How to homeschool in North Carolina
Everything you need to know about how to homeschool in North Carolina. Including state laws, requirements, and tips for getting started.
Disclaimer: the information provided in this article is intended for research purposes only. Individual family needs may differ. Please contact your local Department of Education for more information.
Are you looking to learn more about how to homeschool in North Carolina? You've come to the right place.
Maybe you're planning to move to the state, or you already live in North Carolina and want to homeschool for the first time. Whatever your circumstance, we have all the information you need to make the transition to homeschooling in North Carolina as smooth as possible.
1. How to homeschool in North Carolina: overview
Want to homeschool in North Carolina? You're lucky! This state has one of the country's most active and well-developed homeschooling programs. The most crucial organization you need to join if you want to homeschool in North Carolina is North Carolinians for Home Education, which both advocates for the rights of homeschoolers and connects parents and children who homeschool.
From a legal point of view, North Carolina is considered a medium-regulated state for homeschooling. What this means is that although there is a process that parents must follow to homeschool their kids, the department of education is generally amenable to homeschooling and has a parent-friendly process in place.
A parent who wants to homeschool in North Carolina must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent and file a notice of intent to homeschool with the NC Department of Non-Public Education (NCDNPE).
Once you've registered, you will have to make sure you do the following three things to make your homeschooling process comply with North Carolina state requirements:
You will need to keep immunization records of each child you're homeschooling.
Your child will have to take an annual state-mandated test, and you will need to keep a record of them taking that test for one year.
The home school you run will have to operate at least nine months of the year to be recognized by the state education department.
Also, note that any child in high school years (9-12) must have a high school transcript. In North Carolina, one requirement is that you keep records for homeschooled children of what they have learned each year.
2. Standardized testing prep in North Carolina
All homeschooled children in North Carolina have to take a state-approved test every year. Parents are not required to submit the results to the education department, but they do have to keep records of the test for one year after the child takes the test.
The test itself covers English grammar, reading, spelling, and math. The good news is that there is no one standardized test that all children must take. Parents can choose between many tests recognized by North Carolina.
The recognized test options can be viewed on the NCDOA website. Depending on the test type you choose, you can administer it yourself at home, or it may require a certified administrator, meaning that your child will take the test outside the home.
It's always best to contact the test vendor for more information on whether they accept parents as test administrators.
3. How to take your kid out of the North Carolina state public school system
If your kid is currently enrolled in a public school, then you'll need to research how to take them out of the school they're at now. Withdrawing a child from a North Carolina public school is relatively simple.
A letter of withdrawal will suffice in most cases, although the state recommends writing and sending the letter of withdrawal to the school before the new school year begins to avoid truancy charges.
You can still withdraw your child in the middle of a school year. However, you'll need to research your current school's policies of absence from school to know how fast you'll need to send the withdrawal letter.
Some schools will have their own procedure for withdrawing a child, and you should follow it. Any letters addressed to the school should be marked "Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested" to avoid future disputes about correspondence.
4. How to find North Carolina state co-ops and homeschool groups
North Carolina has a very active homeschooling group and co-op scene, which makes homeschooling in the state easier and allows for more socialization opportunities. Homeschooling groups can be either more academic or more focused on socialization and play dates.
Some homeschool groups focus more on parent connections and making new friends. The easiest way to seek out homeschools is on Facebook. Alternatively, check out this blog which provides a list of North Carolina homeschool groups and organizations.
Homeschool co-ops are slightly different and are usually more structured and organized than homeschooling groups. Co-ops are typically focused on academic learning and supporting students in particular subjects.
They're often run by both volunteers and school tutors. Some will have a specific angle, for example, the Pathway Christian Cooperative. Take a look at this comprehensive list of North Carolina homeschooling co-ops to get an idea of the choice of co-ops you have as a parent.
5. How to add socialization to your homeschool
Homeschooling is rewarding, but it's not without its challenges. The biggest for most parents and children is the lack of socialization. Fortunately, there are ways you can incorporate socialization into your homeschooling routine.
We've mentioned co-ops and homeschool groups as ways to add social activities to your curriculum, but these tend to be more general social activities like play dates.
If you want more special-interest activities geared toward your child's inclinations, whether it's arts, physics, or a language, then Outschool's interest-based classes are worth looking up. These are more focused, which can be a wonderful thing for kids who are more introverted and struggle with traditional forms of socializing.
6. Frequently Asked Questions
How to find your state's homeschooling laws
How to homeschool in North Carolina? Homeschooling laws vary by state. Start here to see the rules relevant to your state of residence.
Not sure where to begin? Read our How to start homeschooling eBook to answer some of the immediate questions you may have.
How to choose a curriculum
Putting together a curriculum for the first time can be a daunting experience, so you should take advantage of all the helpful tools you can find.
Although, as a homeschooling parent, you have considerable freedom to set your own curriculum, it's still a good idea to consult the official school curriculum framework outlined by the North Carolina Department of Education. Use it as a starting point, and then tweak yours based on your child's needs and abilities.
How can I supplement my homeschooling?
Once you've put together your curriculum, you'll want to look into ways to supplement your homeschooling.
Homeschooling doesn’t mean you have to be your child’s only teacher.
You know your kids best from their academic strengths to their wildest interests and everything in between. But, if you’re like most parents and you’re struggling to remember eighth-grade math or how to conjugate verbs, we understand! This is where Outschool can step in, with tailor-made classes in any subject where you want support in your homeschooling. For example:
Try semester-long online classes to support your core homeschooling program for academic success.
Use 1:1 tutoring in areas your kids need some extra help or want to know more about.
Virtual field trips are an easy way to explore new places and learn more about history and culture.
Find out what your kids are into and let them help you choose classes. The more involved they are, the more they’ll learn.
How to supplement your homeschooling
Once you've put together your curriculum, you'll want to look into ways to supplement your homeschooling. Consider taking additional classes with Outschool in the subjects your child is especially interested in (or the ones where they need the most help.
Then, incorporate extracurricular activities like field trips, outdoor and sports activities, and special interest clubs. Virtual field trips can be an excellent option if you don't have the time to be there in person. Whatever option you choose, remember: education should be fun as well as hard work, so make plenty of time for fun activities and bonding with your kid.
How do I homeschool subjects that are out of my depth?
Can't remember anything about eighth-grade math? We don't blame you! This is where Outschool can step in, offering tailor-made classes in any subject to support your homeschooling journey.
Need more inspiration for how to homeschool in North Carolina? Find ideas and help on the Outschool blog.
Can I legally homeschool special needs or neurodiverse kids?
The short answer is: yes, you can. The longer answer is that different states will have different laws and requirements for homeschooling children with special needs. The curriculum will, of course, need to be different. Start by finding out more on the HSLDA website.