Homeschool Laws: First Step in Getting Started Homeschooling
If you’re ready to homeschool, learning about state homeschool laws is a critical first step. Back in the 1980s, when homeschooling in Texas was illegal for a time, some parents were even jailed for homeschooling. Thankfully, Texans are now among the freest in the nation to homeschool.
But what if you travel out of state for an extended time, or temporarily reside in another state? It is wise to comply with a state’s homeschooling laws when temporarily living in another state, although the legality of this has not been tested. Even temporary state residents are typically subject to the state laws where they are residing, so it may be wise to also apply this logic to homeschool laws. Click on a state in the map above to learn about their requirements before you travel.
Homeschooling From the Beginning
If you homeschool from the beginning of your child’s education, you generally do not have to withdraw your child from the school he is in. In some states, if you homeschool from the start, you are not required to notify any authorities, but this is usually not the case. Pay special attention to requirements for starting to homeschool a student who’s entering kindergarten.
Homeschooling After Public School
In all cases, if your child already attends a public school, you will need to withdraw your child from that school or his absence will be recorded and charged as truancy. Truancy is a serious charge that could result in child protective services becoming involved in your family. Avoid this by formally withdrawing your child from school with a simple letter like this sample withdrawal letter:
You should make a copy of this signed letter for your records and send the letter in a way that provides you proof of receipt, such as a mailing or shipping service requiring a signature or email with read receipt. Also save this proof of receipt in your records throughout your entire homeschooling years. If you do not receive the read receipt or signature confirmation, do not assume the letter was received. Likewise, a verbal confirmation of receipt is not sufficient. You need to be able to prove that your written withdrawal letter was received by a school official.
Homeschooling After Private School
In some states, homeschools are considered private schools, so legally moving from a private school to a homeschool is not a change in the eyes of the law. Nonetheless, for good record keeping and to safeguard your family, we recommend that you use the same withdrawal letter procedure with a private school as you would with a public school.
Returning to the School System After Homeschool
Often, the process of entering public school after a child has been homeschooled is dictated by the district. You student may be required to test to prove that he or she is on grade level.
Days/Hours and Subject Requirements for Homeschooling
You will always be safe by keeping the same schedule as the public schools. However, if you want to homeschool on a different schedule, check state statutes about day/hour requirements for school.
If a state has required subjects that must be taught, we have listed them in the state requirements for curriculum. However, please know those are minimum requirements. Texas requires only five subjects and science is not one of them. We highly recommend that you go far and beyond the state requirements for which subjects to teach.
Keeping record of your child’s school achievements is important. Should child protective services ever become involved with your family, good records will tip the scales in your favor as a home educator. These records may also prove important if you should ever need to enroll your student in public school. We recommend keeping the following written records for each year:
- Curriculum used
- Subjects mastered
- Extracurricular activities
- Volunteer work
- Standardized testing scores (if applicable)
- Work samples
- A reading list.
Completing High School
Read our comprehensive post on graduation, issuing a diploma and creating a transcript. If your student graduates before he has reached the age for which education is no longer compulsory, the transcript and diploma are important documents to justify why your student is not in school.
Even after the compulsory age is reached, diplomas and transcripts become important for next steps such as college, tech school and military. There are other miscellaneous reasons you may need them as well, such as demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits and getting good student discounts on auto insurance.
Join a State Homeschooling Organization
The state-specific information below is just a starting point for learning about homeschooling. We strongly recommend joining a homeschool organization in your state. Most states have one—a membership-based organization which not only will provide you with comprehensive information about homeschooling in your state, but will also keep you informed of changes to the law and bills in your state legislature that could affect homeschooling, either positively or negatively. See the “Resources” links in your state’s requirements to find the state homeschooling organization in your state.
Many state organizations also offer time and money-saving benefits like exclusive discounts, conventions for homeschoolers and other benefits. Check out what Texas Home School Coalition offers its members!