I’ve been homeschooling in Birmingham’s outer suburbs for four years now. I don’t have a frame of reference to compare homeschooling in Birmingham to homeschooling anywhere else, so I can’t say Birmingham is the best city to homeschool in. But, I can give you five reasons why Birmingham is a GREAT city to homeschool in!
So, let’s take a look!
1. It’s in Alabama
Alabama is a very homeschool-friendly state — no mandatory testing, portfolio reviews, or other unnecessary requirements. HSLDA.org can give you the full details on how to homeschool in Alabama legally, if you’re curious. But by just being in Alabama, Birmingham gets a check in the “pro” column.
2. Field Trip Opportunities Galore
Education can happen in two ways — by reading or by experiencing. I much prefer the experiencing method. Birmingham (and the surrounding areas) offers plenty of experiences.
Birmingham is a hub of historical, artistic, cultural, and educational events and locations. We stay busy just trying to see and do everything in the area!
There is plenty of history to be experienced, and downtown offers many opportunities — Vulcan, Sloss Furnace, and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute are a great place to start (the latter of which is still on our to-do list.) Need more history experiences? Montgomery has Old Alabama Town and the First White House of the Confederacy. Montevallo has American Village. Anniston has the Anniston Museum of Natural History and the Berman Museum of World History.
For science and nature, there is the McWane Science Center to visit, Ruffner Mountain to explore (also still on our to-do list) and shows at the Christenberry Planetarium (on Samford’s campus) to experience. The Huntsville Space and Rocket Center is a day-trip away.
And don’t overlook the Birmingham Museum of Art (it’s kid-friendly!) and the Birmingham Children’s Theatre for arts and culture. And while we’re at it, are you aware of all the Broadway shows that come through Birmingham?
But I’m still not finished singing the praises of Birmingham experiences. Did you know Birmingham is home to the oldest Orthodox church in the United States? And you can visit it (and eat some yummy Greek food!) during the Birmingham Greek Festival. Birmingham is also home to the oldest Veteran’s Day parade in the nation.
There are more things I didn’t list here — you might even know of some I don’t know. I’m constantly learning about more and more to do in the area.
3. Location, Location, Location
I know you’re thinking, Wait, aren’t the first two about location? Well, yes. But Birmingham has another benefit to its location. We are centrally located to so many great places to visit. When you run out of things to do in the city, Atlanta and Chattanooga are day trips. Nashville and Gatlinburg are weekend trips. The beach isn’t far.
But, wait? What does traveling have to do with homeschooling? Plenty! We supplemented my son’s study of marine animals by visiting aquariums in Atlanta, Chattanooga, and Gatlinburg. He wants to be a zoologist when he grows up. There are at least six zoos that are under four hours away from Birmingham (and we’ve been to almost all of them.) When you run out of museums to visit in Birmingham, Atlanta has you covered!
Our list of favorite short-drives from Birmingham includes Atlanta (GA), Chattanooga, Knoxville, Gatlinburg, Memphis (TN) and Jackson (MS). And we are adding to these locations every chance we get!
4. The Jefferson County Library System
Now that I’ve exhausted you with all the things to do, we’ll switch to something more relaxing. Homeschoolers are book geeks and libraries are our favorite places on the planet.
If you’re not using Jefferson County’s library system, you’re missing out. One county card gives you access to materials from all 40 libraries throughout the county. I live out-of-county, so I pay a yearly fee to have a library card (jealous of all you in-county folks that have all these wonderful resources for FREE!). But, I count myself lucky to live close enough to still be able to use the system. I have homeschooling friends who live in more rural areas that are envious of me because of it.
After you take some of the field trips mentioned in points #2 and #3, you can visit a library for materials to enhance your studies on the topics! I promise you, you will find what you need! A good library (or library system in this case) is a tremendous asset to a homeschooling family.
But libraries are more than just books these days. The programming at the libraries is wonderful, too! Different branches have everything ranging from story time to book clubs, LEGO days to game nights, and so much more.
5. Support & Community
The fifth reason why Birmingham is a great city for homeschoolers is because of its homeschooling community.
The community of homeschoolers in this area is huge and helpful. The Birmingham Homeschoolers Community is probably the largest and best way to get connected, but it’s also as easy as going to Facebook and searching “<name of your town> homeschoolers” and joining a group of moms in your area that get together for playdates, museum trips, and more.
There is also an abundant supply of homeschool co-ops in this area. We attend one in Moody, but I know that there are no less than six co-ops within a 10-mile radius of our house.
So if you’re a homeschooler that thrives on being able to get out of the house and do things with others, you won’t lack in finding groups in this area to connect with.
Whether you’re a Birmingham-area resident considering homeschooling or a homeschooler considering moving to the Birmingham-area, I hope you found this post to be helpful and informative!