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1. What is homeschooling?
By law, homeschools in Maine are separate from public or private schools. Under Maine law, MRSA title 20-A, §5001-A, sub-§3A.(4), parents must provide a notice of their intent to homeschool their own child (or children). Parents take full responsibility for the child while the child is being homeschooled. Parents legally direct the education of the child by choosing and adapting curriculum, facilitating the process, and determining academic needs and goals. Homeschools are funded exclusively by the parent. Homeschooling that is funded by the parent is free from excessive government oversight and regulation. If homeschooling is to remain the effective option that it is today, this practice must continue. Be sure to read more about the importance of protecting homeschool freedom.
2. How do I withdraw my child from public school?
You can begin homeschooling at any time during the school year! Kindly notify the local public school that your child has been attending, in writing, about your intent to withdraw your child from school to homeschool. (For your own legal protection, do not sign any withdrawal form that the school may provide.) At the same time, file a formal Notice of Intent to Homeschool, as required by law, with your local school superintendent's office. Your child has now been withdrawn! Then follow the steps in number 3 below.
3. Where and how do I begin homeschooling?
Begin by reading the Getting Started section at the HOME website and follow the steps listed. Also, check the Events section of the website and plan to attend the next scheduled Start Homeschooling with Confidence workshop.
4. Is it possible to homeschool and work full-time?
Yes! Many parents have found ways to homeschool and continue to work. It does take some thoughtful planning, commitment and sacrifice. But because homeschooling takes less time, and isn't restricted to traditional school days and hours, families are able to find plenty of time to devote to homeschooling. Be sure to join Working and Homeschooling in Maine for support.
5. Can I file a notice of intent to homeschool a student for just one course?
6. Where, when and how do I file a notice of intent?
A notice of intent must be filed within ten days of withdrawal from school if you are starting during the school year. We recommend filing immediately upon withdrawal to avoid any confusion about absence from school. If you are starting at the beginning of the school year, a notice of intent must be filed by September 1st. The notice can be filed with either your local school superintendent or the Maine DOE. However, filing locally is highly recommended. It is recommended that you send your notice with a return receipt request, so that you will have proof that your notice has been received.
CAUTION: HOME notice and subsequent letter forms are fully in compliance with Maine law. Please use these forms. The online and printable forms available at the Maine Department of Education's Home Instruction website page may exceed the requirements of the law. In order to preserve homeschool freedoms, do not use forms that exceed Maine law.
7. How do I find out my local superintendent’s address?
Contact your town office to request the correct mailing address.
8. At what age and date do I need to file my first notice of intent and annual assessment results for my child? At what age do I stop filing letters of intent and annual assessment results for my child?
Compulsory school attendance in Maine begins at the 6th birthday and ends at the 17th birthday. Children may indeed be homeschooling at ages outside of the compulsory attendance age. Age- appropriate assessment can and should be occurring, as well. However, letters of intent and annual assessment results are not filed with the state or local superintendent for children under the age of 6 or over the age of 17.
File a notice of intent when your child reaches the date of his or her 6th birthday. File your first assessment results for this child by the September 1 date/year that immediately follows the 6th birthday. Continue filing until the 17th birthday has been reached. After the 17th birthday, nothing more is required in terms of filing letters and annual assessment results.
For more in-depth information and exceptions to the rule, please be sure to read "Compulsory School Attendance and Enrollment Questions" by Kathi Kearney.
9. I am moving to a new school district during the school year. Do I need to send another letter of intent to homeschool to our new superintendent?
Communication prevents misunderstandings and unnecessary contact from school officials. As a courtesy, and to prevent any misunderstandings, send the new district a copy of the letter of intent and annual assessment results that were due for the current school year. Send the old school district a courtesy note to let them know you have moved to a new district and provided notification there.
10. Where do I get my materials?
There are so many options! Find out more about choosing curriculum and options for purchasing here. Be sure to check out HOME's used curriculum sales for great savings. Also, plan to attend a homeschool convention where curriculum vendors are available with products for sale and can answer your questions.
11. What will be the cost of purchasing materials?
Most families spend an average of $400 to $500 per student over the course of a year for materials and resources. This amount can vary, depending on the age of the student and the materials chosen for use.
12. What about obtaining materials from the school?
Public schools may provide materials to homeschoolers if they are available. They are not mandated to do this. Keep in mind that materials from the public school will most often not include support materials, such as teacher’s guides, answer keys and testing resources. Materials that are designed for homeschool use do include this kind of support, are more user friendly, and can often be adapted to many grade levels and abilities.
13. Are homeschoolers eligible to receive laptops through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative?
This program is not available to homeschooled students.
14. Where can I get used resources?
Used curriculum materials are available for purchase at Inventory Clearance Sales held throughout the year.
15. What is the “best” curriculum?
The “best” curriculum depends on your child and their individual style of learning, your budget, and the unique characteristics and circumstances of your family. There is no single right or best curriculum.
16. How do I determine my child’s learning style?
There are several resources including, but not limited to, 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy, The Big Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier, and The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias. Contact the HOME Office for more information on obtaining these titles. Also, read Learning Styles.
17. What am I required to teach for each grade level?
The notice of intent states that you must cover English, language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, and in at least one grade from 6 to 12 Maine Studies, and at one grade level from 7 to 12 the student will demonstrate proficiency in use of computers. Covering these subjects each year (with the exception of Maine Studies and computer proficiency) is required by law. However, there are no specific curriculum standards or requirements for Maine homeschoolers. What you choose to use, how you choose to teach these subjects, and the time you spend on them each year is completely up to you.
18. How many days, and hours a day, are required?
A total of 175 days of school attendance are required by law, annually, for all students who are over the age of 6 and under the age of 17. If starting mid-year, days in attendance at a public or private school can be included in the total. Your homeschool program, and the required number of days, can be completed anytime within the calendar year. There is no specific "school year' designated for Maine homeschoolers. There is no hourly requirement per day. Homeschooling will take a lot less time than you think. Your children can work at their own pace without the many distractions a typical school day brings. During elementary years, especially, parents and children often find that they may only need a few hours to accomplish their work for the day.
19. What is an annual assessment and how do I obtain an annual assessment?
Annual assessments are required for homeschoolers by law. The results of an assessment must be filed each year by September 1 along with a Subsequent Letter of Intent to continue homeschooling. An annual assessment verifies the child's progress in each of the subject areas required by law. Options for annual assessments include standardized achievement testing or portfolio reviews by a Maine certified teacher. For more information on annual assessment options, visit the Annual Assessment section of our website.
20. How do I keep a portfolio?
Visit the Annual Assessment section of our website for lots of helpful information. Also, read HOME's Portfolio FAQ.
21. After reviewing a portfolio, what should my reviewer state in a letter to confirm the review?
A simple statement signed by a currently Maine certified teacher should verify the following legal requirements:
22. What about achievement testing?
Standardized achievement testing is one method of annual assessment that fulfills the annual assessment obligation under Maine homeschooling law. For more information, see the Standardized Testing section of our website.
23. If I choose achievement testing as the means of annual assessment, must I submit the actual test results?
Test results can be reviewed by a Maine certified teacher. A signed teacher review letter, confirming progress and verifying the legal requirements listed in number 21 above, can then be submitted instead of the actual results.
However, if a review letter from a Maine certified teacher is not possible, it is necessary to submit the test results themselves, not merely the cover letter showing that the test has been administered.
24. When are assessment results due, and to whom? Should I keep copies of the results?
Annual assessment results are due by September 1 along with a Subsequent Year Letter of Intent. Mail these documents to your local school superintendent’s office by certified mail. It's very important to keep your mail receipts and copies of your annual assessment results in a safe and secure place for as long as you continue to homeschool. Keep ALL homeschool work completed through the year for a minimum of three years.
25. If my child is enrolled in a distance learning program, do I need to file annual assessment results?
Yes. A Notice or Letter of Intent and Annual Assessment Results are always required for those who have chosen privately funded, parent-directed programs, even if the program is an "accredited" program outside of the state.
26. I will be moving out of state before September 1. Am I required to send a copy of my child's annual assessment results?
If you filed a letter of intent to homeschool in Maine for the past school year, and will be moving out of state before September 1 of the coming school year, the law does not require submission of annual assessment results. Although you filed your letter, you are no longer a Maine resident; therefore, you are no longer under the authority of your local superintendent.
As a courtesy, we recommend that you contact the superintendent’s office by phone or letter to let him know you have moved. Although the law does not require you to contact the superintendent, this will close out your record, and he will not expect to receive your assessment results.
If you move to another state, you must comply with that state's homeschool laws. Search for your new state organization’s contact information and a description of their law here.
27. What is required for graduation?
There are no specific graduation standards or requirements for homeschoolers. The parent decides what is required for graduation. Admissions requirements for any post high school programs of interest should be reviewed and considered when planning a high school program for a homeschooled student. Read more about graduating from high school as a homeschooler.
28. What is a credit?
A credit may be awarded based on mastery of content in the subject area. Traditionally, one credit is equal to 120 hours of course work completed in any high school level subject. Credits may be granted whenever (and at whatever age and grade level) a student completes a high school level course.
29. Will my child need a GED?
30. Who grants the diploma?
The parent grants the diploma upon completion of the homeschooling requirements set forth by the parents.
31. Will my child be able to get into college?
Yes. In fact, many colleges are now recruiting home educated students, because they are often better prepared for the learning environment at the college level than traditionally schooled students. Be sure that you have created a transcript and granted a diploma to your student upon completion of your homeschool program.
32. How do I create a transcript?
Transcripts are important for all students, even if they do not plan to attend college. For more information on creating a transcript, visit our High School Transcripts page.
33. Where do I find support?
Finding local homeschool support can be a challenge! There are some things you can do to facilitate the process. First, join HOME! Attend HOME events, field trips and monthly skates. Join HOME on Facebook. Becoming a part of the larger homeschool community through HOME will help you to meet others. Also, check with your local library, YMCA and churches. Often these are places where homeschoolers are gathering.
34. Can I access the public school?
Public schools are permitted to partially enroll homeschooled students into public school co-curricular, extracurricular, and interscholastic activities that are available at the school in your district as space and resources allow. They are not mandated to do this. Please read what the Access Law has to say.
35. What about special education services for my child through the public school?
Those filing letters of intent to homeschool (Option 1) have little to no chance of receiving special education services through the public school. Students enrolled in Recognized for Attendance Purposes Private Schools (Option 2) do have access to special education services. Find out more here.
36. Will the public school accept my homeschool credits if my child returns to school?
Acceptance of coursework or credits is at the discretion of the individual school, whether public or private. This is the case for all students who are transferring, whether they were homeschooled or not.
37. Can I provide driver’s education for my child?
No. In Maine, Driver’s Education must be provided by a state certified driver’s education teacher for all students who are under the age of 18. Driver’s Education instructors offer both private lessons and group instructions. Check with your local high school or online for driving instruction programs available near you.
38. Where do I get a work permit for my child?
All students (including homeschooled students) under the age of 16 must obtain a work permit before beginning a job, even if they work for their parents. New work permits are needed for every new job until the 16th birthday has been reached. Work permits for all students under the age of 16 are issued by local public school superintendents or their designees. Parental permission and proof of age (birth certificate) are required. For homeschooled students, a written statement from the parent affirming that the student is in good academic standing and in regular attendance is also required. See all requirements of Maine labor laws for minors at www.maine.gov/labor/posters/childlabor.pdf . Contact the Maine Department of Labor at 207-623-7930 if you have further questions or concerns.
Keep in mind that the requirements can be very complicated, especially when it comes to homeschoolers, since homeschoolers are not actually enrolled in a traditional school and homeschool schedules do not necessarily coincide with the traditional school year schedule. HSLDA membership is highly recommended.
39. Does volunteer or community service work require a work permit?
When a minor volunteers or does community service, it must be for a non-profit business. A work permit is not needed in this situation. More information and clarification can be found at the Maine Department of Labor website.
40. Can someone else teach my child?
From time to time, most homeschool families employ the assistance of private instructors in specialty areas, such as music, sports, and the arts. Some hire private tutors for areas where parents feel students need more instruction or support than they are able to provide. However, parents are the ones who must provide a notice of their intent to homeschool their child and always remain legally responsible for overseeing and directing the education of their child.
41. What if my spouse is not supportive?
A unified family commitment is vitally important when choosing to homeschool. Sometimes one parent may need more time and information in order to process the idea of homeschooling and make a final decision. To assist in this process, be sure to include your spouse in all aspects of the planning and decision making. Attend a workshop or convention together; pray, read and talk together; plan for curriculum together. Ongoing communication and involvement are key!!
42. What if my ex-spouse is not supportive?
Sometimes an ex-spouse just needs to feel more included and involved. Be sure to attempt to include your ex-spouse in all aspects of planning. Encourage attendance at a workshop, convention, curriculum sale, and curriculum planning sessions or consultations.
43. What is HSLDA, and why should I join?
Home School Legal Defense Association exists to protect your right to homeschool and to defend your family if necessary. A lawyer is on-call 24/7.
HSLDA works to preserve homeschool freedoms by promoting homeschooling and working at the federal level and with state homeschooling groups, such as Homeschoolers of Maine, to get better laws and stop bad laws.
You are part of the cause. Not everyone lives in a state where it's easy to homeschool. It's important to stand together to keep homeschooling free, for this and future generations
44. What about socialization?
Most parents are concerned about the proper socialization of their children. It is important to consider the kind of socialization you want for your child. Socialization in the traditional school setting can be negative and counterproductive. The teaching of social skills within the context and setting of a family is more natural and more conducive to learning. Parents are on hand and accessible in every social situation. This allows them to teach and provide the proper teaching of social skills at every available opportunity.
45. Besides homeschooling, what other educational choices are available to families in Maine, and how do they compare?
Homeschooling is one of a number of educational choices in Maine. None of them can compare to the amount of parental involvement and oversight that is afforded through homeschooling. However, private and public school options can and should also be considered when determining what is best for your family. To make a more informed choice, review the information included on the Educational Choice Chart located at the bottom of this page at our website. Homeschooling is highlighted in green, private school options in yellow and public school options in orange.