FAQ Index
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Beginning Homeschooling
I'm new to 3rd Option homeschooling. What do I need to do?
    1. First, read South Carolina's 3rd Option homeschool law.
    2. Next, read through all the sections in this FAQ area. They will answer many of the questions you have.
    3. Decide on the resources and methods you'd like to start out with, but realize that it's perfectly fine to make adjustments as you go along. Methods range from a school-at-home approach (textbooks and tests), to a completely relaxed unschooling method where students decide what to learn and when. Most homeschoolers fall somewhere in between the two extremes. You can use documentaries, videos, field trips, experiments and projects, magazines, library books, and any other resource available. Ask homeschoolers on our message boards for advice and recommendations.
    4. Register with a Third Option association. Narrow your list down to three, then email those three with specific questions to make sure it's a good fit for your family. Choose the one that rises to the top of your list. Complete the required paperwork, and make your payment. (For more information about Carolina Homeschooler's services, visit our membership area.)
    5. Read the Record-Keeping FAQ section to learn how to document your children's work during the school year.
    6. Join our online community so you can get help and support as you go along. Subscribe to our mailing list to keep informed about our events, trips, and updates to our website.

Can I withdraw my child from school and start homeschooling after school starts?
Yes, you can begin homeschooling any time during the year. Talk to the director of the association you choose about the best way to withdraw your child with the least hassle. Most school districts are respectful of a parent's decision to homeschool, but your association will advise you about the best way to handle the process in your district. Remember that SC law mandates that you teach for 180 days per year. Count the days spent previously in public school as part of your attendance total for the year - you don't need to start over.

Can I homeschool on the weekends? Do I have to keep a regular school schedule?
You can follow a traditional school schedule, if you wish, or you can school year-round, 3 weeks on and 1 week off, four days per week, include weekends, incorporate a 2nd- or 3rd-shift schedule, or whatever best meets the needs of your family. Keep in mind that learning happens 365 days a year, but you're only legally required to document 180 of them.

Are there certain requirements for each grade level?
According to state law, you must cover reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, and in grades 7-12, literature and composition. This is usually understood to mean that in grades 7-12, reading becomes "literature", and writing becomes "composition." I recommend listing the subjects as Reading/Literature and Writing/Composition once they reach 7th grade and just keep learning as you were.

What you teach within those general subject areas is up to you. There is no requirement that a child must learn geography or earth science in a specific grade.

A lot of "experts" disagree about what children should learn and when. Schools in different states, different counties within a state, different schools within the same district, and even different classrooms in the same school often disagree, so I wouldn't worry too much about trying to meet someone else's standard.

A general guideline, however, is often helpful to new homeschoolers, and to more experienced homeschoolers who want new ideas. I recommend World Book's Typical Course of Study for this purpose. If you decide to use it, remember it's just a guideline - feel free to deviate from it as needed.

High school may work a little differently, depending on your student's goals. See my Homeschooling High School FAQ for more information.

Can you recommend materials? Do you provide curriculum counseling?
Each family is different and each child within the family may learn differently. It's difficult to recommend specific resources unless I know more about the age and ability levels of each child. Please read the suggestions about how to find appropriate resources in the Methods and Resources section of this FAQ, and consider joining our community for tips and advice from other homeschooling families.

How else can I register my children as homeschoolers?
There are basically two ways to legally homeschool in SC, through your local school district or through a homeschool association. The school district requires standardized testing, more contact, and more paperwork. Registering through an association (especially one which operates under 59-65-47) is less intrusive and allows for more parental control.

My children are enrolled through one of SC's online virtual charter schools. Are we homeschoolers?
No. Your children are public school students. You cannot choose your own curriculum and your children must adhere to SC public school curriculum standards and daily/hourly attendance requirements. They (and you) will have to answer to a certified teacher who will monitor their learning, and your children must participate in statewide testing.

Homeschoolers have much more freedom to choose our own curriculum, subjects, methods of assessment, and days/hours of attendance. Our children are not public school students, can learn at their own pace, and don't have to answer to a certified teacher.

That said, we are not stating (nor implying) that homeschooling is better (or worse) than virtual charter schooling - it is a legal distinction that must remain clear in order to protect our rights as homeschoolers. Carolina Homeschooler believes that the focus should be on what's best for the children, not on which method is "better."

How do I meet other homeschoolers?
Visit our community area for links to homeschool groups in your local area. To find other homeschoolers online, join our message boards and friend us on Facebook. If you enjoy traveling, consider joining us on one of our group trips.


Helpful Links
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Homeschooling Essentials

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