You may homeschool by enrolling your child in one of the three types of schools described below. As a general rule, you are required to teach your child for at least 180 days per school year, and you must be a parent or legal guardian of the child you are enrolling. (You may employ a tutor who has the same educational qualifications that you are required to have to do some or all of the teaching.)
Option 1: Independent home school.
1. Ensure that you have the required teacher qualifications.
You must have at least a high school diploma or a GED.
2. Submit a notice of intent.
Before the start of the school year, you must submit a notice of intent to the superintendent of your local school district (also called a local education agency, or LEA) “for purpose of reporting only.” (If you move to Tennessee during the school year, you should file your notice of intent within a reasonable time after arriving in the state.) Your notice must include the names, number, ages, and grade levels of the children you are homeschooling, the location of your school, the curriculum to be offered (no particular subjects are required), the proposed hours of instruction, and your educational qualifications. A notice of intent form is available on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.
3. Submit proof of immunization.
Proof that your child has been immunized or has a medical or a religious exemption from immunization must be attached to your notice of intent.
4. Provide the required hours of instruction.
You must teach at least four hours per school day for 180 days each academic year.
5. Maintain attendance records.
You must maintain attendance records, which must be available for inspection by the local superintendent and must be submitted to the superintendent at the end of each school year. An attendance reporting form is available on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website.
6. Test your child in grades 5, 7, and 9.
In grades 5, 7, and 9, your child must take a standardized test administered by the commissioner of education, by someone designated by the commissioner, or by a professional testing service approved by the LEA. You may be present with your child during the 5th-grade test.
Here is what to do if your child’s test score is low: If your child’s test score is six to nine months behind his or her appropriate grade level in reading, language arts, mathematics, or science, you must submit a “remedial course” to the local superintendent. The remedial course must be designed by you and a Tennessee-certified teacher who is certified or endorsed in the grade level, course, subject matter in which your child is being remediated.
Additionally, if your child’s test score is more than one year behind his or her appropriate grade level for two consecutive, required tests, and if your child is not learning disabled, the local superintendent may require you to enroll your child in a public, private, or church-related school.
Option 2: Church-related school.
A church-related school (CRS) is a school operated by a denominational, parochial, or other bona fide church organization and accredited by the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, the Association of Christian Schools International, the Tennessee Association of Independent Schools, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Tennessee Association of Non-Public Academic Schools, the Tennessee Association of Church Related Schools, the Tennessee Alliance of Church Related Schools, or a school affiliated with Accelerated Christian Education, Inc.
Here are some websites that can help you find a CRS:
- The website of your chapter of the Tennessee Home Education Association (THEA) usually has contact information for local CRSs.
- Another list of schools is available on the website for the Tennessee Department of Education. (Click on the "listing of non-public schools.") Any school under Accreditation Category 4 is a CRS.
1. Enroll in a church-related school.
Your child must be enrolled in the CRS and your homeschooling must be “supervised” by the director of the CRS.
2. Submit proof of immunization to the CRS.
You must submit proof to the CRS that your child has been immunized or has a medical or a religious exemption from immunization.
3. Comply with policies established by the CRS.
You must meet any teacher qualification, recordkeeping, and testing requirements established by the CRS. These requirements may vary depending on the CRS you choose and your technical relationship with the CRS. HSLDA members can click here for Tennessee's legal analysis.
HSLDA does not review individual umbrella school policies. We encourage families interested in this homeschooling option to thoroughly review the requirements of the umbrella schools they are considering, as policies will often vary from school to school.
Option 3: Category III distance-learning school.
“Category III” schools are non-public schools that are accredited by one of the following: any accreditation division of AdvancED (the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), the Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI)), the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), any accrediting association recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Commission on Accreditation (e.g., the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS)) or the National Council for Private School Accreditation (NCPSA) according to the procedures and criteria established by the association.
Category III schools must report student attendance information to the director of the public school system where the student lives.
HSLDA does not review Category III school policies. We encourage families interested in this homeschooling option to thoroughly review the requirements of the schools they are considering, as policies will often vary from school to school.
Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.