Getting started homeschooling in Arkansas is pretty easy. My family is about to start our seventh year officially homeschooling in the sate of Arkansas. Here are the Legal Requirements and some Considerations to get your started.
How to Legally Homeschool in Arkansas
Arkansas law requires homeschoolers to fill out a Notice of Intent to Homeschool form. This form asks for basic information and requires you to sign a waiver stating that you take responsibility for the education of your child(ren). You don’t have to list your curriculum, hours, or days of instruction. It’s very simply and to the point.
You can fill out the Notice of Intent on paper and turn it in to your local school district’s office, or, more conveniently, you can fill the form out online and submit it electronically. Once your Notice of Intent has been reviewed, you’ll receive a notification by email and you can then save and print a copy of the state-approved form for your records. If you do opt to take it in to your local school district’s office, they’ll stamp the form, and you ought to ask for a photocopy so that you can keep it for your records.
When to Submit the Notice of Intent
If you know you will be homeschooling the next school year, you can submit the Notice of Intent for the coming school year between June 15 and August 15.
Here’s what the Arkansas Department of Education says about submitting the Notice of Intent after August 15: “NOI forms submitted after this date for a student currently enrolled in public school will be subject to a 14-calendar day waiting period before releasing the student to be home-schooled. The superintendent or local school district board has the authority to waive this waiting period upon request.”
For more information on the Notice of Intent and to access a copy of the form online, go to this page on the Arkansas Department of Education’s webiste.
For more information on getting started homeschooling, including the Notice of Intent and guidance on high school requirements, I highly recommend you check out Education Alliance–they are a homeschooler’s best friend in the state of Arkansas!
That’s really it for the basic requirements! Fill out a form! Easy!
But there are a few more things that would be helpful to consider to make sure that the Notice of Intent is actually the right form for you:
Public School Online
If you are enrolled in Arkansas Virtual Academy (ARVA), or one of the other K-12 online public schools, you are NOT considered a homeschooler, and the state does not require you to fill out a Notice of Intent because you are technically still enrolled in public school.
UPDATED TO ADD: If you are leaving a local public school to enroll in a virtual K-12 program, you will have to submit an application to the virtual school and may also be required to give written notice to your child’s previous school. Check with your current school and the virtual school for requirements.
If you wish to switch to homeschooling from online public school, you will need to submit a Notice of Intent.
If your child is five years old on or before August 1, and you desire to keep them home for another year rather than send them to public school, you may fill out a Kindergarten Waiver rather than a Notice of Intent.
Our family did this with one of our children because his birthday fell at the end of the summer, and if we were to put him in school, we would have wanted him to start as an older child rather than as the youngest in his class. This can be a way to take a deep breath and try out homeschooling without pressure if you are still on the fence about what to do with your rising kindergartener.
Things that are NOT Required in Arkansas
Some states require homeschoolers to give quarterly reports, take standardized tests, keep track of the days and hours of instruction, or present a portfolio of their child’s work at the end of the year. Arkansas requires NONE of these things. And this makes homeschooling in Arkansas very easy from a legal standpoint.
However, many homeschool families find it helpful to review their own homeschools on a periodic basis in a way that suits their needs. They may elect to take standardized tests when appropriate and even administer them at home or with a local homeschool group. And many parents keep detailed or representative records of their children’s work and progress. The freedom afforded home educators in the state of Arkansas allows these practices to be tailored to the needs of the parent-teacher and their child.
If you have concerns about what records to keep, know that unless you are building a child’s high school transcript, the most important thing to demonstrate with the work samples and records you keep is how the child is progressing. For a young child, this doesn’t need to include grades. Work samples from the beginning, middle, and end of the year in the most pertinent skill areas are a great way to show progress if you are ever called upon to do so. And it’s valuable for you and your child to see how far you’ve come!
Recommended Resources for Homeschooling in Arkansas
Education Alliance Not only will you find guidance for getting started, you’ll also find information on local co-ops and support groups, an opportunity to purchase Teacher and Student ID cards, a service for high school transcripts and diplomas, updates on state laws and how they impact homeschoolers, and more! If you have questions about sports or special needs or other specific considerations, Education Alliance can help get you the answers you need.
Home School Legal Defense Association This is another great and long-standing organization at the national level, offering support, educational resources, and legal representation if needed. They also have a charitable arm that seeks to help families through times of need by offering grants for homeschooling.
Also, never underestimate the power of having a library card! 🙂
Got more questions or concerns? Let me know in the comments! I wish you the best!