Do Accredited Homeschool Programs Exist?

4/5/22

When the traditional school model isn’t meeting the needs of your child, homeschooling often emerges as a frontrunner of potential alternatives. Whether your search for options is related to a public school system schedule at odds with your family’s lifestyle or you want to explore curricula and teaching methods better suited to their individual needs and goals, you’re probably here in hopes of some answers about education options extending beyond your local school's walls.

We bet these are a few of the questions you’re in search of answers to:

Changing the way your child attends school is a big decision, so it’s important to find answers to all of these questions. 

Let’s start with questions about homeschooling: the legality of homeschooling, unaccredited vs. accredited homeschool programs near me, and homeschool alternatives that still give you control and freedom in your child’s schedule.

Homeschooling puts power—and responsibility—in the hands of parents

Homeschooling has certainly been a winning system for plenty of families who have the time to commit to preparation, planning, execution of lessons, and effective evaluation. If you are planning to homeschool more than one child, that responsibility extends to each child's level of education. Before you add a desk and chalkboard to your living room and declare class is in session, you'll want to research your state’s requirements related to choosing the homeschool route.

Homeschooling may be legal in all 50 states, but the educational and certification requirements for a homeschool teacher (in most cases, this is the parent or guardian) varies by the state. Some states require bachelor’s degrees or teaching certifications in homeschooling, whereas others say that any parent regardless of job experience or qualifications can take on the responsibility. Some require annual submission of curriculum, supervision by a licensed teacher, or other homeschool guidance, while residents of more lenient states—like Oklahoma, for instance—can essentially run their in-home classes as private schools with few requirements or follow-up. 

Are homeschool programs accredited?

The answer, in short, is related to semantics. Homeschool curricula cannot be accredited. Accreditation is obtained by institutions, and it’s important to note whether the accreditation an institution is touting is legitimate. 

No U.S. state requires any homeschooling curriculum, program, or diploma to be accredited. Some exceptions exist in the form of homeschoolers that return to public school or utilize an institution-guided program where educational material is provided to the parent by a licensed educator. The more prominent debate in the homeschool community is whether homeschool accreditation matters.

As homeschool.com points out, students are getting into college without an accredited homeschool diploma. However, as this detailed report on admissions procedures by the Ivy League universities shows, homeschooled students are judged just as rigorously in their application as students who matriculate through public and private schools. In fact, Columbia requires homeschooled applicants explain why they chose to opt out of organized education, and Cornell wants to know what you’ve done to challenge yourself with the highest-level academia possible. Yale and Princeton still want to see letters of recommendation, while Harvard holds homeschoolers to the same exact standards as traditionally-schooled students. Almost, if not all, of the Ivy Leagues will still require your homeschooled student to take the ACT and/or SAT (although Harvard has gone the test-optional route through 2026, as many other colleges and universities have since the onset of the pandemic).

Is homeschooling worth it?

So the next question, then, is what exactly are you gaining by homeschooling your child? Failure to follow state and local homeschooling regulations could be deemed educational neglect (yikes!), and if not followed down to the letter may present barriers to a college education for your child. This is an important consideration, particularly if being 100% dedicated to every aspect of your child's education is not within your desired scope.

Let’s remember the likely reasons you set out to explore homeschooling in the first place: quality in your child’s education you can be sure about, and liberty in your child’s schedule for them to pursue other talents and interests. Can these goals be accomplished outside of a traditional school environment, with dedicated educators on board?

Homeschooling alternatives: All of the rewards for a fraction of the stress

Homeschool vs. school at home may sound similar, but the true differences are very important. Just because your lifestyle does not fit neatly into the eight-hour confinement of a traditional brick-and-mortar school day does not mean you have to start teaching your child yourself. This time commitment can be burdensome and unrealistic for most parents. When you choose an option like Laurel Springs School, you and your child are still in charge of when and where you commit to schooling.

Whether you have a protégé student-athlete, a rising star performer, or a boundless scholar, you know best when your child has outgrown a traditional school environment—or perhaps they never fit in the first place. Laurel Springs is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and Cognia, meeting the highest standards of academic excellence. We offer a broad catalog of courses approved by the NCAA Division I and II and the University of California A-G. We are a fully virtual school for K-12 students, leading the national rankings for online institutions. What we know best is how to deliver a rock-star education. We employ only the highest-quality teachers, all of whom have advanced degrees in their fields.

Let’s not forget about one of the chief concerns for newly-homeschooled students: am I going to miss out on the traditional social opportunities? When you choose to homeschool, it’s up to you to make sure your child’s social and extracurricular network remains robust and multi-faceted. Laurel Springs is proud to offer more than 30 clubs for a variety of interests, weekly virtual hangouts, virtual and in-person field trips, and special in-person events, such as prom and graduation.

We know you probably have more questions—the good news is we have answers! You are welcome to check out the stories of students who have thrived at Laurel Springs, then register for one of our upcoming virtual open houses to learn more about how we can help foster a brighter, more successful student from wherever your student learns best.