Homeschooling in Maine - Frequently Asked Questions
Did you know?
According to a 2007 report by the U.S. Department of Education there are at least 1.5 million homeschoolers in the United States, a 74% increase from 1999. Homeschooling in Maine has grown significantly as well, with a 40% jump between 1996 and 2007. During the same period, Maine public school enrollment dropped 7 1/2%.
Maine's 6,000 homeschoolers are a diverse group, coming from every ethnic, religious, and economic background, and representing a variety of educational philosophies. In spite of their diversity, homeschool families share a common commitment to education that suits the needs of individual children and their families.
How do I get started?
If you are new to homeschooling in Maine, you want to start by visiting the Maine Department of Education Home Instruction website. There you'll find the "Notice of Intent to Homeschool" form which you will need to complete for any child between the ages of seven and seventeen whom you are homeschooling. As indicated on the form, one should be sent to the Commissioner of Education in Augusta, and a second copy should be sent to the Superintendent of Schools in your district. The law requires that you file your Notice of Intent ten days prior to beginning homeschool instruction.
How many days of instruction are required in Maine?
Maine law requires that homeschoolers complete 175 instructional days; however, homeschoolers have flexibility with those days. They may be completed on weekends, on snow days, at the kitchen table, in the library, in the car, or at the beach. Many homeschoolers use a planner to record their activities, classes, lessons, and events.
What should I teach?
The law requires that homeschool programs include English and language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, and in at least one grade from 6-12, Maine studies. Additionally, in at least one grade level from 7-12, students are required to show computer proficiency.
Although these requirements are no different than those for traditionally schooled children, homeschool parents have the flexibility of meeting their students where they are. Although most homeschool parents keep an eye on state standards for various grade levels, homeschool instruction is generally child centered, so that lessons meet the child's needs, interests, and learning style rather than arbitrary guidelines of what a child should be doing at a particular age or grade level.
Do I have to give my kids standardized tests?
The submission of standardized test scores to the Maine Commissioner of Education and to your local Superintendent of Schools is one way to show adequate progress. However, you may also show adequate progress via portfolio review with a Maine certified teacher. The portfolio review process can be very reaffirming. During a portfolio review, you provide samples, anecdotal information, planners, scrapbooks, and/or other information to document each year's homeschool journey. If you choose to do a portfolio review, the certifying teacher should provide you with a letter of verification. Copies of the letter should be sent to the Maine Commissioner of Education and your local Superintendent of Schools. It is advisable to also keep a copy of the letter for your records.
Do I still need provide test scores or a letter of verification from a certified teacher if I homeschooled my child for only part of the year?
Yes. However, you will only need to provide samples of work from the part of the year during which you homeschooled.
How do I decide on a curriculum?
Your kids, your personal educational philosophy, and your circumstances can determine your day-to-day activities and lessons. First, you should know that a 1996 state law does specifically require that public schools allow homeschool students to participate in curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular activities under certain circumstances. This same law also allows for homeschool students to use school textbooks if there are sufficient copies and library services so long as library use does not regular school programming.
If you aren't interested in utilizing services or textbooks at your local public school, you'll want to take a good look at how your child learns before committing a lot of dollars to curricula. Some kids love workbooks, others need hands on experiences to drive ideas home... some kids need lots of direction, others learn better when they are surrounded with resources and left to their own devices... some kids thrive when faced daily with new and difficult ideas, others need to take new material in baby steps.
For some families, box curricula that includes all subjects works best. Others, often known as eclectic homeschoolers, enjoy using different texts and approaches for different subjects. Unschoolers, on the other hand, may reject some or all texts in favor of experiential learning. Still others will use different methods at different points in their homeschooling. There is no one best way for children to learn, and so there is likewise no best way for families to homeschool!
Where can I find curriculum?
Aside from schools and public libraries, curriculum (both free and not) is available at a number of websites. Check out our list of curriculum resources!