As the first official lesson special in our How To Homeschool series, I want to welcome you! You made a smart decision to join us on this How To Homeschool journey, and you made a brave decision to homeschool your children. Hug yourself – that’s one MAJOR step you just accomplished.
Whether you’ve been chewing on the thought of homeschooling your kids for a long while or it’s a sudden, appealing opportunity you’re embracing, if you’re in America you have a few things to get in order before you start rockin’ and rollin’. I’m referring to your homeschool laws, what they are, and how to meet the requirements.
How To Comply With Your State’s Homeschool Law
First thing’s first… I want to stress how important it is to make sure you follow your state’s homeschool laws. Should you ever be audited by your state, as long as you can provide documentation on each homeschool requirement, you will be fine.
I don’t know anyone who’s ever been audited, though… Nor do I know anyone who’s ever ‘failed’ an audit. But a simple google search will provide you the answers on what will happen. I assume you will either get fined or be required to go to court for truancy or be required to return to public school or some other related action. So just to be safe follow your state’s laws.
The Very, Very First Step of Homeschooling
Deciding to homeschool your child is really the very very first step. It’s extremely important to discuss all things homeschool-related with your husband or spouse or significant other. When both of you are onboard with homeschooling, it will make your upcoming year that much smoother and uncomplicated. You both will spearhead homeschooling as a unit, a team, rather than feeling all alone like the world is against you.
Seriously – if he is absolutely against homeschooling, then do the Christian thing in this situation and respect and obey the head of the household. Or you can come to some sort of compromise or negotiation. Perhaps homeschool for a year and see how it goes.
I also suggest you talk to your child about homeschooling in order to avoid him or her feeling less alone or less secure. It also makes for a smoother year when your child’s onboard as well. This way you can bypass the grumbling and go straight to the obligatory cooperation. Get them excited about all the new opportunities and freedom that homeschooling provides! Start by discussing their interests and make a mental note to include those right off the bat.
The First Step of Homeschooling
There’s a few minor things you need to do legally once you decide to homeschool, after everyone’s on board with it. And it all depends on your state.
- Call your school administration and ask them what you need to do in order to withdraw your child from public school. Whatever they tell you, make sure you do it and make (or request) copies of everything. File the copies away in your school folder (coming up next, below).
- Regardless of what they say, go ahead and write up a formal letter of intent to homeschool. You want there to be a paper trail and documentation that you have informed your state of homeschooling your child. I would create a line for the receiver to also print, sign, and date it. Make copies and keep the original or make two original copies and sign both.
- If applicable, get the address and contact information from your school admin on where to send your homeschool requirements.
- Do what your school admin tells you to do. Follow the next set up steps on how to proceed.
Here’s how to prepare for homeschool laws and stay legal:
- Prepare a file and label it 2020-2021 (or the year of your homeschool)
- Print out the homeschool laws of your state and put them in the file. Go to your state’s Department of Education (listed below) and print out the homeschool laws they’ve provided.
- Create a simple checklist or spreadsheet of each requirement, deadline, and plans to fulfill this requirement. Check off as you go. I’ve provided a checklist for you to make this process easier as well as a Google Sheets doc if you prefer Google (see below).
- Make copies of everything, especially if you need to submit originals to your state.
- If you haven’t already, get the state contact information on where to send requirements from your school admin and keep this in the file.
- Keep a planner or use your phone’s calendar or google calendar for important dates and deadlines, if necessary.
- Then do what they tell you to do!
Homeschooling Laws By State
Of all the things to do in homeschool, following your state’s homeschooling laws is a must. What’s scary is if you get audited by your state and you aren’t able to provide any documentation of your homeschooling! (Fortunately, I have your recording keeping and tracking lesson in this series, where I will share how best to track your homeschooling and keep your records organized.)
Something to be aware of is that all of the states’ laws differ when it comes to homeschooling. Some states have lenient laws while other states are high-regulated states. For example, some require you to submit your homeschool lesson plans before the start of your new homeschool year, and some require standardized testing each year. And some require a certain number of days for homeschooling per year, while other states may only require you to just have a bona fide curriculum that includes citizenship (such as Texas).
Don’t let the homeschool laws from your state scare you or prevent you from homeschooling! You can do this especially if you keep all things organized and keep a calendar!
***Legal jargon can be difficult to comprehend, especially when the state requires you to do one thing but not another thing. Pay attention to the bold and fine print. Because of how difficult it could be to understand exactly what you need to do, I’ve supplied additional resources and research for you to help you understand exactly what is expected of you.
Homeschooling Laws By State – According to HLSDA
The following is a list of states and territories of the United States. The homeschooling laws come from the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) website, however, feel free to check your state’s department of education.
Keep track of your homeschool lessons in this series. Get the free Lesson Checklist and use the planners included for daily/weekly plans, lesson notes, and to stay on track with all the lessons in the How To Start Homeschooling Series by clicking the image or button below:
Homeschool Laws By State: What They Are and How To Meet The Requirements
Looking into your state’s homeschooling laws may seem like a huge undertaking, but they are all very achievable. Millions of families homeschool every year, including those in your state. Remember to stay organized from the beginning and do it one step at a time.
As a whole, the steps for how to start homeschooling follow this formula:
- Research homeschooling information by state to know what your specific home state requires.
- Use that information to guide you in notifying the proper officials of your intent (in states that require notification).
- Officially withdraw your child from their current public or private school, if they are currently enrolled in one.
- Know your child’s learning style, and even knowing your teaching style won’t hurt!
- Familiarize yourself with the different homeschool curriculum options available.
- Acquaint yourself with the different styles of homeschooling that different families use. Styles of homeschooling are also called methods of homeschooling (they mean the same thing, just in case you have heard both ways).
- 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!
- Keep all records required by your state homeschool laws (if your state requires this).
- Make or do anything else you may need to regarding your state’s laws, but if nothing else…
- Start enjoying learning together!