Is it legal to homeschool in CT?
Yes. Parents are given the right and responsibility to provide instruction for their children in Connecticut General Statute 10-184, Duties of Parents. It is recommended that you become familiar with the statutes pertaining to homeschooling rights and responsibilities. CGS 10-184 is the law.
Do I have to be a certified teacher to homeschool my own children?
No. Parents are responsible for providing instruction, in the manner they choose, for their children in CT, but no certification is necessary. You teach them from the moment they're born and homeschooling is a natural extension of that relationship.
How do I get started?
You are doing the most important thing - educating yourself about homeschooling. Read, read, read. Knowledge is power; know your rights. Contact GWHE and we'll help you tap into your local homeschooling community.
The next step, to start homeschooling, depends on if your children are currently enrolled in a school. If your children are enrolled, you should withdraw them in writing. If you do not withdraw your children from the school they are enrolled in, they may be subject to truancy law CGS 10-198a. You should send a letter of withdrawal via certified mail, return receipt requested, so you will have proof that they received the letter. Here is an example letter:
Dear Mr. Superintendent,
As of November 30, 2013, we our withdrawing our child, Sue Brown, from the [Anytown] Public School System. She will receive instruction in accordance with CT General Statute 10-184.
Mrs. Jane Brown
Mr. John Brown
When should I start homeschooling?
Anytime! You have been homeschooling since your child was born. You have helped your child to learn countless things throughout their childhood, and your decision to not send them to school will allow that to naturally continue. If your child is 5 or 6, you may be required to sign an opt-out form at your local school, as mentioned in CGS 10-184. The form states that you will not be sending your child to school when they are five. Then, when they are six, you can sign another opt-out form for not sending them to school when they are six. At the age of seven, your child is expected to begin receiving instruction in the subjects listed in CGS 10-184.
Do I have to wait until September to withdraw my child from school?
No. You can start homeschooling as soon as you are ready to do so. There are no waiting periods or time constraints of any sort.
Will the state provide me with a curriculum?
No. Every homeschooling family must decide for themselves what educational materials and experiences they feel would work best for them in order to comply with CGS 10-184. This is one of the beauties of homeschooling in CT; you have the freedom to do what works best for each of your individual children.
Determine what your educational goals are. A specific curriculum may not be necessary for educational success. Many people rely heavily on their local library to provide a wealth of resource material for their family. The Internet is another well-used resource. Go further out into your community and visit local places of business, museums, etc. There is no "right" answer to what materials to use. The answers are as varied as our families. You may want to research learning styles and homeschooling philosophies before you make any curriculum decisions. GWHE has compiled a guide to homeschooling styles, and a list of recommeded books to get you started.
Will my children have to be tested?
No. Connecticut does not have mandatory testing for homeschoolers. Children all learn different things at different times. You can provide, purchase, and administer tests to your children if and when you feel a need to do so. When your child is high-school aged, and interested in attending college, be aware that many required standardized college readiness or admission tests. GWHE has compiled summary information and useful links for the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT, and ACT to help the homeschooler navigate the preparation and registration for these tests.
What is a Notice of Intent?
The Notice of Intent is an optional form developed by the State Department of Education. It is included in the C-14 Guidelines, "revised procedures concerning requests from parents to educate their child at home". This Guideline contains "Suggested Procedures for Home Instruction".
Do I need to file a Notice of Intent (NOI)?
No. This is a suggested procedure and each family may choose for themselves if they wish to file this form or not. If you do file the form, you are obligated to participate in a portfolio review at the end of the school year. If you choose to file the NOI, you may want to protect yourself from being expected to file a NOI in the future by noting something like this on the NOI: This Notice of Intent is valid for the current school year only, and I reserve the right not to file next year.
What if someone from the school system asks me if I am homeschooling?
To comply with the enumeration statutes (CGS 10-249, 10-250, 10-251), you are legally obligated to provide the child's name, age and information concerning school attendance. Nothing more, nothing less. You could write a simple letter in response:
Dear Mr. Superintendent,
In response to your letter dated Jan. 1, 2013, my child Sue Brown, age 8, is receiving instruction at home in accordance with CT General Statute 10-184 for the 2013 - 2014 school year.
Mrs. Jane Brown
Mr. John Brown
Do public schools offer services to homeschoolers?
This depends on the individual school. Some schools are more flexible than others and may be willing to make special arrangements for homeschoolers to participate in certain types of activities and services. Generally speaking, they are not obligated to provide you with any materials or services if you are not enrolled in the school. Books, band, library access, etc. - these are all up to the principal and/or superintendent to decide on a case by case basis. Don't expect anything, and if they are willing to let your child take music lessons, consider it a bonus, but be wary. You may feel entitled to get something from the school since you pay taxes, but be aware that there could be strings attached.