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Homeschool Laws by State

Homeschool Laws by State
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Throughout human history, home education has been the chief way of passing information from one generation to the next. In the 19th and 20th centuries, that shifted toward formal classroom schooling as more and more parents began working outside the home.  A strong resurgence of homeschooling emerged in America in the 1980s and 1990s, though, and by 1993, homeschooling had become legal in all fifty states.

In the U.S., homeschooling laws are established at the state level.  Homeschooling requirements by state can vary widely in terms of registering a new homeschool, what records families must keep, what subjects are required, whether or not students must participate in standardized testing, etc. This page is provided as a tool for new homeschooling families to help you learn more about the homeschool laws and practices in the state where you live.

Getting Started With Homeschooling

No one begins homeschooling lightly. Just the fact that you are here on this page proves that you are doing your research, and that is the first step in this exciting journey you are embarking on! One of the most important tools in your “how to homeschool” toolbox should be Time4Learning’s Welcome to Homeschooling guide for families. Written by multiple seasoned homeschoolers, this publication will be a supportive roadmap as you wade into uncharted territory.

In general, the steps for how to start homeschooling follow this pattern:

  1. Familiarizing yourself with the different homeschool curriculum options available to you and the many styles of homeschooling different families use.
  2. Researching homeschooling information by state to know what your specific home state requires and then using that information to guide you in notifying the proper officials of your intent (in states that require notification).
  3. Officially withdrawing your child from their current public or private school, if they are currently enrolled in one.
  4. Begin teaching your child the subjects required by your state; the method and content of your home education approach, though, are completely up to you!
  5. Keep all records required by your state homeschool laws.
  6. Start enjoying learning together!

Homeschooling by State – What You Need to Know

Homeschooling in the U.S. is definitely not a one-size-fits-all operation. Homeschool laws by state can vary greatly. In fact, this variance has led to the categorization of states with fewer regulations as “homeschool friendly states.”  Homeschooling families tend to base this classification on factors such as:

  • How easy or difficult it is to initiate homeschooling in the state
  • How much government oversight is required
  • How much flexibility families have in how they homeschool
  • How many public school services and opportunities are available to homeschoolers

For example, New York is considered to be a high-regulation state for homeschooling. Families in NYS must submit an Individualized Home Instruction Plan to their school superintendent prior to each school year as well as quarterly progress reports and an end-of-year assessment.  In contrast, opening a home education program in the state of Michigan has no enrollment or reporting requirements. Regulations in most states, however, fall somewhere in the middle of those extremes.

So what types of requirements might you encounter in your state? Do your research to find out whether or not the homeschool laws in your state address:

  • Age that students can begin or end homeschooling
  • Parental education requirements
  • How (or if) to notify your state of your decision to homeschool
  • Required subjects to teach
  • Required number of days or hours of instruction
  • Standardized testing or other assessment requirements
  • Recordkeeping requirements such as homeschool portfolios, attendance, health records, etc.
  • What school-based services and programs you are eligible to access
  • Who can lead the homeschool instruction

It’s also important to note that many states have more than one legal homeschooling option. South Carolina, for example, has three different choices for families: homeschooling through their school district, homeschooling through a SC accountability association, or through the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS).  If this is true for your state, you’ll want to research each option carefully before deciding which one is the best fit for your family.

How to Homeschool In Your State

Time4Learning wants your entry into homeschooling to be as stress-free and enjoyable as possible. To that end, we offer how-to-homeschool information for all fifty states! By choosing your state below, you’ll find out how to get started, explore the key homeschool laws, locate support groups, understand what tests and assessments will be required, and even discover exciting field trip opportunities right in your home state.

FAQ’s About State Homeschooling Laws

Can I homeschool temporarily? 
While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, families who want to “test the waters” of homeschooling must still follow the full guidelines of their state for establishing a homeschool and withdrawing from their current school.  This prevents any truancy issues. Time4Learning recommends, instead, that families use a summer break for a homeschool dry run. We offer a complete summer school curriculum for families who would like to “try on homeschool for size.”

Does my homeschool curriculum need to be accredited?
Accreditation applies to institutions like virtual schools or a brick-and-mortar school. It does not apply to the curriculum itself.  Except for states that require families to homeschool under an umbrella school (and even in many that do), curriculum choice is up to individual families.

Who can homeschool my child?
This varies from state to state. The majority of states require that a parent or guardian be the “teacher of record” for homeschooling. However, that doesn’t mean that families can’t use online schools, online curriculum, or even participate in local classes and homeschool co-ops.

Are homeschooling expenses tax deductible?
While there is a tax break on the federal income tax return for teachers and educators, the purpose of this credit is to reimburse paid employees of schools for out-of-pocket expenses. This credit does not apply to homeschoolers. There may, however, be credits available at the state level. Check with your tax professional to see what the rules are for your state.

Does my homeschooled student have to take standardized tests?
Some states require homeschoolers to administer annual nationally-normed assessments, others require some form of assessment with standardized tests being one of the options, and still others require no yearly assessments at all. Whether or not their state requires testing, many homeschool families choose to use standardized tests as a way to track their homeschoolers progress year to year and to identify any potential learning gaps. Time4Learning is an excellent test prep program and even offers test simulations in many elementary grade levels.

Are homeschooling diplomas legal?
Because homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, a diploma issued by the administrators of a homeschool is legal as well.  Colleges are actually less concerned with your diploma, and more concerned with your high school homeschool transcript, so make sure to create a detailed transcript record for your homeschooled high schooler.

How do I close my homeschool?
The process for closing a homeschool will vary from state to state. Some states will simply require you to enroll with your local school district. Others may have notification forms you must complete and submit to your school district or state department of education. Refer to your specific state homeschool laws for more information.

Simplify Your Homeschool Transition

Whether you are kicking off your homeschool journey, or reevaluating your current homeschool situation, this guide will help you make the transition and ensure homeschooling success for both you and your student. This FREE resource is great for both new and experienced homeschoolers!

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