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Colorado Homeschool Guidebook

This classic go-to compendium used by countless families in Colorado is now completely updated and streamlined for you! The CHEC Homeschool Guidebook will give you tons of practical information, worksheets, resource lists, scriptural encouragement, and more – just what you need to homeschool in Colorado with confidence.

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Colorado Homeschool Guidebook

  3. 3. PREVIEW PREVIEW CHAPTER 3 Part I - Colorado Law Part II - Homeschooling via Independent Schools CONTENTS: Part I A. Legally Homeshooling in Colorado B. Basic Legalities of Homeschooling in Colorado by HSLDA C. Value Your Homeschool Law! D. Appendix: Homeschool-Related Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) Text and Department of Education Information - Revised by Mike Donnelly, Esquire - Part II A. What is an Independent School? B. How are Independent Schools Legal? C. Benefits of Utilizing an Independent School D. Is an Independent School Right for Me? E. Choosing an Independent School F. Questions to Ask an Independent School G. Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing Up H. List of Colorado Independent Schools - Revised by Brenda Kelly -
  4. 4. PREVIEW The H O M E S C H O O L GUIDEBOOK for COLORADO (CHEC would like to express our heartfelt appreciation to Mike Donnelly, Esquire, of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association for authoring this section. He is the HSLDA attorney assigned to represent member families in Colorado, among his duties concerning other states and nations.) HSLDA considers Colorado to be a state of moderate regulation. To see how Colorado compares to other states HSLDA provides a map available at HSLDA serves hundreds of Colorado families who homeschool under the various options that are available for parents who wish to more personally direct the education of their children but encounter difficulties from local school districts, CPS investigations, and other state authorities. HSLDA recommends complying with one of the options available under Colorado’s compulsory attendance law1 . Colorado compulsory education law requires that every child who is six years old on or before August 1st of the current school year, and under the age of 17, must attend school. If a homeschool is operating under Home educators in Colorado have worked diligently to establish a favorable homeschool law with moderate regulations. The Colorado homeschool law, first passed in 1988, moved the right to homeschool out of the jurisdiction of local school administrators and placed it where it belongs — with the parent. Although Colorado homeschooling families enjoy much freedom, this should not be taken for granted! We must remain vigilant in protecting the right to direct the education of our children. CHEC regularly monitors proposed legislation at both the state and federal level, assessing its effect on the homeschooling families of Colorado. Please keep informed on legislative issues, and then make your voice heard when necessary. CHEC encourages homeschooling families throughout Colorado to follow the law, and hopes this chapter will inform you so you are able to do so. He who keeps the law is a discerning son. (Proverbs 28:7a) But happy is he who keeps the law. (Proverbs 29:18b) B. Basic Legalities of Homeschooling in Colorado Part I - Colorado Law A. Legally Homeschooling in Colorado _____________________________ 1 Much of this content is adapted from HSLDA’s HS 101 series that is available at Used with permission. HSLDA is a membership-based organization of attorneys who are focused on promoting and preserving the right to homeschool in the USA and throughout the world.
  5. 5. PREVIEW PREVIEW Colorado’s home education statute (Option 1, below), the parents may wait to begin actual instruction until their child is 7 years old; however, they must still submit a Notice of Intent beginning with the school year that the child turns 6 years old by August 1st. Once your child is beyond compulsory attendance age, you do not have to comply with a home education option. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age (over the age of 17), there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Colorado law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education Notice of Intent (NOI), keeping attendance and other records, etc.). HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education, but these other records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. It is up to the homeschool parent to determine when a child has met the requirements for high school graduation. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us. Complying with your state’s homeschool law In Colorado, there are three options under which you can legally homeschool. You are free to choose the option that best meets your family’s needs. Option 1: Homeschooling under Colorado’s homeschool statute: Colorado law specifically refers to home-based education (aka homeschooling) in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 22-33- 104.5. To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these guidelines. 1. Decide who will be homeschooling your child. Instruction must be provided by a parent, guardian, or adult relative designated by a parent. 2. Notify a school district that you are homeschooling. The homeschool statute requires parents to provide 14 days’ Notice of Intent (NOI) before starting a home-based education program and annually thereafter. You may file this Notice of Intent with any school district in the state. The notice must include the names, ages, residence, and hours of attendance of the children to be taught. No particular form is required by law, and HSLDA members may use the Notice of Intent form we have designed to comply with the law available at Although the law does reference a waiting period when withdrawing from a school, HSLDA believes that the 14-day advance notice requirement could be considered an unconstitutional burden on parents exercising their fundamental right to direct the education of their children. Under certain circumstances the school district may request a curriculum plan. (The law provides that if a child is “habitually truant” during the six months prior to beginning homeschooling, a school district may request a curriculum outline.) 3. Teach the required subjects. Homeschooling law requires 172 days of instruction, averaging four hours per day, in the following subjects: the United States Constitution, reading, writing, speaking, math, history, civics, literature, and science. 4. Keep good records. The law requires Colorado homeschooling parents to keep attendance records, test and evaluation
  6. 6. PREVIEW The H O M E S C H O O L GUIDEBOOK for COLORADO results, and immunization records. The school district where you send your original Notice of Intent can request access to these documents under certain conditions. If the superintendent “has probable cause to believe” the homeschool program is not in compliance with the law and requests access to a family’s homeschool records, he or she is required to provide the parent with 14 days’ notice. 5. Test or evaluate your student. Students must be assessed with a nationally standardized achievement test or by a “qualified person” to determine if they have made sufficient academic progress according to their ability. Your child must be tested or evaluated in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11. The test must be a nationally standardized achievement test. Contact the CHEC office, or HSLDA if you are a member, to verify which standardized tests are acceptable. If you decide to have your child evaluated rather than tested, you must choose one of the following people to conduct the evaluation: • a Colorado licensed teacher, • a teacher employed by a private school, • a licensed psychologist, or • a person with a graduate degree in education. Here is what to do with the test or evaluation results: In addition to keeping a copy of the results in your own records, the results must be submitted to either the school district to which you sent your Notice of Intent, or you may choose to submit the results to an independent or parochial school within the state of Colorado. If you do not send the results to the school to which you sent the Notice of Intent, you must inform that school where you sent the test or evaluation results. Here is what may happen if your student does not make “adequate progress” according to the law: If a child does not score above the 13th percentile on a nationally standardized achievement test, he or she can be given an alternate version of the same test or a different nationally standardized achievement test. If the score is still below the 13th percentile, the school district will require the parent to place the child in a public, independent, or parochial school until the next testing period. If an evaluation by a “qualified person” demonstrates that a child is not making progress in accordance with his or her ability, the school district can require the child’s parents to place the child in a public, independent, or parochial school until the next testing period. In this case you should consult with HSLDA or an attorney immediately. Option 2: Homeschooling with an independent school: Subsequent to 1988 and the decisive case People in Interest of D.B., 767 P.2d 801 (Colo. App. 1988), Colorado law allows for children to be enrolled in established Colorado “independent schools,” through which parents teach their children at home under the independent school’s supervision. It is also possible for two or more homeschool families to establish their own school by keeping minimal records and providing instruction in the required subjects, in addition to complying with other statutory requirements. HSLDA has created a specific memorandum on satellite... ...Chapter continued in full version
  7. 7. PREVIEW PREVIEW CHAPTER 7 High School CONTENTS: A. Homeschooling Through High School B. High School and Beyond Q & A C. Personal Issues for Teens During High School D. Planning Your High School E. Keeping Good Records and Transcripts F. Other High School Learning Opportunities G. Graduation H. Preparing for Careers: Post-High School Work and Service I. Preparing for College Appendix I: Resources Appendix II: A Calendar for College-Bound Students Appendix III: List of Colorado Colleges & Universities Appendix IV: List of Colorado Community Colleges - Revised by Julianna Dotten -
  8. 8. PREVIEW The H O M E S C H O O L GUIDEBOOK for COLORADO Thousands of Colorado homeschooling families have successfully home educated through high school, finding great success and accomplishment in doing so. Whether you are beginning or ending your home education journey with high school, we want to encourage and prepare you for the years ahead so your student can finish strong! The Benefits Homeschooling in the high school years can be a great joy for your family. If you have had the opportunity to teach your children through their early, formative years, then now is the season of harvest! Your teenagers can be a tremendous blessing in your home. They are more independent learners, helpful around the house, and excellent companions. There are many advantages you can provide for your teens through home education. They can continue to learn responsibility and self-governance, develop confidence, grow spiritually, and pursue academic goals. Many homeschooled teens are able to experience more of ‘real life’ than their counterparts in a classroom. The flexibility of homeschooling allows time for volunteering in the community, working at a part-time job, traveling, and spending time with a wide variety of people. There is also time to develop special talents and work on personal projects such as writing a novel or preparing for a senior music recital. Understanding the Purpose of High School In the early years of our country, most people’s education ended at eighth grade. Soon afterward they entered adulthood, either through marriage, employment, or apprenticeship. Many young women started teaching school when they were 15. Many young men entered college at 16. It was not until the beginning of this century that what we now call “high school” came into existence. From its roots as a method of training workers and assimilating immigrant children, high school has now evolved into a basic educational entry level into society — either directly into the world of work or to further studies at the college level. In order to get the most benefit from these years, take your focus off the specific subjects young people study in high school, and step back far enough to look at the bigger picture. What kind of adult would you like your child to become? What are their interests, passions, and gifts? What areas of special ability do they demonstrate? Involve your teen in this discovery process. During the elementary years you took the primary responsibility in setting the direction for your child’s education; in high school this responsibility should be shifting. It is almost impossible to motivate a young person to work and strive toward a challenging goal for which they feel no personal ownership. Hopefully, you will have provided a wide range of studies and experiences in the younger years so that your young person has an idea of what interests them. Through prayer, reading, evaluating, and asking many questions, you and your teenager can together begin to sketch out a future destination. A. Homeschooling Through High School Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5)
  9. 9. PREVIEW PREVIEW The most important thing you can give to your teen as you prepare them for life is good character. The young person who shows honesty, promptness, an alert and interested attitude; takes initiative; knows how to learn; can follow instructions; gets along with other people; and acts responsibly will have no problem getting a job, being promoted, succeeding in college, or eventually running his own company. Use the high school years to cement these character traits into your teenager. The second thing you need to give to your teenager during these years is a gradual increase in his level of personal responsibility. A teen needs to take more and more responsibility for his own learning, finances, time, relationship with God, and personal growth. Help him to develop these skills under your guidance and direction, providing the structure and opportunity for trial and error without irreversible repercussions. Be sure your teen is prepared to function independently with his life skills. Consider all the skills you take for granted: maintaining a checking account, driving a car, cooking dinner, sewing on a button, caring for the yard, paying bills, booking airline tickets, and so many other items. Don’t let your teen leave home without these basic skills. (More ideas for teaching life skills are discussed later in this chapter.) Your young person must also be prepared to compete in the larger arena of differing worldviews. Now is the time to introduce the conflicting ideas and arguments that he will encounter in college and in the workplace. Study David Nobel’s book Understanding the Times, or Let Us Highly Resolve by David Quine. Subscribe to World magazine. Familiarize your teen with national and world events, and current modes of thinking (such as postmodernism). Have deep discussions about poverty, feminism, euthanasia, the role of government, the environment, welfare, abortion, violence and crime, and biblical family structure. Prepare your teens with discernment skills they need to live in the world, but not be of the world. The high school years can be a time of transition before your teens leave home when they are taught — and can practice — discernment for making friends and the myriad of choices they will be free to make as adults. Alert your teens to the dangers of pornography, alcohol, and drugs, and provide specific tools and strategies they can use to guard themselves in these areas. Look for answers to tough questions in the Scriptures. A Christian health textbook, such as Abeka’s A Healthier You, studied during their middle or early high school years will help establish a foundation for good choices based on biblical principles. Finally, don’t just worry about what your young person needs to know; teach him how to learn. This might include how to conduct research, read for information, study efficiently, take notes, outline a book or lecture, and then skillfully communicate what he has learned verbally and in writing. Help him develop his vocabulary. Study logic and thinking skills. Teach time management. A young person who is skilled in these areas will be a lifelong learner. Since most adults change careers several times during their working life, these skills are necessary for survival. Once you have considered the bigger picture, you are ready to start thinking about academics; however, even in this area, don’t limit your thinking to your own high school experience. There are so many creative ways to reach your goals. The more clearly you define the destination, the more efficiently you can map out the route. Your teen has only a limited amount of the precious commodity time. Focus his efforts on reaching the final goal.
  10. 10. PREVIEW The H O M E S C H O O L GUIDEBOOK for COLORADO Words of Encouragement As you and your student seek the Lord for His will for the high school years, be assured that He will equip you for whatever that road may look like. Even if you’re going through a crisis — be it a family member with cancer or a major remodeling project — God will use those years for the good of your student. The remarkable Corrie Ten Boom, a faithful servant of the Gospel of Christ and survivor of the Holocaust, said in her classic autobiography, The Hiding Place: “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.” The information contained in this chapter may seem daunting at first, maybe a bit overwhelming. Remember, many other ordinary families just like yours have successfully homeschooled their children through high school and have raised amazing adults with whom they now enjoy a life-long friendship as brothers and sisters in Christ. Relax. Read. Learn. Discuss. Plan. Achieve. Work together with your student to chart a course for the high school years. The course can be modified as you go. In the end, you will be glad you helped your student enjoy his high school years by challenging his mind, molding his character, and helping him set goals to achieve in his future adult life. Challenges to Consider The decision to continue, or to begin, homeschooling through high school is one that requires serious consideration. Choices involving classes, career goals, college preparation, work, volunteer experience, driver’s training, and social development will all affect your young person’s entrance into adulthood. Since the essence of home education is individualized instruction, this section cannot outline one perfect course of study for your high school student. Deciding upon the best course of study will involve research and multiple decisions. Class choices should be made with consideration of your student’s long-term goals, interests, and abilities. Once you start homeschooling your high school student, be prepared to follow it through! In the elementary years you may have homeschooled on the theory, “If it doesn’t work out she can go back to public school next year.” That is not necessarily true in high school. The acceptance of homeschool credits has varied from district to district in Colorado, and you cannot assume that your local public high school will accept your student’s work without question. School districts have the legal authority to test previously homeschooled children to determine grade placement. According to the law, they are to accept transcripts so long as they correspond with testing placement. Private schools are usually more accepting of homeschool credits if re-entry into a traditional school becomes necessary. If homeschooling is begun during the high school years due to a dissatisfaction with the previous school situation, parents may have additional challenges to consider. Social problems can take time to overcome, especially if rebellion is involved. Take whatever time is necessary to address problems with your child’s heart and attitude. Make it your highest priority. Academic problems are more easily addressed when godly attitudes and relationships are restored... ...Chapter continued in full version
  11. 11. PREVIEW PREVIEW CHAPTER 8 Different Learners CONTENTS: A. A Different Kind of Homeschooling B. You Can Successfully Teach Your Different Learner C. Get Started D. Testing E. Learning Challenges and Teaching Strategies F. Exceptionally Bright Learners G. Resources - Revised by Teri Spray -
  12. 12. PREVIEW The H O M E S C H O O L GUIDEBOOK for COLORADO Homeschooling Different Learners Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our Creator. We have been blessed with gifts and talents, areas of strength and areas of need. God has a plan for each and every life that He has created. When we become parents, the Lord blesses us with the responsibility of raising His children. Our ultimate purpose as parents is to raise His children to seek Him and discover His will for their lives. This purpose does not change with our circumstances. The Lord has given some parents a special assignment in the form of children who learn about their world very differently. He has promised to give us the wisdom we need to meet this challenge when we seek Him. Our attitude toward our children is a great test of our faith as parents, whether or not they have a special needs label. Only as we seek the Lord on our knees can we hope to meet the challenge of parenting. Blessings await when we meet the challenges in His strength and follow His plan. Many parents decide to home educate their ‘different learner’ because of their struggles in institutional schools, but they don’t know where to begin, or what to do. This can be disconcerting, but parents do not need to remain in this place. They can analyze, evaluate, learn, observe, and resolve how to successfully homeschool their different learner. We might describe these children as out-of-the-box learners, and we may need to become out-of-the-box teachers! On the following pages you will find helpful information as well as many practical tips and suggestions for educating children who learn differently. Nothing in these pages is meant to be the final authority, for only the Lord holds that position. At Christian Home Educators of Colorado, there are fellow home educators and graduates who are here to walk alongside you and encourage you along the way. The most important advice we can give you is to ask the One who has all the answers. Pray to the Lord for His wisdom and guidance. May He bless you abundantly in this journey as you parent and educate your children. A. A Different Kind of Homeschooling For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:13-17)
  13. 13. PREVIEW PREVIEW Advantages of Homeschooling a Different Learner • FOCUS: You love your child more than anyone. Now you can become your child’s advocate and expert. You are free to research and coordinate a special learning program based around your child’s particular needs and strengths. • SAFETY: Home education provides a safe, nurturing environment proven to enhance learning. • VARIETY: Children and parents are free to use a variety of methods and approaches. • ONE-ON-ONE: One-on-one, tutorial instruction that is natural in a home environment may be necessary for a child with special learning needs. • AT YOUR OWN PACE: An individualized learning program is easy to provide at home and can be paced according to needs and abilities. • PRACTICAL: Life skills are more easily taught as a natural part of daily living in the home. (Deuteronomy 6, Proverbs 22:6) • HEALTHY: Physical activity becomes a part of the education process. Home cooking reduces allergens and additives. • COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Consultants and therapists are increasingly available to parents of children with special needs. • BEHAVIOR TRAINING: Children can learn self-control in a safe, structured environment from a loving adult. Behavior expectations should be the same for ‘different learners’ as they are for typical learners. Clear expectations and consistent training can be provided in your home. • SCHEDULES: At home, therapy becomes a part of your school day instead of an addition to it. • FREEDOM: For accelerated learners, being at home allows more time for the child to be challenged in areas of special interest. Sue Welch, former editor of The Teaching Home Magazine (out of print), says: “As Christian homeschoolers, we are committed to the belief that God, having entrusted children to our care, has also enabled us to provide for their needs in all areas. Armed with faith in God’s wisdom and knowledge of His Word, we may begin to examine the confusing array of information available on the subject of learning disabilities.” (The Teaching Home, July/August 1994, p.1.) B. You Can Successfully Teach Your Different Learner
  14. 14. PREVIEW The H O M E S C H O O L GUIDEBOOK for COLORADO Legal Information for Homeschooling Different Learners Yes, it is legal to teach your own children even if they are different learners. There are no specific statutes governing the homeschooling of children with special needs; however, there are some questions that are frequently asked about teaching them. The following questions were submitted to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and the answers reflect their response. Q. Are there any different laws governing the homeschooling of children with special needs? A. No. Q. Are Individual Education Plans (IEP’s) required of families? A. No. However, if the family is receiving special needs assistance from the public school, an IEP would probably be required by the public school. Note: Assistance could be therapies or participation in a specific class. Q. Are children with special needs required to be evaluated more often than every other year? A. No. Q. What if a child never reaches a third grade level? Are evaluations to be submitted at all? A. No, not if all circumstances truly point to the child not progressing past second grade level. An additional comment from CHEC: Non-public (independent schools) may have different requirements, and your district may also. You should verify this with your district or independent school where your child is enrolled. Q. Can Colorado children receive special education services through government funds? A. Yes, about 90% of funding for public school special education programs comes from the state — not the federal government. Although the federal government will not allow its Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) money to go to homeschoolers in “homeschool law states,” the states can distribute their 90% in any way they choose. Some states have enacted laws that provide services to “homeschool” students; these provisions are included in the summaries below. If a state is a “private school law state,” homeschoolers are eligible for services funded by both the federal IDEA program and the state. Colorado has a private school provision. If homeschoolers are operating under private schools, they are eligible to receive special services... ...Chapter continued in full version