The Homeschooling Option

Some families are taking a break from the traditional academic model. Here's why.

Homeschooling isn’t for every kid. It may fall short for the student who thrives in a competitive environment or needs the structure of a formal school schedule to learn discipline, time management and accountability. Sometimes it makes sense at a certain point in a child’s life, but not others.

“We’ve worked with kids who have medical issues or severe anxiety; professional athletes’ kids who want the flexibility to travel with their parents; and kids who haven’t been happy with the school system and want a year off,” says Ann Dolin, founder of Educational Connections Tutoring in Fairfax. “The families we’ve worked with don’t see it as a long-term solution. It’s more often something that’s necessary at the moment.” In the end it’s a very subjective decision—and one that may evolve as circumstances change.

“I thought I’d homeschool my kids all the way through 12th grade, but it wasn’t about me,” says Sarah, who eventually returned all four of her children to a conventional academic setting. “It’s an ongoing evaluation of our different kids and their needs. When it looked like my kid would be better served by traditional school, we took advantage of that option. And we’re lucky—we live in Arlington and there are great public schools available to us.”

Homeschooling 101

How it Works

To homeschool in Virginia, you must notify your local school district in writing, by August, of your intent to provide home instruction. By June of the following year, your child must demonstrate a year’s worth of academic growth—either via standardized test scores or an evaluation from a qualified educational consultant. Parents who homeschool their children must have earned the equivalent of a high school diploma or higher. Contact the student services department at your local public school for more information:

Arlington County:
Falls Church City:
Fairfax County:

Local Co-ops and Enrichment Programs

Ancestral Knowledge:
Arlington Arts Center:
Capital Baptist Co-op:
Cherrydale Wednesdays:
Classical Conversations:
Compass Homeschool Classes:
Encore Stage & Studio:
McLean Homeschooling Group:
Meridian Homeschool Club:
Not Back to School Camp:
Smithsonian Youth Programs:

Additional Resources

Davidson Academy:
Duke University Talent Identification Program:
Harvard University online open courses:
Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth:
Stanford University’s Online High School:
Yale University online open courses:

How Many Kids are Homeschooled?

Arlington County: 168
Falls Church City: 20
Fairfax County: 3,062

Source: Virginia Department of Education 2016-2017 school year

Adrienne Wichard-Edds wrote about gifted and talented education in theSeptember/October 2016 issue.

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Categories: Education