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What Are The Laws and Requirements for Homeschooling in My State?

Hello Monday! I can’t believe we’re only a few short weeks away form starting a brand new homeschool year. I for one am super excited! A lot of the questions I get asked by people considering homeschooling have to do with rules and requirements:

 

What do I have to do to start homeschooling in my state?

Who do I have to report to and what kind of records do I need to keep?

Do I have to use a certain curriculum or teach certain subjects?

Do my kids need to be tested regularly by the state?

 

 

If you’re not already homeschooling, you may be surprised to learn that every single answer varies dramatically by state, and even within each state sometimes you have very different options to choose from. I’ll address each of these questions broadly below, but to find out the most in depth breakdown of what exactly you need to do in your area visit HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) and click on your state.

 

What do I have to do to start homeschooling in my state?

In the map above you can see the breakdown of how HSLDA classifies the regulations in each state. In “No notice required” states (like Iowa, where we live,) you have to do absolutely nothing to start homeschooling. That is if you pick Option 1 or 2 our of the Five different homeschooling options in Iowa. We choose the non-reporting option here because we also don’t need to utilize any of the public school resources. If we do want or need to utilize these resources in the future (such as taking specific classes at the public school or participating in sports) we will need to change to one of the options that invite more oversight into our homeschool.

In Low regulation states, typically you need to submit minimal information to let your school district know your intention to homeschool. This may include a letter of intent (HSLDA has forms on their site for your state if you don’t know where to find them) as well as basic information like where you live (and are doing school,) names & grades of children, etc. These stately likely require certain subjects be taught, but there is no continual oversight in your homeschool.

Moderate & High regulation states also require notice to start homeschooling in your school district, and they require continued oversight during the homeschool process (such as submitting your plan of instruction, regular reports & state testing, and sometimes requiring a licensed teacher to ‘oversee’ your homeschool with periodic check-ins)

 

Who do I have to report to and what kind of records do I need to keep?

Again, this is totally dependent on your state, and the homeschool option you choose (if your state has options.) If you do have to report to someone, it will be your local school district. Even if you’re not “required” to submit records, it’s a good idea keep personal records anyways. This is both useful for tracking your child’s progress as well as being able to show authorities in case any concerns of educational neglect come up.

 

Do I have to use a certain curriculum or teach certain subjects?

There is no state that requires you use a certain curriculum (that would kind of defeat the purpose of homeschooling,) but most states require that you teach certain subjects (even with “non-reporting” options!) Some higher-regulation states (like New York) also require that you submit your *plan* aka proof that you’re teaching these subjects, but again this is not to tell you which curriculum you have to use for them.

 

Do my kids need to be tested regularly by the state?

State testing regulations also vary, but even in states where testing is not required it is provided as an option if you *want* to test your homeschooler. In states where testing is required, they will want to see “satisfactory progress” to allow you to continue homeschooling. Typically if testing becomes an issue, there is a process for helping you work through options.

 

Hopefully this helps to at least address the basics with getting started in your state. Local regulations can vary greatly and are often changing, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on what’s happening in your area!