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How To Get Started with Home School in Tennessee

WHAT IS THE TENNESSEE HOME SCHOOL LAW?

You may read the State of Tennessee home school law on the Tennessee Department of Education (TNDOE) website. The information on that page is the most accurate regarding how to legally homeschool in Tennessee. The following is quick information about how to get started homeschooling. The process is the same in all Tennessee counties.

Tennessee state law (Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-6-3050(a)(1)) identifies a home school as a “school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children.”

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What to do first?

Relax! If you are ready to homeschool, know there is a lot of support in Tennessee. Right here (and always), you have got Homeschool Roster if you have any questions.

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How may I register to homeschool in Tennessee?

There are two legal ways to register to homeschool that fall under the Tennessee definition of homeschool:

1) Independent, (free) – Register with the local school board. See homeschool coordinators by district.

2) Church-related Umbrella School (umbrella school)/Category IV School, (fee-based) – Register with an umbrella school. See school options.

A third option, although it does not fall under the Tennessee home school definition, is using an online option.

3) Accredited Online School (AOS)/Category III School, (fee-based) – Register with an accredited online (private) school. Although this option does not fall under the Tennessee home school definition, it is one that may be used to manage their child’s education at home. See school options.

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Do I have to Register to Homeschool?

Registering to homeschool in Tennessee is mandatory. You are only required to register using one of the three options listed above. You do not have to choose two or all three. You only need to choose and do one, and register each school year. If a child is a Tennessee resident by August 1, they should be registered for home school by the first day of school in their school district. If a child becomes a resident after the school year has started (ex: moves to the state, transfers from a public school or private school, etc.), a child should be registered for home school within 30 days of moving to the state.

Only a parent or legal guardian (referred to as parent) may register their child for home school, and the registering parent must have a high school diploma
or GED. A parent may register a child at any time during a school year for home school, and it is suggested they register the child for home school before withdrawing them from their current school to reduce the chance of truancy.

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At what age must I register my child for home school?

The compulsory ages in Tennessee are six to 17. A child must be five by August 15 of the school year in which they are being registered for kindergarten, and may register as early as five years old. A child may be registered for kindergarten as late as their sixth birthday by August 15 of the school year they are being registered. Some category III and and category IV schools may allow a student to turn five by September 15, 2023, to register as a kindergarten student. Testing may be required for admission if the child does not turn five by August 15, so check with the school of interest to learn more.

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What are the requirements of the three registration options?

1) Independent – Register as an independent home school with the local school board by filing an Intent to Home School Form (NOI – notice of intent).

Parents are able to choose and use curriculum of choice, and determine grade-level and graduation requirements.

Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) testing is required in the fifth, seventh, and ninth grades. A student may test for free through their local school or at the expense of the parent at an approved testing site within 30 days of the statewide test.

The parent is required to submit attendance by the end of the school year (June 30). Some districts may require bi-annual attendance.

2) Umbrella School – Each offers a variety of services and support from minimal to maximum, and has its own academic requirements. Contact the umbrella school of interest for more information.

Typically, parents are able to choose and use curriculum of their choice. Some umbrellas do have course requirements, require curriculum choices to be approved, testing, and/or graduation requirements to be met. Check with the umbrella school of interest to learn its academic requirements before registering.

Although “church-related” is in its description as a registration option, an umbrella school is not required to be religious-based. In Tennessee, many umbrella schools are religious-based, but all do not require its registered families to be Christian or of a faith. If that is a concern, be sure to ask if religious requirements of the family or in the curriculum are required, before registering.

3) AOS – Each offers different services and support and has its own academic requirements. Contact the accredited online (private) school of interest for more information.

Typically, this school option chooses and provides the curriculum your student will use, which includes the course load for each grade level of school work.

Testing (periodic or annual) may be required as well as there may be additional graduation requirements. Contact the school of interest to learn its student requirements.

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How do I learn more about registering?

1) Independent – Read to learn how to register as an independent home school.

2) Umbrella School – Each school has its own registration process and requirements. Contact the umbrella school of interest to learn how to register.

3) AOS – Each school has its own registration process. Contact the accredited online (private) school of interest to learn how to register.

How do I learn more about homeschooling and connect with other homeschoolers?

The State of Tennessee is homeschool-friendly and a great place to homeschool. There are 95 counties in Tennessee and many have homeschool support groups, as well as groups that offer opportunities like tutorials, co-ops, field trips, and more. E-mail Homeschool Roster at [email protected] with your questions. We love talking about home school.


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