Welcome to homeschooling!
Let's explore what to do now that you have decided to homeschool. Included here is information about required paperwork, year-end assessments, and what goes into a portfolio review.
The Homeschool Statute
The Maine homeschool statute requires "175 days annually of instruction and will provide instruction in the following subject areas:
- English & Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Physical Education
- Health Education
- Library Skills
- Fine Arts
- Maine Studies (one unit from grade 6 to 12)
- Computer Proficiency (one unit grade 7 to 12)
What forms do I need to file and when?
The compulsory age of attendance for Maine children is 6 years old. If your child turns 6 between September 1st and July 31st of the following year, you are required to file a Notice of Intent (NOI) to homeschool. The statute states that the NOI must be filed within 10 days of the child turning 6.
Please do NOT file before they turn 6. Filing early can result in the state expecting an early compulsory age and eventually requiring it. The compulsory age in 2018-2019 was 7. It was just lowered to 6 with the 2019-2020 school year. Please help us to not slide backwards to an even younger compulsory age.
Notice of Intent (NOI) must provide:
(i) The name, signature, and address of the student's parent or guardian; [no PO Boxes]
(ii) The name and age of the student;
(iii) The date the home instruction program will begin;
(iv) A statement of assurance that indicates the home instruction program will provide at least 175 days annually of instruction and will provide instruction in the following subject areas:
- English and language arts
- social studies
- physical education
- health education
- library skills
- fine arts
- Maine studies (one unit from grade 6-12)
- Computer proficiency (one unit from grade 7-12) and
(v) A statement of assurance that indicates that the home instruction program will include an annual assessment of the student's academic progress that includes at least one of the forms of assessment described in division (b).
Whose form do I use for the NOI?
You can create or use any form that provides all information required by the homeschool statute!
- Maine Department of Education forms: These forms require the entry of the student's age* to submit the form online. The online option will give you an email receipt and simultaneously notify your local superintendent and the ME DoE.
- Create Your Own! nothing in the homeschool statute says that you have to use a specific form—just make sure you provide all required information.
File your NOI with your local superintendent and the ME DoE. NOTE: the ME DoE has recently stated that any paper NOI only needs to be filed in a single location—either your local superintendent OR the ME DoE. The law requires states otherwise. Please follow the law.
NOTE about birth dates vs age: birth dates are not directly called for in the Homeschool statute, you may simply provide your student's age to fulfill this requirement. If you prefer, you may enter your student's birth date (even though it is not required by law).
This requirement may be satisfied by choosing ONE of the following:
(i) A standardized achievement test;
(ii) A test developed by the school officials of the administrative unit in which the student resides;
(iii) A portfolio review by a current certified Maine teacher;
(iv) A portfolio review by a homeschooling support group whose membership for this purpose includes a currently certified Maine teacher or administrator; or
(v) A review and acceptance of the student's progress by a local advisory board selected by the superintendent.
What's in a Portfolio?
keep in mind that a single project can span several subjects!
Since the state of Maine does not have a specific requirement for the content of the student portfolio, it is up to you what to include in your portfolio.
Over the course of the school year "subjects must include English, language arts, math, science, social studies, physical education, health education, library skills, fine arts, Maine Studies (in at least one grade from 6 to 12), the student must demonstrate proficiency in use of computers (at one grade level from 7 to 12). There are no specific curriculum standards for Maine home instruction."
You may include as much or as little as you want to include in the portfolio. Some families keep meticulous records of daily activities and some keep very few. It's up to you to decide what you want your portfolio to look like!
Unschoolers & Portfolios
- Narrative: some unschoolers have no physical records at all, but bring an oral narrative of their year.
- Reverse lesson plans: at the end of the day the parent or child or both writes down a quick summary of what was done.
- Scrapbooking: a simple scrapbook can help a student remember and tell about their homeschool year.
- Photo journaling: documenting your year in photos is a great way for unschoolers to show what the learned.
- Video journaling: short clips or longer videos of your student's homeschooling milestones.
- for more ideas: check out this great resource.
What about 504s and IEPs?
There are no additional requirements by the ME DoE for students with 504s or IEPs in regards to portfolio reviews. Neither the 504 nor the IEP need be disclosed or submitted to the ME DoE. It is highly recommended that you seek a reviewer versed in resources and techniques for enriching your student's academic journey.
Who can perform a Portfolio Review in Maine?
Anyone with current teacher credentials issued from the Maine Department of Education can perform a portfolio review. There are many educators with varying styles, interests, and specialties.
*Portfolio reviews are not required until age 6, as of the 2019-2020 school year. Since there is pressure from the state to require more information from homeschoolers, many teachers will not provide an official letter to the state until the state-required age.
Who am I?
I’m Dawn Nguyen, a certified teacher and unschooling parent. I enjoy supporting families in their homeschooling journeys whether that is unschooling, structured aligned curriculum, or somewhere in between. I find special joy in helping individuals decode learning styles and adapt materials accordingly.
If you have any questions that I have not answered above, please contact me here. I'm happy to help!