Outlook Academy!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) PDF Print E-mail

The answers to these homeschooling questions provide more details than we can offer over the phone. Please read them before contacting the administrators as phone calls will likely interrupt the homeschooling of our own children. Thank you for your understanding!

The answers provided are not intended as and do not substitute for legal advice. Although we go to great lengths to ensure our information is accurate and useful, please consult a lawyer for professional assurance that both our information and your interpretation of it are appropriate to your particular situation.

To help you find answers quickly, the FAQs are divided into 5 categories: legal aspects, acceptance requirements, enrollment and admission, teaching and curriculum, high school and graduation, and socialization.

We are constantly updating these FAQs, so please hit Refresh on your browser to get the most recent answers. (If the links are broken, simply scroll down to find the answer. We are working on the links.)

Legal Aspects

  1. Is homeschooling legal in Alabama?
  2. What does Alabama law actually say about homeschooling?
  3. How do I start homeschooling in Alabama?
  4. What exactly does it mean to homeschool under Outlook Academy or any church school?
  5. Do I have to be a certified teacher or a college graduate to homeschool?
  6. My children will be enrolled in a satellite online educational program, or we will be using a certified curriculum (such as A Beka's program). Do I have to enroll them in a church school too?
  7. There are only two weeks left in this school year (or one month or two months). Do I have to enroll in a church school for this school year or can I wait until next year?
  8. What is compulsory age? Do I have to wait until my child is school age to start homeschooling?
  9. My child does not turn 7 until later this year, but we have already completed first grade (or first and second grade). How can we ensure that she gets "credit" for these school years before she has officially enrolled in Outlook Academy?
  10. Our children are enrolled in Outlook Academy, but we are moving overseas shortly for a period of time. However, our permanent residence is still in Alabama, and we want to continue our enrollment in Outlook Academy during our time abroad. What do we need to do?
  11. Is Outlook Academy accredited?
  12. Can I leave my child home alone?
  13. May my child go out in public during the day? What if someone questions him about why he is not in school?
  14. Does Outlook Academy provide teacher and student I.D. cards?
  15. What if a school district official, truant officer or social worker calls or comes to the door?
  16. Can my child receive Social Security benefits while homeschooling?

    Acceptance Requirements
  17. Do you accept mid-year enrollments?
  18. Do you accept families statewide?
  19. We are a military family. Can we homeschool? Do you accept military families?
  20. Can single, divorced, and/or working parents homeschool?
  21. Do I have to be a member of Prattville Primitive Baptist Church (The Church at Prattville)?
  22. Do you require a statement of faith?
  23. Do you require membership in Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA)?
  24. Why do you require an email address? What if we don't have one?
  25. Can I become a member if I don’t use a standard curriculum or consider myself an “unschooler?”
  26. Do you allow families to homeschool year-round?
  27. Can I homeschool an adopted or foster child?

    Enrollment and Admission Processes
  28. How do I choose a church school?
  29. How do I enroll in Outlook Academy?
  30. What are Outlook Academy's services and requirements regarding fees, deadlines, record keeping, etc.?
  31. How long does it take to enroll in Outlook Academy? 
  32. Would you allow us to enroll one or two of our children in Outlook Academy while another child is enrolled in another church school or a private or public school?
  33. Can I withdraw my child from public/private school?
  34. My child is having problems in school, and we plan to homeschool next year. Do you recommend withdrawing my child from school now instead?
  35. What if I decide to put my child back in a public or private school after enrolling in Outlook Academy?
  36. How do we withdraw from Outlook Academy?
  37. We have withdrawn from Outlook Academy, but we are not satisfied with the public/private school. Can we withdraw from school again and re-enroll in Outlook Academy?
  38. Does Outlook Academy have mandatory meetings, parent interviews, or curriculum reviews?
  39. Why don't you have a Facebook or Yahoo group or some kind of email loop?
  40. After we enroll, what do we do then?!

    Teaching and Curriculum
  41. How do you "do" homeschool?
  42. How can I homeschool more than one child?!
  43. Is homeschooling expensive?
  44. What do I do about a curriculum? Does Outlook Academy provide books, curriculum assistance or online classroom?
  45. What subjects are required? How do I know what to teach my child?
  46. How do I know when my child has proceeded to the next grade level?
  47. What about physics, calculus or other subjects that I can't teach?
  48. Since I pulled my child out of school mid-year, do we need to finish the subjects that he started?
  49. My child failed a couple of courses. Can she complete those failed courses and this school year's courses during the same year?
  50. Can my child complete two grades in one year? Or if a curriculum is finished early, can my child go ahead and start the next grade level of curriculum in the same year?
  51. How do I assign grades?
  52. How do I test my children?

    High School and Graduation
  53. Does my child need to take the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, the GED, the PSAT, SAT or ACT?
  54. Can my child take AP or CLEP exams?
  55. What subjects are required for high school graduation?
  56. How do I know when my child has graduated?
  57. Are there any legal formalities I need to file with you or the state to finalize my child's completion of education?
  58. Does Outlook Academy issue a diploma?
  59. Will my child's homeschool diploma be accepted for college?
  60. Are homeschoolers eligible for financial aid and scholarships?
  61. What if my child does not plan to go to college?
  62. Can my child join the military?
  63. What is a transcript? How do I prepare one? Does Outlook Academy provide a transcript?
  64. How do I assign credits for high school? How many credits are required for graduation?
  65. How do I prepare my child for college? What subjects does my child need?
  66. How do I teach subjects that I know nothing about, like physics or calculus or composition?!
  67. Tell me more about the high school classes at the homeschool co-op, Academy Days.
  68. Is there a national honor society for homeschoolers?
  69. Why don't you accept seniors?
  70. What is dual enrollment?
  71. Can homeschoolers get a driver's permit and license since they're not in school? What do I need to do?
  72. My child needs the necessary form for a work permit. What do I need to do?
  73. Will my high school student have a graduation ceremony?
  74. Do you publish a yearbook?
  75. Is there a homeschool prom?

    Socialization
  76. How will my child be properly socialized? Are there homeschoolers who live near us?
  77. What sports are open to homeschoolers?
  78. Does Outlook Academy schedule field trips, meetings, or other activities?
  79. What extracurricular activities are available for homeschoolers?
  80. How can we meet other homeschoolers?
  81. Do homeschoolers have a prom?
  82. Tell me about the homeschool co-op, Academy Days.

 

  1. Is homeschooling legal in Alabama? Yes, homeschooling is legal in Alabama, as in all U.S. states.
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  2. What does the Alabama law actually say about homeschooling? Click here for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) summary of Alabama homeschool laws. Click here for excerpts from the Alabama code that refer to homeschooling from the CHEF of Alabama web site. Click here for the 1996 attorney general's opinion of the church school law.
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  3. How do I start homeschooling in Alabama? There are two ways to homeschool legally in Alabama: Tutor and Church School.

    "Tutorial Law" (Ala. Code §16-28-5): Under this statute a certified teacher may instruct a student or students privately. The tutor must submit to monitoring by the local school district officials and hold school a minimum of 140 days a year at certain times. This option is not available to most home educators. Because this method does not require a church school, we at Outlook Academy do not know anything more about it. However, a list of tutors may be found by clicking on Extracurricular Activities on the Homeschool Information Menu and scrolling down to Tutors.

    "Church School Law" (Ala. Code §16-28-3): This is the second and preferred way. Under this statute, students between the ages of 7 and 17 are exempt from the state's compulsory school attendance law if they are enrolled in schools operated by a church or association of churches. Once enrolled in a church school, often colloquially called a “cover” or “umbrella” school, then all that is required by the state is that you take attendance. Nothing else is required, no minimum number of days, no certain subjects, no testing, no teacher certification, no accreditation. Indeed, church schools are exempt from all state accreditation, teacher certification, and regulatory requirements.

    However, each church school may place its own requirements as it sees fit. As a result, before enrolling in a church school, you should compare different church schools to determine which one fits your family best. Outlook Academy requires only what the state requires, which is attendance reports once a year.

    Once you find a church school that fits your family, follow its enrollment procedures. For Outlook Academy, click on Enrollment & Forms on the Main Menu.
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  4. What exactly does it mean to homeschool under Outlook Academy or any church school? Outlook Academy, or any church school, provides the legal means to homeschool in Alabama. You, as the parent, are in charge of the education of your child. Outlook Academy does not oversee any part of the education, neither instruction nor testing. You do not bring your children to us to do school and we do not provide curriculum; nor do we help you select curriculum. Education is done in your home using materials you want to use. In other words, parents select the appropriate education materials and/or curriculum, provide primary instruction to their children, and evaluate school work. You have complete freedom to teach your children what and how you think they should be taught.

    Because we believe that parents are best suited to direct the education of their children, Outlook Academy asks only for what the law requires while also offering support for your personal choices. Materials, schedules, reports, and files are all up to the discretion of the parents. If you feel you need additional help getting started or more oversight as you homeschool, you need to find a church school which offers more support to their members. Otherwise, a support group should be able to assist you a great deal in these matters.
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  5. Do I have to be a certified teacher or a college graduate to homeschool? No.
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  6. My children will be using a certified curriculum (such as A Beka's program) or will be enrolled in a satellite online educational program (or I plan to enroll soon). Do I have to enroll them in a church school too?
    Yes, even if your children are enrolled in a satellite online educational program, they must be enrolled in a church school based in Alabama. Has this program filled out a Church School Enrollment Form and filed it at your local public school superintendent's office? If not, you are not homeschooling legally, and you risk truancy charges.

    You may still use a satellite online educational program for your curriculum and recordkeeping, but you must also enroll in a church school as specified by Alabama law.
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  7. There are only two weeks left in this school year (or one month or two months). Do I have to enroll in a church school for this school year or can I wait until next year? Yes, you should enroll in a church school during the current school year to comply with state law regarding compulsory education.
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  8. What is compulsory age? Do I have to wait until my child is school age to start homeschooling? Compulsory age refers to the minimum and maximum age in which a student must be enrolled in and attending public school or some equivalent education program defined by the law. Compulsory age in Alabama is between the ages of 7 and 17. This means your child must be enrolled in a public or private school or church school covering when he turns 7 and must be enrolled in a school or homeschool covering until the age of 17.

    If your child is over 17 and still needs to complete high school, he does not need to be enrolled in a homeschool church school covering in order to finish high school and graduate. However, admission to college and university will likely be easier if the student graduates from a homeschool church school.

    Of course, you may start your child's education when you feel your child is ready; you do not have to wait until your child is five to start kindergarten or seven to start formal education, for example. The law simply refers to the age (7 years old) at which your child must be enrolled somewhere. Most homeschoolers enroll in a homeschool church school covering during the summer before the school year that the child turns 7 because fees are usually the least expensive during summer. While some church schools levy an extra fee for a mid-year enrollment, others do not take mid-year enrollments at all. Also, enrolling during the summer when other families are preparing for school will prevent you from forgetting to do it later in the year when your child turns 7 and thereby protect you from being accused of truancy.[Top]

  9. My child does not turn 7 until later this year, but we have already completed first grade (or first and second grade). How can we ensure that she gets "credit" for these school years before she has officially enrolled in Outlook Academy? When you enroll your child in Outlook Academy, we will accept the grade level you place your child. If you plan to enroll your child in a public or private school, your child will likely be tested to ensure he or she is in the grade you specify. Otherwise, there is no need to worry about getting "credit" for those first few years of homeschooling, particularly if you plan to continue homeschooling for another year or more.


  10. Our children are enrolled in Outlook Academy, but we are moving overseas shortly for a period of time. However, our permanent residence is still in Alabama, and we want to continue our enrollment in Outlook Academy during our time abroad. What do we need to do? Regretfully, we cannot accept your re-enrollment if your children no longer actually reside in Alabama. Legally, your children must reside in this state in order for them to be enrolled in Outlook Academy or in any church school here in Alabama. According to Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), "Civilian Families not assigned to the U.S. Department of Defense (or other government agency subject to U.S. treaty provisions) are generally subject to the local government's law regarding education. Even if the family maintains a place of domicile in the U.S. while physically residing in another country, they are subject to that country's laws."

    However, if your family is a member of HSLDA, you have no need to worry about facing homeschool difficulties abroad. According to Vanessa Ridley, Senior Legal Assistant for HSLDA, their standard advice for U.S. citizens traveling abroad is: "You do not have to comply with the educational requirements of the country you are in. Because you are U.S. citizens, and most likely will maintain residency within the States, you are exempted from the local requirements. Simply continue to home school as you are doing in a responsible fashion. If you are contacted by any educational authorities while you are overseas, simply reply that you are U.S. citizens, that you are in the country for only a temporary period of time, that you homeschooled in compliance with state law while you lived in the U.S., and that you wish to maintain continuity in your child's education. To this date, we have not had an American HSLDA member harassed after they give this explanation. If there is any pressure from the educational authorities, we will assist you with the situation. While we cannot actually litigate for members out of the country, there are a number of other political and diplomatic measures we can employ."

    If you are not members of HSLDA, we strongly urge you to seek membership.

    Your children should not experience any "gaps" whatsoever, so long as you continue to responsibly educate them as you would in the U.S. We have never encountered any problems at all with families we know who returned from overseas, whether they enrolled with Outlook Academy or another church school or enrolled in college or university.
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  11. Is Outlook Academy accredited? Outlook Academy is not accredited, nor do we seek accreditation. We are a church school, which exempts us from all state accreditation, teacher certification, and regulatory requirements. Indeed, no church school in Alabama is accredited. To be accredited, a school must meet certain standards, such as holding classes the same number of days and hours as required by public schools and having a certain number of books in its library. Clearly, since home education is done in individual homes, criteria such as these cannot be ascertained. However, home educators can enroll in an accredited curriculum or educational program or correspondence school, in conjunction with a church school.

    This will not prevent your child in any way from going to college, receiving financial aid, or joining the military. These issues are also addressed in these FAQs, so read them for details.
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  12. Can I leave my child home alone? Like most states, Alabama does not have hard and fast rules regarding the age at which a child may stay home alone. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) requires children under 14 years of age to be supervised. However, the National SAFEKIDS Campaign recommends that no child under the age of 12 be left at home alone. Please note that city and county ordinances may have more definitive and restrictive laws, so you may want to contact the Child Welfare Information Gateway at 800-394-3366 to learn about age guidelines in your area or your local Red Cross to find out about training.
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  13. May my child go out in public during the day? What if someone asks him why he is not in school? Alabama does not have a state daytime curfew; however, your city may, so check with local authorities. However, as law-abiding citizens, homeschoolers in Alabama do not have to hide their children during the day. If someone asks you or your child why he is not in school, just respond that you homeschool and that you have already finished your work for the day or you are on a field trip. You will likely have a wonderful opportunity to discuss the positive aspects of homeschooling, besides just flexibility!
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  14. Does Outlook Academy provide teacher and student I.D. cards? No. Most families use their HSLDA membership cards to receive teacher discounts at local businesses. Some support groups provide cards for members, so check with your local group. Some parents make an extra copy of the Church School Enrollment Form to verify homeschool when necessary for teacher or student discounts. If your city has a curfew, and your child will be out without a parent, then you may want to give him a letter permitting him to travel during curfew hours. In such cases, families make their own I.D. cards. You can find numerous templates online, such as at http://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/homeschool-id/. Printing your own will be significantly less expensive than paying extra fees for a church school or support group to afford printing enough for all their members, most of whom won't need them and won't appreciate the increase in fees.

  15. What if a school district official, truant officer or social worker calls or comes to the door? If an official calls, politely get his or her name and number, find out the allegations, and tell the official that you will call back after you speak with your attorney. Immediately call your lawyer or Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), if you are a member, and either one will contact the official on your behalf.

    If an official or social worker comes to the door, do not panic. Be polite and friendly, but do not allow the official to enter your home or speak to your children without a warrant or court order. Indeed, the only legal ways into your home are with your permission or a search warrant. Instead, politely tell the person that you are legally homeschooling and that home visits are not part of the law. Politely get their business card and find out the allegations. (Federal law requires all social workers to tell you the specific allegations at the “initial time of contact,” so do not fall for the frequently used tactic of the social worker who tells the unsuspecting victim that they can only give you the allegations after they have come into your home and spoken to your child separately.) Answer other questions with a polite, “I will be glad to cooperate as far as the law requires, but you will need to give me your request in writing.” Repeat as often as necessary. After he leaves, write down everything that occurred. Then immediately call your attorney or the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), if you are a member, and they will contact the official on your behalf.

    If the situation is hostile, immediately call HSLDA, if you are a member, ask for a lawyer, hand the phone to your visitors through the door and ask them to talk to your attorney.

    If you receive a written request, respond with a letter of assurance. Please do not put it off. If you do not respond to a written request in a timely manner, the school district can file truancy charges against you for lack of cooperation.

    All of this may sound ominous, but other than some tension with school administrators occasionally, we have not heard of anyone in our area being called or visited by a truant officer. In all cases, the copy you make of the Church School Enrollment Form proves that you are homeschooling legally. Therefore, as soon as you receive the authorized Church School Enrollment Form from us upon initial enrollment, make a copy of it for your records, and mail the original certified with return receipt to the superintendent. That way, you will have not only a copy of the form but also written proof that the superintendent's office received the original homeschool document.

    According to HSLDA, in nearly 30 percent of the cases, the problem is solved that day by HSLDA lawyers. Approximately 65 percent of the situations are resolved within the next two weeks. Of the remaining 5 percent, 1 percent goes to court and is handled by HSLDA. The 4 percent that cannot be resolved do not involve homeschooling and are referred to other attorneys since they are not covered by HSLDA.

    For more details, you may read the article The Social Worker at Your Door: 10 Helpful Hints at the HSLDA web site.

    Accordingly, we strongly advise membership in Home School Legal Defense Association, although we no longer require membership. Contact us for information about Outlook Academy's discount membership with HSLDA.
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  16. Can my child receive Social Security benefits while homeschooling? According to Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), the Social Security Administration has permitted homeschoolers to receive benefits in some cases. A homeschool family completes Form SSA-1372 to document full time attendance. The Social Security Administration then examines its own legal precedents to determine whether homeschooling has been recognized in the state where the student lives. If the family can prove that they have met the state requirements for homeschooling, the child should be eligible for social security benefits. (The full text of §404.367 is available online at www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-0367.htm.)

    According to Social Security Administration Policy RS 00205.275, the policy goes on to say, "The child's home school instructor must submit evidence that state requirements for home schooling are met. The home schooling instructor is the certifying school official for FTA purposes on Form SSA-1372, Student's Statement Regarding School Attendance." Therefore, the parent must submit evidence.

    For more assistance in this matter, consult your attorney or the lawyers at Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), if you are a member.
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  17. Do you accept mid-year enrollments? Yes, we currently accept new enrollments year-round. Click on Enrollment & Forms on the Main Menu and follow the directions for new enrollments.
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  18. Do you accept families statewide? Yes. According to Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), you do not have to live in our county to enroll in Outlook Academy, and of our 300+ families, more than 1/3 reside outside of the county in which Outlook Academy is located.
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  19. We are a military family. Can we homeschool? Do you accept military families? According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), military families do have the right to homeschool even if they are stationed in a country that bans homeschooling for their residents. If a military homeschool family resides in the United States, they must abide by the state's compulsory attendance and homeschool laws.

    Many members of Outlook Academy are military. Homeschooling is a logical choice for families in the military because homeschooling provides stability in environment and academics in the midst of frequent change. More important than the academic continuity, however, is the opportunity to develop close-knit family bonds, which maintains the children’s sense of security and strengthens their self-confidence.
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  20. Can single, divorced and/or working parents homeschool? Absolutely! Your greatest challenge will likely be to manage your time with homeschooling and working full-time or part-time, but it can be done. Many Outlook Academy families work. Some parents work from home while others have flexible hours; still others may work in an environment where their children can go to work with them and do school quietly in a small area of the office. Relatives and friends may also be available to help, and online or computer programs can help with assignments. Fortunately, homeschooling takes only a few hours a day, so you should be able to manage it with a little creative juggling of your time.
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  21. Do I have to be a member of Prattville Primitive Baptist Church (The Church at Prattville)? No, but membership in The Church at Prattville, formerly Prattville Primitive Baptist Church, exempts your family from all fees.
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  22. Do you require a statement of faith? No.
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  23. Do you require membership in Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA)? No, we do not require membership in Home School Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) but we highly recommend membership in HSLDA or Homeschool Legal Advantage. Both provide free professional legal representation and assistance with any social service contacts and investigations related to homeschooling. Outlook Academy has neither the resources nor expertise to provide legal aid if needed. As a result, many Outlook Academy families are also HSLDA or HLA members and are eligible to receive a $20 discount on their HSLDA membership. Go to HSLDA at http://www.hslda.org or HLA at http://www.homeschoollegaladvantage.com.

  24. Why do you require an email address? What if we don't have one? We must be able to reach you in the event of a homeschool issue, such as contact by school officials or re-enrollment deadlines. Email is our first method of contact, followed by phone and postal mail. As a result, an email address is required. If you do not have one, you may certainly ask a relative, neighbor or close friend if they will receive email contacts from Outlook Academy for you. As long as they will print the emails and promptly give them to you, that will be fine.

    Of course, the email address is used only for official business. We send monthly newsletters via email, but we make it a practice to refrain from sending emails between newsletters. Any emails sent between newsletters will be pertinent, time-sensitive information to our member families.

    Contact us immediately with any change of address, phone or email. Also, if you have filters on your email, please be sure that carren(at)outlookacademy(dot)com and admin(at)outlookacademy(dot)com will not be blocked.
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  25. Can I become a member if I don’t use a standard curriculum or consider myself an “unschooler?” Yes, but we do recommend that you keep a record of what your child learns in case your homeschooling methods come under scrutiny by authorities.
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  26. Do you allow families to school year-round? Yes, we have many families who homeschool year-round. Although our "academic year" runs from July 1 through June 30, this is only for attendance reporting purposes. Your academic year may be whatever is best for your family.
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  27. Can I homeschool an adopted or foster child? If you have an adopted child, you may homeschool. If you are a foster parent, the option of homeschooling is determined by your caseworker.
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  28. How do I choose a church school? Which church school you choose depends on how much guidance and oversight you want. Some church schools are totally hands-off. Others have deadlines for submission of academic plans, grades, and progress reports, and they may also require testing of your student at various grade levels. Some families like the structure of more stringent church schools, while others feel any interference is too much. Compare church schools to find one that fits your family.

    Because we believe that parents are best suited to direct the education of their children, Outlook Academy asks only for what the law requires. Attendance reports are due annually at the end of the school year; otherwise, any materials, schedules, reports, and files are all up to the discretion of the parents.
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  29. How do I enroll in Outlook Academy? Click on Enrollment & Forms on the Main Menu and follow the directions. On the last page of one of the forms you download, a checklist will help you step by step.
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  30. What are Outlook Academy's services and requirements regarding fees, deadlines, record keeping, etc.? Outlook Academy takes new enrollments year-round. Because we believe that parents are best suited to direct the education of their children, Outlook Academy asks only for what the law requires while also offering support for your personal choices. We require only what the state requires, which is attendance once a year.

    Our fees are per family per year, not per child nor per month. Membership fees are non-refundable, so prayerfully consider your decision to homeschool through Outlook Academy before you begin the enrollment process. Unfortunately, we cannot accept monthly payments. Also, fees are not prorated throughout the year. The administrators spend the same amount of time assisting a family beginning to homeschool regardless of their enrollment date. Indeed, mid-year enrollments require their immediate attention and take them temporarily away from their own children’s education schedule.

    For details on fees, deadlines, requirements, and recordkeeping, click here.
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  31. How long does it take to enroll in Outlook Academy? We try to process new enrollments quickly and return the necessary forms to you as soon as we can. During the summer (between June 1 and August 1), it may take 10 days to two weeks for the paperwork to be processed because of the large volume of new enrollments and re-enrollments. For mid-year enrollments (between August 2 and May 31 of the school year), processing may still take up to two weeks since mid-year enrollments take the administrators away from their homeschooling schedule. Of course, unexpected situations at any time of the year may delay the process even further. If you have not heard from us after two weeks, you may certainly email or call us to verify that we received your forms.

    You do not have to wait to receive your paperwork from us to withdraw your child from school and begin homeschooling. Most families withdraw their children and mail their paperwork to us on the same day. To avoid truancy charges, do not delay church school enrollment after withdrawing your child from public or private school.
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  32. Would you allow us to enroll one or two of our children in Outlook Academy while another child is enrolled in another church school or private or public school? Yes, you do not have to homeschool all your children. Similarly, you do not have to use the same church school for all your children.
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  33. Can I withdraw my child from public/private school? Yes, you can withdraw your child from public or private school at any time, including mid-year. Many church schools accept new admissions year-round, so all you need to do is find the church school you want to apply to and begin the admission process.

    Outlook Academy now takes new enrollments mid-year for an additional fee. Click on Enrollment Procedures on the Main Menu and follow the instructions for new enrollments.
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  34. My child is having problems in school, and we plan to homeschool next year. Do you recommend withdrawing my child from school now instead? I cannot possibly advise you on such an important matter because you know your child better than anyone else. You do what you think is best. I would advise prayer, of course, but beyond that, I would never presume to tell you what to do.

    Nevertheless, if you are considering homeschooling next year anyway, you may certainly withdraw your child now; you do not have to wait until the school year ends. Outlook Academy and many other church schools take new enrollments mid-year, and indeed, we even get new enrollments a week or so before the end of school in May! In any case, you do what you think is best for your child.
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  35. What if I decide to put my child back in a public or private school after enrolling in Outlook Academy? You may withdraw your child from Outlook Academy at any time and enroll in a public or private school. Any school will accept your homeschooled child; however, we cannot provide any assistance as each school has its own procedures for enrollment and each school is different. As a result, contact the school in advance and follow their requirements for enrollment.

    To withdraw from Outlook Academy, click on Enrollment & Forms on the Main Menu, click on Forms, print out the Withdrawal Form, fill it out, and mail it to us. Upon request, we will provide a letter stating that your child has met all state requirements for homeschoolers. As the parent, you will provide the new school with transcripts and records.
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  36. How do we withdraw from Outlook Academy? To withdraw from Outlook Academy at any time, click on Enrollment & Forms on the Main Menu, then click on Forms, print out the Withdrawal Form, fill it out, and mail it to us. Upon request, we will provide a letter stating that your child has met all state requirements for homeschoolers. As the parent, you will provide the new school with transcripts and records. Since every school is different regarding procedures, we cannot provide any further assistance. Instead, contact the school in advance and follow their requirements for enrollment.
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  37. We have withdrawn from Outlook Academy, but we are not satisfied with the public/private school. Can we withdraw from school again and re-enroll in Outlook Academy? Yes. If you withdraw your child from Outlook Academy to enroll in a public or private school and you decide that it was a wrong decision, you may still withdraw your child from the public or private school and enroll him or her in Outlook Academy again. Your child will be considered a new enrollment because the superintendent will have been notified by the public/private school that he or she is enrolled with them; as a result, we will have to notify the superintendent that he or she is now enrolled with us rather than the public/private school. Therefore, follow the directions for new enrollments.
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  38. Does Outlook Academy have mandatory meetings, parent interviews, or curriculum reviews? To keep our fees low, Outlook Academy does not have required meetings, parent interviews or curriculum reviews. We require what the state requires, which is only attendance. If you feel you need more oversight, you may want to search for another church school.
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  39. Why don't you have a Facebook or Yahoo group or some kind of email loop? Not all our families are on Facebook, so any announcements would have to be sent double to reach groups both on and off Facebook. Any extra work, of course, may necessitate increasing our fees. Furthermore, it has been our experience that people will eventually ignore frequent emails, such as those produced in an email loop. Also, members of the loop will increasingly tend to use it for any minor event or issue, eventually diluting the importance of all emails through the loop and causing truly important emails not to be read in a timely manner. Instead, to keep our members informed, we maintain a web site and email the monthly newsletter directly to our members' email addresses.

    To hear about last-minute events that did not make our newsletter in time, we recommend that you regularly check our web site between newsletters. Also, we highly recommend membership in a local homeschool support group where you may hear about other events that pertain directly to your region of the state.
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  40. After we enroll, what do we do then?! Once you have enrolled in Outlook Academy or any church school, you should look for a curriculum and then "plug in" to a local homeschool support group. Click on Support Groups on the Homeschool Information Menu for a list of groups statewide.
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  41. How do you "do" homeschool? Save yourself a lot of frustration and do not try to recreate a "school" setting for your child. Homeschooling can be done much more effectively by tailoring your child's education to his unique needs, talents and interests. Many books and web sites will provide you with valuable information and practical tips. Ask your librarian for help in finding those books, or use your favorite search engine to find information on scheduling, organizing, and finding curriculum. Perhaps the most help, support and encouragement will come from fellow homeschoolers in a local homeschool support group. Click on Support Groups on the Homeschool Information Menu to find a group near you, and click on Curriculum for information about educational materials.
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  42. How can I homeschool more than one child? People often wonder how homeschool parents can teach so many different ages at once. Perhaps the public school policy of segregation by age conditions society into thinking this is the only way and makes what should be a normal part of family life seem like a daunting task. I enjoy having my four children all working together at the dining room table or listening as I read aloud from history. Even though my youngest might not be able to fully comprehend everything, she definitely gets the benefit of repeated exposure to new concepts. Plus, my older children get the benefit of repeated practice on the basics by helping her. In your own home, it will likely take some time and a little juggling at first to find what best works for your family when you're teaching multiple children at different levels; just remember that grade levels are very arbitrary and they don't have to rule your homeschool.

    If you would like practical advice that you can put to use right now, you may be interested in my book, Homeschooling More Than One Child: A Practical Guide for Families. Published in March 2005, it has won both national and international awards for excellence. This sensible guide offers practical suggestions for balancing the needs of different ages and abilities, juggling multiple commitments, choosing or designing a curriculum to fit each child, finding socialization opportunities that appeal to all ages, and more! For more information about the book and how to order it, click on Homeschooling More Than One Child on the Homeschool Information Menu.

    For a few quick tips on homeschooling more than one child, you can listen to the June 2-6, 2008, broadcast of my interview on HSLDA's radio program "Home School Heartbeat" by clicking here. A transcript is provided on the site if you would rather read the interview.
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  43. Is homeschooling expensive? You can spend as much or as little on educational materials as your budget will allow. Costs vary so much that there is no way to estimate expenses. Literally, you can spend a small fortune or you can school for free. It largely depends on what kinds of materials and resources you choose to use and how many children you will be homeschooling.

    You can buy packages or books directly from curriculum companies, from discount sites such as CDB.com, or from used curriculum sites such as eBay.com, HSLDA.org and VegSource.com. You can also purchase used materials at homeschool curriculum fairs, garage sales and thrift stores. In addition, a superior education can also be accomplished using free resources found through the public library as well as learning opportunities in your community, such as museums. The Internet provides countless free lesson plans and activities, too. Please click on Curriculum on the Homeschool Information Menu for more information.
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  44. What do I do about a curriculum? Does Outlook Academy provide books, curriculum assistance or online classroom? The state of Alabama places neither requirements nor restrictions on curriculum. You are completely free to use whatever you want to teach your child with whatever method is best for your child to learn. Hundreds of curriculum companies provide everything your student will need for every subject during the year, and many of them are used by the best private schools in the country. Also, many homeschoolers simply use the library and the Internet for their books and lesson plans; literally hundreds of web sites are available with free lesson plans covering all academic subjects.

    To keep our fees low, Outlook Academy does not provide books or online classes; it does not require curriculum overview nor does it provide curriculum assistance. I'm afraid I cannot possibly advise you on such important, personal matters. I would advise prayer, of course, but beyond that, I would never presume to tell you what curriculum would be best for your child; every child is different. You know your child better than anyone else, so you do what you think is best.

    If you feel you need help, you may want to use a church school that provides this service. However, for general curriculum information, curriculum reviews, and links to the most popular curriculum companies, click on Curriculum on the Homeschool Information Menu. In addition, WorldBook.com provides a typical course of study categorized by grade level, subjects, and topics. Various books are also available that will assist you; ask your local librarian for help. Otherwise, you could ask other homeschoolers at your local homeschool support group what materials they use.
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  45. What subjects are required? How do I know what to teach my child? Alabama places no requirements on subjects for homeschoolers who educate under the church school law. Your "scope and sequence," or what you teach at what grade, can be whatever you deem necessary and appropriate for your child. For example, most public and private schools, and even some homeschool curriculum companies, teach state history during fourth grade. You are not obligated to do that; you can teach state history in any grade, or teach it as part of a U.S. history course in the same school year.

    For general guidance, you will find many books detailing what children should know at what grade, and WorldBook.com has a course of study you can follow. Also, the courses of study for Alabama may be viewed at http://alex.state.al.us/browseStand.php and the requirements for various Alabama diplomas may be viewed at the Alabama Commission on Higher Education web site. Although the Alabama courses of study are not required by homeschoolers, they will give you some idea of how to proceed with your high schooler's education.

    For some ideas for high school courses and descriptions, go to www.oklahomahomeschool.com/courseDesc.html. Although this site refers to homeschooling in Oklahoma, the course descriptions may still be used in Alabama.
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  46. How do I know when my child has proceeded to the next grade level? If you use a packaged curriculum, then your child progresses to the next grade when he has completed the curriculum for that grade level. If you use a variety of sources and materials for educating your child, then he progresses when he has completed what you have determined to be necessary for that grade level.
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  47. What about physics, calculus or other subjects that I can't teach? Buy the teacher's manual. It will tell you everything you need to teach your child. You can also find local resources to teach your child, including homeschool co-ops such as Academy Days, classes at a local college, or courses online. Research your community for experts to serve as “teachers,” such as retired teachers, neighbors, relatives and business owners.
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  48. Since I pulled my child out of school mid-year, do we need to finish the subjects that he started (especially since he is in high school and needs the credits)? If you plan to put your child back in school at any time, then you should finish the subjects he has already started, but you don't need to use the same books; you can choose any books and materials in those subjects, and they will complete the credit. Keep in mind, however, that homeschoolers do not have required subjects. As a result, if you plan to continue homeschooling, then you can finish those subjects if you want, or you can choose subjects your child is more interested in; it's completely up to you and your child. Again, it all depends on whether you plan to homeschool just this year to get him ready to go back to a public institution or you plan to homeschool until college.
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  49. My child failed a couple of courses. Can she complete those failed courses and this school year's courses during the same year? Yes, she should be able to, especially if you plan to continue homeschooling. However, if the goal is to return to public or private school, be sure to keep accurate records and samples of her work. Each school has its own requirements for enrollment and advancement, so you should contact the school in advance and follow their advice regarding this issue.
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  50. Can my child complete two grades in one year? Yes, it may be difficult, but it is possible. However, consider your reasons for doing it. If it's to “catch up” or “jump ahead” before going into public or private school, you may want to research the policy of the school first as it may not accept two academic years in one year. If combining two years will help your child graduate early, most colleges will accept the credits, but again, you may want to check with the college or university first. However, in all cases, keep accurate records and perhaps even samples of your child's work to verify her accomplishment.

    If a curriculum is finished early, can my child go ahead and start the next grade level of curriculum in the same year? Yes.
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  51. How do I assign grades? Grades are not required for homeschoolers in Alabama, so they are not required by Outlook Academy and you do not turn in grades to us. However, some church schools do require grades. Also, if your child will likely go into public or private school at some point, or if he plans to attend college, then grades in high school are necessary.

    Realistically, the conventional grading evaluation method is often not an appropriate or useful tool in the homeschool setting for many reasons. First of all, most of the time the child does not even move on until he has mastered the concept. Second, the tutorial-style inherent in homeschooling is a much more efficient method of teaching and learning than the traditional classroom setting due to the ability to teach one-on-one and proceed at the child’s pace.

    Nevertheless, it is best to use traditional grades on transcripts for high school. Use letter grades and the 4.0 grading system to avoid confusion, and award A’s for subjects you feel your child has mastered or completed as required. Remember, teachers do not give students grades; rather, students earn grades, and teachers simply record them accurately and honestly.
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  52. How do I test my children? Testing is not required in the state of Alabama, so it is not required by Outlook Academy. However, some church schools do require testing. It has been our experience that, as a homeschooling parent, you will discern if your children are learning by your discussions and observations.

    However, some parents like tests because they confirm the areas of weakness suspected by the parents and because test-taking is an acquired skill that students will eventually need in college. Many curriculum companies provide tests, and some web sites offer free test generators that are easy to set up. Also, standardized tests, such as the Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), the California Achievement Test (CAT), and the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS) are regularly administered by support groups. If you decide you want to use a standardized test, contact your local homeschool support group for testing details. Keep in mind that, for testing in spring, you must sign up for the tests in the fall.

    If you want to use a standardized test at home, go to http://www.christianhomeschoolers.com/hs_testing.html for articles, information and links to resources for home administration of standardized tests.

    Also, colleges do require the SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (formerly American College Testing) for admission, so your high school student should plan to take one of those. Go to CollegeBoard.org for registration information. However, the GED and the Alabama High School Exit Exam are not required by homeschoolers.
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  53. Does my child need to take the Alabama High School Graduation Exam, the GED, the PSAT, SAT or ACT? As mentioned above, the Alabama High School Exit Exam and the GED are not required by homeschoolers. Indeed, the GED can actually carry a stigma of a drop-out, since it implies that the student did not finish high school, which significantly lessens the value of an otherwise excellent academic record. As a result, Outlook Academy and Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) do not recommend that homeschoolers take the GED.

    The PSAT/NMSQT is not required by homeschoolers, so it is optional. If a homeschooled student wants to take it, he should contact a principal or counselor at a local public or independent private high school to make arrangements to take the PSAT/NMSQT at their school. Be sure to do so well before the mid-October test dates, preferably during the previous June. For more information, go to CollegeBoard.com at http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/psat/reg/homeschool.html.

    Because colleges do require the SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (formerly American College Testing) for admission, your high school student should definitely plan to take one of those at least once. Generally, juniors should take either the SAT or ACT in the spring between February and June. Then they can retake the one on which they did better during the fall of their senior year. Most colleges will take the highest score.

    Outlook Academy does not administer either test. Go to CollegeBoard.com/testing/ to find a local testing location. The code for homeschooled students taking the college ACT is 969-999, the SAT is 970-000, and the PSAT is 990-199.
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  54. Can my child take AP or CLEP exams? Absolutely! Many homeschoolers earn college credit or even completely test out of lower-level college coursework by taking college credit equivalency exams like AP (Advanced Placement) or CLEP (College Level Examination Program). This will save both valuable time and money. Go to CollegeBoard.com/testing/ for more information on testing and registration, local testing locations, and preparation materials and resources. Before taking either exam, however, check to make sure the college of your choice will award credit for that exam because each college sets its own rules and requirements.
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  55. What subjects are required for high school graduation? Alabama places no requirements for graduation for homeschoolers who educate under the church school law. Individual church schools may place their own requirements, but Outlook Academy follows state regulations, so our members do not have requirements for high school graduation.

    If you want a guideline of what subjects would be suitable for high school, you may view the requirements for various Alabama diplomas from public and private schools at the Alabama Commission on Higher Education web site, and the Alabama courses of study may be viewed at http://alex.state.al.us/browseStand.php. Again, although the Alabama courses of study are not required by homeschoolers, they will give you some idea of how to proceed with a high schooler's education.

    Additionally, if your child plans for college, research the subjects required for that college and meet those requirements during high school. More information about preparing for college are detailed in various questions below.
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  56. How do I know when my child has graduated? Your senior graduates when he has completed what you have designated to be his high school (or more specifically, his senior year) curriculum. If you use a packaged curriculum, then your child has finished when he has completed the curriculum for 12th grade. If you use a variety of sources and materials for educating your child, then he graduates when he has completed what you have determined to be necessary for 12th grade.
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  57. Are there any legal formalities I need to file with you or the state to finalize my child's completion of education? You do not need to do anything except notify us before the end of the school year (June 30), so when we send the list of un-enrolled students to the BOE in the fall, we'll mark your child's name as graduated. Please let us know the official graduation date and his or her future plans following graduation. We always have an article highlighting our graduates each spring, and we'd like to include more information besides his or her hometown. For example, what college does he plan to attend and what will his major be? Alternatively, will he join the military, work, or travel? We can also include a photo if you'd like to email it. For examples of the kinds of information we include, click here.
     
  58. Does Outlook Academy issue a diploma? As with all homeschoolers, parents of children enrolled in Outlook Academy determine when their children have completed their high school studies, so they issue the diploma. If your homeschool graduate wants a diploma to hang on his wall, you can purchase one from several sites on the Internet, such as HSLDA.org and HomeschoolDiploma.com, or make your own using templates from http://www.donnayoung.org/forms/planners/diploma.htm. Or simply search on “homeschool diploma.”

    According to HSLDA, as a church school, Outlook Academy provides the legal means to homeschool, and the parents are in charge of the education of their children, so we have no authority to sign a diploma. Typically, homeschooling parents sign their child's diploma. In any case, a homeschool diploma issued by parents is just as valid as a diploma from a public or private school, and your child's diploma will, indeed, be accepted by colleges, universities and the military.

    For more information, read "Who Should Issue the Diploma" as well as other articles and FAQs on the Homeschool Diploma page at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) web site.
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  59. Will my child's homeschool diploma be accepted for college? Yes, indeed! Outlook Academy and Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) wish to remind parents that they can rest assured concerning the validity of the diplomas they issue their students. According to HSLDA, a homeschool diploma issued by parents is just as valid as a diploma issued by a private or public school; homeschoolers “self-certify” the completion of their high school program just as public and private schooled graduates self-certify that they have received a diploma. (In other words, they do not have to show their diploma to officials to prove they received one.) As a matter of fact, many colleges and universities actively recruit homeschool graduates!

    The U.S. Department of Education has promulgated a new regulation that requires colleges that receive federal funds to adopt procedures to determine the "validity" of a student’s high school diploma when the student applies for Federal Student Aid (FSA). However, this new rule does not apply to homeschoolers, but homeschoolers do need to be careful to check “homeschooled” when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to avoid delays in the processing of their application.

    For admission, colleges and universities typically look at students' transcripts, ACT or SAT scores, extracurricular activities, and community service. Homeschoolers do not have to take the GED, and admissions officers should not require any form of third party corroboration. Also, homeschoolers are eligible for federal financial aid.

    To ensure a smooth admission process, follow the tips in this article at Home School Legal Defense Association.

    As a homeschool church school, Outlook Academy does not provide college admissions services. Each college and university has its own individual policies and procedures for admission, so research the requirements for the schools your child is interested in. If you are a member of HSLDA, you will find an enormous amount of assistance on their web site.
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  60. Are homeschoolers eligible for financial aid and scholarships? Yes! Many admissions counselors mistakenly believe a college or university will lose its federal funding if the school grants admission and/or financial aid to applicants who do not have accredited high school diplomas. However, HSLDA has worked with legislators and the U.S. Department of Education to develop policies that allow nontraditional high school graduates to receive federal funding. The U.S. Department of Education has published an official letter regarding homeschool student and institutional eligibility.

    For more information, read this article or click here.

    Although a new U.S. Department of Education regulation requires colleges that receive federal funds to adopt procedures to determine the "validity" of a student’s high school diploma when the student applies for Federal Student Aid (FSA), this new rule does not apply to homeschoolers. However, homeschoolers do need to be careful to check “homeschooled” when filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to avoid delays in the processing of their application.
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  61. What if my child does not want to go to college? If your child does not plan to attend college, then his high school subjects are entirely up to you and your child. He may prefer consumer math rather than calculus, for example. Again, you will find plenty of resources from the library and on the Internet.

    As an alternative to college, your student may want to consider an apprenticeship or internship. College is not always the best option for everyone, especially if your child does not have a specific career goal in mind. As a matter of fact, depending on the field, an apprenticeship may actually be better than college. Through an apprenticeship, a student learns under a master in the trade, skill, or career in which he is interested and at which he is talented.

    Also, keep in mind that college always remains an option, whether one year or five years later. Most colleges and universities highly value older students because they are usually enthusiastic, self-directed and focused on learning.
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  62. Can my child join the military? Yes! According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), homeschool graduates who desire a career with any of the four branches of the Armed Services are being treated as "preferred enlistees." As a result, homeschoolers receive the same educational benefits, cash bonuses, and available positions in the Armed Services as any of their peers. For more information, go to the Military page at HSLDA.org.
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  63. What is a transcript? How do I prepare one? Does Outlook Academy provide one? A transcript is an official school report itemizing a student's courses, grades, and credits. Because a transcript is “evidence” that backs up the diploma and details the student's education, only the person overseeing the student's education can accurately compile the transcript. As a result, parents of children enrolled in Outlook Academy prepare transcripts for their own children because we have no way of knowing what courses your student has completed or what grades to assign them.

    Colleges and universities do accept homeschool transcripts.

    You will find many sample homeschool transcripts online. Simply search on “homeschool transcript sample” and use them as a template for your own. Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has information and transcript templates on their Transcripts page.

    Here are a few more web sites which may prove helpful:

    Carnegie Units and related information:
    http://www.smccd.edu/accounts/csmcoi/forms/carnegie.pdf
    http://www.lavc.edu/vccc/documents/carnegieunits.html

    CSSC Codes – Excel Spreadsheet available – look on left of this page:
    http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/hst/courses.asp

    “Transcript Transgressions”:
    http://www.homeschooltranscripts.com/FreeDownloads/Transcript_Transgressions.aspx

    Ideas on records to keep:
    http://cherylbastian.blogspot.com/search/label/High%20School

    Calculate the GPA (Grade Point Average):
    http://www.back2college.com/gpa.htm

    Be sure to calculate the GPA accurately. A minor math mistake can ruin the credibility of the entire transcript.

    When preparing a transcript, use the same terminology, letter grades and the 4.0 grading system as the public schools to avoid confusion, and award A’s for subjects you feel your child has mastered or completed as required. To document dual enrolled courses on your high schooler's transcript, a one-semester three-credit college course is equal to a year-long one-credit high school course.

    Also, at a minimum, have your child complete the same number of credits and/or units required at public schools. According to the Alabama Department of Education, the minimum credits required to graduate in a public school is 24 credits; however, college-bound students earn more credits, and colleges and univerisities expect more. There are no credits required for homeschoolers, but generally, college-bound homeschoolers should earn between 27 and 30 credits.
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  64. How do I assign credits for high school? How many credits are required for graduation? Most homeschoolers assign credits using a combination of curricula completed and Carnegie Units. For details on both of these methods, read information on Evaluating High School Credits from the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

    To document dual enrolled courses on your high schooler's transcript, a one-semester three-credit college course is equal to a year-long one-credit high school course.

    According to the Alabama Department of Education, the minimum credits required to graduate in a public school is 24 credits; however, college-bound students earn more credits, and colleges and univerisities expect more. There are no credits required for homeschoolers, but generally, college-bound homeschoolers should earn between 27 and 30 credits.
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  65. How do I prepare my child for college? What subjects does my child need? As a homeschool church school, Outlook Academy does not provide college admissions services. Each college and university has its own individual policies and procedures for admission, so if your high school student plans for college, find out the admission requirements for the schools he is considering by contacting their admissions departments or checking their web sites. If you are a member of HSLDA, you will find an enormous amount of assistance on their web site.

    Specific subjects are not required for homeschoolers in Alabama. However, according to the College Board, most higher education institutions require a minimum of:

    • 4 years of English, including literature and composition
    • 3 years of social studies, including world history, U.S. history, and government
    • 3 years of math, not including pre-Algebra
    • 3 years of science and one lab, not including general science
    • 3 years of additional credits, including 2 years of a foreign language and other electives

    These are the minimum requirements. If your child plans a future in science, for example, he or she will need to take more than just 3 science courses during high school.

    In addition, most institutions require certain scores on the SAT (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test) or ACT (formerly American College Testing) or other college entrance exams. Once you know what is required, use the high school years to cover the necessary subjects and take the standardized tests.

    Additional ways to prepare your child for college include helping him or her learn good study skills, how to take tests, how to write well and communicate verbally -- all of which may be learned at home, in a homeschool co-op, or in a dual enrollment program at a local college.
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  66. How do I teach subjects that I know nothing about, like physics or calculus or composition?! Buy the teacher's manual. It will tell you everything you need to teach your child. You can also find local resources to teach your child, including homeschool co-ops such as Academy Days, classes at a local college, or courses online. Research your community for experts to serve as “teachers,” such as retired teachers, neighbors, relatives and business owners.
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  67. Tell me more about the high school classes at Academy Days Homeschool Co-op. The co-op offers classes difficult to teach at home, such as science labs and foreign languages, or best taught in group settings, such as P.E. and drama. The high school classes vary from semester to semester depending on students' needs and teacher availability. Classes are taught by parents with a degree, special knowledge or passion for the subjects, and they enjoy sharing their passion with young people. Class fees are very affordable, ranging from $1 to $15 per class for the entire 14 weeks, because fees pay for supplies only, not salaries. The co-op offers the best of homeschooling, because the parents remain the primary teachers of their children, and the best of a private school, because the classes are small and offer individualized instruction. For more information, go to http://www.academydays.com.
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  68. Is there a national honor society for homeschoolers? Yes! Your homeschooler can, indeed, become a member of an honor society. Although the National Honor Society does not permit homeschoolers to join, both the Eta Sigma Alpha National Home School Honor Society and the National Society of Home School Scholars are equally prestigious opportunities for your homeschool high school student.
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  69. You don't accept seniors? We accept seniors only during the summer before their senior year (between June 1 and August 1). We do not accept seniors mid-year, but other church schools may.
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  70. What is dual enrollment? Dual enrollment refers to a high school student enrolled in a college class that counts for both high school credit and college credit. Many colleges accept homeschoolers for dual enrollment classes once they have become sophomores or juniors. In the greater Montgomery area, Faulkner University, Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM), Troy State University, Huntingdon College, Alabama State University, and Treholm State Technical College offer dual enrollment. Contact your local colleges or universities or check their web sites for information about dual enrollment.

    Generally, sophomores or juniors eligible for dual enrollment must have a certain GPA or minimum ACT or SAT score, and a letter of recommendation from the homeschool leader. This letter is more for verification that the student is, indeed, enrolled in the church school as required by law and that the church school is aware of the student's dual enrollment status. The student will also need a transcript. Refer above for information relating to preparing a transcript.

    To document dual enrolled courses on your high schooler's transcript, a one-semester three-credit college course is equal to a year-long one-credit high school course. However, since local policies may differ, you should check with a specific college to see how they treat dual enrollment courses.

    In addition to dual enrollment, many colleges and universities allow early admission for high school juniors. Check with your local institutions to find out their procedures.
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  71. Can homeschoolers get a driver's permit and license? What do I need to do? Yes, of course, as long as you are homeschooling legally under a church school, your homeschooler can get a driver's permit and license. The Alabama Department of Public Safety issues the driver's licenses for all first-time drivers. You may obtain a copy of the Driver Handbook from the DPS.

    To apply for a driver's permit in Alabama, your student will need his birth certificate, social security card, and a School Enrollment/Exclusion Form (DL-1/93) filled out by the parent and signed by the Church School Administrator. This form verifies that your student is enrolled in a church school. Go to http://dps.alabama.gov/Home/wfContentTableColumned.aspx?ID=30&PLH1=DLFORMS and download Enrollment/Exclusion (DL-1/93). Fill out Section I and mail it to Outlook Academy with a self-addressed stamped envelope. We will fill out Section II, sign and return it in the envelope you provide. There is no extra charge.

    Do not wait until the day your child plans to take the driver's test to request the form. It will likely take 10 days to two weeks after your initial request to receive it back in the mail.

    For more information on driver's ed programs, click here. For more information for first-time drivers in Alabama, go to http://www.dmv.org/al-alabama/first-time-drivers.php.
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  72. My child needs the necessary form for a work permit. What do I need to do? Child labor laws have recently changed for the state of Alabama. On May 18, 2009 Governor Riley signed into law the Child Labor Reform Act of 2009. The new act reforms Alabama child labor enforcement standards, transferring the permitting process from the public school system to the Alabama Department of Labor. Under the new system, permits will no longer be required for each minor employed. In its place, employers will be required to purchase a Certificate: Class I, to employ minors age 14 or 15 and/or Class II, to employ minors age 16 or 17. The certificates must be renewed annually.

    Additionally, an Eligibility to Work Form is required for each 14 or 15 year old minor employed, but not 16 year olds. Typically, these forms are provided by the school. However, since a teacher's signature is required to verify grades, the homeschool parent, as the child's teacher, provides this form to the employer. Download http://www.alalabor.alabama.gov/PDFs/Work_Permit_Application.pdf.

    No child under age 14 may legally work in Alabama, except 12 and 13 year olds in newspaper delivery, even if their parents own a business and the child works for the parents.
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  73. Will my high school student have a graduation ceremony? Yes, homeschoolers have graduation ceremonies, organized variously through church schools or support groups. As a result, not all church schools host commencements, and not all support groups do either. Check with your church school and local support group to see if they do.

    Like most church schools, Outlook Academy does not have a graduation ceremony. As with most homeschool graduates, our graduates host their own individual graduation parties to celebrate the completion of high school. That way, the graduating senior can make the affair exactly the way he or she wants it to be without having to share the spotlight with several other students who likely do not even know each other. Perhaps your senior would like a barbeque party, a bonfire, a camping trip with family, a week at the beach with friends, or a dream trip to New York City, Disney World or Europe. Alternatively, your senior may want to organize a special event with his or her best friends who are also graduating.

    If your graduate craves a cap-and-gown experience, many churches recognize the senior class during special worship services in May. Check with your church to see how they honor their graduates. You can order a cap and gown from HSLDA.org or many other organizations on the Internet, or borrow them from older graduates for the one-time event. You can also order diplomas and graduation announcements from HSLDA.org or other sites, so your senior will still be able to let others know of his achievement and will still benefit from all the graduation gifts and good wishes.
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  74. Do you publish a yearbook? No. For many reasons, a yearbook is not feasible for a church school in excess of 300 families scattered all over the state. However, many homeschool support groups publish yearbooks. They have access to local volunteers who can gather regularly to work on the yearbook; plus, most photos would be of family and friends, and the cost can be kept rather reasonable. Many publishing companies offer special programs for homeschool groups, so if your support group wants a yearbook, search for a publisher that meets your needs. Alternatively, many homeschooling families create special family scrapbooks or online photo albums. This option allows optimal personalization and offers a selection of financial investment options.
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  75. Is there a homeschool prom? Yes! As a matter of fact, there are several homeschool proms in Alabama. First, Outlook Academy is a member of the Montgomery Area Homeschool Prom Committee. Only students whose church schools are represented on the committee can attend the prom. As a result, our students in grades 9-12 are eligible to attend the Montgomery Area Homeschool Prom, usually held in April. In previous years it has been held in such locations as a riverboat, a plantation, Capitol City Club, Embassy Suites, and Arrowhead Country Club. Information about the prom will be posted on the home page of this web site as the date draws near each spring. Tickets usually go on sale in February.

    Second, anywhere from one to three other homeschool proms are usually held every year as well, in such locations as Huntsville and Birmingham. Hosted by different organizations, they are usually open to homeschoolers of any cover school, so Outlook Academy students may attend any or all of them. Information about these proms will be found on the main page of this web site as information becomes available.
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  76. How will my child be properly socialized? Are there any homeschoolers who live near us? More than 300 families statewide homeschool through Outlook Academy alone, and some church schools boast even larger numbers. Most likely you will find several homeschoolers living nearby; however, you will need to make some effort to find them. As a result, we highly recommend participation in a local homeschool support group, where both social time and structured activities will appeal to a wide range of ages and interests. Click on Support Groups on the Homeschool Information Menu for a statewide list. At a support group, kids of all ages will enjoy field trips, science fairs, monthly parties, and other special events. They will have an opportunity to participate in clubs, sports, co-ops, and service projects. Some support groups even publish a yearbook, organize a prom, and go on a senior trip.

    Some areas also boast homeschool co-ops. Academy Days is a co-op in Millbrook that meets once a week for 14 weeks in the fall and 14 weeks in the spring for classes difficult to teach at home or best taught in group settings, such as P.E., computer, and science labs. This affordable co-op is open to nursery through high school. In addition to its socialization opportunities, it also provides accountability and access to experts and professionals in various subjects, such as photography, psychology and foreigh language. For more information, go to AcademyDays.com.

    Socialization does not mean being confined to a room with 15-20 other people your own age. Socialization is interacting appropriately with others in society. Through homeschooling, you and your spouse model social behavior for your children with a variety of people of all ages and socio-economic backgrounds and in a variety of social situations. Your children learn to get along not only with children of all ages, but also with adults of all backgrounds.

    Because homeschooled children are not confined to a building with their age peers all day, they are generally less peer-dependent and less influenced by drugs, sexual pressures, gangs and violence. Because they spend much of their time out in the real world, homeschoolers are able to communicate well with both adults and children and to have friends of all ages. They choose to spend time with others, whether their same age or older or younger, not because they are forced to, but because they enjoy their company or have similar interests, just as adults do.

    As homeschoolers, you and your children will not be isolated at home; you will find numerous socialization opportunities in addition to support group activities if you just look around and take advantage of what you discover. Any activity open to the public is open to homeschoolers. In addition, homeschoolers get involved in their communities and churches through service opportunities and mission trips. They participate in various extracurricular activities, such as clubs and sports, where they spend quality time with their peers. Click on Extracurricular Activities on the Homeschool Information Menu for an extensive list in the tri-county area. Literally, if your child has an interest, most likely there is a club or special class for it.
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  77. What sports are open to homeschoolers? Homeschoolers may participate in any community athletics that are open to the public, just like public and private school students. Although most public and private schools do not allow participation by homeschoolers in their sports programs, various national and local leagues do offer sports specifically for homeschoolers. Ask your local homeschool support group for information about sports in your area. For more information, click here.

    If your child plans to play sports in college, he or she may need to meet NCAA eligibility requirements. It is best to research these requirements as early in junior high and high school as possible, as it may affect your homeschool record-keeping and your approach to a diploma and transcript. See the NCAA's eligibility information and their FAQs on Homeschooling.
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  78. Does Outlook Academy schedule field trips, meetings, or other activities? To keep our fees low, Outlook Academy does not schedule extracurricular activities of any kind. Because our members reside all over the state, only those living in Montgomery, Elmore and Autauga Counties would be able to benefit from any activities. As a result, we strongly recommend that you join a local homeschool support group. Click on Support Groups on the Homeschool Information Menu for a statewide list.
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  79. What extracurricular activities are available for homeschoolers? Many extracurricular activities that are open to public and private school children are also open to homeschoolers, and many even have groups specifically for homeschoolers. Literally, if your child has an interest, most likely there is a homeschool club for it! Click on Extracurricular Activities on the Homeschool Information Menu for an extensive list in the tri-county area. If you live outside Montgomery, Elmore and Autauga Counties, search the Internet for extracurricular activities in your area.

    In addition, we highly recommend participation in a local support group, where you will be kept abreast of local extracurricular activities. Click on Support Groups on the Homeschool Information Menu for a statewide list of groups.
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  80. How can we meet other homeschoolers? We highly recommend participation in a local support group, where both you and your children will be able to make homeschool friends. Click on Support Groups on the Homeschool Information Menu for a list.

    Additionally, you may meet other homeschoolers through online email groups. The Support Groups listing includes email groups as well, but you can also go to Yahoo Groups and search for a group in your area. Through an email group, you will get much of the support you need, plus you may find homeschoolers who live nearby.

    In addition to support groups and email groups, there are probably very many activities available in your local area, such as sports, scouts, music and dance lessons, and various clubs, some specifically for homeschoolers. Click on Extracurricular Activities on the Homeschool Information Menu for an extensive list in the tri-county area.

    Also, many homeschoolers take Fridays off and go to the park or the library, so make a point of going there too. Any time you happen to see school-age children during the day, ask if they are homeschoolers. They just very well might be!
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  81. Do homeschoolers have a prom? Yes, homeschoolers have proms, organized variously through church schools or support groups. As a result, not all church schools host proms, and not all support groups do either. Check with your church school and local support group to see if they do.

    Outlook Academy is a member of the Montgomery Area Homeschool Prom Committee. Only students whose church schools are represented on the committee can attend the prom. As a result, our students in grades 9-12 are eligible to attend the Montgomery Area Homeschool Prom, usually held in April. In previous years it has been held in such locations as a riverboat, a plantation, Capitol City Club, Embassy Suites, and Arrowhead Country Club. Information about the prom will be posted on the home page of this web site as the date draws near each spring. Tickets usually go on sale in February.

    Additionally, anywhere from one to three other homeschool proms are usually held every year as well, in such locations as Huntsville and Birmingham. Hosted by different organizations, they are usually open to homeschoolers of any cover school, so Outlook Academy students may attend any or all of them. Information about those proms will be found on the main page of this web site as information becomes available.
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  82. Tell me about the homeschool co-op, Academy Days. Academy Days co-op is a function of Outlook Academy, but it is open to preschool through high school homeschoolers of any church school covering. The Christian co-op meets at Grace Community Church in Millbrook on Thursdays for 14 weeks during the fall and 14 weeks in the spring for classes difficult to teach at home or best taught in group settings, such as P.E., computer, art and science labs. Classes vary depending on student interest and volunteer teachers, but fees are extremely affordable since they pay only for class supplies. Most classes cost between $2 and $15 for the entire 14 weeks. Teachers are fellow homeschooling parents with a degree or passion for the subjects they teach, and they enjoy sharing that passion with the young people at co-op.

    The co-op is a wonderful opportunity for parents and children to learn, socialize and support one another. For high schoolers, it provides accountability, access to experts in various high school level subjects, and quality time with fellow teenagers. For younger students, the co-op offers enrichment and socilization opportunities. For more information, go to http://www.academydays.com.
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