When we think about education for our children, the first thought that comes to mind is usually mainstream school. But this isn’t an option that works for everyone.
Children who are shy, experience bullying, are neuro-diverse, have other health concerns, or just don’t blend well with the traditional educational setup can benefit from homeschooling as an alternative.
The rules and regulations regarding homeschooling, however, vary from state to state, but the US, as a whole, now embraces homeschooling.
If you live in Alabama, or you’re considering moving there, and you want to understand the basics of homeschooling in this state, we’ve got exactly what you need.
In this guide, we will talk you through all of the essential information you need to start homeschooling in Alabama.
Alabama Homeschooling Regulations
First things first, it’s completely legal to homeschool your children in Alabama. To do so, you need to ensure you comply with the state’s regulations.
Children between the ages of 6 and 17 must be enrolled in some form of education – whether that’s traditional schooling or homeschooling.
To start your homeschooling journey, you must first decide how your child will now be schooled – you have three options in the state of Alabama, these are:
- Church School: A church school education can be carried out onsite or at home. The number of hours/days required for a church school education will be decided by the church school. To enroll your child in this form of education, you must complete a form that you can get from the local school district. The form should be submitted once your child has been enrolled in church school.
- Private Tutor: Your second option for homeschooling is to choose a private tutor. This tutor must be certified by the state. A private tutor is required to notify the local education superintendent of who they will be tutoring, the subjects to be covered, and the instruction period. A private tutor is expected to teach for a minimum of three hours per day, between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm, for 140 days.
- Private School: For parents who want to homeschool their own children, opting for a private school is key. Parents who choose this option have two routes: enrolling their children into an established private school or establishing the home as the location of the private school. When the fifth day after choosing this option is complete, the parent should complete and return the relevant forms to the local educational superintendent. This form should detail the names and addresses of the children being homeschooled in this way.
One further stipulation to be aware of is that a homeschooled education must be delivered in English.
Don’t forget, if your child was previously attending a mainstream school, you need to reach out and let them know that your child will now be homeschooled.
Unlike many other states, there are no specific requirements for subjects, but we will look at this in more detail in the next section.
Curriculum Options In Alabama
Many states have a set of core subjects that must be covered in a homeschool environment.
If we take Kentucky as an example, homeschooled students must be taught reading, writing, spelling, grammar, mathematics, science, history, and civics.
Homeschooling in Alabama is a little different – there are no core subjects to consider.
If you opt for a private tutor, then the tutor is expected to deliver the education in English and cover the same subjects being taught in mainstream schools.
Some church schools will have stipulations regarding the subjects to be covered, so it’s important to speak to the school first.
When homeschooling via the private school option, however, there are no real core subjects to comply with.
It is expected that you will teach physical education as part of the program though. If you are signing up with an online provider, they will have their own set curriculum, so it’s important to do your research first.
Homeschooling in Alabama offers a lot of flexibility with the curriculum so that parents can tailor their children’s education to their interests.
Record-Keeping In Alabama
Many states require stringent record keeping to homeschool students.
In Alabama, the level of record-keeping is dependent on the homeschooling option you’ve chosen for your child.
Private tutors, for example, are expected to keep a record of attendance, daily hours of education delivered, and a program of work.
For a private school, the record-keeping regulations aren’t strict, and record-keeping is not a legal requirement.
Still, it’s recommended that parents keep a record of attendance and absences, proof of their child’s immunization (or reasons for being exempt), as well as a record of their child’s progress and test results.
Records may not be checked, but it’s important to have them on hand.
Accurate record-keeping can also be highly beneficial if, at some point, you decide to return your child to mainstream schooling.
Evaluation And Standardized Testing In Alabama
Standardized testing and evaluation is not a legal requirement for homeschooling in the state of Alabama.
That being said, testing your child’s knowledge and understanding of the subject matter can be beneficial.
For homeschooled high school kids, there are still no testing requirements. Instead, it’s up to the parents to decide whether the educational expectations have been met and then issue a diploma.
Although testing is not a legal requirement, many parents who homeschool find it beneficial to test their children, and when it comes to graduation, some like to assign credits to modules for an easier way to assess whether the student has passed.
Support Networks In Alabama
Regardless of the homeschooling method you choose, finding the right support is essential.
Homeschooling can be an isolating experience for you and your child if you don’t have anyone else to discuss the journey with.
The good news is that every state has an array of homeschool support groups and co-ops you can join. And the benefits of doing so are endless.
Joining a support group or a co-op allows you to talk to other parents who are on the same journey, and it allows your children to meet others who are in the same position as they are.
These groups and co-ops allow you to learn from more experienced parents and share tips with others; they allow you and your child to join in with field trips and organized socials.
There are numerous co-ops and groups to choose from – here are just a few examples of the support available to you and your family:
- Alabama SHINE (Centre)
- CHEF of Alabama
- Elmore County Homeschool Organization
- Baldwin County Homeschoolers
- East Alabama Homeschool Community
- Everest Academy
- SCOPE Homeschool Group
- Cullman Homeschool Cooperative
- Central Kids Homeschool Support Group
- And many more.
Alabama Future Pathways
We briefly talked about this above, but it’s worth circling back to talk about the options your child has after being homeschooled.
When graduation comes around, it’s the parent’s responsibility to assess whether their child has met the educational requirements and then issue a diploma.
If your child is applying for further education, it’s worth talking to the college or university about whether they accept homeschool diplomas and if they need to see any of your records so you know that you have everything you need.
It’s worth noting that many homeschooled students choose to pursue the General Education Development (GED) test, a widely acknowledged and accepted form of accreditation, to advance their educational and career aspirations.
In this guide, we’ve walked you through all of the basics if you’re looking at homeschooling in Alabama as an alternative to mainstream education.
Remember, if your child is aged 6-17, they must be in education, but you can choose to homeschool as an alternative to traditional schooling.
When homeschooling your child in Alabama, you can choose between hiring a private tutor, enrolling in a church school, or establishing a private school at home.
Although record keeping isn’t a legal requirement in this state, we do recommend keeping thorough records of attendance, performance, and immunization.
Last but not least, make sure you join a support group or a co-op – these organizations provide a real lifeline for homeschooling families and offer plenty of socialization and other opportunities.
Next up: Homeschooling in New Mexico.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Alabama homeschool-friendly?
Yes, Alabama is a homeschool-friendly state. There are a few regulations you need to follow if you want to homeschool in Alabama, but these are not strict.
What percentage of Alabama students are homeschooled?
As of October 2020, roughly 12% of children in Alabama were being homeschooled.
What is required to homeschool in Alabama?
You must choose between hiring a private tutor, enrolling your child in a church school, or setting up a private school at home (if you want to do the homeschooling yourself). The regulations requiring notifying the local superintendent differ for each method.
Record-keeping is not a legal requirement, but it’s recommended to keep attendance and absence records, performance records, and records of immunizations.