Homeschool Legal Requirements

As a homeschool parent, there are certain legal requirements you’ll need to meet in order to homeschool your child.

In this guide, I’ll give you a good overview of the things to keep in mind when starting your homeschool journey.

You’ll learn:

  • What is a homeschool statute?
  • Homeschool options available
  • Required ages to attend
  • Do you have to notify the State?
  • Do you have to qualify?
  • Are there mandated subjects?
  • Required number of hours
  • What about assessments?
  • Is immunization required?
  • Student portfolios & records

Once you’ve read this guide, pop over to the State-by-State list to see your State’s specific homeschool requirements.

Credit: HSLDA

The Homeschool Statute Explained

The homeschool statute refers to the laws and regulations around homeschooling. The statutes vary by State and outline the legal requirements, rights, and responsibilities of parents or guardians who want to homeschool their children.

Because the homeschool statutes are different in every State, it’s important to read and understand what is expected from you and your children under the statute.

Some States make it very easy for parents to homeschool, with very few requirements, while other States make you jump through more hoops.

Check out this helpful map from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

Homeschool Options Available

Based on the State you live in, there can be several different legal options to choose from to run your homeschool program.

Some States only offer one option, others have four. Although these can vary by State, based on my research, these seem to be the options available for homeschool parents:

  • Homeschooling under the homeschool statute
  • Homeschooling with a private tutor
  • Homeschooling with school board approval
  • Homeschooling with a private or denominational school
  • Homeschooling with a private school satellite program (PSP)
  • Homeschooling with a homeschool association
  • Enrolling your child in a satellite of a religious day school
  • Enrolling your child in a satellite of an accredited day or boarding school

To find out which options are available in your State, check out our State-by-State guide.

Required Ages To Attend

As homeschool parents, you must have your child enrolled in homeschool between a specific age range.

I’ve seen States require children to attend school as young as five and as old as nineteen, however, the typical age requirement is between 6 – 18.

Do I Need To Notify The State?

Again, this varies based on the State you live in. Some States require no notification, others require a notarized homeschool affidavit be sent to the superintendent of your school district (certified mail/return receipt).

From my research, I’ve found that the majority of States just require a notice of intent to homeschool.

Do I Have To Qualify To Teach My Children?

When we’re talking about your qualifications, this does not mean you have to have a degree in education and be certified to teach in order to homeschool your children.

Some States do require the parent or guardian that is homeschooling their children to have a minimal qualification, usually a high school diploma or GED.

Other States have no qualification at all. Check the qualification requirements for your State HERE.

State Mandated Subjects

Some States require homeschool parents to teach specific subjects as part of their homeschool program – others leave it up to the parents.

The typical subjects are:

  • Language arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies + State Government
  • Health
  • Physical education
  • Art and/or music
  • First aid, safety, and fire prevention

Required Hours of Instruction

Most States require a specific number of days/hours of instruction throughout the year.

This varies by State, but I’ve found that 180 days per year or 800 – 1000 hours is the standard.

What you’ll find is your State has a set number of hours per year for elementary and middle school aged children, and a slightly higher number of hours of instruction for high school.

Check your State statute for the exact requirements.

Student Assessments

The requirement really varies based on how “easy” or “hard” your State is on homeschool parents.

Certain States have no required assessments; some only require your children to take the standardized test at specific grade levels – others require a portfolio, student work samples, standardized testing AND having your child evaluated by a qualified evaluator.

It’s as if some States want to make it more difficult for you to take control of your child’s education – imagine that…

How About Immunizations

In all honesty, this seems like a silly requirement for homeschool students. If a family decides not to immunize their children based on religious or other beliefs, why would they not be able to homeschool their children?

The children are not in school, but in homeschool. How their immunization status is any of the school district’s business is beyond me.

That being said, some States do require immunization records before you qualify for homeschooling. For those States that do require immunization, there is generally a religious exception option, except for the State of Maine.

Student Portfolios and Records

Although not all States require homeschool parents to maintain detailed records and student portfolios, I think it’s a great way to track your child’s progress and cover yourself in case any requirements change in the future.

Records would include tests, quizzes, and lesson plans.

I’ll be writing a detailed article on creating and maintaining a student portfolio, but here are some of the things you should include:

  • Student work samples
  • Writings
  • Worksheets
  • Workbooks
  • Creative materials used or developed by the student
  • The results of standardized tests (if required by your State)

The key to keeping good records and building an impressive student portfolio is to keep up with it weekly. The last thing you want to do is try and compile a year’s worth of materials together at the end of the school year – not a pleasant experience.

Let’s Recap

Now that you understand the basic legal requirements to homeschool, click here to find out your State’s specific requirements.