Parents can homeschool their preschooler without informing the county – until he or she is of compulsory age.
Play, study, learn, and have fun! There are so many wonderful ways to learn in these early years! Until your child becomes of compulsory age, you don’t have to turn in a notice of intent to homeschool. In other words, it is legal to homeschool kindergarten with your five-year-old and not inform the county until he or she is six and in 1st grade. However, there are a couple exceptions. Keep reading.
So when is my child of compulsory age?
Your child is of compulsory age the school year he turns six years old prior to July 1st – unless he has ever been enrolled in a publicly funded kindergarten in which case he immediately became of compulsory age. (The cut-off date changed from September 1st to July 1st beginning in 2019.)
Do I need to turn homeschool kindergarten records into the county?
No. Not if your child is not yet of compulsory age. But if your child is of compulsory age, you need to turn in the required notice of intent (NOI). Year-end assessments must then be completed annually and kept for three years, but the assessment results will not be required for the county until 3rd grade.
If you plan to enroll your child in public school first grade, then you should submit a NOI for kindergarten. Since kindergarten is mandatory, the county will then have a record of kindergarten and many counties will then accept the student for first grade. If the NOI is not on file for kindergarten, there is a chance your county will place the student in public school kindergarten.
Don’t I want to make sure the county knows all the great things we’re doing to educate our child?
I remember feeling this way, too! I wanted the county to realize that we were capable and ready to do a good job with our children’s education. But I gradually realized that anything we sent to the county was merely dropped in a file by an unconcerned and overworked secretary. And I learned to be glad of that! If a county official (e.g. attendance officer) decides to pay attention to homeschoolers, it’s usually not good for us. It’s much preferred to be “off the radar screen.” So certainly, reach for excellence! And work to impress your husband, your children, your mother-in-law – and eventually a college admission officer or employer. But give to the county only what is required.
What if my child has been enrolled in or has attended a public school preschool?
See the summary of the current preschool law on this page.
What if my child has been enrolled in a publicly funded kindergarten program?
Then the child is of compulsory age and will require a NOI to homeschool, regardless of age.
What if we homeschool kindergarten and then enroll in public school for first grade?
Prior to entering first grade in a public school, WV code requires that a child must have completed a “state-approved” kindergarten program. The only exception to this requirement – allowed “only under extraordinary circumstances to be determined by the board” – is the successful completion of an entrance test approved by the county. So it is likely that the county would require your six-year-old child to enter kindergarten – with a little more physical, emotional, and cognitive maturity than he would have had a year earlier.
However, several counties have recently been more amenable to accepting homeschooled kindergartners into first grade IF they had a kindergarten notice of intent on file and an assessment for the year. Therefore, if you think you might enroll your child in first grade, you might consider doing the paperwork even if it’s not legally required.
Interestingly, the State partly justifies expanding early childhood education programs because as school enrollment in West Virginia declines, county boards seek to enroll four-year old students to offset the declining enrollments “because of the dynamics of the state aid formula” (18-5-44(b)(7)). It is clear from the code’s wording that counties are seeking to enroll younger children for financial reasons. Massive funding from the federal government is used as a carrot to encourage local systems to adopt federal policies. At the county, state, and national levels, the movement towards earlier compulsory attendance is growing each year.
CHEWV encourages Christian parents to seriously and prayerfully consider the option of home education in light of what God desires our children to be and to become.
The information above is offered to make parents aware of West Virginia laws that affect their preschool educational choices. However, it is not a substitute for reading the law and it is not to be construed as legal advice. Some individual counties may or may not offer more flexibility than is outlined above. Always remain aware that the county has a vested financial interest in steering you away from home education and into the public school system.
However, home education provides a proven alternative. Enjoy your littles and give them a solid foundation!