We interrupt this two year blogging hiatus to bring you an article about getting your homeschool off the ground in the great state of Tennessee. I am asked this question often and decided it would be better to have it in one permanent place than to type it from scratch once or twice a month. This blog post is for Tennessee in general and Tipton County in particular.
So, you are considering home education for your family and are wondering what you need to do to get started. Might I first recommend that you and your spouse are on the same page? Because if hubby isn't behind you in this, it ain't gonna fly. Assuming you are a Christian, you and your spouse should be praying that this is the direction God is leading your family. It's pretty important.
Also, when it comes to state law, don't take my word for it! You should read the actual law for yourself and ask questions if you do not understand. The Home School Legal Defense Association lays it out nice and neat for you at this link:
HSLDA Home Education Laws for Tennessee
The Tennesse Department of Education also has general information on their website:
Home Schooling in Tennessee
Now that the fine print is out of the way, let's break this down. To homeschool legally in Tennessee, you need
three things. Two are essential, and the third is highly recommended for a successful homeschool.
The first essential is an umbrella school. (Legally, there is an
option to register your homeschool with the public school system, but
virtually no one does this.) I believe that Gateway Christian School's Total Home-Education program has probably served this area for the longest. They require you to send
grades in twice a year, and they do not offer standardized testing
(although there are places to have this done if you want it). More
information can be found in the link below.
The other two umbrella
schools that most people in this area use are Home
Life Academy and Faith Heritage Christian Academy. Home Life
is all online as it is based in Middle TN. They require two grade
reports a year and do not offer testing. Price is comparable to Gateway. Faith
Heritage requires quarterly grade reports, is a little bit higher in
price, but offers yearly standardized testing (Stanford 10). It is conveniently located in Millington and has a different accreditation than GCS or HLA. I am happy to go into the details about accreditation, but it will need to be in a separate post. Here are links to these three:
Gateway Christian Schools
Home Life Academy
Faith Heritage Christian Academy
I will add that there are other umbrella schools in this area and online, including Aaron Academy, Lighthouse Christian Academy, etc. The three mentioned above would be considered the mainstream for this area, but you can Google and research other options, as well.
we have the first thing covered - umbrella school. Second, you need
curriculum. Most first-time moms choose an out of the box, traditional
textbook approach, like ABeka or Bob Jones. You can always branch out
later, but with these you can be secure that your child is learning what
they need at their particular grade level. If you are feeling
adventurous, purchase the book "102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum"
by Cathy Duffy. This book helps you determine your child's learning
style, then suggests curriculum for that style, as well as including
lengthy reviews on each top pick. Cathy Duffy also has a website with great reviews: Cathy Duffy
finally, I would highly recommend that you plug into a support group. I
belong to Homeschooling Under Grace, which is about 60 families. Our
mom's meetings are free and open to all; we welcome prospective
homeschoolers to come sit and listen, ask questions, etc. Most of our
field trip planning and such takes place online, on our website. If you
go to Homeschooling Under Grace
and click "Request Membership" at the top, then fill out the form, we
will approve you for a one-week trial. You can also ask questions there. You will need to pay the yearly dues of $15 to remain on the site after the free trial, or to participate in any activities other than the monthly mom's meetings. There are other great support groups in this area, as well, including Tipton County Home Educators, Covington Home Education Association (CHEA), and Memphis Home Education Association (MHEA).
I hope this information has been helpful, and wish you the best in your child's education!