Homeschooling in North Carolina
Homeschooling has never been bigger in North Carolina! There are currently more homeschooled students than there are children registered in private schools. This is, in part, because NC is considered a homeschool-friendly state. Often, families move here for the benefit of easy legal compliance and the robust community.
Begin by knowing the law
The oversight of homeschoolers in North Carolina falls to the state’s Department of Administration’s Division of Non-Public Education. Known to locals as DNPE, the Division’s website has extensive information about all aspects of the laws that govern homeschooling. It is HIGHLY recommended that you read the law for yourself. The information contained in this article cannot be considered legal advice.
The process of registration is known as filing a Notice of Intent (NOI) to operate a homeschool. You MUST register if you are homeschooling any child age 7 or older.
File only once when you begin homeschooling, and close your homeschool when all of your students have either graduated or moved into public or private schools. In the years between, you must update your record with any change of address that occurs, and you may update the ages of your students and add new students as your children turn 7.
The process of filing the NOI requires that the Chief Administrator and any Teacher in the home provide proof of at least a high school education. You must also choose a name for your homeschool, and the Division has a list of words that cannot be used in the name.
If your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school in North Carolina, age 7 or older, and you wish to begin homeschooling, file your NOI first and wait for the email confirmation. Your registration proof should arrive as an email attachment. Print that attachment and take it to the school to withdraw your student. If the child is under 7 years of age, no proof of homeschool registration is required for withdrawal.
- Standardized Testing
Homeschooled students are required to take standardized tests annually in North Carolina. This is often seen as a drawback of homeschooling in the state, but kept in perspective, it is not a difficult rule to follow.
The tests used must be nationally normed and scored, and DNPE provides a list of many acceptable tests from which to choose.
Besides having to administer an acceptable test within 12 months of homeschool registration, and then once per school year thereafter, the only requirement actually written into the law is that you keep proof of testing on file in your home for at least 1 year following the test.
You may submit the date of testing to the state annually, but this is voluntary. No scores ever need to be reviewed unless requested by a public or private school for placement upon re-enrollment in their system.
The State of North Carolina requires little record-keeping. Keep on hand proof of registration, and then for each child evidence of completion of standardized testing, and either a vaccination record or letter of exemption.
You must also keep an attendance record. You can find a template on DNPE’s website. There is no requirement for number of days or hours to complete, but you must operate your homeschool on a regular schedule for at least 9 months out of the year.
Homeschool administrators are free to choose the source and content of instruction. This means that any number of tutors and classes, and any curriculum may be used to the parents’ satisfaction. There are no number of credits, and no specific classes required to receive a diploma issued by the homeschool. The caveat, of course, is that if you have a college or tradeschool-bound student, you will want to complete the courses and keep the records required for admission.
Get connected to support
Once you’ve decided to homeschool, or to move to North Carolina, and you know the basics of the law, it helps to get connected to support for everything from finding co-ops to finding a curriculum.
The largest state advocacy organization is North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE). They monitor the lawmaking bodies in the state to keep everyone informed of any changes, or potential changes, to homeschooling rules. They also have a sports league, field trips, special-interest support groups, a website chock full of information, and an annual convention. Also, be sure to see their page for a list of support groups and organizations in your local area.
For more local results, you can search the internet for your town name + “homeschooling”, “co-op” or “homeschool support.” You can also search Facebook.com and MeetUp.com the same way. The population of homeschoolers is so large that almost every county has a good network of homeschoolers on one of those platforms.
Since there are no umbrella schools or state-mandated associations, groups are popping up and dissolving all the time. It is very easy to gather a community of like-minded homeschoolers and use it to supplement your homeschool teaching in any way you wish.
Some of the best places to ask for recommendations about local groups, classes and resources are Facebook groups such as N.C. Homeschooling (statewide), Homeschool Moms Around Wake County (Raleigh area), The Homeschool G.O.S.S.I.P. (Charlotte area), WNC Homeschoolers (western NC), and Piedmont Homeschoolers (Greensboro/Winston-Salem area). The Triangle Homeschool Resource Village is a virtual support group for parents with mentoring, coaching, book studies, and guest speakers to support parents in their pursuit of continued learning.
Utilize North Carolina’s resources
There are some great perks that come with being a homeschooler in North Carolina!
Abundant natural resources provide families the opportunity to explore natural habitats from coastal plains and sandbar islands to piedmont to mountains. Many local and state parks have classes or other educational guides for homeschoolers.
The North Carolina Zoo (Asheboro) and all four locations of the North Carolina Aquariums offer free admission to homeschoolers (once per semester, and once per year, respectively) with some restrictions.
The explosion of the homeschool population combined with some NC school district’s adoption of year-round schedules for public schools has given rise to a growing number of camps, classes and other services in many communities that can by utilized by homeschool families. Art classes, foreign language meetups, STEM camps and the like are easily found in most urban and suburban communities.
North Carolina also gets accolades for being a great state in which to homeschool high school. There are a few programs for earning college credit while in high school, the most popular being the tuition-free Career & College Promise program offered by North Carolina Community Colleges. The number of campuses combined with the availability of online courses and a solid transfer agreement with the UNC college system provides an opportunity for big savings on college tuition.
Overall, North Carolina is a great state for homeschoolers to enjoy educational freedom, a vibrant community, and resources too numerous to count!
Learn about more state laws, resources, and groups in the Homeschooling In All 50 States
Laina Yeisley is a homeschooling mom of two teens and a toddler in North Carolina. She founded The Triangle Homeschool Resource Center, a website with services aimed at helping homeschoolers in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina achieve their homeschooling goals.
Laina is passionate about helping families who have a heart for homeschooling focus on the long-term vision for their children’s lives, going beyond the academics to make their “heart plans.” As part of her goal to create professional development opportunities for homeschool parents, she also co-founded the Carolina Homeschool Conference which will launch its first event in August 2019. If you’re ever in NC, you’ll probably find Laina on a field trip with the kids. Just look for the camera in one hand, water bottle in the other, and the stash of chocolate falling out of the backpack.