If you’re considering joining the ranks of homeschoolers, you’re not alone.
Parents in metro Detroit considering this educational option may be relieved to find out that Michigan is one of just 11 states that do not require homeschool families to report to the state.
“Parents are able to homeschool their children. It’s their right,” Tami Feldpausch, a former analyst with the Michigan Department of Education who is now retired. “They’re not required to report to us.”
Because of that fact, state officials don’t know how many Michigan kids are homeschooled. Parents may choose to report to the state to take advantage of special education programs through the public school system, however last year that only accounted for 562 students, Feldpausch says.
Some lawmakers would like to see that change, though. Introduced in 2015, House Bill 4498 would require homeschool parents to register with their local public school district at the start of each school year and meet in person twice per year with a physician, social worker or other community official to help ensure kids’ well-being.
Here’s a look at what else local parents need to know about how to homeschool in Michigan.
Choose your style
Some parents prefer a formal homeschooling approach with strict ‘schooling’ hours and a traditional curriculum while others opt for the “unschooling” approach, apply Montessori methods at home or find some other variation that fits their family best.
And though it’s not technically considered homeschooling, some local parents act as their child’s “learning coach” as part of a virtual education program completed at home.
Consider notifying district
You may want to notify your local public school that you’ll be homeschooling in order to avoid your child being marked absent, Feldpausch says. It’s not required, but it can be helpful to avoid truancy issues.
“The Michigan Department of Education does recommend that they tell the district but by law they are not required to,” she says.
You should also contact the local district if your child will need special education support. If you’ll be requesting special education services, you must first submit a completed Nonpublic School Membership Report to the Michigan Department of Education.
You’ll also need to contact the district if you want your child to take part in special elective classes or extracurricular activities at your local school.
Purchase a curriculum
Michigan homeschool families are responsible for purchasing their own books and instruction materials, according to the Michigan Department of Education.
Local school districts are not required to provide curriculum, textbooks or materials to homeschooling students.
Curriculum options vary widely in style and price and there’s something to match almost any interest. Find help choosing a curriculum here.
Teach all subjects
Though parents are free to choose a curriculum, Michigan law states that children must be taught all core subjects, including math, reading, English, science and social studies in all grades.
That also includes the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of Michigan and the history and present form of civil government of the United States, the State of Michigan and the political subdivisions and municipalities of the State of Michigan in grades 10-12.
Feldpausch says that the state does not check with parents to confirm what topics are being taught.
Getting involved in a local homeschooling group or co-op offers social opportunities for kids and support for parents. Some groups organize outings, dances, musicals and even classes in specialized topics.
You might also consider enrolling your child in courses through an organization like Homeschool Connections, which has classes in Rochester Hills, Troy, Romeo, Auburn Hills, Shelby Township, Detroit and Clarkston.
Decide on test-taking
No tests are required for homeschooled students in Michigan but parents can choose to have their children take state testing at their local public school.
There is no charge to homeschooled students for testing, Feldpausch says.
Prepare for record-keeping, graduation
As far off as it may seem now, you’ll want to be prepared for when your homeschool journey is coming to a close. Parents are responsible for issuing report cards and transcripts as well as a high school diploma at graduation.
Keeping thorough records can also help in the event your child enrolls in a public or private school in the future.
“It’s like the parent is running their own school,” Feldpausch says.
This post is updated regularly.