BILLINGS, Mont. -- According to OPI 3.6% of Montana's students were home schooled in 2019.  It's an option parents are seriously considering with COVID-19 still a real threat, but there are a few things to be aware of if this is a route you want to take.

Steve White, Legislative Liaison for the Montana Coalition of Home Educators, says home schooling can be one way to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, but also provide an opportunity for more individualized learning.

"Maybe their child is better at English than math and they have to spend more time on the math side than the English side," he says.

White says last year, around 5,700 children were home schooled in Montana, but with so much uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, he expects that number to go up.

Sherry Long, the Yellowstone County Superintendent of Schools says the biggest shock for first-time Montana home schoolers is parents understanding exactly what's required of them.  From the overall curriculum to textbooks, educational philosophy, and materials for their child, it all falls in their hands.

"You're solely responsible for that child's education, starting even with the curriculum and going forward with it, so you definitely have to have a lot of dedication," she says.

If you are a parent considering home schooling your children, you must sign a letter of intent to home school with the county.  Home schoolers must also get the required immunizations unless you have a medical or religious exemption.

For more information and helpful resources, you can visit the Montana Coalition of Home Educators website at https://www.mtche.org/links.

To access your county's home educator's packet, contact your local Superintendent of Schools.  The packet includes a Home School Report, the Notification of Opportunity to Participate in Federally Funded Programs, EdReady Montana information, immunization forms, Montana home school laws and administrative rules. A link to the digital copy of the Yellowstone County home school packet will be available on our website soon.  Please check back for details.

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