Does your state require a name for your homeschool? (If you’re in North Carolina, the answer is yes!) Or have you run across a form asking for your child’s school name? If you’re not happy just entering “homeschool” into the void, then perhaps it’s a good time to think about a proper title for the hub of your family’s educational endeavors!
Do you need to name your homeschool?
If you’re going to register as a homeschool in North Carolina, then yes, you do. And you’re going to want to consider carefully before filling out that Notice of Intent because it’s not so easy to change once it’s been filed.
But even if your state doesn’t require it as part of legal record-keeping, you may still want to consider giving a name to your educational pursuits.
Well, first, consider what effect the formality of having a school name will have on you and your children.
If you’re surrounded by unsupportive family or friends, saying “My children attend XYZ Academy” may help set a tone of confidence and authority when approaching a conversation about the choice to opt out of traditional schools. (By the way, XYZ Academy is definitely not a name you’d want to choose.)
On the other hand, if your homeschool emphasizes lifelong learning, or embraces an unschooling approach, naming your homeschooling efforts may give your children the impression of definite beginning and end points to their learning.
Overall, besides the possible legal necessity of a name, the best reasons for choosing one are the places it might appear:
- High School diploma
- College applications
- Scholarship applications
Getting ideas for a name
As always, you must consider the legal guidelines in your state, if there are any.
In North Carolina, the name must be 30 characters or less in length, cannot include the name of a curriculum or any of the following words: a, Charter, college, elementary, grade, grammar, high, incorporated (or Inc.), junior, kindergarten, lower, middle, primary, public, residence, schooling, secondary, seminary, senior, the, university or upper. (See NC DOA’s page on Home School Requirements and Recommendations for complete information.)
In other states, it is recommended to check with the relevant state agency. If you’re not sure what that is, you can always start with HSLDA’s page and follow links from there. (Remember: not all states require a name, so if you don’t find any naming guidelines from your state agency, that may be why.)
Next, the name should have meaning to your family. Make a list of options, considering things such as:
- your street name
- historical figures or family members you admire
- favorite topics of study
- settings and characters from significant works of fiction
- landmarks in your favorite vacation spot
Once you have some possibilities of keywords for your homeschool name, add a descriptive word such as “Academy” or “School”. To avoid confusion, make sure it is not too similar to another school in your area. For example, if ABC Elementary operates in your town, then choose something other than ABC Academy. (Actually, there are few reasons, if any, why you would want to choose ABC Academy as your moniker.)
It goes without saying — but obviously I’m gonna say it here — that the name should be G-rated and family-friendly. So nix anything that sounds fun just because it would make your mother-in-law blush and keep her from asking about your homeschool ever again, ok?
The litmus test for a homeschool name
Making that final decision on a name can feel like naming another child. After all, you may be giving birth to a whole new way of life for your family. But this should not cause you undue stress. Here are some final questions to ask yourself after you’ve narrowed down your list of choices.
Does it create a positive atmosphere in my home?
If you have one child who is vehemently opposed to the name you’ve selected, even if they’re just being difficult for the sake of being difficult, consider how insisting on using that name will affect how the child feels about their voice being heard in the course of learning.
Will it be taken seriously?
Tatooine Training Center might sound fun to your brood of sci-fi fans, but how will that diploma look to the recruiter from Harvard? Similarly, LMNOP Academy is perhaps your way of thumbing your nose at institutionalized education, but how will your student feel about that 12 years after they’ve put in a lot of hard work and serious effort to stand out as an academic?
Should the word ‘homeschool’ be included?
This is one that I don’t have a definite answer to, but it is worth considering what it might mean. There are certainly colleges, scholarships and employers who move homeschoolers’ applications to the top of their piles. On the other hand, there are those who might move it to the bottom of the pile or, worse, the ’round file.’ Perhaps it would be a good thing for your student to be completely dropped from a pool of candidates where their life experience would not be given any respect. Or perhaps your child would want the chance to let their personality and qualifications speak for themselves without a ‘homeschool’ label, good or bad.
Similarly, think about those same questions if you choose to use your family name. If your student is Bob Supercalifragilistic, then Supercalifragilistic School makes it pretty obvious they were homeschooled. Will they look on that as a good or bad thing for their future?
How does it look on the diploma?
Depending on your state’s regulations and whether or not you use a correspondence program to homeschool, the name you choose may end up on your children’s diplomas. When it is handed to your child by you or an officiant at their graduation, does the name of the issuing institution inspire pride? Does it help to add value to all of those years you have spent cultivating the best educational opportunities in your home? It sounds like heavy stuff, but when it doubt, follow your gut on this one.
So are you ready now to brand your homeschooling efforts? Congratulations, Principal Parent! If you’ve put thought and effort into this aspect of your homeschool, then I am sure you will put as much, if not more, into the success of your children, and THAT will make this journey rewarding for all of you!
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