Navigating the Legal Requirements to Homeschool

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If you’ve considered Christian homeschooling, you probably have a myriad of different questions. How can you ensure that your child is getting a quality education? What do you do if you’re not a certified teacher? Which homeschooling resources are the best?

One question you may not have considered is a vital one: What are the legal requirements for homeschooling in my state? 

Understanding State Requirements

It is important to understand that the legal requirements to homeschool vary state-by-state. In general, there are six different metrics observed by each state regarding homeschooling.

  1. Notification

In some circumstances, you will be required to notify the state of your intention to homeschool. Though some states do not require any notification, states such as California, Montana, and Wyoming require an annual notification of homeschooling, while others may only require a one-time notification.

Be sure that you understand the precise frequency that you will need to notify your state of your choice to homeschool in order to avoid falling out of compliance with the state.

  1. Parent Education Minimums

If the parent requirements for education were a source of concern for you, chances are that you need not worry. No state requires that a parent teaching their children in a homeschool setting has any sort of teaching certification. 

The one requirement that many states do have, however, is a high school diploma. Be sure to determine the specific requirements for parental education in your state. If a high school diploma is not held by the parent, some states can waive this requirement if a parent can prove that they are “competent” to teach their child. Furthermore, some states hold no educational requirements for parents.

  1. Criminal Bans

Some states have prohibitions on homeschooling for parents who are convicted criminals. In very few circumstances, parents are prohibited from homeschooling for fairly logical reasons, i.e. if a sex offender lives in the home or for a period of five years after some specific criminal convictions. 

  1. State Mandated Subjects

When it comes to what is actually taught in the home, there are equal numbers of states with required subjects and without any required subjects.

When narrowing your research to the specific area in which you live, be sure to determine whether or not private school regulations apply to families who homeschool. In certain circumstances, homeschool families can operate under the guidance of a private school and states require that they follow the same regulations. 

Known as “umbrella schools”, parents can elect to operate under the guidance of a private or church school (the requirements of which vary) to gain access to homeschool co-ops, extracurricular engagements, and to be part of the specific community. These umbrella schools can help homeschool parents navigate some of the legal requirements necessary to homeschool, but it can also mean that you are subject to the regulations for private schools in certain states.  

  1. Assessment Requirements

Families newly beginning their homeschooling journey often wonder how the state will determine that their children are getting a quality education. 

In many states, there are no assessment requirements at all and parents can conduct their children’s education without any mitigation from the state. In other cases, there are periodic or annual assessments by the state for homeschoolers to ensure that children are receiving a quality education and that their academic needs are not being neglected

Often, in the event that a student fails an evaluation, students may be placed on “probation” for a year until they can demonstrate progress. While this may seem like an intrusion by the state that you’d hoped to avoid by homeschooling, this is a measure to ensure that abuse like this disheartening story does not continue among homeschool communities. 

  1. Vaccination Requirements

While the debate over vaccinations rages on, the fact of the matter is that vaccinations are required for children to enter public schools. This requirement is not always waived for families that choose to homeschool. 

There are a number of states that do require vaccinations even for homeschoolers, but this requirement can be waived in a few states if the homeschooling is registered as a religiously-based education. 

These six factors are general guidelines for what you should consider as you prepare to homeschool. For more specific information on homeschooling requirements in your state, this interactive map can be a helpful tool to get you started. 

You may also want to start by contacting the administration office of your local school district. In many circumstances, you will have to report to the superintendent about your decision to homeschool so that they can give you the most pertinent information regarding what you need to do if you decide to homeschool.

Whether you send your children to a public school, private school, or homeschool, a quality education is paramount to your child’s development. If you’re looking for resources to supplement their education, Christian parenting tips, or other engaging media for Christian families, check out our online catalogue of exciting and educational tools!