Interested in Unschooling in Virginia? 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, especially if you’re living in a stricter state like Virginia.

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 have to take tests and 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.

Virginia’s Regulations

There are 4 different options for homeschooling legally in Virginia: 1) home instruction, 2) religious exemption, 3) certified tutor, and 4) private school.

1. Home instruction

  • You must have one of the following: a high school diploma or higher degree, a current Virginia teacher’s license, a curriculum or program of study, or evidence that you are able to provide your child an adequate education.
  • You must file an annual notice with your school superintendent that includes your home instructor qualification and a curriculum description.
  • You must provide annual evaluation. (A remediation plan must be created if the child does not show adequate progress. Home instruction must be stopped if this happens in two consecutive years.) There are four options:
    1. Results of any nationally-normed standardized achievement tests showing a score of at least the 23rd percentile
    2. An evaluation letter (stating the child’s educational growth and progress) from a licensed teacher or a person with a master’s degree or higher who knows about the child’s academic progress
    3. A report card or transcript from a community college, college, or home-education correspondence school
    4. Another type of evaluation or assessment which the division superintendent determines to indicate that the child is achieving an adequate level of educational growth and progress

2. Religious exemption

You must write an application letter to your school board, which includes:

  1. An explanation on how your beliefs lead you to believe that putting your child in public school would be wrong in the eyes of God.
  2. A statement that you are training your child in the same beliefs that you hold. You must not discuss philosophical, moral, political, or social issues. The school board may ask for letters from people who confirm the sincerity of your beliefs.

3. Certified Tutor

A tutor with a current Virginia teacher license must ask the school superintendent to approve them as a tutor, and they can tutor any child.

4. Private School 

Students can attend a private school without physically being present at the school if the student’s attendance is for the same number of hours per day, for the same days per year, and during the same period of the year as public schools.

Loophole #1: Check with your local school district

If you are a homeschooler in Virginia, 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 Virginia, without being subject to standardized tests or a strict 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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