What a year 2020 was! So many parents were thrown into the deep end unprepared to navigate the complexities of schooling from home without resources or tools. With the prospect of some schools not reopening, parents looking to homeschool in Tennessee will need to decide where to register. As a product of homeschooling, I know the first steps can be the most daunting, but the end result is worth overcoming the hurdles. If you are able, homeschooling can allow your children unlimited flexibility while also providing the structure to focus on what they love. 

Thankfully, Tennessee allows for homeschooling and has very few regulations. Parents wanting to homeschool their own children may do so by registering with their local public school or enrolling in a Church-Related Home School Program often referred to as an umbrella program. 

When registering with your local public school, often referred to as your LEA (local education agency), you must complete a registration form and turn it into the state through your local school with some supporting documentation. Parents must submit proof of a high school diploma or GED for the adult responsible for teaching their child and they are required to submit the same proof of vaccinations they would if they were registering for public school. Parents are required to maintain records of attendance for 4 hours a day for at least 180 days per year and submit them to the school at the end of the year. Parents are required to bring their student for testing through the local public school in grades 5, 7, and 9. If the student tests below grade level they can be required to enroll in public or private school. Find FAQ for parents interested in homeschooling through their local public school here. Registering with the state through your local school is completely free.

Parents that want to move away from government involvement, required testing, or vaccinations often prefer to register through one of Tennessee’s approved a Church-Related Home School Program. Below are some of the more common umbrella programs Tennessee parents use. I’m going to highlight pros and cons of a few programs here:

  1. HomeLife Academy: They are based in Jackson, TN. HomeLife Academy’s goal is “to help give homeschooling families the freedom and flexibility to choose the best educational options for their child while benefiting from the many services that come from enrolling in a school”  
    1. Pros:
      1. They provide curriculum and planning support for parents! 
      2. They keep your student’s records for you including grades, transcripts, diplomas, etc.
      3. Counselors are able to advise on highschool, college, career, and more.
      4. Counselors also help with scholarship essays, write recommendation letters, etc.
      5. No testing required!! 
      6. You can live anywhere in Tennessee and register with HomeLife.
      7. You pick your own curriculum!
    2. Cons: 
      1. There is a registration fee, but this is common with umbrella programs.

For questions or more information visit – FAQ’s OR call – (888) 560-0774.

  1. Franklin Christian Academy (FCA): FCA is a Private brick and mortar school located in Franklin, Tennessee that has an umbrella program for homeschool students. It follows the state’s educational laws and the policies of the Tennessee Association of Church-Related Schools.
    1. Pros: 
      1. They offer record keeping for families.
      2. Students can participate in the brick and mortar campus athletics if they live nearby.
      3. They have an online curriculum for grades 6-12, but parents can also choose to use their own curriculum.
      4. Students can also participate in the brick and mortar school’s Art Club in person.
    2. Cons: 
      1. There is a registration fee, but this is common with umbrella programs.
      2. Mandatory state testing. While your student is required to take the state testing with this umbrella, they provide the testing on their campus site.

For any questions, email Rachel Powell, the administrator of the FCA Umbrella Program, at umbrella@franklinchristianacademy.org 

  1. Rhea County Academy (RCA): They are based out of Dayton, TN. They “equip students to achieve academic excellence and spiritual maturity through a Christ-centered education.”
    1. Pros: 
      1. Parents choose the curriculum they use!
      2. Curriculum recommendations are provided. 
      3. They offer record keeping for families.
      4. Homeschool students can take 1-2 classes at their physical location (for an additional fee).
      5. Optional Achievement testing for grades K-8.
      6. Dual Enrollment for highschool students.
      7. Academic Counseling and support.
    2. Cons: 
      1. There is a registration fee, but this is common with umbrella programs.  
      2. While testing is optional for K-8, high school students are required to take the ACT, ACT Aspire, SAT, or other approved test to graduate through RCA.

For more information or if you have questions contact RCA email rca1office@gmail.com or contact the Academy office at (423) 775-2826. 

You can see a list of all the other wonderful umbrella programs here!