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Friday, July 1, 2016

I want to Homeschool in Indiana... Where do I start?

How To Start Homeschooling in Indiana

Many are surprised by how much homeschooling law varies from state to state.  We are blessed in Indiana to have homeschool friendly laws, but it can be overwhelming to bring a child home from public school, or to start the journey of homeschool no matter where you live. 

Researching can be confusing with an overload of information, some of it not reliable. Indiana's Department of Education (DOE) Website is quite misleading about what Indiana requires of homeschooling families, which is unfortunate since it is where most moms go for Homeschool laws. 

I highly recommend seeking information from Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) 


  •  Indiana Homeschools are legally considered non-accredited non-public schools. Just think of yourself as an exclusive private school, so exclusive only people who you are your children can attend! 
  • You do not need to register with Department of Education.  The DOE website strongly implies this, and some school district may pressure you into it, but legally you do not need to register. You may choose to, but there are not advantages of being in the their tracking  records. 
  • You must have 180 days in your homeschool year.  Indiana has no stipulations on what a "day" looks like in your house, or how many hours it is; which means Indiana can not mandate your curriculum choices, pace, or yearly schedule. 
  • Your child does not need to participate in any standardized testing.*  As a homeschooling student, your child can not take the ILEARN.  Testing is done so that Administrators and Legislators can see what children are learning in school.  As their direct teacher, you won't need that information through testing, because you will be there everyday working with your children and grading their assignments.  
*If you really feel like you'd like to have your child tested, you may pay a small fee for your child to take IOWA STANDARDS Accredited Test, or local academic tutoring .  We tested our children in middle school just for curiosity, and to get them some testing practice, but in my opinion I would not recommend too much standardized testing earlier than middle school because Elementary is a time to learn HOW to learn, not to connect learning to testing. 


Are you transferring your child from public school to homeschool?

  • Transfer, not withdraw. Instead of the word WITHDRAW, I would recommend the word TRANSFER, Indiana Homeschools are considered non-accredited, nonpublic schools, which is why (IAHE) recommends using the term "transfer" instead of "withdraw" when informing school.
  • You can do it anytime. You can take your child out of public school ANYTIME of the year, no need to wait for semester breaks, after any testing, or end of school year.
  • Public Schools do not know homeschool laws. Many times any push back you get is because the district is just ignorant of the homeschooling laws of the state. Become a member of HSLDA if your district gives you any problems. Even though Indiana is a free Homeschool State, it doesn't mean every district/principal/superintendent is homeschool friendly.  
  • No Need for Registration with Department of Education. You DO NOT need to register with the state Department of Education (even though the DOE's website strongly implies this).  Parents may choose to register, but this is your family's decision.  We personally have never registered our children with the DOE in 7 years of homeschooling.

Are you homeschooling from the beginning? 
  • Age of Compulsory Education The Age of Compulsory attendance is not until 7 years old (for public and homeschool).  You may begin any curriculum you'd like before, but only need to begin tracking your 180 days when your child reaches 7 years old. 
  • No Need for Registration. You DO NOT need to register with the state Department of Education (even though the DOE's website strongly implies this).  Parents may choose to register, but this is your family's decision.  We personally have never registered our children with the DOE in 7 years of homeschooling.

Find Support (for you and your kids)
Find a Local Homeschool Group Online
This step will help you with all the rest.  I can point you in the first direction, but your local homeschooling community can give you info on local field trips, play-dates, curriculum choices, dealing with unsupportive in-laws, and finding resources in your area. I am part of a local homeschool facebook group with over 1,200 families. 

Attend Home-school Classes and Activities 

Check your local YMCA, Library, and/or local Parks and Recreation for Homeschool-geared activities.  The homeschool community has grown in the past 20 years, which means many communities who have begun to offer resources and activities during the school day.

Homeschool Cooperatives (Co-op)

A Co-Op is just short for Cooperative.  Not all homeschoolers enjoy co-ops, they are just another resource if you choose to use them.  It is only a true cooperative if the parents all have a job, helping teach or assist in some way. Co-Ops are all different, because they are what the Moms make of them.  Some meet weekly, some monthly, some just for field trips.  A Co-op can be big with dozens of families, or just you and one other family. See more on my post- What is a Homeschool Co-Op?

Homeschool Style

The beauty of homeschooling in Indiana is you can have find a curriculum and routine that works best for your child. I suggest that before you begin looking for specific curriculum, spend just a few minutes reading about different homeschool styles, it will take hours off your curriculum search.

 You DO NOT HAVE TO PICK YOUR STYLE RIGHT AWAY, just familiarize with them before you search for curriculum. Not many people are entirely one style of homeschool, but you lean towards certain styles based on your own personality and needs of your children.  

How does knowing homeschool styles help? If your child hates to read on their own, you can avoid an entirely Charlotte Mason approach. If your child hates to sit, you would probably not do only traditional or classical. If you only have one computer in the house, you won't pick an online school for your 3 different kids. If you like schedules and predictable curriculum, you may not like Unschooling.  

We personally tend toward Unit studies, with a lot of living books from Charlotte Mason Philosophy.
See 5 of the most common homeschool styles here- Five Homeschool Styles.


Homeschool Curriculum
We are in a golden age off curriculum choices, but that can also be extremely overwhelming. My biggest advice is ASK YOUR NEW HOMESCHOOL FRIENDS.  They can help you touch and see curriculum.  Also see tips my personal tips How We Survived and Thrived Our First Year of Homeschool. 

While there several options of styles, most curriculum fits into a few different categories based on your family needs.

  • Boxed- Open and Go Boxed curriculum come with a teacher's Manual, and all the books you need for teaching your child.  This is the best option for new homeschool moms because it builds confidence. No hours of planning or seeking out books, just open the manual and teach each day from the books provided in your box. You can go at your own pace, but the template of the teacher's manual is extremely helpful. I am heading into my 8th year, and still love my Christian "open and go" curriculum, My Father's World. For secular Open and Go- check out Build Your Library.
  • Online Public School- K-12 and Connections Academy are a tuition-free online public school options that are done in your home. K-12 and Connections Academy are not technically homeschool: it is public school at home, meaning you have no authority over your content , pace at which you cover the materials, or schedule.  You will be following DIFFERENT LAWS, not homeschooling laws.  That said, it is an option that has helped many families. This is a good option for the mom who wants their child to stay lock-step with the public schools. This could be for someone who knows for sure homeschool is just a season, and their child will be going back into public school eventually. 
  • Eclectic -Make your Own Many moms piece together their curriculum from different publishers, and use a homeschool planner to plan their day.  Sites like Little Green Schoolhouse and Christian Book have homeschool books for every subject. You can piece together an entire curriculum with a few clicks. The increase in homeschooling families equals more resources available, meaning you can pick the curriculum that best meets the needs your family, child, and budget. 
Homeschooling can be as expensive or as cheap as you'd like. 
 Check out my hard-earned tips on How to Homeschool on a Tight Budget!
How to Homeschool When You Can't Afford It


  1. I have 5 year (K) old and 7 year old (2nd grade) who are currently at private Christian school. Next fall we will be homeschooling using MFW, do I still need to provide written letter of intent?

    1. The school may assume them truant if they do not show up in the fall.

  2. Apparently most universities and colleges in the US accept a home-school transcript and diploma for entrance, and therefore one is not required to receive a HSE (High School Equivalency) from the State of Indiana. That said, is there any advantage in getting the HSE in addition to the home-school transcript/diploma?

    1. For the reason you said, I don't see any advantage to it. I have actually herd it argued it is a disadvantage due to the unfortunate stigma that accompanies a HSE. It is better, in my opinion, to issue a homeschool transcript/Diploma. Colleges use much more than just a transcript for admission. We will also have several outside validations that corroborate what my transcript records.

      Examples of Outside Validation:

      Dual enrollment credits through out local community college
      AP tests
      National tests like SAT/ACT