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New to homeschooling in Tennessee? Let’s breakdown the law and take a look at your options, so you can make this a successful year.
Homeschooling in Tennessee is fairly simple. I didn’t always feel this way though. We moved to Tennessee from a super easy state so the few regulations in Tennessee felt like a lot initially.
We’ve homeschooled in Tennessee for four years now without any hiccups. If you’re new to Tennessee, don’t be overwhelmed by the few regulations.
Homeschooling Laws in Tennessee
The Tennessee Department of Education website states, “In Tennessee, parents have the option to educate their children at home, an option known as homeschooling or home education.
Parents in Tennessee may choose to home school their own children in grades K – 12. The Tennessee Home School law (Tennessee Code Annotated § 49-6-3050) states: “A home school is a school conducted or directed by a parent or parents or a legal guardian or guardians for their own children.”
Parents desiring to home school their own children may do so by choosing one of the following three options.
The Options for Homeschooling in Tennessee
Option 1: Independent Homeschool
Parents may homeschool their own child by registering with the local school district. The law requires independent homeschools to:
- “Provide annual notice to the local director of schools prior to each school year of the parent-teacher’s intent to conduct a home school and, for the purpose of reporting only, submission to the director of schools of the names, number, ages and grade levels of the children to be home schooled, the location of the school, the proposed curriculum to be offered, the proposed hours of instruction and the qualifications of the parent-teacher”;
- Maintain attendance records and submit these records to the Director of Schools at the end of each school year; and
- Submit proof of vaccination and receipt of any health services or examinations as required by law.
Option 2: Church-Related School
Church-related schools are the same as umbrella program. An umbrella program acts as a shelter for the homeschool family. Parents aren’t required to turn in a letter of intent to the school district, but they are required to have proof that the homeschool is part of an umbrella program. The church-related school will determine record keeping and test requirements for students enrolled in an umbrella program.
Option 3: Accredited Online School
The Tennessee Department of Education website states, “Parents may also enroll their child in an accredited online school. Parents choosing this educational option must be sure to determine that the school has legitimate accreditation status and will be required to provide evidence to the local school district that their child is enrolled in an accredited online school.”
To be an acceptable online school for students who reside in Tennessee, the school must be accredited by one of regional accrediting agencies listed below:
- SACS CASI – Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement
- NCA CASI – North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.
- NWAC – Northwest Accreditation Commission
- Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools (MSA)
- MSCES – Middle States Commission on Elementary Schools
- MSCSS – Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools
- New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
- Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
- National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and affiliates (e.g., SAIS)
- National Council of Private School Accreditation (NCPSA)
We’ve homeschooled as independent homeschoolers and under a church-related school since moving to Tennessee. For the younger years, I found that being an independent homeschool family worked well for our family. I didn’t have to turn in much to our school district, and it was a simpler process for me.
The umbrella programs tend to require more paperwork, but I have found it worth the hassle for the upper grade levels. I don’t have to worry about creating a transcript, and my daughters can participate in the school’s sports since our umbrella program offers sports to homeschool students.
Umbrella Programs in Tennessee
Here are the options you can look into if you want to use an umbrella program while homeschooling in Tennessee.
650 Nashville Pike, Unit 6A
Gallatin, TN 37066
CHOICE Satellite School
P.O. Box 486
161 Baker Road
Hohenwald, TN 38462-1100
Daniel 1 Academy
P.O. Box 3233
Cookeville, TN 38502
Contact: Cindy Holman
Gateway Christian Schools
P.O. Box 280117
Memphis, TN 38168-0117
Heritage Christian Academy Umbrella Program
P.O. Box 1135
Mt. Juliet, TN 37121
Contact: Katrina Hagerty
Home Life Academy
P.O. Box 11688
Jackson, TN 3308
Toll Free: 888-560-0774
Contact: David Parkerson, Administrator
Rhea County Academy Homeschool Umbrella Program
P.O. Box 925
Dayton, TN. 37321
Places to Go and Things to Do for Homeschoolers in Tennessee
Homeschooling isn’t only about academics and record-keeping in Tennessee. There are tons of opportunities for hands-on learning and field trips in Tennessee. Here are some of our favorites!
- Adventure Science Center
- Discovery Park of America
- Memphis Brooks Museum of Arts
- Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
- Lucky Ladd Farms
- McClung Museum of Natural History & Culture
- Pink Palace Museum
- Tennessee Aquarium
- Rock City & Ruby Falls
Homeschool Community in Tennessee
There are many homeschooling families in Tennessee, therefore, you do not have to homeschool alone. One way I found other homeschool families when we moved to Tennessee was through our local park district magazine. Most cities in Tennessee have a park or recreation magazine or website with information about events for the season.
In our area, we have regular homeschool P.E. classes. I visited the P. E. class the first week we moved, and I met three homeschool moms who helped me figure out the difference between umbrella programs and independent homeschooling. If you haven’t already, be sure to find a copy of your city’s recreational magazine or visit your city’s website.
Homeschool Support Organizations and Groups
Tennessee Home Education Association provides information about homeschooling throughout the state, but there are also home education associations for each area of Tennessee.
- Chattanooga Southeast Tennessee Home Education Association
- Memphis-area Home Education Association
- Middle Tennessee Home Education Association
- Smoky Mountain Home Education Association
- West Tennessee Home Education Association
You can also connect with other homeschooling families through Facebook groups.
- Clarksville Homeschool Social Group
- East Tennessee Homeschoolers is a Knoxville-area based homeschool community.
- Franklin and Brentwood TN Homeschool Group
- Homeschooling in the Boro is based in Murfreesboro, TN and supports surrounding areas.
- Homeschooling Through High School in Chattanooga
- Joy in the Ordinary- Homeschool Community is a Nashville-area based homeschool community.
- Nashville African-American Homeschool Families
- McMinnville TN Homeschool Parents
- Memphis Area Homeschool Buzz
- Memphis Homeschool Online Support
- Tennessee Homeschool Friends and Support Group is for homeschoolers anywhere in Tennessee.
The lists included in this article aren’t extensive, but they are a good starting point for new homeschool parents in Tennessee.
I hope this has been helpful to you as you begin or continue your journey homeschooling in Tennessee! Drop a comment below to let us know what you love about homeschooling in this state, and what your favorite resources are!
And if you’d love to have a printable resource to use to keep track of state homeschool requirements, key organizations, activities and field trip plans, and curriculum notes, grab a copy of my Curriculum & Activity Planner below (it’s free!):
Interested in learning about homeschooling in another state? Check out the Homeschooling in 50 States Series.
About the Author
Latonya Moore homeschools her daughters in Middle Tennessee. She has a heart for new homeschool moms. She offers supports other homeschool moms through writing and podcasting on her Joy in the Ordinary platforms. She recently published the Accountability Journal to help moms keep track of what matters most.
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