I Want to homeschool!
Where do I start…?
Congratulations on beginning your homeschool journey!
How to “officially” begin homeschooling in Vermont.
If you live outside of Vermont: Find Your State Homeschool Law on the HSLDA website, or contact your State Department of Education for details on homeschool enrollment. Each state has it's own homeschooling laws and procedures. This section is Vermont specific.
Vermont requires you to declare to the state that you will be homeschooling your child via filling out enrollment forms online or by snail mail. The good news is, this is not an application process; you are not asking the state to allow you to homeschool your child. You are simply notifying them of your decision and providing a minimal description of how you intend to teach your child (more on this below!). The Department of Education may ask you to be more descriptive in your enrollment forms, but they cannot deny your right to homeschool your child.
In some states, you do not have to notify the state, the school, or anyone else of your decision. Vermont, however, is highly regulated, and requires that you enroll your child in Home Study by submitting specific forms to the state.
If you do not send your child to school, and do not fill out the “home study” forms, your child would technically be considered truant. In reality, your school or another third party would need to attempt to take you to court for truancy and follow due process for any consequences to come of it. This (obviously) won’t happen overnight, so don’t stress if your child’s last day of institutional school does not seamlessly align with the timestamp on your homeschool enrollment forms.
Though the enrollment forms are simple and can be completed in an afternoon (hooray!), you may need to gather a copy of your child’s last report card (if applicable) and, if your child has a documented learning disability, a signature from an independent professional (a pediatrician, the testing center that determined the LD, or etc.).
The Take Action steps below will make the legal requirements of homeschool life easier, guide you through the enrollment hoops, and identify some key points to keep in mind as you kick off your homeschool journey. …Here we go!
Curious about homeschooling, on the fence, or ready to dive in? Find facts, motivation and enrollment details here!
Sign up for emails.
Sign up for emails from the VT Department of Education (DOE) Home Study Division by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or Alicia Hanrahan Alicia.Hanrahan@vermont.gov.
This is not a requirement, but it is quite useful. Even if you’re undecided about homeschooling, or your child is not yet school aged, you can still join the email list. By subscribing you’ll receive official news as well as information about events and various educational offerings available throughout Vermont. There is also a checkbox on the Home Study enrollment forms if you choose to subscribe at a later time.
Anyone can send an email blurb to the DOE for mass distribution, so you will get an excellent assortment of activities to participate in physically, virtually, or independently. The variety is diverse enough to satisfy all kinds of interests. Math groups, science programs, artist workshops, formal and informal gatherings, museum exhibits, sports, creative writing classes, music lessons, woodland adventures, day programs, second hand supplies, cooking classes, contests and competitions… you really never know what opportunities to engage with your community will appear in your inbox!
You have the power to create the community you desire! If you have an unmet need don’t hesitate to send an email for mass distribution. You never know who else might want to go mushroom hunting next weekend, teach your kiddo the saxophone, have a regular playground hangout or start a weekly STEM club.
Enroll in Home Study.
How to complete enrollment forms.
The VT Department of Education (DOE) refers to all styles of homeschooling as “Home Study”, regardless of the philosophy or methodology you employ. Whether you plan to be highly structured, utilize a co-op model, un-school, de-school, or some other approach, when it comes to state communication and enrollment forms always use the terms “home study” or “home school.”
Why shouldn’t I say that we’re un-schooling or de-schooling? All VT homeschool families must complete the home study enrollment packet. This packet contains a handful of forms, including one called the Minimum Course Of Study (MCOS). The MCOS details exactly how you plan to educate your child in the coming year. Even if life is your classroom, under VT law you must provide 3-4 examples of what you might do in each area of study (such as literacy, math, science, etc.). Regardless of your teaching style, these suggestions on how to word the MCOS will apply.
The State of Vermont asks that your MCOS is “reasonable” and that you submit evidence showing how you achieved the MCOS goals that you created. The good news? The State of Vermont almost never declines a reasonable MCOS! At most they may ask you to be more specific, or to provide additional details.
Vermont Homeschool Enrollment Forms - Instructions and Checklist.
TIP: MCOS Wording
Make your life easier. Avoid common MCOS pitfalls.
The MCOS is an agreement between you and the state, in which you decide what you may cover in a given academic year. At the end of the school a year, you will be responsible for proving you did what you promised in the MCOS agreement, so chose your wording carefully! As children and families change and grow, consider using phrases that give you the flexibility to adjust your approach as needed during the year.
Example 1 (Makes your life easier)
In the Math category you might write something like:
“Continue to reinforce and advance knowledge in topics that may include, but not be limited to, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and measurement. Integrate additional interest based mathematical concepts if/when they arise.”
Notice how spacious the above wording is! Saying you “may” do something “if/when” such a time happens gives you tons of wiggle room to prove you covered the subject of math.
Example 2 (Makes your life harder)
Contrast the statement in Example 1 above with the very specific, detailed and narrow description of math studies below:
“In September, October and November we will drill 15 minutes of flashcards, complete 1 worksheet independently, and listen to 15 minutes of formal instruction every weekday. Joe will have memorized all addition, subtraction and multiplication tables from 1 to 13 by December 1st.”
You are more than welcome to write something like example 2 above if you wish! However… please don’t put unnecessary stress-shackles on your wrists!! It’s a lot easier to under-commit and over-deliver than vice versa. Remember that (a) you will have to prove you did all of the things you wrote in the MCOS; and (b) you can strive to accomplish all the goals you have in your heart, yet still write something as flexible as example 1.
Children with a Documented Learning Disability (LD)
If your child has a documented learning disability (LD), you will need to (1) have a doctor, practitioner, social worker or other professional attest to the LD (there's a section in the Home Study Enrollment forms for this); and (2) complete the Adaptations section in the enrollment forms.
As with the MCOS, Adaptations can be written in your own language and do not have to be minutely detailed. Adaptations can be subject specific or “global”, meaning they apply to all areas of study.
Though adaptations will be specific to your child, some examples may include:
May take frequent breaks to stretch and move as needed.
May use manipulatives and multi-sensory learning approaches as needed.
May use dictation software if/when written communication is a hindrance.
May use audio books in conjunction with independent reading when needed.
May participate in regular family read aloud of chapter books.
May be given oral instruction when needed.
You do not need to itemize as in the format above. You may also write in a narrative form, for example:
“As I approach every subject, I'm going to use techniques such as flexibility and visual aids in the learning process.” As with the MCOS, no need to be wordy, and less is more.
Deadline is around August 1st
The submission deadline to be considered for a full year of credit is usually around August 1st, before your local public school begins. You can usually submit forms by snail mail or online, as early as spring for the coming fall semester. The deadlines will be posted on the Department of Education website and announced through the email distribution list.
Enrollment form - information on submissions and link to upload documents.
Assess Your Needs
State needs vs. individual needs
Determine what you have already, and what you need. This question should be considered from two different perspectives: (1) what do I need to submit for the EOYA, and (2) what do I need in order to teach my child? Let’s look at these separately.
1) What do I need to submit for the EOYA?
Your MCOS dictates what you will need to include in your EOYA. The Vermont MCOS includes 8 educational categories: reading/writing, math, history/government, literature, natural sciences, physical education, health and fine arts. You can cover these topics using any method you choose, be it via printed material, digitally, orally, project oriented, conversational, field trips, or in any other way you imagine! (See the following section for more about documenting your activities throughout the year). Determine what materials (if any) you may need to acquire. See also tips on finding homeschool materials, and our list of educational resources.
2) What do I want to teach my child?
If you’re considering homeschooling, you’ve likely given this question a lot of thought already. It’s a highly personal and individual question that has nothing to do with forms, assessments, state documents, or anyone outside of your family. The question is posed here only to emphasize that:
(a) what you choose to teach your child does not need to be tied to any item on the MCOS or EOYA, and;
(b) to remind you to consider if what (if anything) you’ll need to acquire to accomplish your goals.
End of Year
TIP: Avoid the EOYA scramble!
Designate a place for your work samples up front
How does my child get credit for the year? The End Of Year Assessment (EOYA)
There are a few different ways to prove you’ve met the conditions sufficient for graduation to the next grade level (meaning prove that you did what you said you would do in your MCOS). For each agreement you made in the subject specific sections of the MCOS, you will need to submit 3-4 examples of having fulfilled your commitment. One sample can count for multiple categories (which makes your life easier, and which the state also prefers).
Check out the VT: State guidelines and FAQ for End Of Year Assessments (EOYA).
Keeping Track Of Your Work
In a manner that suits your style, collect or keep track of activities that pertain to the MCOS, that you can submit in your EOYA. You can take pictures, videos, voice clips, keep a written journal, create digital documents or spreadsheets, or have a storage box for work sitting on your kitchen counter. Like any multi-step project, its easier to compile or note things as you go than it is to recollect months of happenings with a looming deadline.
Completing the EOYA
VT has three different options for parents when it comes to completing the EOYA:
EOYA Option 1: Teacher review
You can pay a teacher to perform the EOYA for you. Cost varies widely, from $50 to hundreds of dollars per child. In Vermont, a good average is about $150/child. Like price, the process will be unique to each teacher. In general, they will go over your work from the year and then write a narrative on your behalf, supporting that you’ve successfully met your MCOS commitment.
EOYA Option 2: Standardized tests
You can have your child take state administered tests to prove proficiency (contact you public school for details). Or pay to take your child to a testing center to have them academically evaluated (such as The Stern Center in Williston, VT).
EOYA Option 3: Complete the EOYA yourself
The DOE provides good guidance on what needs to be submitted if you are completing the EOYA for your child. It is not complicated, and they prefer you send as few work samples as possible. They encourage parents to submit examples that could apply to requirements for multiple categories. The format is very flexible: You can send hardcopy printouts (do not send original artwork as it will not be returned!), upload a digital portfolio, create a slideshow or video presentation, or submit photos showing the fruits of your labors! Visit the DOE website for the fine details (like making sure your submissions are all labeled and dated), and to watch a video presentation including a sample EOYA.
How Do I Complete the EOYA if I am Unschooling or Deschooling?
If you are taking an unstructured approach, such as unschooling or deschooling, you must still complete the EOYA. Consider taking pictures regularly or journaling about your adventures. You will soon see that your MCOS agreement can be easily met by reflecting on questions such as, “in what ways did we encounter math today?” Sorting and numbering shells at the beach is math, and yes – this counts!