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How to Be a Home School Operator in New Mexico

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A study released by the United States Department of Education shows a significant increase in the number of home schooled children, from 850,000 in 1999 to 1.1 million in 2003.

And today, there are nearly 2 million children in the United States that are homeschooled.

Relatively lower education costs and the flexibility of learning on students’ own pace are major reasons why people choose to educate their children at home or online. Besides, most parents believe that kids can learn faster and deeper at home than at school, since parents always know their children better and tend to devote more attention to them.

However, home-schooling is not an easy thing. It’s not just about purchasing a few textbooks and teaching your little one to read and write. Every state has strict regulations about both online and offline home schools. Both parents and students have to meet certain requirements. Otherwise, you have to enroll your children in a local public or private school.

New Mexico is widely considered as one of the easier states for parents to educate their kids at home. Record-keeping is minimal and you are only required to submit one piece of paperwork to the Secretary of Education.

However, there are also a number of laws and regulations related to home school. And parents or legal guardians have to comply with all these rules. Generally, to become a home school operator in New Mexico, you will have to meet the following requirements:

1. Be a parent or a legal guardian of the homeschooled student;

2. Have the minimum of a high school diploma or G.E.D.

Remember, meeting all these requirements mentioned above does not mean that you will qualify for a home school operator. You also need to make sure that you are able to provide instruction in basic academic education program, including reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies and science.

According to New Mexico education laws, any children turning 5 before September 1 of the school year should start kindergarten. And school or home school attendance is required for those aged 17 or less, unless they’ve already attained a high school diploma or G.E.D.

That requires you to establish a home school and keep a record of your children’s school attendance. Before you establish a home school, there are a few steps you will need to take:

A. Notify the Secretary of Education of the establishment of a home school within 30 days of the establishment, and notify the Secretary of Education on or before April 1, of each subsequent year of operation for renewal;

B. Maintain documentation verifying that you’ve earned a high school diploma, G.E.D. or other degrees.

You can complete and submit the Notification of Establishment of a Home School Form online. Or mail or fax the completed form to:

New Mexico Public Education Department

Attention: Home Schools Bureau

300 Don Gaspar Ave.

Santa Fe, NM 87501-2786

Fax # 827-6527

The form is available on the following page. You can print and fill out it, and then send it to the Secretary of Education:

http://www.cape-nm.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/Establishment-of-a-Home-School-Notification-12-091.pdf

If you prefer to complete and submit the form online, visit http://www.ped.state.nm.us instead. Click on “A to Z Directory”, then “Home Schools” and then click “Home Schools Notification Form”. Click “Submit” after filling in it as required, and you will receive an automatic confirmation. Then you can choose to print the confirmation page or copy your confirmation number for your records.

Another method to obtain the Notification of Establishment of a Home School Form is to call the Home Schools Bureau at (505) 827-6909 or contact your local superintendent’s office.

Note: In the case that you need to change the information provided in the form, you can send written notification to the Secretary of Education within 30 days after submitting the form. Also you will be required to submit written notification in the event that you have to move or cease to home school your little one.

Once your application gets approved, you can get started to establish a home school and teach your children at home. But remember, New Mexico also requires operators to maintain a series of records regarding homeschooling.

So, be sure to:

I. Keep a school attendance calendar showing that you are teaching your child(ren) at least 180 days out of the school year.

In New Mexico, homeschooled students, just as those enrolled in a local public school, are required to attend home school for the same school year length – 180 days. Though you don’t need to submit the school attendance record to the Secretary of Education, you are highly recommended to keep a calendar in your own files.

II. Maintain records of your child(ren)’s disease immunization, or objection to immunization waiver form in your own files.

Remember, your children’s health records should be submitted to the Department of Health. And if you have any questions, call 1-888-231-2367 for help.

III. Keep a copy of your own high school diploma, G.E.D or other degrees you’ve earned in your own files.

One more requirement from the state government is that home school operators should include Reading, Language Arts, Mathematics, Social Studies and Science in their home study programs. Good news is that no specific curriculum is required and you don’t need to submit your lesson plans or academic records.

Better still, New Mexico, unlike many other states, does not require home school operators to conduct achievement testing for their kids.

Additional Tips:

Under the previous state rules, the New Mexico Public Education Department (NMPED) treated home schooled children the same as parentally placed private school children. However, since the law was amended, today, homeschooled students are no longer considered private school students.

As a result, they cannot receive credits for any of the courses they’ve taken at home. For home school operators who want to help their children obtain credits for high school or college, the only way is to enroll them in an accredited online home school.

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