Friday, September 23, 2016

Following the Third Option Law

Homeschooling under the Third Option is a wonderful choice for many South Carolina homeschool families. The Third Option allows families to choose the educational path that best fits their student's learning styles and interests. You are free to choose whatever curriculum (or no curriculum!) that you prefer. You are not tied to the public school calendar, and your student is not required to take a standardized test. 

With all the freedom you have as a Third Option homeschooler, there are still some legal requirements that you must follow. 

According to the Third Option (South Carolina Code of Laws SECTION 59-65-47), a homeschool parent must meet the following:
  • Have a high school diploma or GED (You should have a copy of your high school diploma, GED, or college diploma.)
  • Be the parent or legal guardian of the students they are homeschooling
  • Be a member of a homeschool accountability association (There are many wonderful homeschool accountability associations. A directory of associations can be found at The SC Homeschooling Connection.)
  • Have an instructional year that is at least 180 days (You should document these days for your records. You can mark a calendar, keep up with days in your plan book, or use a record keeping sheet similar to the one here. You can have more than 180 days, and you can complete those days any time during the year. You do not have to follow a public school calendar. If you withdraw your child from public/private school to homeschool, the days earned in school count toward your 180 days.)
  • Have a curriculum that includes reading, writing, math, social studies, science, and in grades seven through twelve, composition and literature. (You can teach more than these subjects, but you must teach these subjects each year. You do not have to teach specific courses within these subjects, however, when choosing your high school courses, you should consider what courses are needed to qualify for admissions at the college of your choice. I recommend, at a minimum, following the requirements for a SC diploma. TSCHAA offers a graduation planning sheet found here. )

Educational records are maintained by the parent. A homeschool parent is in charge of keeping up with the following:
  • A plan book, diary, or other record that indicates what is taught (This can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose - just document what you are teaching or what your child is learning and include the dates that you conducted school.)
  • A portfolio of samples of student work (A portfolio is defined as a collection of work. You can put your child’s work in a folder, make a digital collection, or you can create a beautiful keepsake of your child’s learning - it is up to you. The goal is to have proof of schooling in the required subjects for each child.)
  • Semi-annual progress reports (Progress reports are usually made at 90 days and 180 days. These can be formal like a school would issue and have numerical grades for each subject, or they can be informal and simply state how the child is doing in each subject- ex: satisfactorily, at grade-level, needs improvement in ....)
South Carolina is very homeschool friendly, and the Third Option Law allows flexibility with your record keeping. Most families find the requirements manageable and that their students thrive in the homeschool environment. 

Homeschool associations are ready and equipped to help SC families with their homeschool journies. As director of TSCHAA, I am happy to answer any questions that you may have. 

Happy Homeschooling!
Lara T Caldwell, TSCHAA Director