Many new families are interested in homeschooling due to the pandemic, but are confused about what homeschooling really is. I hope this helps to clarify.
Homeschoolers are governed by SC’s homeschool law. We pay for everything ourselves and have the freedom to choose our own curriculum, resources, methods of assessment, and schedule. Our children are not considered public school students, can learn at their own pace, don’t have to answer to outside teachers, and aren’t required to take standardized tests.
If you choose to homeschool, you have to register with a homeschool association. Most families choose an association that operates under Option 3 of the SC homeschool law. (Options 1 and 2 are considered more restrictive, requiring curriculum approval, more documentation, and testing. For more details, see this.)
SC Public Virtual Charter Schools
If you want to enroll your children with one of SC’s public virtual charter schools (Connections, SCVCS/K12, Odyssey Online Learning, SC Whitmore School, whatever), they will be public school students. The state will pay for their curriculum, but your students will have to follow public school requirements (curriculum, testing, schedules, etc.).
If you choose to enroll in one of these schools, don’t register as a homeschooling family. (You won’t be homeschooling.)
Online Private Schools (religious, secular, accredited, or whatever)
If you want to enroll your children in an online private school that serves homeschoolers, you’ll likely still have to register with a homeschool association. You have to be “counted” somewhere in a public school, private school, or homeschool association that reports to the South Carolina Department of Education, and most online schools don’t. The online school is providing your curriculum, but you’re still homeschooling because you’re paying for it and you have the freedom to choose a different curriculum at any time.
If you’re paying for it and can change it up at any time, then you’re likely homeschooling. It all boils down to freedom. If you want to have the most control and freedom over what your children learn, and the way they learn it, then homeschooling is the best fit for you.
If the state is paying for it, then you’re likely not homeschooling. If you’re more comfortable with someone else taking the reins, and don’t mind following their scheduling, course requirements, and testing, then a virtual public charter school may be a better fit for you.
VirtualSC often confuses people because they think it’s a SC public virtual charter school, but it’s not a school at all. The state of South Carolina provides free virtual classes to public, private, and homeschool students in grades 7-12 through VirtualSC. These classes are for all SC students who may not otherwise have access to certain subjects. They also provide credit recovery classes for public school students who failed a class in their local school and need to retake it to get the credit. (You have to be legally registered as a public, private, or homeschool student to take these classes.)
Not sure what you want to do?
If you’re still not sure what you want to do, don’t stress – you have time to decide! Research all your options and then start with what you think is the best fit for your family. My FAQs will help you learn more about homeschooling.
If you think you want to start with a virtual public charter school (because that’s what you’re used to with the public schools, or you want them to pay for your curriculum, or whatever), then apply as soon as possible. There may be limits, and time-sensitive requirements.
If you change your mind during the year (not uncommon), you can switch to homeschooling.
I want to homeschool, but keep my kids on track with the public schools because they’re returning after the pandemic. What should I do?
- You can talk to your school and see if they’re willing to help you coordinate their learning.
- You can enroll with a public virtual charter school since that’s public school at home and should (theoretically) be the same as brick and mortar schools.
- You can embrace homeschooling this year and take advantage of all the benefits of homeschooling. Especially since the public schools will likely be off-track for all or most of next year, too.
(For the record, I recommend #3.)