Meeting Your State’s Legal Requirements
One of the first things a home educator needs to do is meet their state’s legal requirements for homeschooling. These requirements vary substantially from state to state. Many states have homeschool statutes that mandate things like annual notification, required subjects, and academic assessments. These requirements are designed to ensure that children who are homeschooled receive a good education, and have other needs met as well. Other states have few to no requirements. Some states do not have homeschool statutes; in these states, parents typically homeschool under statutes designed to govern private schools.
At CRHE, we encourage homeschool educators to view their state’s requirements as positive safeguards designed to help them stay on track. In addition, we believe home educators should hold themselves to a high standard even if their state’s requirements are minimal. For this reason, we have created a set of standard recommendations for all home educators, which we will cover below.
Learning Your State’s Requirements
You can find an overview of your state’s homeschool requirements at the links below.
In some cases, there may be disagreement over the interpretation of statutes governing homeschooling. For this reason, our state pages include links to the statutes themselves. Because these agencies are responsible for implementing the law, you should visit your state department of education or school district’s website to learn how they interpret your state’s requirements. Where possible, we link to these pages as well.
You may find it helpful to make a list of your state’s requirements, as well as dates when various materials or paperwork is due. Keeping careful records is important!
As you work to meet your state’s homeschool requirements, always try to maintain a good relationship with your local school district. There are many positive side effects of maintaining a positive working relationship with your local school district:
- If your school district makes resources available to local homeschooling families (such as athletics, extracurriculars, or even resource rooms with materials that can be checked out), you will be aware of what is available.
- If you need to enroll your child in public school at some later date, you will already have a positive relationship to build on.
- If questions arise about your homeschool, your child’s wellbeing, or whether you are meeting your state’s legal requirements for homeschooling, your local school officials will already be familiar with you and your family.
Remember, your local school district is staffed by people just like you. In some cases they may have positive views of homeschooling; in other cases they may be more critical. Either way, following your state’s requirements carefully and being willing to answer questions will help ensure that staff at your local school district have a positive view of you, your child, and your homeschool. It may also make them more willing to make resources available to you, or to be otherwise helpful to your family.
CRHE has a set of recommendations that we advise all parents to meet voluntarily whether their state requires them to or not. Your child has a positive right to a quality education. In fact, this may be why you are homeschooling! Our recommendations are designed to help you ensure that your child receives this education.
At CRHE, we hear from many formerly homeschooled individuals who received a deficient education. These individuals report that their parents were disorganized, overwhelmed, or too preoccupied with other things to homeschool effectively. Lack of organization comes up as a common theme. Our recommendations are designed to help you avoid these pitfalls and provide your child with a quality education.
|Notification||Whether or not notice is required, parents should create and maintain a home education plan for each child being homeschooled. This plan should list the child’s name, address, and grade level, subjects to be covered, curricular materials to be used, etc. Parents should also obtain and maintain personal and identity documents for all homeschooled children, including birth certificates, social security cards, etc., in a safe and secure place.|
|Parent Qualifications||The parent providing primary instruction should have at least a high school diploma or GED. (If you do not have a high school diploma or GED and are homeschooling, we recommend that you ask a teacher or an individual with a college degree to help supervise your homeschool, and that you work toward earning your GED.) Children should not be homeschooled if they live with an adult who has committed a crime against a child, or an adult who has had a child removed from their custody due to abuse or neglect.|
|Instruction||Homeschooling parents should provide instruction in the same subjects covered in their local public schools. Parents should ensure that homeschooled students make academic progress in keeping with their abilities each year. Parents should become familiar with their state’s learning standards.|
|Assessment||Homeschooled students’ academic progress should be evaluated annually by a certified teacher or other objective outside party. If your state does not require assessments, you should arrange for an assessment anyway, both for your own knowledge and so that you have records documenting your child’s progress. The most popular forms of assessments for homeschooled students are standardized tests and portfolio reviews. Assessments should be carried out or monitored by a certified teacher.|
|Intervention||Students who are struggling should receive specialized attention. Parents should create a remediation plan outlining how they will correct any deficiencies. If a child is unable to make academic progress while being homeschooled, parents should pursue other educational options, such as enrolling the child in a public or private school. Children who are struggling academically should be assessed for learning disabilities by qualified individuals.|
|Bookkeeping||Homeschooling parents should maintain academic records, including academic plans and assessment records, for each homeschooled child in a safe and secure place. Academic records should be maintained indefinitely and should be made available to the child upon graduation.|
|Medical Care||Homeschooled students should meet the same medical requirements as public schooled students in their state. This may include dental visits and hearing and vision screenings, in addition to well-child visits. Parents should maintain each child’s medical documents and vaccination records (or exemptions) in a safe and secure place.|
|Disabilities||Homeschooled students who have disabilities should receive appropriate services. Each disabled student should have an individualized education plan; this may be developed in coordination with the school district, or privately.|
We advise all home educators to follow these recommendations, even when living in a state with minimal legal oversight. Following these recommendations will help you ensure that your child receives a good education. The record keeping and best practices in these recommendations will also prepare you to answer questions about the education you are providing your child, should questions arise.
Do I need membership in a homeschool protection agency?
No. Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. While some homeschool leaders may tell you that you need legal insurance when you homeschool, this is an unnecessary expense. In addition, a number of homeschool graduates have told us that lawyers provided by homeschool legal insurance groups impeded child abuse investigations involving their families and left them in abusive situations when they needed help.