified as 'graduating in the top quarter of their class.' Although most homeschool students are typically also technically their class valdictorian, it is typically not evaluated on a consistent level as those graduates coming from larger class bodies. By designating the student in the top quarter, you focus less attention on the student's "homeschool" background. This stigma draws far less criticism now than it did previously. Nevertheless, some in education still have bias against the non-traditional background.

The homeschool graduate should consider their standard achievement test scores & any essays written in conjunction with their college admissions/application as their proof of education. It may be recommended or required by the institution that the transcript be notarized; but, under no circumstances should the graduate consent to additional stipulations or demands, such as a GED, which are not equally required of all candidates; these undermine the legal standing of all homeschool graduates and re-enforce the obvious bias of the officials. If your student is approached for this additional information, you should immediately contact HSLDA to discuss possible legal actions or recourse.

Recently, all of the military academies have updated their policies to admit homeschool graduates.


What should I say to family/friends who disagree with my decision?  

The single most important agreement which you must obtain is with your spouse. If your spouse, even if you are divorced, does not agree with your decision, you will encounter unnecessary hardship. Once you & your spouse are in agreement, you should seek to establish relationships with others, such as a support group, which will be able to encourage & re-enforce your efforts. With this network of support, you will be more likely to hold your convictions against others who disagree with your decision.

Many of those who initially disagree with your decision will simply not understand your choice or will believe you are being judgemental of their choices. Your best defense against their argument will be the success that your child demonstrates as you consistently follow your convictions. Do not expect anyone to immediately become convinced that you have made the right choice!

If you demonstrate respect for the opinions expressed that are in contradiction to yours, if you do not demonstrate judgemental attitudes, & if you remain consistent/faithful in pursuing the homeschool education of your children, most family & real friends will become supportive of your decision. The most difficult conflict will arise with any estranged family which feels they have a guardian right to choose or influence the education decision. It is, therefore, imperative that you are careful about your homeschooling decision around ex-spouses and vengeful grandparents.


What will I gain from joining a support group?  

Support groups provide exactly that: support. Members have the opportunity to discuss, on a more regular basis, any issues which are being encountered within the homeschool; members have the opportunity to participate in outings or events which the group but not an individual could arrange; members have a forum for encouragement & an opportunity to interact with others who are encountering similar circumstances. Also, many support groups provide services, such as phone trees or newsletters.


What does it mean for a support group to have membership restrictions?  

Each support group has the right to establish membership requirements. These may range from being completely open to highly restricted. If the group has designated restrictions, SETHSA will indicate the existence of these on the subscribing group maps which are made available to other homeschoolers. This is not intended to imply any form of bias but only information which the prospective homeschooler needs to consider prior to joining.

The most common restrictions among those groups which subscribe to SETHSA are 'religious' or 'belief' specifications; some require actual membership in a particular church congregation or denomination; others require members accept or agree with a 'Statement of Faith'. These restrictions are intended to ensure the membership has consistent views regarding how the leadership operates and to promote unity among the general membership; both goals aleviate contentions that tend to arise in the decision making process & meeting forum.

Under no circumstances will any group be permitted to have prejudicial or ethnicly biased restrictions!