Our decision to homeschool was not an easy one. I have two children with autism, and finding them the appropriate setting for their elementary and secondary education has always been a challenge.
We started in Jefferson Parish schools. One of my children participated in the Pre-K full-day program, and one was in a part-time program that he only went to for a couple of days a week in a completely different area of town. The logistics to this were almost impossible, and I had to stop working to navigate this schedule.
The next year, they were both in the same school, but my youngest had a teacher that was not happy to be in the classroom and overwhelmed with the job. My son was traumatized, and I lost faith in Jefferson Parish.
We moved to St. Charles Parish after hearing the rumors of better schools. We were impressed. The elementary setting in St. Charles Parish was warm and welcoming. I give them credit for taking two almost nonverbal children and helping them learn to use their differences as an advantage.
By the end of our time in elementary school in St. Charles Parish, my children were verbal and above grade level. Of course, there were challenges along the way, but they worked with them and challenged them more than I could have hoped.
However, when we reached middle school, we hit a wall again. Our schools' testing environment and the pressure teachers and administrators are under finally caught up with us.
My new sixth-grader was coming home overwhelmed, his behavior was declining, and he started to threaten to commit suicide.
I was meeting with the school principal about a recent behavior concern, and she asked me what I wanted for my child’s future.
I said that I just wanted him to be happy. She went on about how important college was and how he needed to be college-ready. All I could think is that I needed him to be alive and happy, and the pressure they were putting on him was in direct conflict with that goal.
I let him finish the year, and as my youngest was about to start at the same school, we withdrew and applied for home study.
As a full-time working mom, the adjustment was difficult at first. We signed up for an online program that provides academic work. I supplement our homeschool curriculum with activities.
The subjects taught are every bit as challenging as the school program, but the environment makes a huge difference.
They are excited to learn. When they find a concept that they want to learn more about, we take the time to explore that interest. They choose what activities they want to work on for that day. Adding in the elements of choice and curiosity has allowed them to enjoy learning again.
If you want to know more about the options for homeschooling in Louisiana and the Louisiana homeschooling laws, see below.
How do I homeschool in Louisiana?
BESE Approved Home Study:
Under this option, it is a requirement for homeschoolers to submit a home study application for approval no later than 15 days after starting their home study program. And applications must be submitted each year with the following information:
- Student Information including name, date of birth (optional), age (optional – paper application only), grade, and school year
- Family Information including the name of parent or legal guardian, address, parish or city school district, phone number, and email (optional)
- A statement addressing the immunization status for meningococcal disease for a child age 11 years old.
- Disclosure of Information Statement
- Birth Certificate
Renewal applications must include one of the following:
- Curriculum “Packet” that demonstrates that the home study program offered is at least equal to that being offered by public schools at the same grade level.
- Standardized Test Scores
- Teacher Evaluation by a certified teacher that states the child is being educated following the curriculum that is of quality at least equal to that offered by public schools at the same grade level
While this option requires more from the parent and more oversight from the state, it has its pros.
Students enrolled in an approved home study program can participate in interscholastic athletic activities at a public or state-approved nonpublic high school that is also a member of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association.
Also, students enrolled by the end of 10th grade are eligible for TOPS. More Information and the application for the Home Study Program can be found here.
Registered Nonpublic School Not Seeking State Approval (AKA Private School)
This is the easiest option for homeschooling in Louisiana. It is the one we will use until each child enters 10th grade. You are basically declaring your homeschool a private school, not seeking state approval with this option.
All you have to do is fill out the online form or send in a letter stating your school’s name, school year, contact information, and the total number of students enrolled. You send this letter to:
Registered Nonpublic Schools
Office of Portfolio
Louisiana Department of Education
P.O. Box 94064
Baton Rouge, LA 70804
Be sure to keep a copy of for your records if you mail in the letter, but that's it. That's all you have to do!
No tests, no evaluations, no packets to put together.
More information on the Registered Nonpublic School Not Seeking State Approval can be found here.
If you are withdrawing your child from a public school and using this option, you also have to send the school an Enrollment Notification Letter within 10 days of withdrawing. You can find a sample letter in the Louisiana Homeschool Support Group on Faceboook.
What are the free homeschooling programs in Louisiana?
These are public charter schools that can be done online at home. Each has a different enrollment and other requirements.
Are there any homeschool groups in New Orleans?
Ok, the word that all homeschoolers dread… socialization. The first question asked when you tell someone you homeschool is usually “What about socialization?”
Apparently, this S word only happens in schools, where I clearly remember being told by teachers that “school isn't the place to socialize” in some people's heads.
Homeschoolers can get socialization. In fact, there is so much to do that if we wanted, we could be socializing five days a week with other homeschoolers.
There are a variety of homeschool groups that offer field trips, park days, co-op classes, dances, and other activities.
- New Orleans Homeschool Misfits
- NOLA Homeschoolers
- Northshore Explorers
- CHEF of GNO
- St. Tammany Parish Homeschoolers
- Agnus Dei Catholic Homeschool
- Wild Azaleas
- Homeschool Heroes
- Louisiana Homeschool Support
There are just a few of the many homeschool groups in the New Orleans area and around the state of Louisiana. And many of the homeschoolers I know are a member of different groups because they each have something to offer our kids. In addition to groups, there are after school activities such as:
- Clubs such as Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and 4H.
- Classes – dance, karate, music, art, etc
- Sports at local playgrounds and for High Schoolers the Homeschool Saints
So there you have it, homeschooling in Louisiana! It's simple and easy, and there are a ton of groups to find your child the right level of socialization that fits your family.
Do you have any questions about how to homeschool in Louisiana or homeschooling in general? Did we miss your local homeschool group or organization on our list? Let us know in the comments!
Tammy grew up in New Orleans and graduated from the University of New Orleans with her Master’s in Special Education. She taught in elementary schools in the Greater New Orleans area for ten years. She is currently a Reading Instructor at Delgado Community College. She is also the Executive Director of the Reading Success Center, a local nonprofit that provides reading and writing intervention so that every child has equal access to exceptional educational services. In her free time, Tammy loves to explore the city with her three wonderful children.