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Never be afraid to ask! Most homeschooling parents and students and support groups are happy to help. See also DoE Home Instruction Questions and Answers

Index to All FAQs * FAQ: Getting Started * FAQ: Paperwork * Special Ed FAQ * FAQ: Testing

If you don't find your question answered, or you want to post some further information, please fill out the form at Ask Laurie. See also some Recently Asked Questions and our Special Ed resources page. Laurie Spigel is available for educational consultations.

Here's a list of Grade Levels, Standards and Benchmarks , with updated NYS Standards

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Does home schooling has to be done by one of the parents or can it be done by a private agency or teachers?

The parent or guardian must do the paperwork and filing with the DoE, but the parent does not have to be the teacher!

New York State regulations state that if a parent hires a teacher for a group of children who meet for more than half of their educational hours, then the parent has created a school and is subject to a whole different set of regulations. Most parents hire teachers to teach small groups, and they also take advantage of afterschool programs, or arrange daytime classes in art studios, or meet in someone’s living room and share the teaching, or take classes at a homeschool learning center. These kids are not in one same group for 50% or more of their time. Instead they are out of the home and in a variety of classes and activities (often at a wide variety of locations) for the majority of their educational hours.

Also, you may file as a homeschooler with the DoE ( see 10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling: Know the Law), and use a correspondence curriculum at home (10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling: Correspondence Curricula & Online Courses).

Two homeschool learning centers in Manhattan are The ROC in the East Village: and Different Directions on West 57th St. The largest organization of homeschoolers in NYC is NYCHEA, where you will find monthly meetings and fairs for kids, and a monthly newsletter listing field trips and classes.

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How do I go about applying for entry into a specialized NYC public high school for my homeschooled child? updated

For students interested in applying to NYC specialized high schools (such as: Bronx Science, LaGuardia, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech) you must take an exam (the SHSAT). You will need a test admission ticket for the SHSAT exam. This ticket must be picked up or received in the mail in early October for a test date at the end of October. Check the DoE calendar well in advance. If you miss the registration deadline for this test, you miss your chance to apply to one of these schools. You should receive a SHSAT confirmation in the mail once you are registered to receive a test ticket.
As of July 2014, the official at the NYC DoE who helps homeschooling parents arrange for these exams is Yolanda Hendley-Bagley at (917) 339-1750 or send an email Yolanda joined the homeschooling office in 2013-14 and will return for 2014-15 as their high school application content expert. Parents have cited her helpfulness.
Make certain that your applications to these schools are submitted well in advance. Do not rely on the DoE homeschooling office to submit paperwork or applications for you, or to transfer necessary paperwork or records to the schools you are applying to. The parent must personally make sure that all of these tasks are taken care of, and that the test ticket is reserved in advance.

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I cannot speak English fluently enough to teach required subjects in English. Is it possible to homeschool my son in NYC?

Yes. You can still teach your child many subjects in your native language, and you can find groups and opportunities in the homeschooling community (try joining for your child to learn in a group of English speaking children. You must address this issue in your homeschooling paperwork, since the regulations list as a required subject “bilingual education where the need is indicated.” So in your IHIP and in each quarterly report you must state how you are teaching your child English when you don’t speak it well yourself. Common suggestions include: participating in organized group activities with families who do speak English well, hiring a tutor (this could be anyone from a certified teacher to a gifted high school student), getting help from a friend, using certain books or videos, swapping childcare, having an English-speaking sitter. Even watching Sesame Street or having a weekly conversation with the local librarian are English activities that could be included in your reports.

I can recommend a workbook series on grammar and punctuation that is self-correcting, where all the answers are on the next page and the child can do most of it him or herself. The series is called Daily Language Workouts and there is one for every grade level. For young children I also recommend a phonics workbook series called Explode the Code.

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Where can I find a practical arts book for 7th grade?

Practical arts has also been called "life skills". According to the board of ed. this includes: industrial arts, home economics, business and agriculture. So you could teach your 7th grader one of the following: how to balance a checkbook, open a bank account, make a profit running a lemonade stand, how to do the laundry, mend clothing, cook a dinner, how to properly put out a kitchen fire, plant a garden, or repair a lamp, and so on. Those skills would all come into this category. I never used a curriculum or bought a book for this subject, and just added to the bottom of each page that "practical arts" and "life skills" were included in my child's instruction. I taught them most of these things as a natural part of the parenting process. But you could certainly find books on each of the topics (cookbooks, how to handle money, gardening books, etc.), and choose your own focus.

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My son is a 16 year old H.S. student currently in the 10th grade, although he should be in the 11th grade. My question is would an accredited online high school program be my best option or does that really matter in the eyes of a college?

The best answer to your question is to go to the college and ask them directly. I visited several colleges and universities with my two sons. At each admissions office I asked the same question: "Is your application process for homeschooled students the same as it is for regularly schooled students?" In most places the answer was yes. I carefully read each application, and they asked for the equivalent of fours years of high school. So I wrote home-made transcripts explaining, briefly, what my kids had done in their high school years. My kids also submitted SAT test scores, essays, a portfolio (if the application was to an arts school), a creative or extracurricular resume of amazing activities, and they had interviews. In both cases they were accepted to their first choice colleges with generous scholarships, but they were well-prepared and had done their research. Neither of my sons ever got a high school diploma.

One or two of the colleges we asked had extra requirements for homeschoolers, usually three extra Sat II exams. SUNY is the New York State university system, a good deal for NYS residents, and they are one of the few places that still requires a diploma, regardless of how many exams you have taken. There are equivalents that they will accept. These include: a passing grade on the GED, passing grades in five specific Regents exams, earning at least 24 college credits. For more info, go to:

Most homeschooled teens take college courses and earn real college credits, while still in high school. CUNY has a scholarship program called College Now.

For more info, see About College and Pre College Programs

One more comment about correspondence schools and on-line programs -- they vary as much as any other school and can be just as boring. We concentrated on experiential learning, and focused on each student's individual strengths. In this way my sons each found their direction and were able to focus on the right school.

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How do I get working papers for my child?

The information you need is at the NYS Dept. of Labor website: Working Papers - Facts for Teenagers under 18. You will need to go down to the Bd. of Ed. homeschooling office in Manhattan with your child (who may need to sign something). The homeschooling office receives people between the hours of ten and noon. They should give you a letter on Bd. of Ed. letterhead stating that you and your child are fully in compliance with state regulations. All of your paperwork needs to be order. Just to be on the safe side, bring copies of your paperwork (IHIP and quarterlies) when you go, to prove you are fully in compliance. Also, make sure you bring your child's birth certificate and social security number. While you are there, you might pick up your MetroCard if you don't already have one.

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Can you tell me how many quarterly hours a 9th grader should have. I know a lower grade student needs 225 hours each quarter. Doest a 9th grader need 248?

NYS regulations state:

The cumulative hours of instruction for grades 1 through 6 shall be 900 hours per year. The cumulative hours of instruction for grades 7 through 12 shall be 990 hours per year.

This is what I write on the quarterlies of my high school age son:

[Student's name] has completed more than 247.5 cumulative hours of instruction in the equivalent of 45 days. Attendance: 100%.

See also Required Courses in Ten Steps to Successful Homeschooling: Step 1: Know the Law.

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Is it true that NYC homeschoolers now receive MetroCards? My friend in NJ wants to know if she is eligible to apply for one.

All homeschoolers who reside within the NYC limits, and whose paperwork is up-to-date, are eligible to receive a MetroCard. See The NYC Metrocard for more information.

As for your friend in NJ, does she really want to exchange the privilege of no paperwork for a NYC MetroCard? Everything's a trade-off!

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How do I find out what school district I am in?

For a map of Regional offices, go to the NYC Department of Education - Find a School website and click on the Zip Code tab. Enter your zip code, then press Enter. And here's a list of Community and High School Superintendents (pdf format)

The following information was found at The League of Women Voters website:

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I just moved to NYC. The laws in my other state were different. Does my child have to be in school by the age of five by NYC law?

This information is taken from the federal Home Instruction Questions and Answers. Scroll down for General Q & A.

38.. When must a student begin to receive instruction?
  A change in Education Law 3205, which became effective on July 26, 1993, clarifies the age at which a student is subject to compulsory education. The law now requires children who turn six on or before December 1 to receive instruction from the start of the school year in September of that year. Children who turn six after December 1 must begin to receive instruction no later than the first day of school the following September. However, the New York City regulation is slightly different -- it requires compulsory education for a child who turns six in the calendar year, that is, turns six by December 31. See Admissions, Readmissions, Transfer and List Notice for All Students (pdf format).
39. Must the IHIP for a six-year-old indicate that the instruction is on the first grade level?
  No. As with any age, instruction should be geared to the level appropriate to the student's needs and previous level of achievement.

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What is the compulsory age for mandatory high school? How soon can a student stop filing?

This information is taken from the Home Instruction Questions and Answers. Scroll down for General Q & A.

43. If a student reaches the maximum age for compulsory attendance during the school year, must the IHIP for that student cover the full year?
  Yes. Students who turn 16 (or 17 in New York City) between July 1 and June 30 are of compulsory attendance age during the entire school year.
44. Is a district required to review the IHIP submitted for a student beyond compulsory attendance age?

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My child would like to go to summer camp, but he doesn't want a camp where every other child is from a traditional school. Do you know of any summer camps that will have other homeschooled kids?

The Not Back to School Camp wasn't just created for homeschoolers, it was created for unschoolers! Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook, has created a summer camp environment for teens where kids really feel allowed to be themselves. Sessions include two weeks at the end of August in Oregon, and one week at the end of September in Vermont. Each week there are dozens of exciting workshops, and campers can do or not do what they like. One homeschooled teen described his camp experience here as possibly the best week of his life.

See our list of a-typical Camps for homeschoolers and families.

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I want to pick Strawberries, Blueberries, and Peaches. Do you know where we could do that?

We pick strawberries in June and early July. There are some great farms in New Jersey, not too far to drive to. Blueberries we pick in August. There is a large farm of organic blueberries with very high bushes -- no stooping -- in Dutchess county. We’ve never picked peaches, but if you find a lovely grove of peach trees in NY or NJ, please do let us know! Fall is the season for apples and pears and pumpkins (the NY Times just ran an article saying that some pumpkin patches were buying them and leaving them out by the vines to sell to unsuspecting pickers!).

Happy picking! When you get home you'll just have to make lots of jam, and, of course, read to the kids: Jamberry, by Bruce Degen, for 1 - 6-year-olds and Blueberries for Sal, the Maine classic by Robert McCloskey, for ages 4 - 9. Family favorites!

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