Beginning the trek down the homeschool path can be scary. I know lots of people who homeschool their kids for every different reason. Private school tuition costs too much; they want to be in control of what their kids learn; they don't think anyone else can properly teach their kids; they just couldn't imagine being away from their kids all day. Okay, that last one I've only heard one person say, and yes, that person was me. Really, if you knew EJ, you'd say that too. :-)
I've been asked by several people for my opinion/help in selecting a cover school. First, let me say, in Alabama, if you homeschool and are not a state licensed teacher, you must have a cover school. The reason is truancy. When you take your kid out of public or private school, that school sends a letter to the Superintendent saying "this kid isn't in our school anymore." If he doesn't get a letter from another school saying "this kid is in our school now," he will come knocking on your door, possibly with DHS (or whatever the acronym is in Alabama for the child welfare social worker department). After you enroll in a cover school, they will send you a letter they have signed. You sign it and send it to the Superintendent. Scary embarrassment averted.
Second, cover schools cost money. I know it stinks. You homeschool so you don't have to pay tuition, but then you turn around and buy an entire curriculum and shell out extra for a cover school.
I use Essential Church school. The yearly tuition is $125, paid all up front. They have scholarships available; can't hurt to try. They require a record of attendance, and that's pretty much it. The recommended number of school days is 160, I think. Throughout the year, the lady who runs it organizes parties and such, but they are all optional. She also has a library you can borrow books and curricula from--and the due date is the end of the school year! No mandatory parent meetings, no lesson plans or report cards due. It's nice.
I have a friend who uses Everest. They cost $200 for the first year and $100 per year after that. They require 160 days of attendance. They promote unschooling and every other method, so you could count a day of running errands as a school day (go to the post office and talk about the history of stamps; go to the bank and learn how to fill out a deposit slip; go shopping and count change--they consider that kind of day just as good as sitting at a desk/computer for 6 hours filling out review pages). If you prefer your kid to grow up learning "real world" lessons more than "book" lessons, this is definitely the cover school for you!
I have another friend who uses Hope Christian. It's a little more expensive, but they have monthly payments to break it up. They also have a specific number of students they allow, so if you're interested in this one, I recommend trying to enroll in the spring. Late registration is $85; $35 a month for 9 months for tuition. They also offer SO much more--choir, science labs, chess club--the list is over 20 programs (some just for high school). They require a parent to attend two meetings a year; attendance record of 175; lesson plans; and report card. We were considering this cover school, because they do offer so many programs EJ could be a part of (geography bee, band, 4-H club). In the end, we decided he's still too young to take part in enough to make the paperwork and cost be worth it for us.
Another friend used Life Church Homeschool Academy last year. The registration is $35, with $25 a month (I think for 12 months). Attendance of 176 days is required (field trips count). One parent meeting is required; and report cards are due twice a year.
If you don't like those, you can always browse this list. It lists most of the "Christian" cover schools--there are some other religions in there, too, though. It can be overwhelming with so many choices, but pray about it and decide what your specific needs are. There is one that is best for you!