Return to the home page

Ask Laurie

and Recently Asked Questions (RAQ)

Custom Search
10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling What's Free or Cheap in NYC? Ask Laurie / RAQ Travels with Laurie Newsletter
Laurie Block Spigel
Classes & Lectures
Photo Gallery           
Poems by Laurie
Contact Laurie
FAQ (testing etc.)
Articles & Reviews       
Books & Resources
Favorite Kids' Books
Language Arts
Math & Economics
Critical Thinking
Social Studies
Foreign Languages
Art & Architecture
Standards, etc.     
Activities & Crafts
Physical Activities
Early Childhood
Special Ed
Gifted & Talented
About College/Teens
NYC High Schools
Road & Field Trips
Art by Kids
Poems by Kids
Reviews by Kids
Other Sites        
Blogs, etc.
Volunteer / Interns

This page is an Advice Bulletin Board. Ask any question on education, parenting, or homeschooling, and Laurie will do her best to post a response. Anyone else is also welcome to send a response to the question. No question is too large or too small.

Note: The contact person for NYC paperwork
DoE Home Instruction Questions and Answers

Education Uncensored, by Laurie Block Spigel
Education Uncensored
by Laurie Block Spigel

A Guide for the Aspiring, the Foolhardy, and the Disillusioned

See more information, including an excerpt, what people are saying about the book, the Table of Contents, and details of buying the book via Paypal. $12.95 plus shipping & handling

Recently Asked Questions

Special Ed questions - see our Special Ed Resources page.

Back to top

Back to top
What is the difference between home instruction and home schooling?

Home instruction is provided by the DOE for students who are taking a medical leave from school. Students are still registered with the school and are tutored at home by a NYS certified teacher (with another adult present), until such time that they can return to the classroom. Find information and applications for medical leave at Home Instruction Schools.

Homeschooling is an option in which the parents take responsibility for their child's education. Students are no longer registered with the school, but file paperwork with the school district (or in the case of NYC, The Central Office of Homeschooling). See the DoE’s site for information and regulations for homeschooling.

Back to top
Where do I get a homeschooler's ID or NYCHEA ID with my son's picture on it?

The newsletter (free to members) has an ID form on the last page. You can print it out, fill it out, cut it out, and have it laminated. But it won't have a photo.

My kids carried a non-drivers license ID, which you can obtain at any DMV (child must be accompanied by a parent and bring the same ID needed to get a driver's license). This will serve as official US photo ID. My kids also carried a letter of permission signed by me (giving my teenagers permission to travel without an adult companion during school hours), and a copy of our homeschooling letter of compliance (which is also the IHIP approval).

You can also get a free homeschooler's ID from the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. You can download it and add your child's picture, print it out, and then take it to a place like Staples and get it laminated.

Back to top
Does home schooling has to be done by one of the parents or can it be done by a private agency or teachers?

The parent or guardian must do the paperwork and filing with the DoE, but the parent does not have to be the teacher!

New York State regulations state that if a parent hires a teacher for a group of children who meet for more than half of their educational hours, then the parent has created a school and is subject to a whole different set of regulations. Most parents hire teachers to teach small groups, and they also take advantage of afterschool programs, or arrange daytime classes in art studios, or meet in someone’s living room and share the teaching, or take classes at a homeschool learning center. These kids are not in one same group for 50% or more of their time. Instead they are out of the home and in a variety of classes and activities (often at a wide variety of locations) for the majority of their educational hours.

Also, you may file as a homeschooler with the DoE ( see 10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling: Know the Law), and use a correspondence curriculum at home (10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling: Correspondence Curricula & Online Courses).

Two homeschool learning centers in Manhattan are The ROC in the East Village: and Different Directions on West 57th St. The largest organization of homeschoolers in NYC is NYCHEA, where you will find monthly meetings and fairs for kids, and a monthly newsletter listing field trips and classes.

Back to top
How do I go about applying for entry into a specialized NYC public high school for my homeschooled child?

For students interested in applying to NYC specialized high schools (such as: Bronx Science, LaGuardia, Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech) you must take an exam (the SHSAT). You will need a test admission ticket for the SHSAT exam. This ticket must be picked up or received in the mail in early October for a test date at the end of October. Check the DoE calendar well in advance. If you miss the registration deadline for this test (usually early in October), you miss your chance to apply to one of these schools. You should receive a SHSAT confirmation in the mail once you are registered to receive a test ticket. In order to get assistance arranging for these exams, contact Mr. Harrington at the central homeschooling office at (917) 339-1748 or visit the office at 333 Seventh Avenue, 7th Floor, (walk-ins 9 am -3 pm, other times by appointment). Make certain that your applications to these schools are submitted well in advance. Do not rely on the DoE homeschooling office to submit paperwork or applications for you, or to transfer necessary paperwork or records to the schools you are applying to. The parent must personally make sure that all of these tasks are taken care of, and that the test ticket is reserved in advance.

Back to top
Can you tell me more about Regents exams and SAT's and how they apply to a homeschooled student?

Regents exams are an option for a high school diploma equivalent, but they must be five specific exams. There are other equivalents. But often no diploma equivalent is necessary. Only SUNY requires a diploma or equivalent. Most private colleges do not. This might be a more important option if the homeschooled student is NOT planning to go to college, and wants or needs a high school diploma. See Past Regents Examinations.

SAT exams are college boards. Most colleges expect applicants to have taken either the regular SAT or the SAT and two subject SATs (called SAT II's). For many homeschooled students these scores may be even more important than they are for other students, if other scores or grades are absent. The ACT is another exam that is accepted as a college entrance exam.

For more information, go to About College.

Back to top
if I hire a tutor to help homeschool my child, does he/she need to be a NYS certified teacher? Do I need any type of certification?

The answer to your question is no. You, as the parent or teacher, do not need any certification, nor does a tutor. You can even test your child yourself if you want to. (See the FAQ: Testing page for details on testing.)

When you write your quarterly reports, if you are using a tutor or instructor, you should include their name by that subject.

If a group of parents hires a teacher for more than fifty percent of their educational hours, then, in the eyes of the law, they have created a school, and are no longer subject to homeschooling regulations, but to another set of regulations that govern schools. But many parents hire tutors for various subjects, and for co-op groups for one or two days a week, and have their children take classes with other homeschoolers's groups or in "after school" classes, and there is no problem with that, nor do those instructors need any certification.

Back to top
Next year, I would like to start home school college. I am 21 years old and there is no college that will take me in. I am in a Special Education program. Please help!

Try Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, by Mariah P. Bear MA and Thomas Nixon

Also available (some titles possibly out of print)

Bears' Guides are recommended by John Taylor Gatto as a way to think out of the box and still do college.

Also, there are many ways of getting a higher level education without attending college or obtaining a degree, beyond the use of local libraries or private tutoring. For example, most of MIT's courses are available free on-line as courseware. In fact, there is a consortium of colleges and universities around the world that have put their courses on-line for free (and some for a fee): .

Back to top
Must my sons, 3rd and 4th grader, take the ELA and Math assessments at the end of April?

If your sons are being homeschooled neither of them has to take any tests this year! The regulations state that homeschoolers must send in test scores as their year-end assessments every other year in grades 4 - 8 and every year in grades 9-12. My kids tested in grades 5, 7, and 9-12. So your 3rd and 4th grader can each wait until they are in the 5th grade, unless you want to test them sooner.

Your local homeschooling liaison, the person to whom you send your IHIP and quarterly reports, can direct you to city-wide tests offered in the public school, such as standard math and reading exams and Regents exams in high school. Most homeschoolers prefer to test their kids at home, and many choose to purchase the P.A.S.S. test (Personalized Achievement Summary System for Grades 3 through 8), available at Hewitt Homeschooling Resources, (360) 835-8708 . The P.A.S.S. test is an untimed test that a parent can legally administer to their child. It only goes up to grade eight. I used this test and my kids took it at our kitchen table.

After that, the most popular choice is the C.A.T. (California Achievement Test). This is available at Thurber's Educational Assessments, (919) 967-5282. Or you can get it for less at Seton Testing Services in Virginia: The CAT is available for K-12, but you only have to test every other year in grades 4 through 8 (which can translate as grades 5 and 7) and every year in grades 9-12.

Back to top
My best friend is an NYS certified teacher. Can she administer the tests?

Here in NYC most parents administer these tests, but any DoE office can choose to ask for proof that a certified teacher or registered proctor or librarian administered the test. If you like, you can contact your local office and ask if they will accept a test given by the parent or if you have to use a certified teacher. If the certified teacher is a relative or friend that does not matter. They are still qualified.

Back to top
Where can my homeschooled son take the AP Computer Science exam?

I know of a parent who found it available (after a long search) at Poly Prep, a private school in Brooklyn.

Back to top
I cannot speak English fluently enough to teach required subjects in English. Is it possible to homeschool my son in NYC?

Yes. You can still teach your child many subjects in your native language, and you can find groups and opportunities in the homeschooling community (try joining for your child to learn in a group of English speaking children. You must address this issue in your homeschooling paperwork, since the regulations list as a required subject “bilingual education where the need is indicated.” So in your IHIP and in each quarterly report you must state how you are teaching your child English when you don’t speak it well yourself. Common suggestions include: participating in organized group activities with families who do speak English well, hiring a tutor (this could be anyone from a certified teacher to a gifted high school student), getting help from a friend, using certain books or videos, swapping childcare, having an English-speaking sitter. Even watching Sesame Street or having a weekly conversation with the local librarian are English activities that could be included in your reports.

I can recommend a workbook series on grammar and punctuation that is self-correcting, where all the answers are on the next page and the child can do most of it him or herself. The series is called Daily Language Workouts and there is one for every grade level. For young children I also recommend a phonics workbook series called Explode the Code.

Back to top

Please post your question (or your response to a previous question) here:

What is your name? Please type your question or response here
What is your email address?
This is a:
Response to a previous question