I have been around homeschool groups for long enough now that I start to see the same questions many times by people who are new to homeschooling. I thought it would be great to have a resource for people who are new to homeschooling, to help answer some of their questions. So, adding another series to my blog (because I really like series, haha), I thought I’d try to cover some of the most commonly asked homeschool questions. I know I am just new-ish to homeschooling myself, but with the super power of Google and many, many, many hours of reading on my side, I think I can confidently answer some of these questions. I can’t answer every question about every specific situation, but I can answer some questions about more general areas of homeschooling. Starting with today’s, the Beginning Homeschooler’s Guide to Homeschool Law.
I decided to start with homeschool law because I think it is the most important question to answer. It’s important to homeschool legally, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because you don’t want truancy charges in your future either. Also, when you follow the law, it helps future homeschoolers. It reflects well on the homeschooling community.
Homeschool law varies so much from country to country and even from state to state. Some states have virtually no regulation over homeschooling while others require yearly assessments or testing. For example, the homeschool law in Wisconsin is that you need a file a form (the PI-1206) in the year that your child is 6 on or after September 1st and every year thereafter and that you need to provide 875 hours of instruction of a “sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.” (Quoted from the state statutes). By contrast, in Maryland, you must sign a written agreement and keep a portfolio of work that demonstrates that you are providing instruction and you must allow someone from the school district to review it. Do you see how different those two are? That’s why it’s so important to know what the law is like where you live, because there is such a variance. Especially when you move, looking up the law in your new place of residence is important, so you can follow it there as well. Sometimes people ask questions about how to follow the law based on their specific homeschool style (this mainly comes up with unschoolers – more on unschooling in a different post), but you can follow the law with pretty much every homeschool style there is and if you have questions, I can’t guarantee that someone has done it before, but the odds are good that somebody else in your state has done it a similar way before and they can walk you through it if you reach out to a local organization or Facebook group.
My favorite source to look for the homeschool law is local homeschool groups. Some of these groups have been around a while and have a lot of years experience in homeschooling in the state. They also have a vested interest in your community and in making sure they get the laws right because they have to homeschool their children under the same law. Lastly, when you start there, you know you have a group you can reach out to to get support and have your questions answered if you need to. There are many state and local Facebook groups that function in a similar way and often people in those groups can tell you the law for your state as well.
I thought I would lend you a helping hand and link to as many state homeschool group law pages as I could. I tried to link to secular, statewide organizations where I could, but that wasn’t always possible. Some are local organizations and some are religious organizations and some are individual blogs, but all of the pages linked include the law for that state or take you to a landing page that will take you to what you need to know. Wisconsin is the state that I call home and so that’s the only state I have firsthand knowledge of, but if you know a better link for a different state, send it to me and I’ll consider replacing the link I have here. Some may ask why I haven’t linked to HSLDA and while there are many reasons for that, which I’ll write about in a future post, in the simplest terms, as it pertains to this post, all of these links are accessible without having to give your e-mail address, like you have to give if you want to view the laws on HSLDA. And HSLDA in the past (not sure if they still do) provided inaccurate information about my state laws, so I don’t 100 percent trust them on this front. Final note: I have not scoured every inch of these websites, so this is not an endorsement of these sites. I’m just trying to help you out and give you a starting point. The direction you go from there will be up to you.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington State
- Washington DC
- West Virginia
There you go! I hope this helps. Happy homeschooling! I do have some topics in mind for future parts of this series, but if you have ideas for parts that you would like to see covered, please let me know!
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this should not be constituted as legal advice. I just google things.