Homeschooling in France, Legally

Well, you all know we have been homeschooling, rather than enrolling Theo in the International School. All homeschoolers in France are subject to the national contrôle. I have homeschooled various children of mine in four different states, not always in districts that were neutral to homeschoolers. I have been blessed to never have to submit to inspections, testing, or other controls. However, I am now the guest of a foreign government, subject to all their laws, and privileged (unlike in some other countries) to have the freedom to homeschool (provided I follow the law).

Homeschooling hands-on: Stoney and Theo examining an ancient submarine in Barcelona, Spain.

Homeschooling hands-on: Stoney and Theo examining an ancient submarine in Barcelona, Spain.

The requirements of homeschool law in France have two hurdles I need to pass. The first is a home inspection by social services. I knew the intent here was to insure that the home was a wholesome environment for education. The second is to submit to an inspection of the education of the child himself, through an interview of the family and child by two professional educators, and a test. There is a state-mandated curriculum he must show basic proficiency in by age 16, as well.

I live in a very nice middle-class ville whose education system had never met a homeschooler. When I complied with the law and informed (in wiriting) the Academic Inspector for my region and my local mayor’s office that I would be homeschoolingthe local people had to look up the requirements that I had already investigated. Their responsibility is the home inspection. They sent out a lovely lady, obviously extraordinarily nervous with almost no English, to meet us Americans with almost no French. She was very sweet and encouraging, and we managed a bit of an interview in the intersection of our two languages. She assured us we would have a positive report. Hurdle one cleared.

We made very clear to the regional education office that Theo was enrolled in an American correspondence school, and was being educated in English. Nonetheless, all correspondence with us was in French. We really did not know what to expect, other than the appointment, which was several months after our home visit. We prayed a lot for favor with France.

We packed my art box on wheels with everything for the semester, and then some. We even brought the computer in case they wanted to see his Power Point presentations. We arrived dressed professionally, and met two smiling French ladies, one a middle school level math teacher, and one a French teacher for foreign students. They talked to the three of us for only about a half an hour, in general terms. They spoke alone with Theo for about an hour, including some quizzes in math, spoken and written French. They seemed kind and interested in what he was doing, surprised by the many books he has read, and relieved. They told us they would be sending us a report, but that they could see he was receiving a genuine education, and that it would be positive. They would not need to see us again this year!

I feel God was very good to us in this process, and I hope we were good ambassadors for Americans, for homeschooling, and for Christ. We are investigating our education options for next year, and should make a decision at the end of this month. More opportunity for prayer and to trust God’s leading!

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