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So you think you may want to homeschool

A homeschooling advocate shares some ideas on how to get started

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — You can't just pull your kid out of class. Tennessee has certain requirements including submitting attendance records, proof of vaccination, and taking standardized tests. 

Diane Benson is a Counseling Team Leader for HomeLife Academy. 

"HomeLife Academy is what we call an umbrella or cover school for homeschoolers for various states around the country. We're located here in Tennessee," she said. 

An umbrella school provides support services like academic counseling, transcripts, diplomas, and dual enrollment papers

Deciding whether to homeschool starts with a basic question.

"What are my goals for my student?" she said. 

That's a good place to start if you're considering homeschooling. It's a big commitment. 

"Home schooling in so many ways really is a lifestyle. It's different. It is something that as a parent you are there in the trenches a lot with your student. I think it can really change family dynamics. Because you are there together, you're working together, you're in a partnership with your student," she said. 

Credit: WBIR
Diane Benson is a Counseling Team Leader with HomeLife Academy

You can't just pull your kid out of school. Tennessee has certain requirements. Check out the state code here. 

Homeschoolers have to have a legitimate partner and some sort of accountability. 

"There's several different ways to do that. One would be, for example,  to register with the local Board of Education and be an independent homeschooler through them. Another option is an umbrella school like HomeLife Academy where we kind of cover you legally for that. We are technically your school. We are who you report your attendance to and your grades, etcetera," she said. 

Parents could also partner with a brick and mortar private school or an accredited online school. 

Diane Benson offered some advice.

"There's not really a wrong choice. Just different choices." 

Know your own teaching style. Structured? Flexible? 

Knox your child's learning style. Independent? Hands on? 

Find appropriate curriculum resources. There are plenty. 

And you really need to evaluate the challenges and advantages of one-on-one education.

"If they need to go slower in one subject you can go slower. If they are zipping though something else then you can follow the child's lead in that area," she said. 

It's a lot to consider, but you wouldn't be alone.

"Our enrollment in June was up 50% and folks going to our website is up 50% to 150%. "

HomeLife Academy is a low-cost Christian organization with free resources on its website. There are a lot of religious and secular options in East Tennessee. 

Here are links to many of those homeschool umbrella organizations.

East Tennessee Secular Homeschoolers


Knox County Schools

Link to some brick-and-mortar schools offering umbrella registration in East Tennessee.

Here are the A2Z Knoxville area homeschool support groups.

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