Homeschooling in New York

When it comes to homeschooling, New York is a pretty heavily regulated state, but if you’re convinced that homeschooling your child is the best option, nothing should keep you and your family from going the path that you trust.

In New York state there are two crucial documents that you need to submit. The easy one is the letter of intent (LOI), and the somewhat more complicated one is the Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). You must submit these two documents at the start of each school year to your school district’s superintendent for every child that you wish to homeschool.

You are required to submit your Letter of Intent by July 1st, or within two weeks after you started your homechooling activities. Within ten business days of receiving your Letter of Intent, your school district will send you an Individualized Home Instruction Plan that you must complete and return withing four weeks. You can use the school district’s form or use your own form. Within ten business days (or by August 31st), the district will be notifying homeschooling parents if their IHIP is complying with all state requirements.

Your LOI (Letter of Intent)
This LOI is quite simply a declaration that you intend to start homeschooling your child. Your LOI must include your name, address, contact information, as well as the child’s or children’s names that will receive homeschooling.

The IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan)
This document requires a bit more work than your letter of intent. It makes clear and sure that you and your instruction will be in line with your child’s educational needs as defined by New York state law. Your school district will be sending you their own IHIP form, but you are not obligated to use their form. Make sure, though, that your Individualized Home Instruction Plan is completed correctly and fully.

It must include the name, age, and grade level of the child or children that are homeschooled, and you must include a full list the curriculum materials that you will use, as well as a plan of instruction. You must include dates by which you will submit the quarterly reports as well as the final assessment, names of the individuals who will providing instruction, and a statement that your child receives full-time instruction.

You school year’s calendar must have at least 180 instructional days, you are required to maintain proper attendance records, and at each school year’s end, your child must take a state-approved standardized assessment. Ultimately on the dates you indicated in your IHIP, you are required to submit quarterly reports to the superintendent of your school district, and your reports must specify the number of instructional hours, a description of study materials used in each of your IHIP’s subjects, a grade in each subject field for the child or a written statement on the child’s progress. When less than 80 percent in any subject field was covered (of the course material that was projected in that quarter according to your IHIP) you should provide a clear written explanation.

Your child is required to take an annual assessment at the end of each school year. He or she can take one of the state-approved standardized, norm-referenced assessments, or come up with a written narrative by an official homeschool review panel or a certified teacher (grades 1-3). For grades 4-8, this solution may be used every other year, and the certified teacher or review panel will determine whether the child is progressing sufficiently and report their conclusions in writing to the superintendent of your district.

Homeschooling your child or children is a time-consuming and daunting task that will severely affect your and your family’s lives. There are, however, several organizations and groups in New York that will support you in every possible way. Here we list some organizations that are set up to help you out:

New York State Loving Education at Home (LEAH)
This is a statewide organization that is providing a lot of legal homeschooling information. LEAH also issues a quarterly magazine and holds regular conferences.

– Home Learners Association of Central New York (HLACNY)
This is a great organization that is providing unique learning opportunities such as an Academy on Tuesdays, and co-op classes that meet on Friday mornings. These supporting activities offer a fine supplement to your homeschooling activities. Additionally, there are social events like park days for homeschooling families in Central New York.

The Association of Home Educators Advancing Dreams (AHEAD)
This homeschooling group is a teen-based, and it is providing homeschool activities and support all through New York City’s five boroughs and Long Island.

– CNY Homeschoolers United
This homeschooling advocacy group is based in Central New York and organizes workshops, classes, and activities that range from science fairs to bowling.

– 5BoroHSchooling
This homeschooling advocacy group is based in all five New York City boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island). The organization is focusing mainly on students in the ages for middle school and also provides lots of useful information and support to families planning to homeschool their children.

– Central New York Home-Schooling E-Network (CNYHSEN)
This is a great online network for homeschooling families in Central New York and includes support, forums, resources, and lots of encouragement.

For more discussion on homeschooling see also this post.