Especially if you’re new to homeschooling, or move from someplace with a very open approach to homeschooling, its important to recognize that in the United States,homeschool laws are controlled by each state, and vary a great deal across the US. Since 1918, every state has required that every child be educated. The thing is, what may be perfectly fine in one state as far as providing a child with an education may not be legal in another. While this article can’t cover detail of every law in all fifty states, it can guide you about the key elements that are covered in homeschooling law.
For certain types of schooling, the state may have requirements about teacher qualifications. Certain requirements other than certification as a licensed teacher are likely to be in place for parents homeschooling their own children.
Informing the State
You may be required to inform the state of your intent to homeschool by a particular date. You may also be required to supply a plan that indicates your instructional plans for the year.
Compulsory School Age
Each state sets its own requirements for the years during which a child must be enrolled in school. Here’s how homeschool law requirements work:
As you can see, states differ on starting age, ending age, and how many years of schooling children must have by homeschool law. In addition, some states specify a grade that must be completed for schooling to be considered complete. Although some of these statutes date back to the nineteenth century, this does not mean that they do not undergo reconsideration. The states of Colorado and Florida both made recent changes to their homeschool laws considering compulsory school age.
Homeschool Curriculum and Assessment
While some states have fairly limited and simple requirements for homeschool curriculum – like Texas, which only requires reading, spelling, grammar, math, and good citizenship – other states, like New York, have quite complex requirements. In addition, states differ in whether they require history or social studies on the one hand and English or reading and writing or language arts on the other. Also, a number of states require that their own state history or system of government be taught, and this leads to interstate differences. See the article “Homeschool Subjects” for more information.
In addition, your state may require some form(s) of annual assessment to help determine if your child is making adequate yearly progress. Check your state’s education department website or call the state education office for more information on homeschool laws. If assessment is required, you may have some choice in the matter.
Homeschool Attendance Requirements
States specify the school year length and attendance requirements in different ways. Some specify the number of days, some the number of hours, and some both. There may be different requirements for students of different ages or in different grades. Most states prescribe between 175 and 180 days of school in each year.
Your state may have some regulations in place that limit who may attend your school. In general, this applies to students who are not members of your immediate family. The homeschool laws should specify whether children from outside the family may attend your homeschool and, if so, how many are permitted to attend.
The state may require particular documentation to show that its requirements have been met and that the student has satisfactorily completed the course of study. Among these are attendance records.
Record-keeping requirements, teacher qualifications, and notification of a student’s attendance at a home school are other areas in which you may find variance, from state to state, and from your expectations. These are all worthy of careful checking for discerning the basic needs to establish a legal home school where you live.
National Conference of State Legislatures ncsl.org/programs/educ/CompulsoryEd
State Compulsory School Attendance Laws