When I first started homeschooling, I must be honest…I didn’t do much research on the state laws. I talked to homeschooling friends about curriculum and what was required by the state (which was nothing where we lived) and that was the extent of it. However, since we moved to Indiana three years ago, I was forced to look at the laws of our new state.
While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, the requirements vary greatly. So whether you’re just researching the prospect of homeschooling or moving to a new state, it is important that you know the laws.
Many people believe that homeschooling parents ought be highly educated in order to give their children a proper education. My personal feelings aside, this is a law that people need to be aware of in their state. Usually they are minimal, such as a high school diploma or GED, so don’t panic. But, if you don’t have one, it can cause problems in a state requiring them. Most states, however, do not have this requirement.
Instruction & Subjects
Some states require homeschools to be “in session” a certain number of days and/or hours of instruction – similar to the public school system requirements. Some states require these to be recorded and submitted to their local school district and/or state to verify schooling. Other states have a list of required subjects that must be taught, even for homeschoolers. This is also similar to the public school system. A few states, however, do not even require a set number of hours of instructions or subjects. It is important to know which state you live in as this can result in many legal situations you do not want to be involved in.
Most states do not require parents to keep any sort of permanent records for their child’s academic progress, but a few do require parents to maintain test scores and/or portfolios of their work throughout the year. Personal note: Although our state doesn’t require records to be submitted, I do keep tests and some papers from the year as a record for us, personally. It is a great way to track their progress and encourage them at the end of the year. It is also good practice, as you will need to keep more diligent records for high school transcripts and diplomas, even if your state doesn’t require submission.
While homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, each state has their own regulations and laws. Some states require parents to homeschool under a homeschool statute, while other states they are regulated under private laws. Some states also allow parents to homeschool through umbrella schools or through private tutor statutes; and still some states have multiple legal options for homeschooling, which vary in requirements.
These are just some of the reasons you should know the laws in your state. If you’re like me, it can be overwhelming at first and you might need some help deciphering the laws. Here are a couple helpful websites to get you started.
Coalition for Responsible Home Education – this site has links for every state, which can help you get started.
Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) – This is the legal coalition for homeschoolers. They have state-by-state information on their site, but are also your legal defense should something happen. In order to be covered by their lawyers, you need to be a member. It is worth the price for the peace of mind.