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In a nutshell, here are the steps you will need to take to begin educating your school-aged children at home in Tennessee:
Step 1. Choose how you will register to legally homeschool. This doesn't have to be with an expensive online school, which, if your child is already struggling academically, may be leaping from the frying pan into the fire. In fact, it is free to register as an "independent homeschooler" through your local school district. You will often see the term "LEA" used for this option. That stands for "local education association". This is a fine choice with no downside for students up to grade 5, which is the first year of mandatory testing. Note: We don't recommend that you register your high school students solely with your local school district. If a student intends to try out for a varsity sports team, we have some additional recommendations. Because many families prefer different tests (or no tests), and because many more services are offered, such as grade reporting and transcripts, most people choose to register with an Christian-related private school. This category of school is usually referred to as an "umbrella school." It generally costs between $125 and $175 per year for most Christian-related private schools and typically there is a family cap on fees.
Commonly used Christian schools which oversee homeschoolers (in Tennessee):
HomeLife Academy (highly recommended for all grades, but particularly for homeschooled high schoolers)
Berean Christian Academy
The Farm School (secular)
Local Christian-related private schools with umbrella programs for homeschoolers:
Maryville Christian School
Christian Academy of Knoxville
Knoxville Christian School
Family Christian Academy
Step 2. Withdraw your child from school, according to the unique instructions of your new "school" providing your legal oversight. This may look more like you are transferring your child from one school to another, in that you may need to sign a release so that transcripts can be collected into one place. If you are registering with the local education association (school board), you will need to provide a letter of intent to homeschool to your principal and meet with the homeschool coordinator in the school system's central office. They have a number of forms you will need to fill out, and will also ask for your diplomas, vaccination records, and which subjects you plan to teach. You are not required to go by the same calendar that the school district does.
Step 3. Finally, you can start thinking about crossing the curriculum bridge. Pro tip: If your students are in grades K-8, resolve to spend almost NO money on curriculum in the first semester. If you have a high schooler taking one of BHEA's for-credit Enrichment classes, the teacher will let you know what books or other resources to get for that subject. Often, you can borrow or buy these used. If your children are in grades K-8, just exploit the endless free resources around you until you get on your feet. Many umbrella schools require that you provide a plan for subjects - and curriculum - right at sign-up and we know this often causes some panic purchases. But it isn't important that you have a plan chiseled in stone on Day 1. You can always go back and update that section later, as you begin to figure out your child's learning style, interests, aptitudes, and your own teaching style. "Easy Peasy" is a great example of a free online curriculum with sections for every grade level. You may wish to explore this as you get started.
Step 4. Get connected! Join BHEA. Try out some Enrichment classes, sign up for some field trips, enjoy one of our Moms Nights Out, or join one of our Scouting organizations. The more you get involved, participate, and volunteer, the easier you will find it is to build community. We have over 400 member families, with willing hearts and many years of collective experience and wisdom to share with you. Having a great support system will be key to your success. Welcome to BHEA!
Here are some links to websites, news articles, blog posts and curriculum review sites to help you as you begin your homeschooling journey:
For further help, please fill out the form above. Or you can email email@example.com or call 865-660-3656. One of our volunteers will be in touch!
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Please list the gender, grade level, and age of each child you are interested in homeschooling.
When do you plan to start homeschooling?
Which school district do you live in?
If you selected "Other", please tell us what school district you live in.