Option 3 Homeschool Questions & Answers
What if there is a gap between my current accountability group year end and my new accountability group year start?
- For example, if your current year ends May 31 and you join a different group that starts July 1.
- Are you covered, legally, as a homeschooler? Yes you are covered. The gap does not affect the legality of your homeschool.
- Can you count the school days you have during the gap? Yes. You can add them to the previous year or the new year.
At what age do I need to start homeschooling?
- When your child is age 5 by September 1
Pre-K through Kindergarten
South Carolina Homeschool law applies to the same age range as public school. Parents are free to educate their children as they see fit until the first school year they will be 5. Children age 5 by September 1st are required to register for kindergarten, formally opt out of kindergarten, or register as a homeschooler.
Kindergarten – Opt Out or Homeschool Association?
As a homeschooler you have the option to formally opt out of Kindergarten or to join a homeschool association. To opt out, parents sign a waiver at their local school district office if they desire not to send their child to kindergarten. Alternatively, parents can register their 5-year old with a homeschool association. Many families who plan to homeschool choose to register with a Homeschool association because opting out registers the child’s name with the schools. There is a chance you will have to formally withdraw a child from school for 1st grade if you opt out of kindergarten.
What Option is virtual public school and other online schools?
- South Carolina public charter virtual schools are considered public school and do not fall under the homeschool law. They are funded by by the state.
- If you are enrolled in full-time private school online and the online school has been approved by the SC State Board of Education, you are not homeschooling and are considered private school. Most nation-wide online programs do not qualify. Check with your online school and/or the SC Board of Education to verify.
- Most homeschoolers join an Accountability Association. If your online school does not qualify as a public school, private school, or SC association for home schools, you will need to join an Option 3 Accountability Association.
What counts as a school day?
- Any day you do anything educational with your child for any length of time. This can be a core subject or another subject. Education can be in the form of instruction, independent learning, or activity.
How long does each school day need to be?
- There is no length of day requirement for option 3 homeschooling. Some days can be short, some can be long.
What subjects do we need to cover each day?
- You can cover any subjects on a school day. It can be a single subject or many. It can include core subjects, or other subjects.
Do I need to cover the same subject material as the public schools?
- No. Science can be any science subject during the year. Social studies can be any period in history, any geography, any social customs, etc. Reading and writing can be on your child’s level rather than the standard school level. Math can be any math subject.
When does the school year start?
- Most associations start their school year between May – August. This may be the start of your academic year or it may be somewhere in the middle of your year. Families can organize their school year any way they like as long as they cover at least 180 days within their Accountability Association’s start and end date. When you register for an option 3 association, use the grade level of your students at the start of the association’s school year.
What grade level do I report for my child?
- The grade level is determined by the parent. Many families use the grade level associated with the age of the child. You can use a higher or lower grade level if you think that is the best fit. You can teach any level of material regardless of the grade level. Keep in mind that children must be schooled through age 17 and high school transcripts work best as a 4-year transcript for students wanting to apply for college.
Can my child skip a grade or repeat a grade:
- Yes. At the start of the school year, report your child’s current grade level to your accountability association. Nothing special needs to be noted if you are skipping or repeating. Notify you accountability association if you feel the need to make this change in the middle of a school year.
- Note that you can do any level of academic work at any grade level.
Is testing required?
- No. South Carolina option 3 does not require any testing.
How do I withdraw my child from school?
- If possible, first determine if you will use option 1, 2, or 3. Then get legal. If using option 3, join an accountability association and get your membership letter. Let the association know you are withdrawing from school and will need your letter quickly. Take the letter with you to the school.
- Go to the school and fill out the required forms to withdraw your child from school. Give them a copy of your Accountability Association letter if you have it.
- If you do not have an accountability association letter, contact your accountability association right away and most will send a letter to the school.
What do option 3 accountability associations provide for their members?
- The association must meet the legal requirements of SC option 3 homeschool law. They must have at least 50 members, complete an annual review, and report the grade level and number of children to the members’ school districts.
- Associations provide a membership letter or card as proof of membership.
- Most associations provide support by answering questions and helping families withdraw or enroll their children in public school.
Other options offered by some accountability associations:
- Events, social activities, classes, support groups
- Report cards, letter for DMV
- Attendance, record keeping
- Curriculum help or approval
- Religious agreements
- High school: transcripts, class ranking, graduation, SAT classes, honor level course validation
How much does it cost to join an option 3 Accountability Association?
- Depending on the association, annual prices range from $15 – $70 per year per family or student, and up to $140 for high school students.
Can I homeschool a foster child:
- Yes if it is approved by the Department of Social Services or other agency having custody of the child.
Can my child play sports or participate in other activities with their local school?
- Yes, provided that the the student has been legally homeschooled for a full academic year prior to participating.
- Homeschool students may not be denied if the student meets all school district eligibility requirements with the exception of school attendance and class enrollment requirements.
- For more information see the Equal Access Interscholastic Activities Bill.