Alabama Homeschooling and Unschooling FAQs. Answers to questions such as how to homeschool in Alabama, how to unschool, what is HSLDA, what is a church school and why do I need to use one, what is the compulsory school attendance age, can my child play on a sports team, do I need to sign a statement of faith, and will a church school diploma enable my child to get into colleges?

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Homeschoolers’ College Admissions Handbook:
Preparing 12- to 18-Year-Olds for Success in the College of Their Choice

by Cafi Cohen
The transition from homeschooling children to preparing them for success in college deserves both planning and preparation.
Kindle Edition


Homeschooling the Child with Autism
Answers to the Top Questions Parents and Professionals Ask

by Patricia Schetter, Kandis Lighthall
This practical, highly accessible guide answers parents' and professionals' questions about teaching children with autism spectrum disorders at home.
It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
~ Alec Bourne

    Alabama Homeschool FAQs

    Disclaimer: The information provided here is based upon my personal experience and those individuals I have come in contact with. In no way should any information on this site be considered legal advice. I urge everyone to familiarize themselves with the State of Alabama Education Code and to seek out other web sites pertaining to homeschooling. Do not rely solely upon what you find at any one site!




    • Why do I have to use a church school in order to homeschool in Alabama?
      The church school situation here in Alabama can seem pretty confusing at first, but it is really not too difficult. Basically, there are two ways to legally homeschool in AL, although neither of them is called homeschooling. If you are a certified teacher in AL, you can home tutor your own children, working through your local school board. Some people do this, although I only know of a few. The most normal way is through the church schools (sometimes referred to as church cover schools, covers, umbrellas, etc.). You can read more about church schools and find a church school by going to the Alabama Church Schools Directory.

      The separation of school & state enables us to homeschool our children by enrolling them in a church school. Technically, we are a satellite of a church school, tutoring our children at home through the auspices of a church school which is a ministry of that church. It does work rather well, though, and certainly enables us to home educate with very little government oversight.

      There are three State of Alabama requirements on us through the church school laws:

      • The parent must file a CSEF (Church School Enrollment Form) for each compulsory attendance-aged child (Compulsory school attendance age is 7 - 17) with the local school superintendent's office. The church school director provides the CSEF, which both the church school director and the legal guardian of the child must sign. Some church schools file the CSEF themselves, but legally it is the parent's responsibility to ensure it is done.
      • Attendance must be kept (although it is up to the church school how this is accomplished).
      • The church school must submit a notification of withdrawal to the local superintendent if/when you withdraw your children from that church school.

      All other rules and regulations stated by a church school are those that the church school has decided to put into place. They are not a state requirement, no matter what that church school may tell you.


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    • What is a church school?
      A church school is nothing more than a ministry of a church. Most are run by members of a church, others are run by individuals who have found a church to sponsor them, and some are run by individuals who believe that their home is their church and their ministry is to help other parents to home educate their own children. The church school occasionally has a bricks-and-mortar building, but not always. Sometimes the church that is running the church school also operates an on-site church school, but not always.


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    • Can I homeschool without using a church school?
      If you are a certified teacher in the state of Alabama, you can home tutor your children. You must work with your local school superintendent and follow the public school's guidelines. Some public schools will let you use the curriculum of your choice; others will require you to use the public school curriculum. How well homeschooling works this way mostly depends upon your relationship with the local public school officials.


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    • What does a church school do for me?
      The church school allows you to legally homeschool in Alabama without having to worry about the public school officials declaring your child truant and without having to follow the guidelines of what the public school considers education (depending upon the church school you choose).


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    • Will the church school require I submit my children to testing? Or regulate the curricula I use?
      It depends upon the church school you choose. Since the state does not regulate church schools, each school can decide its own requirements. Some do require annual testing or would like to have some say in the curricula you use. Most church schools do not. But there is no Alabama law requiring church schooled children to be tested annually.


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    • If I do not belong to a church, will a church school enroll my children?
      Some church schools are open only to their own church members and some are open only to members of their own particular denomination or faith. There are many, though, throughout the state that are open to enrollment for everyone, regardless of your faith or lack thereof, regardless of your church membership or lack thereof.


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    • I am not religious. Do I still have to use a church school? And will a church school enroll my children?
      Yes, you still have to use a church school. I know! It sucks! But that's the way it is here in Alabama. Thankfully, more and more church schools are realizing that many people homeschooling today are not doing so for religious reasons. You will be able to locate many that accept enrollment of any and all students.


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    • Why do church schools cost so much money?
      Some do cost quite a bit, while others are much more reasonably priced. Much depends upon what you are looking for or requiring from a church school. If you want one that offers workshops, science fairs, field trips, resource centers, co-op classes, etc., then you are going to pay more for your choice. If you prefer a church school that only sends out a monthly newsletters, arranges a few field trips around the state, and mostly just leaves you alone, then there are some that will do that for you and not charge you very much in the process. But even those church schools find it necessary to charge something for their efforts. Perhaps they have an Internet presence that costs them money. Perhaps they are prepared to do battle for the rights of their enrolled families and may incur legal expense. Or perhaps they simply have expenses such as a file cabinet, copy machine, postage, fax machine, newsletter copies to mail, and an answering machine constantly full of long distance calls to return from prospective homeschoolers.

      To view a questionnaire that may help you determine what you might need in a church school, please visit the Alabama Church School Questionnaire page.


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    • Does a church school provide everything I need to homeschool my child?
      A church school will only supply you with the legal means with which to home educate your child. In addition, they may offer advice, workshops, and other means of helping you decide just what to use for your child. No church schools that I am aware of will provide you with curriculum.


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    • Can I unschool in Alabama?
      Yes, if you find a church school that understands unschooling. There are some church schools that are not comfortable with the concept of unschooling and will require more reporting and test taking than most unschoolers would be willing to do. So you just need to be up front and honest with the church school that you contact and make sure they understand the way you want to homeschool. There are many church schools who are very happy to enroll unschoolers.


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    • Where do I find a church school?
      LeapingFromTheBox.com provides a listing of Alabama Church Schools for homeschoolers. Not every church school is listed on the Internet, though, so ask questions on e-mail lists and of other homeschoolers you might know. It is possible that your church might even have a church school already in place or be willing to start one up for your family. If you are new to an area and would prefer to join a church school in your locality that is sponsored by a local church (rather than one that covers statewide), call area churches and ask.


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    • How can my child play a team sport while homeschooling in Alabama? Can he/she join the public school sports team?
      Many areas have youth leagues, boys and girls club leagues, church groups, or recreation park/department groups that your child can join. Our personal experience is that most of these are limited to children under 13, but that may not be universal. Call around and see if there are youth leagues available through your YMCA or your local parks department. Our experience has been that it is not possible in Alabama for a church schooled student to join a public school sports team, but if anyone knows of such a case, I'd be glad to hear of it.

      There are some homeschool leagues starting up, especially around the larger population areas. Most of this is by word of mouth, usually through e-mail lists and church school directors, so you really have to network and ask everyone you know.


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    • Do all church schools require a statement of faith?
      No, not all. Many do, but many more church schools are inclusive, open to all individuals, and do not require any signed statement of faith. Most are still Christian, but do not require a signed statement of faith or require religious instruction. There are some church schools that are non-Christian, also.


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    • What is HSLDA? Why do some church schools require membership in HSLDA while other church schools do not?
      HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association is a very controversial organization amongst homeschoolers. Some swear by them and would not think of homeschooling without being a member of HSLDA, while other homeschoolers swear at them and wish they would stay out of the legislative arena.

      Many church schools in Alabama require membership in HSLDA. Many more are offering the option or simply not requiring membership in HSLDA at all, not believing it is worth the money spent or believing there are better alternatives should one need legal representation. You will need to make up your own mind how you feel about HSLDA and whether you wish to be a member or not. I have provided a few links to info about HSLDA:

      Other alternatives to HSLDA include hiring your own lawyer (try to find one that is familiar with the education laws of your state), Rutherford Institute, and the Southeast Law Institute. Also, check with your local Libertarian Party for information about lawyers who take an interest in civil rights cases and cases of personal liberties and freedom.


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    • Are church schools the same as a support group?
      No, not at all. Many church schools can, and do, offer the same opportunities for socialization and networking that the support groups offer. But the support groups are not church schools and therefore cannot legally enable you to homeschool. Many people find it necessary to join a church school and a support group, especially if the church school they join does not offer a lot in the way of local support. LeapingFromTheBox.com provides a listing of Alabama Support Groups for homeschoolers.


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    • Will my child be able to enter college with a church school diploma?
      Yes. Most colleges will gladly accept a church school diploma, the same as they will any church school or private school diploma. Mostly what the colleges want seems to be those ACT or SAT test scores, along with a diploma and transcript.


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    • I am a music (art, etc.) teacher looking to tutor or hold classes or otherwise instruct homeschool students. How do I let homeschoolers in my area know I am available?
      Several options are available:
      • Post notices at the local library
      • Put an ad in your local newspaper
      • Post notices at music stores or art stores or book stores
      • Contact the list owners of some Alabama homeschool e-mail lists and ask if you can post your info to that list (just joining the list to post your info without asking first is taken as spam and you will likely be banned from the list). You can find listings of Alabama homeschool e-mail lists in in the E-lists Section.
      • Contact Alabama church school directors and ask if your info can be added to their monthly newsletter.

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    • What is the compulsory school attendance age in Alabama for homeschoolers?
      Compulsory School Attendance ages are 6 - 17. (In May 2012 the compulsory school attendance age was lowered from 7 to 6.) A parent of a 6-year-old may opt out of enrolling the child in public school until age 7 by notifying the local school board in writing that the child will not be enrolled until age 7. This new law went into effect August 1, 2012. More information can be found on my blog post Alabama Lowered The Compulsory School Attendance Age.


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Homeschooling The Early Years
Your Complete Guide to Successfully Homeschooling the 3- to 8- Year-Old Child

by Linda Dobson
Here's a guide that comes direct from the experts: a mother of two homeschooled, now-grown children and 83 homeschooling families she surveyed..
Kindle Edition


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Homeschooling: The Teen Years

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Kindle Edition


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Kindle Edition



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A structured plan to ensure that your children will learn what they need to know when they need to know it, from preschool through high school. Based on the traditional pre-K through 12th-grade structure.
Kindle Edition


Deschooling Gently
by Tammy Takahashi
Deschooling Gently will help you whether you are new to homeschooling, or if you are experienced, but are in need of new approaches. Discover the best way to educate your children at home, not through rote process, but by learning how to find the answer within yourself.
Kindle Edition


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