Homeschooling 101: The Letter of the Law

The very next step in organizing your family’s homeschool adventure: Knowing your state’s guidelines for home education.

Homeschooling101While it would be great to think we can do whatever we like in our own homes, that is unfortunately not true. Each of the fifty United States and its territories have specific guidelines for homeschooling.
I would love to sit here and explain the laws of each individual state. However, that would take far too long and, frankly, I’m just not that knowledgeable. So, where do you start your research? The easiest spot possible, HSLDA.
Why do all that extensive research and spend excess amounts of time trying to gather information on your own when someone has done all the work for you? HSDLA will make the job that much easier and answer all your questions in one shot.
Knowing the laws of your state is a must. Not only will it give you peace of mind regarding legal matters, but it will help you to better organize your homeschooling routine, classes, and paperwork.
California, where we are located, is thankfully not intrusive in their requirements. We have an affidavit which needs to be completed by a certain date, classes need to be taught in English, several areas of study need to be offered, and we need to keep attendance. (It is interesting to note that we are supposed to keep attendance, but there are no required days of attendance. I used to think we had to school 180 days… nope!)
It would be nice to think that every state is equally non-intrusive, but that is not true. HSLDA Logo Before taking another step forward, you will
need to know exactly what is expected of those who homeschool so you can meet the guidelines. Paperwork, days of attendance, required courses, and more need to be established before actually putting in a routine or picking curriculum.
It should also be noted that each state has a different compulsory age of attendance. California, for example, requires education for ages 6-18 (depending on which month you were born). So, kindergarten is not a requirement! I taught my children from preschool up, but why file if I don’t have to?
Something to consider while you’re perusing HSLDA; sign up to be a member! Being a member has a multitude of benefits and handling your legal needs is only the beginning.
Knowledge is power. Know what is required of your homeschooling and be prepared for what lies ahead.
Veteran Parents: How does your state add up? Are your state laws intrusive?
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” – Romans 13:1

16 thoughts on “Homeschooling 101: The Letter of the Law

  1. Texas is perhaps the most homeschool-friendly state I’ve found. There is no mandatory reporting for anything. The only requirement to homeschool is just not sending your kids when first grade enrollment begins. You do have to report your intention to homeschool if you withdraw your kids, but that’s about it. Required subjects appear to be more guidelines as education neglect is not something you can be charged with in Texas. In other words, you really can just keep your kids home and do whatever you want. It has allowed us to have some real freedom in what we do.


  2. I’ve homeschooled in both Maine and Colorado, and they are quite similar. I consider them to be about in the middle for regulation. There is a notification (letter of intent) and some form of assessment; or you can join an umbrella school and be considered a private schooler.
    When we were relocating, homeschooling regulation was one of my criteria. My preference would have been to move to a state with little-to-no regulation; but of course we had other things (like a job!) that ultimately influenced our choice!
    What I’m not crazy about in Colorado is the way many homeschoolers embrace public school programs- either one day a week options, or online public school. I guess I’m from a different homeschool generation, and I value independent homeschooling.


      • I actually participate in a homeschool co-op through the public school district in my state where my child attends a couple days a week for two hours each day he attends. However, Washington state is moderate in its requirements for homeschoolers (standardized testing is required and you must declare an intent to homeschool if you do so at age 8 or later). They are also working on passing bills that seek to further regulate homeschooling in this state. With all that in mind, I am choosing to participate in the co-op to make sure I stay in full compliance with the laws and will do so as they continue to change.

        HOWEVER, there are a lot of things about the co-op that tick me off. Since we originally wanted to follow the classical education model, we were not going to start formal social studies or science curricula until next year… but the regulations in this state say I have to do them. And since I’m enrolled in the co-op, I have to have it monitored. Which kind of stinks.

        The school district doesn’t control everything I do, though… we do Bible, Latin, and Korean outside the umbrella of the district. They’re not required subjects so I don’t bother with the learning plans required of my reading, writing, math, science, social studies, health/pe, and fine arts (seriously, they require ALL of those in Kindergarten).

        We’ll see what happens next year. I’m not loving the big brother mentality being enrolled in the co-op is promoting.


  3. In Scotland, by law, parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s education. Having said that, if you withdraw a child from school, you have to request consent from the local authority (the local government organisation with responsibility for education). Parents also have to provide a “suitable and efficient” education, but these terms are not defined. The local authority checks in once a year but there is no assessment. This leaves a huge amount of freedom (and responsibility!).


  4. Alabama is pretty good too. All you need is an umbrella school and notify the BOE that you are homeschooling. They do have a requirement of 180 days though. We use Abeka Academy for the basic curriculum. This year I am trying to get my kids to learn both Spanish and Farsi so they can actually communicate with family overseas.


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