To those who are new to homeschooling, the terminology used in homeschool laws may be unfamiliar. Some of the basic terms you need to know include:Compulsory attendance: This refers to the ages children are required to be in some type of school setting. In most states that define a compulsory attendance age for homeschoolers, the minimum is usually between the ages of 5 and 7. The maximum is generally between the ages of 16 and 18.Declaration (or Notice) of Intent: Many states require that homeschooling families submit an annual notice of intent to homeschool to either the state or county school superintendent. The content of this notice can vary by state, but usually includes the names and ages of the homeschooled children, the home address, and the parent’s signature.Hours of instruction: Most states specify the number of hours and/or days per year during which children should be receiving instruction. Some, like Ohio, state 900 hours of instruction per year. Others, such as Georgia, specify four and one-half hours per day for 180 days each school year.
Portfolio: Some states offer a portfolio option in place of standardized testing or professional evaluation. A portfolio is a collection of documents outlining your student’s progress each school year. It may include records such as attendance, grades, courses completed, work samples, photos of projects, and test scores.
Scope and sequence: A scope and sequence is a list of topics and concepts that a student will learn throughout the school year. These concepts are usually broken down by subject and grade level.Standardized test: Many states require that homeschool students take nationally standardized tests at regular intervals. The tests that meet each state’s requirements may vary.Umbrella schools/cover schools: Some states give the option for homeschooled students to enroll in an umbrella or cover school. This may be an actual private school or simply an organization established to help homeschooling families comply with the laws in their state.Students are taught at home by their parents, but the cover school maintains records for their enrolled students. The records required by cover schools vary based on the laws of the state in which they are located. These documents are submitted by parents and may include attendance, test scores, and grades.Some umbrella schools help parents choose curriculum and offer transcripts, diplomas, and graduation ceremonies.