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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 Homeschool Laws

  •  Indiana Homeschools are legally considered non-accredited private 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, your child can't take the ISTEP.  If you really feel like you'd like to have your child take testing, you may pay for your child to take Bob Jones Accredited Test.

How to Begin

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.  You 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 on Facebook 
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.

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  schoolday.

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 homescholing in Indiana is you can have find the prefect fit of curriculum and routine for your child. I suggest that before you begin your curriculum search, look at different home school styles. This will take hours off your curriculum search. Not many people are entirely one style, but you lean towards certain styles based on your own personality. We personally tend toward Unit studies, with some philosophy of Charlotte Mason.  You DO NOT HAVE TO PICK YOUR STYLE RIGHT AWAY, just familiarize with them before you search for curriculum.  If your child hates to read. you can avoid an entirely Charlotte Mason approach. If your child hates to sit, you would probably not do only classical.

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.  While there several options of styles, most curriculum fits into a few different types  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 "open and go" curriculum, My Father's World
  • K-12 and Connection Academy Online Public SchoolK-12 is a free online public school option that is 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 Christian Book Homeschool Resources  has homeschool books for every subject, and 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.


  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.