Interested in Unschooling in Maryland? We can help

We’re lucky to be living in a country that allows parents to take their kids out of school and educate them at home. However, there are still often a lot of regulations placed on homeschoolers, as is the case in Maryland.

This can be a problem if you want to do unschooling — that is, to let your children chart their own educational courses on their own timelines. How do you give your kids authentic freedom if they are required to learn certain subjects by law? In this article we’ll explain what the requirements are, and then explore loopholes that can get you out of them.

Maryland’s Regulations

In Maryland, there are four options for homeschooling legally: (1) Homeschooling under the portfolio option, (2) Homeschooling under the church umbrella option, (3) Homeschooling under the church-exempt school umbrella option, and (4) Homeschooling under the state-approved school umbrella option. 

1. Homeschooling under the portfolio option: 

  • Must file a notice of consent form with your superintendent
  • Must teach these subjects: math, English, social studies, science, art, music, health, and physical education
  • Must provide “regular, thorough instruction”, which must be “of sufficient duration”
  • Must maintain a portfolio of your educational materials, which includes reading materials, child work samples, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, and tests
  • Must agree to your superintendent’s requests to review your portfolio (max of 3 times per year)
    • If the superintendent reviews your portfolio and determines that your child is not being educated in accordance with the regulations, you will have 30 days to provide evidence that you have corrected these deficiencies; otherwise, you may be told to stop homeschooling

2. Homeschooling under the church umbrella option (a school that offers an education program operated by a bona fide church organization)

  • Must join a church umbrella that has:
    • A completed church-exempt registration form
    • Documentation that establishes its bona fide church status 
  • Must file a notice of consent form with your superintendent
  • Must have the church umbrella supervise your instruction with:
    • Pre-enrollment conferences
    • Textbooks and lesson plan review
    • Periodic conferences with parents
  • Must annually verify your involvement in the umbrella program

3. Homeschooling under the church-exempt school umbrella option (a school operated by a church exempt from state school approval requirements) option

  • Same requirements as (2)

4. Homeschooling under the state-approved school umbrella option (school-based teacher assists the home teacher to issue progress reports, mark papers, and grade tests)

  • Must file a notice of consent form with your superintendent
  • Must annually verify your involvement in the umbrella program

Loophole #1: Check with your local school district

If you are a homeschooler in Maryland, you are required by law to abide by the above regulations. However, these regulations may or may not be enforced at the local level. If you are interested in unschooling, you can give your local school district a call to find out what guidelines they actually enforce.

This can go the other way too. If your local school district is asking for something that is not required by the state, there are homeschool legal defense associations that will step in and help you maintain your rights.

Loophole #2: Online self-directed private school

If your child is enrolled in a private school, they are not considered a homeschooler and are exempt from all homeschooling regulations.

But isn’t the whole point of unschooling that the child is not in a school?

Enter The Open School. We have a virtual program that you can enroll in from anywhere in the world. And as a self-directed school, our program is perfectly aligned with unschooling. We have no required subjects and no tests. Instead, students design virtual activities to do with other students and staff, including art projects, video games, workshops, one-on-one lessons, and anything else you can imagine. It’s a community of self-directed learners, and a great place for unschoolers to make deep, lasting friendships.

If you want your child to be a free learner in Maryland, without being subject to evaluation or a curriculum, a virtual private school may be your best bet. You can read more about our virtual program, or contact us directly, by clicking one of the buttons below.

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