Once you have made a commitment-and it's very important that BOTH parents commit to this-there are some very vital steps you need to take. First, get legal. If your child is already in school and you suddenly pull him out, the school can charge you with truancy. There are serious legal consequences to that charge-including jail time. There are three options for home schooling legally in South Carolina.
- Through the school district (Option 1). This requires you to have your curriculum approved by the district, to take year-end standardized testing, and to have a portfolio of all your child's work.
- Through SCAIHS. (Option 2) This is an organization run that is privately run for homeschoolers state-wide. They require a great deal of accountability and in return they provide a great deal of help.
- Through an Option Three Accountability Association. (Option 3) AA's are privately run for homeschoolers, and have different requirements for membership, however, they all comply with the SC law.
Make sure you check all the requirements and fees before signing up with any one of them. Either way you go, there are certain basic common requirements set by the state:
- The parent or legal guardian must be the primary instructor (you can still use tutors, co-op classes, and other helps, but the bulk of the instruction must be under the guidance of the parent or legal guardian).
- The parent or legal guardian must have a minimum of a GED.
- There must be 180 days of instruction each year. If you are pulling your child during the school year, the days she has already been in school count towards those 180 days. You can do 180 days any way you want: four-day weeks; school six weeks, take off one; teach Aug-Nov, and take off Dec; school year round; whatever works into your schedule as long as you do at least 180 days between July 1 and June 30.
- You must teach the core curriculum, which includes math, history, science, reading (in 1st-6th grade) or literature (for grades 7-12) and writing (grades 1-6) or composition (grades 7-12).t is your decision when you will teach each subject. You are not required to teach every subject every day, but you do need to cover them. For instance, you might teach one semester of history and another semester of science. You might do reading three days a week. Where possible, you can combine material at different grade levels. This works particularly well in subjects like history and science.
- You must keep a portfolio of your child's work. This would include sample copies of work from each of his subjects, projects, special papers, descriptions of field trips, sporting events he participated in, community service projects, debate ,TeenPact, etc.
- You must keep some kind of "plan book" of what you are teaching. This can be a notebook, journal, or spiral notebook that tells what you did on each day of school in each of the required subjects. You can make your own or buy one ready made at a school supply store. It can be as simple or as complex and detailed as you want, as long as you are keeping a record of what you are teaching. It's also a good way to document how many days you are teaching.
- You must keep records of grades, otherwise known as a "progress report," that would correspond to a report card of some type. Again, this can be as simple or as detailed as you care to make it, especially depending on the grade level. In first through third grade, grades can be Excellent, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory. By the time your student is in high school, you need to be familiar with the Uniform Grading Scale, especially if you are doing your own transcript.
While you're at it, joining HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) is another good idea (although it is not required). HSLDA is a national organization that will defend its members in court whenever there is a homeschool-related problem that comes up. It's protection that we all hope we don't need, but we're glad for if the time comes.