FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

This page provides answers to the most common questions asked by parents about homeschooling. Be sure to visit the AZ LAW page to familiarize yourself with Arizona Revised Statutes relating to home education. At this time, we have three categories on our Homeschooling FAQ page. We will be adding more in the future.

Homeschool Definition

HOW IS A HOMESCHOOL DEFINED IN ARIZONA?

Home education is best defined as parent-led,  privately funded, relationship-based education of a child at home.

ARS §15-802 G 2. Homeschool means a nonpublic school conducted primarily by the parent, guardian or other person who has custody of the child or nonpublic instruction provided in the child’s home.

Homeschoolers are parents or legal guardians who choose to educate their own children at home in at least the required subjects of reading, grammar, math, science, and social studies pursuant to A.R.S. §15-802. Read more on the AZ LAW page.

How Do I Get Started?

Complete an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool. Have it notarized. Make a photocopy for your records. Mail the original signed and notarized Affidavit to your County School Superintendent’s office along with proof of birth. The County will mail the original birth certificate (or other proof of birth) back to you once they have made a photocopy. Or you may hand deliver the affidavit and birth certificate to the County School Superintendent’s office, where they will receive and file your affidavit and make a photocopy of the birth certificate, returning the original to you.

MORE INFORMATION

There is an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool in pdf format that you can print off of the AZ LAW page.

The Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool must be filed within 30 days of starting homeschooling for children ages 6-16. You may delay the start of formal education of your child until age 8 by noting so in affidavit. If you decide to delay formal education until age 8, you would still file the affidavit with the County when your child turns 6.

There is no formal process or specific form that must be completed, but we recommend that you notify your child’s school principal or administration in writing that you will be removing your child to educate them at home.

You are not required to join any organization in order to homeschool. However, there are several that may be beneficial to you.

1. AFHE (Arizona Families for Home Education) – By joining the state homeschool organization, you will be kept abreast of legislative issues that may affect homeschoolers in Arizona as well as other helpful information in the quarterly magazine Homeschool Arizona and periodic email updates sent to AFHE members who subscribe to our email list. Your AFHE membership supports an organization that serves Arizona homeschoolers all year long and is actively watching legislation that may affect homeschool freedom in our great state.

2. HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) – Members of HSLDA receive professional legal representation to protect the right to homeschool. HSLDA also acts as a voice for homeschooling families nationwide and monitors all state legislation that could reduce our homeschooling freedoms. AFHE members receive a discount on their HSLDA membership.

3. Local Support Group membership is a great way to connect with other homeschooling families in your area, to share ideas, to encourage, edify and equip one another in the incredible homeschooling journey. AFHE maintains a list of homeschool support groups statewide as a reference. Please visit the SUPPORT GROUPS page to see what groups are available in your area.

There is an abundance of curricular resources available. You can search the Internet, talk to other homeschoolers, and attend the annual home education convention hosted by AFHE. At the convention you can browse the exhibit hall and attend vendor workshops to learn more about their products.

IDENTIFY YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE – It is helpful to spend some time observing your child to identify the way they learn best (auditory, visual, hands-on, etc.). There are many books on the market that can help you do this. The Way They Learn by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias is a good example. Identifying your child’s learning style can help you choose the best curricula for your child.

TALK TO OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS – Talk to parents who have been homeschooling awhile. Talk to parents who have children similar to yours. Ask them what works well for them and why. Ask them what they have tried that they didn’t like and why.

BE WILLING TO TRY DIFFERENT THINGS – It is important to understand that there may be some “trial and error” involved in choosing curriculum that will work well for your individual children and your family.

READ HOMESCHOOL GUIDES – Read books that describe various curricula and resources such as Mary Pride’s Complete Guide to Homeschooling series, Cathy Duffy’s 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum for Your Child, and Carol Barnier’s The Big WHAT NOW Book of Learning.

In Arizona, we are required by law to provide instruction in at least the subjects of reading, grammar, mathematics, science and social studies. What you specifically teach for each subject, when you teach it, and at what pace you move through the material is up to you as your child’s teacher.

In Arizona, there is no standardized testing requirement for homeschooled students including the AIMS test. It is up to the individual parent/family whether or not to do standardized testing. One benefit to doing periodic standardized testing is that it gives your students practice taking norm-referenced tests. It can also give you a reliable measure of your child’s performance as compared with other students their age throughout the nation .Other means of evaluation would include curriculum-specific tests and daily observation. One-on-one interaction between parent and child shows a parent how well their child is learning a specific body of knowledge and skills. If you wish to have your child take a standardized test, check with your local homeschool support group to see if they offer testing. If they do not, there are several vendors offering testing materials that you can purchase. Additional information on testing can be found on the Homeschooling FAQ page under RESOURCES.

It takes less time than you may think, especially in the elementary years. In the one-on-one tutorial setting of a homeschool, seatwork can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. This leaves plenty of room in the day for creative play, experiments, projects, exploration, reading, music, time with friends, and much more. Remember, homeschooling is more than an educational option, it is a way of life. Learning doesn’t take place only when your child is doing a workbook. True learning can take place all day, everyday, and in every activity.

This is often the first question homeschoolers are asked. If you look in the dictionary, one definition of socialize is “To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable.” Many homeschoolers have discovered healthy socialization takes place when children are exposed to people of all ages in various settings, not limited to the confines of a classroom and a group of students all about the same age. Children can learn to socialize in everyday activities such as a trip to the grocery store or library, play dates with friends, visits with grandparents, support group activities, park days, etc. Most importantly, children often receive their most valuable socialization in the nurturing environment of home and family.

Arizona has a very vibrant, active homeschool community. One of the biggest challenges many homeschoolers encounter is dealing with the overabundance of activities available to us. One job we have as homeschooling parents is to look for activities that enhance our homeschool journey without leading to the frenzied distraction of too many outside activities. Learning to say “no” to the “good” and the “better” things, we leave room in our schedules for the “best.”

Testing

This section answers questions about standardized testing, college entrance examinations, and the GED.

Standardized Testing FAQs

Periodic testing gives your students practice taking norm-referenced “fill-in-the-bubble” tests. It can provide a reliable measure of your child’s performance as compared with other students their age throughout the nation.

No. In Arizona, there is no standardized testing requirement for homeschooled students including the AzMERIT test (formerly the AIMS test). It is up to the individual parent/family whether or not to do standardized testing through a private source. If you wish to have your child take a standardized test, check with your local homeschool support group to see if they offer testing. If they do not, there are several vendors offering testing materials that you can purchase.

AFHE Response to Maricopa County Superintendents Offer of AIMS Testing:

January 25, 2007

On January 22, 2007 The Arizona Republic reported that a letter had been sent to all parents of students for whom their office has registered an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool in Maricopa County. This letter invited parents to bring their children voluntarily to their Central Avenue office for AIMS testing in late February extending through April 2007.

AFHE discourages parents from accepting this offer for the following reasons:

1) A.R.S. 15-745(a) states: “Nothing in this article shall be construed to require the testing of children who are instructed in a home school program while they are receiving home school instruction.” You are not required by law to take the AIMS test. Many home educators do privately test their children to help them plan their curriculum goals. Our website has links to private testing resources. We encourage parents to use these tests for their evaluation purposes.

2) Maricopa County School Superintendent’s office has no accommodation so that parents may pay for the cost of this testing directly. Therefore, using this service is at a cost to the taxpayers. Entangling private home education with taxpayer money will inevitably lead to loss of freedom to home school. No assurance that the testing results will be the sole property of the parents is made with this offer. Whether another governmental agency may obtain access to the information is not clear. Any service has attendant costs and this test is no different such as costs of creation, printing, administration, proctoring and grading.

3) In the 1990’s, AFHE successfully shepherded legislation that resulted in A.R.S. 15-745. We won the right to be free from mandatory testing as home educators and placed the decision regarding testing in the control of parents. We believe that if parents voluntarily submit to this offer of “free” testing it will reopen the debate over mandatory testing once again. We ask that those secured rights be valued and protected by all who enjoy the freedom to homeschool in our state.

4) The assertion that colleges are requiring the AIMS test is inaccurate. AFHE works with all three state universities and they accept homeschooled students based upon an SAT or ACT score and a carefully prepared transcript that details the high school course of study. As far as out-of-state colleges, the AIMS test is an Arizona instrument only.

AFHE has always had an excellent relationship with our Maricopa County School Superintendent, Dr. Sandra Dowling and her dedicated staff. We understand their belief that they must offer this service. However, we must agree to disagree on the wisdom of homeschooling parents availing themselves of this offer, citing our concerns listed above.

AFHE Board of Directors

Daily observation as well as tests found in your child’s curriculum are two excellent means of monitoring and evaluating your student’s progress. Through the one-on-one interaction between parent and child, a parent observes how well their child is learning a specific body of knowledge and skills.

Standardized tests are available for purchase by homeschooling families through independent suppliers.

A number of local homeschool support groups across Arizona do offer testing in the spring for their member families. If you wish to have your child take a standardized test, check with your local homeschool support group to see if they offer testing. Covenant Home School Resource Center in Phoenix also offers testing in the spring.

There are several resources offering testing materials. A few of them include:

Bayside School Services
Bob Jones University Press
Catforms Testing Service
Family Learning Organization
Hewitt Homeschool Resources – PASS Test
Piedmont Education Services
Seton Testing Service
Triangle Education Assessments

The public school will not pay for a homeschooled student to take a standardized test. We recommend that homeschoolers take standardized tests through an independent supplier so that the test scores are used for the parent’s reference only.

AFHE does not recommend that homeschooled students take the AzMERIT test (formerly the AIMS test). There is no benefit for a homeschooled student to take this exam. For more information, please read the AFHE Statement re: AIMS Testing below:

AFHE Response to Maricopa County Superintendents Offer of AIMS Testing:

January 25, 2007

On January 22, 2007 The Arizona Republic reported that a letter had been sent to all parents of students for whom their office has registered an Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool in Maricopa County. This letter invited parents to bring their children voluntarily to their Central Avenue office for AIMS testing in late February extending through April 2007.

AFHE discourages parents from accepting this offer for the following reasons:

1) A.R.S. 15-745(a) states: “Nothing in this article shall be construed to require the testing of children who are instructed in a home school program while they are receiving home school instruction.” You are not required by law to take the AIMS test. Many home educators do privately test their children to help them plan their curriculum goals. Our website has links to private testing resources. We encourage parents to use these tests for their evaluation purposes.

2) Maricopa County School Superintendent’s office has no accommodation so that parents may pay for the cost of this testing directly. Therefore, using this service is at a cost to the taxpayers. Entangling private home education with taxpayer money will inevitably lead to loss of freedom to home school. No assurance that the testing results will be the sole property of the parents is made with this offer. Whether another governmental agency may obtain access to the information is not clear. Any service has attendant costs and this test is no different such as costs of creation, printing, administration, proctoring and grading.

3) In the 1990’s, AFHE successfully shepherded legislation that resulted in A.R.S. 15-745. We won the right to be free from mandatory testing as home educators and placed the decision regarding testing in the control of parents. We believe that if parents voluntarily submit to this offer of “free” testing it will reopen the debate over mandatory testing once again. We ask that those secured rights be valued and protected by all who enjoy the freedom to homeschool in our state.

4) The assertion that colleges are requiring the AIMS test is inaccurate. AFHE works with all three state universities and they accept homeschooled students based upon an SAT or ACT score and a carefully prepared transcript that details the high school course of study. As far as out-of-state colleges, the AIMS test is an Arizona instrument only.

AFHE has always had an excellent relationship with our Maricopa County School Superintendent, Dr. Sandra Dowling and her dedicated staff. We understand their belief that they must offer this service. However, we must agree to disagree on the wisdom of homeschooling parents availing themselves of this offer, citing our concerns listed above.

AFHE Board of Directors

SAT FAQs

Most often the SAT is taken during the spring of the Junior year. However, it can be taken earlier as practice if desired.

The SAT is taken through a local public or private high school that offers this test. Testing dates and locations can be found atwww.collegeboard.com.

Go to www.collegeboard.com for registration information.

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Check with the colleges your student is interested in attending to find out which test that institution prefers. The ACT covers Science, Math, Reading, and Language with an optional essay portion. The SAT has three parts: Verbal, Math, and Writing.

GED FAQs

Taking the GED can be a controversial issue in the homeschool community. A diploma earned by taking the GED tends to carry the stigma of being a “high school dropout.” There are, however, some circumstances where a college or trade school may require a homeschooled student to verify his credential with the GED. If that is the case, your student can take the GED to satisfy the admissions requirement.

In Arizona, one must be age 18 or older to take the GED test. For homeschooled students between the ages of 16 and 18, verification that they have withdrawn their Affidavit of Intent to Homeschool must be provided. Rules for taking the GED in Arizona can be found on the Arizona Department of Education website: http://www.azed.gov/adult-ed-ged/general-ed-development

PSAT FAQs

The PSAT is taken in October of the student’s Junior year.

The PSAT is taken through a local public or private high school that offers this test. Testing dates and locations can be found at www.collegeboard.com

Go to www.collegeboard.com for registration information.
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Test Preparation FAQs

Most often the ACT is taken during the spring of the Junior year. However, it can be taken earlier as practice if desired.

The ACT is taken through a local public or private high school that offers this test. Testing dates and locations can be found atwww.actstudent.org.

Go to www.actstudent.org for registration information.

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Check with the colleges your student is interested in attending to find out which test that institution prefers. The ACT covers Science, Math, Reading and Language with an optional essay portion. The SAT has three parts: Verbal, Math and Writing.

Test Preparation FAQs

Purchase study books and take practice tests from www.collegeboard.com or www.actstudent.org. Local bookstores and online bookstores also carry study books and practice tests for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and GED.

Contact the college admissions office to find out their entrance requirements.

Each community college has a testing center where they administer their own entrance exam. Contact the community college directly for admissions requirements and testing information.

Visit the HSLDA website for additional information about testing: www.hslda.org/highschool/testing.asp  There are several articles about testing on the ARTICLES page of the AFHE website.

Graduation & Diplomas

This FAQ answers questions about diplomas and graduate recognition ceremonies.

The parent of a homeschooled child is responsible for setting the graduation requirements, creating and maintaining their child’s transcript, and issuing the diploma.

No, it is not. The homeschooling parent accepts responsibility for issuing a diploma and certifying the student’s status as a graduate. Thorough documentation of a student’s academic record on a transcript makes the diploma meaningful.

There are a number of vendors that carry diplomas and graduation supplies for homeschooled students. A couple of them include HSLDA and Homeschool Diploma. HSLDA offers a beautiful form in a leatherette case with an attractive gold seal at an economical price. Homeschool Diploma has personalized diplomas and diploma covers, other graduation supplies, and ideas to help you make this a special time for your graduate. The parent signs the diploma.

AFHE sponsors an annual statewide Graduate Recognition Ceremony for homeschooled seniors each year. The AFHE Senior High Graduate Recognition Ceremony is a very reverent, formal cap and gown ceremony that commemorates the achievement of the students and their parents. Visit the Graduation Page page for more information about this ceremony.

In addition, a number of homeschool support groups across Arizona hold a graduation ceremony for their member families.

No. AFHE does not validate or certify that a homeschooled student has completed their high school coursework.

Historically, AFHE has hosted a Junior High Graduate Recognition Ceremony during the weekend of the annual AFHE Convention at the Phoenix Convention Center. We will not be holding a Jr. High Graduation in 2017, but may bring it back in the future.

Taking the GED can be a controversial issue in the homeschool community. There is a stigma attached to the GED because of its association with high school dropouts. However, it is a fairly easy process and there are a number of post secondary education programs, such as trade schools, that require a homeschooled student to have an accredited diploma or GED rather than accepting the student’s homeschool high school transcript. See GED section above in the Testing FAQ for more information.

HSLDA offers a wealth of information to encourage parents as they teach their children all the way through high school. Visit their website at http://www.hslda.org/highschool.