Whether you call it the Wolverine State or the Great Lakes State, Michigan seems equally comfortable with both. The state motto of "if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you" rings as true today as it did when the state was admitted to the Union in 1837.
From legendary trout fishing to MOPAR in Detroit, Michigan has something for everyone and a history its residents value. In fact, they value it so much, it's a required subject not just in public schools, but in homeschooling too. That said, the requirements to homeschool in Michigan are relaxed, and more and more parents are opting for this alternative to traditional school.
This post will explore the details of Michigan homeschool laws, the benefits and challenges of homeschooling in Michigan, and resources for homeschoolers.
Let's dive in!
Homeschooling vs Public or Private School
There are many significant (and obvious) differences between sending your children to the local public school or a private school versus teaching them at home. However, some differences are more subtle and worth noting.
In today's world, unfortunately, the public school system isn't always as safe as we'd like it to be, despite the administration's best efforts. Incidents from contagious diseases to violence threaten schools across the country every school year.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many parents chose to pull their children from their local school district and keep them at home for the remainder of their education.
Other parents opt for homeschooling to protect their children from the violence or mental health threat of bullying. Whether in-person or online, it's rampant in society and takes a serious toll on kids of every age. Homeschooled children are at much lower risk for these threats and enjoy improved mental health, increased confidence, and greater emotional intelligence than their peers according to studies.
The benefits, while compelling, certainly don't mean homeschool parents should expect smooth sailing 100% of the time. That's just not realistic.
Homeschooling, like any other long-term project with essential goals, has unique challenges that must be addressed. Homeschool families will each have their own set of challenges according to their goals and their child's specific needs. The good news is that for every challenge, there is a solution and there are parents who have successfully navigated the same challenges before you.
We'll highlight some additional resources for you a little later, so keep reading!
Before you dive into the fun stuff and research resources and curricula for your homeschool journey, first you'll need to make sure you're compliant with your state's homeschooling requirements. Each state is different so homeschooling in Michigan is slightly different than homeschooling in Illinois or any other state!
Michigan Homeschool Laws
You can take a deep breath - the state of Michigan has easy-to-follow laws, which require very little of homeschool families. In Michigan, children between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend school or homeschool. Parents are not required to give their local district notice when removing their child to begin homeschooling, but it is recommended in order to avoid issues with truancy.
There are two options for homeschooling in Michigan. Option 1: Homeschooling under Michigan's Homeschool Statute. Option 2: Homeschooling as a Non-Public School.
Option 1: Homeschooling under Michigan's Homeschool Statute
The only requirement under this option is that parents teach their students the following subjects:
Option 2: Homeschooling as a Non-Public School
Under this option, there are several requirements which must be met.
The instructor must possess a teaching certificate or license or a Bachelor's degree. If the parent has a religious objection to the teaching certificate requirement and the instructor is the parent, an exception can be made.
At the beginning of each school year, home educators using this option are required to provide notification that they are homeschooling as a non-public school. The Michigan Department of Education is authorized to request, in writing, your non-public school's records. However, you don't need to submit this information unless it is requested.
The following subjects are required material for homeschooled students being taught via this option.
In high school grades, students must also be taught
the US Constitution
the Michigan Constitution
the history and present form of civil government in the US, Michigan, and Michigan's political subdivisions and municipalities
For more information on Michigan's homeschool laws, visit the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
We all need the right resources and support when we start something new. Fortunately, there are plenty of homeschooling resources to choose from.
If you're one of the many parents homeschooling a special needs child, first let's just recognize what a massive commitment that is and how proud you should be of yourself for putting your child's needs first! Well done!
Next, remind yourself that you'll need to take time for yourself occasionally too so you can stay healthy and balanced. We know it's easier said than done, but it's absolutely essential, so don't ignore yourself!
Ok, onto the nuts and bolts...
There are some amazing programs, especially for special needs kids. You can check out our favorites in our previous blog post. But Michigan also offers fantastic special education services for families homeschooling under Option 2.
There are auxiliary services available for homeschoolers with special needs in every local school district. State law entitles these students to access. These services include everything from nursing services to speech therapy.
Find out more on HSLDA or by contacting your local school district or the Michigan Department of Education.
High School and Beyond
Many homeschoolers struggle as they approach the end of their high school studies. They wonder about meeting graduation requirements and obtaining a high school diploma. Also causing anxiety is the thought of college - entrance exams, dual enrollment, and acceptance letters.
No doubt homeschool recordkeeping is essential, especially when it comes to high school transcripts and graduation. That said, most homeschoolers who want to go to college won't have any trouble.
Studies show that homeschooled students score significantly higher on standardized tests than their peers in public or private schools. And colleges and universities readily accept homeschooled students without bias, even ivy league schools like Yale and Harvard.
To get a head start, you can look into programs like edX. They offer free courses from colleges and universities all over the world on topics from robotics to business.
As long as your records are in order and you meet your chosen school's requirements, you have a great chance of receiving that acceptance letter.
Local Groups and Events
Meeting up with other local homeschoolers is a fabulous way to share ideas, support each other, and learn together. The homeschooling world is enormous and welcomes newcomers warmly. Michigan has a long list of groups to choose from and you can find many of them on Homeschool World.
Another fun option is to attend a homeschool convention. These events offer the chance to not only meet other homeschool families, but see presentations of curricula, meet vendors, and listen to speakers from all over the world bring their perspectives.
No matter how you choose to broaden your horizons or where you find your support, your homeschool journey will be enhanced according to the seasonings you apply. Be generous and enjoy!