What exactly does one have to do to homeschool legally? Well, it turns out the answer to that question isn’t exactly simple. It depends a great deal on where you live. In the US, in fact, we have 50 different homeschool laws.
But before we get started, it is important to note that nothing in this post constitutes legal advice. This is just provided for educational purposes only. If you’d like, you can read my full disclaimers.
This question is a very important question to answer. It’s important to homeschool legally, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because you don’t want truancy charges in your future. Also, when you follow the law, it helps future homeschoolers. It also reflects well on the homeschooling community. Following the law benefits and protects your family and the families that come after you.
But how you follow that homeschool law varies so much from country to country and even from state to state. Some states have virtually no regulation over homeschooling while others require yearly assessments or testing. For example, the homeschool law in Wisconsin is that you need a file a form (the PI-1206) in the year that your child is 6 on or after September 1st and every year thereafter and that you need to provide 875 hours of instruction of a “sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.” (Quoted from the state statutes). By contrast, in Maryland, you must sign a written agreement and keep a portfolio of work that demonstrates that you are providing instruction and you must allow someone from the school district to review it. Do you see how different those two are? That’s why it’s so important to know what the law is like where you live, because there is such a variance. Especially when you move, looking up the law in your new place of residence is important, so you can follow it there as well. Sometimes people ask questions about how to follow the law based on their specific homeschool style (this mainly comes up with unschoolers), but you can follow the law with pretty much every homeschool style there is and if you have questions, I can’t guarantee that someone has done it before, but the odds are good that somebody else in your state has done it a similar way before.
You should look at your state statues directly, but after that, my favorite source to look for people to help you understand the law is local homeschool groups. Some of these groups have been around a while and have many years of experience in homeschooling in the state. They also have a vested interest in your community and in making sure they get the laws right because they have to homeschool their children under the same law. Lastly, when you start there, you know you have a group you can reach out to to get support and have your questions answered if you need to. There are many state and local Facebook groups that function in a similar way and often people in those groups can tell you the law for your state as well.
I thought I would lend you a helping hand and link to as many state homeschool group law pages as I could. I tried to link to secular, statewide organizations where I could, but that wasn’t always possible. Some are local organizations and some are religious organizations or Department of Education pages, but all of the pages linked include the law for that state or take you to a landing page that will take you to what you need to know. Wisconsin is the state that I call home and so that’s the only state I have firsthand knowledge of, but if you know a better link for a different state, send it to me and I’ll consider replacing the link I have here. And best yet, all of these links are accessible without having to give your e-mail address.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington State
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
I hope that this post was able to provide you with the resources you need to get started homeschooling legally in your state. Remember, I am always here to help you talk through what starting homeschooling is like. I can talk through what is best for your family and help you make a strong start.
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