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Leaping Blog Question – Is Unschooling Legal?

Another response to a question I received about unschooling. If you have your own question, click on the “Email Me Today” link on the right sidebar and send me your question.

Bmxbadgirl asks: Is unschooling legal? What about a diploma? or getting into college? How does all that work?

Yes, unschooling is legal, since homeschooling is legal in all fifty states and unschooling is simply one method of homeschooling.

Your diploma would depend upon your particular state requirements for homeschooling. In Alabama, where I homeschooled our children, they had to be enrolled in a church school and the church school worked with the parents, setting requirements for diplomas. All three of my children were unschooled through high school, all three graduated with a diploma. Two went to college with no problems resulting from the church school diploma. Each state has different homeschooling laws, so you would need to know what those were and talk to unschoolers in your state to find out how they work within those laws.

I have an article I wrote while my children were in high school, describing our experiences unschooling high school:

I hope this helps your further understanding of unschooling. If you have more questions, please feel free to email me with them.

Alabama Lowered the Compulsory School Attendance Age

Alabama’s compulsory school attendance age was changed May 2012, lowering the age limit for all students in Alabama from 7 to 6 years old. This was done via Senate Bill 28.

A parent of a 6-year-old may opt out of enrolling the child in public school until age 7 by notifying the local school board in writing that the child will not be enrolled until age 7. This new law went into effect August 1, 2012.

Here is HSLDA’s take on the changes: Compulsory Attendance Age Lowered

You may still find some church school administrators who are not aware of the change, as it was done very quietly, with only a minimum of attention on several of the statewide Alabama homeschooling lists. Also, many websites that include generalized homeschooling information for all fifty states have not made the necessary changes to reflect this new attendance age for Alabama.

It is always best to read the Code of Alabama 1975 for yourself and review it occasionally for changes or just to refresh your knowledge. To find the proper section of the code, visit ALISON (Alabama Legislative Information System Online). On the left side of the page, click on the “Code of Ala” tab. From there, click on the “view” option at the top of that left side tab. Scroll down to Title 16: Education. The Section most pertinent is Chapter 28, but some of the rest is pretty interesting reading also!

As of today’s date (August 20, 2012), the new lowered compulsory attendance age has not been updated in The Code of Alabama 1975.

For more information about homeschooling in Alabama, check out LeapingFromTheBox’s Alabama FAQs and Alabama Homeschooling pages.

You might also be interested in information on the upper age limit of 17 for compulsory attendance for Alabama.

Disclaimer: In no way should any information on this blog be considered legal advice. I urge everyone to familiarize themselves with the homeschool (education) laws of their individual state (read the State of Alabama Education Code) and to seek out other web sites pertaining to homeschooling in their individual state. Do not rely solely upon what you find at any one site!

We Didn’t Do That In My Day

Yesterday morning, while I was at my favorite German bakery The Bread Basket, I overheard a snippet of conversation from a table of older gentlemen (the bakery is a favorite breakfast spot by many retirees and military in the community). They obviously had been discussing the federally assisted meal program known as the School Breakfast Program, although in what context, I can only guess. Just as I was getting ready to leave with my purchases, one man proclaimed quite loudly,

“I don’t know why we need to feed those kids breakfast. We didn’t do that in my day.

If my parents couldn’t afford to feed me breakfast, I just went to school hungry.”

His comments have echoed in my brain for the past two days. I imagine he was upset about his tax money being “wasted” in such a program, feeding children whose parents ought to be responsible enough to be able to feed their own children. Or maybe he was just upset about taxes in general or wasteful government programs. I would like to think that, as a country, we would want all children to face a school day with some food in their stomach, but I know many people are opposed to the government providing such services. Anyway, this isn’t meant to be a political post nor was that the part of his comment that caused me to put pen to paper (so to speak).

What struck me was his statement: “We didn’t do that in my day.” How often have you heard that phrase used? Have you heard it used in reference to your choice to homeschool? My experience is that it is used whenever someone is talking about something of which they disapprove or at least of which they are highly suspicious. After all, you might be doing something illegal, or at the very least, subversive! What they don’t realize is how revolutionary your choice to homeschool will be for you and for your family, a choice that may have ripple effects down through the generations.

Last month I traveled to Alabama to spend time with family and to meet my newest granddaughter (who is quite beautiful, of course!). One of the best things of the trip was the time I could spend with my six-year-old granddaughter, Miss Munchkin. Since she is being homeschooled, we were able to spend more time together than we would have if she was in public school. I enjoyed having her show me how she is learning place value using the Base Ten Rods came with her Math U See kit. And then we played Monopoly, putting her place value knowledge into use. I don’t know if Miss Munchkin will always be homeschooled, but a Grandma can hope!

What revolutionary changes will your decision to homeschool create for your family?