If you weren’t already aware, each of America’s 50 states has its own laws and choices regarding homeschooling. While many states’ requirements and options are similar to one another, just about every state has its own opinions, quirks, and nuances within their homeschooling regulations. In this blog series, we’ll give you a quick overview of each state’s homeschooling options and some of their requirements in order to help you set up your homeschool program. But it’s important that you thoroughly read through your state’s homeschool laws before you decide to teach your child at home, because there is quite a bit of information to digest.
The state of Alabama offers three homeschooling options:
- Church school. Church schools offer education from preschool through 12th grade through onsite or home programs. A church school is operated as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches and does not receive state or federal funding. Children can be taught at home as a church school student.
- Private school. A private school is established, conducted, and supported by a non-governmental entity or agency offering educational instruction in grades K–12 or any combination thereof, including preschool, through onsite or home programs. A home may be the location where a child receives instruction as a student attending a private school. A parent may establish a home-based private school, or the home may be an extension of an existing private school.
- Private tutor. Any private tutor used to teach a student must be certified as an instructor in Alabama. Tutors are required to teach a minimum of three hours a day for 140 days each calendar year. The curriculum must be the same as what is taught in public schools, and tutors are obligated to comply with the state’s reporting and record-keeping requirements.
In addition to state-required records, you should keep the following important records for your homeschool: Attendance records, Information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, Samples of your student’s schoolwork, Correspondence with school officials, and Portfolios and test results. Any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years.
Keep records of Physical Education for each student enrolled in a private school. Be sure to maintain documentation of these hours throughout the year. Bridgeway Academy’s Physical Education/Activity log is a great resource to help you keep track of this requirement.
Alaska offers four homeschooling options:
- Homeschooling under the homeschool statute. This allows you to educate your child in your home as long as you are the parent or legal guardian. There are no requirements to notify the state, seek approval, test, file forms, or have any teacher qualifications.
- Private tutor. A private tutor may instruct a student at home as long as the tutor is certified in Alaska.
- Homeschooling with school board approval. Your child is not required to attend public school if s/he “is equally well-served by an educational experience approved by the school board.” In order to homeschool under this option, a written request must be submitted to the principal or school administrator of the school your child attends, and you must receive a written excuse from school attendance.
- Religious private school. This option requires more strict regulation than Alaska’s other homeschool choices. Among these regulations are filing a notice of enrollment, maintaining attendance and permanent records, filing a corporal discipline policy, complying with testing requirements, and not accepting state or federal funding.
The Grand Canyon State offers only one homeschooling option:
- All you need to do in order to homeschool in Arizona is file an affidavit of intent; provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate; and teach the required subjects of reading, grammar, math, science, and social studies.
The state of Arkansas also offers only one homeschooling option:
- Homeschooling under the homeschool statute. To homeschool in Arkansas, all you need to do is submit a letter with certain information requirements (see the school district’s website or click here to see details) to the superintendent of your area’s school district; no standardized tests are required.
The Golden State offers four homeschooling options:
- Homeschooling as a private-based school. This option requires a handful of steps and requirements, including maintaining attendance records; teaching common subjects like math, science, social studies, driver’s ed, health, and language arts; among other steps.
- Homeschooling with a private school satellite program (PSP). This option involves most of the teaching at home but most comply with all requirements for operating a private school as well as all the requirements for homeschooling as a private-based school (above).
- Private tutor. According to California law, a child who is being instructed by someone with a California teaching credential for the grade level taught is considered exempt from public school attendance. This requires the student being taught for at least three hours a day for 175 days each school year, using the curriculum requirements taught by public schools. A parent may teach, as long as he or she has the required California teaching credentials. Families homeschooling under this option are not required to file private school affidavits or report any other information to the state.
- Charter school. In California, you may enroll your child in a public charter school with the intention of homeschooling. There are many charter school options, however, so be sure to research your area’s charter schools to determine if the fit is right for your child.
The state of Colorado offers three homeschooling options:
- Homeschooling under Colorado’s homeschool statute. The steps required for this are to decide who will be homeschooling the student; notify the school district of your intent to homeschool; instruct an average of four hours a day for 172 days during the school year on the topics of reading, writing, speaking, math, history, civics, literature, science, and the US Constitution; maintain good records; and evaluate your student every two years (starting in 3rd grade) with a nationally standardized achievement test administered by a qualified individual.
- Independent school. Children can be enrolled in established independent schools, where parents teach while being supervised by the school.
- Certified teacher. Instruction must be provided by a parent, guardian, or adult relative designated by the parent. If the instructor owns a valid Colorado teaching certificate, there are no actual requirements, assessments, or notifications necessary.
The state of Connecticut is fairly liberal in their views on homeschooling. In fact, according to state law, “parents have both a statutory and constitutional right to educate their children at home, and they are not required by law to initiate any contact with government officials before they begin to homeschool.” Standardized testing isn’t required either. The only real requirement is set by the Connecticut General Statute 10-184, and says that all parents are responsible for ensuring that their children receive instruction in the following required subjects: reading, writing, spelling, and English grammar; geography; arithmetic; United States history, and citizenship, including a study of the town, state, and federal governments. Beyond that, the state may choose to conduct an annual portfolio review meeting to ensure everything is up to standard; however, many schools do not request one, and it is not necessary for parents to contact the school district to initiate one.
The First State offers three homeschooling options:
- Homeschooling as a single-family household. This allows a child to be educated in the home by a parent or legal guardian. The only requirements are to report enrollment at the start of the school year and report attendance at the end of the year.
- Homeschooling as a multi-family group. As its name suggests, this option involves at least two families partnering to teach their children at home. This law requires one person to act as a liaison to the Department of Education and to submit enrollment and attendance reports.
- Homeschooling as a single-family household in conjunction with the local school district. This allows a parent or guardian to teach at home using public school curriculum and requires enrollment and attendance reports. If families choose this option, then they must also write to the superintendent of the school district about their intent to do so.
All three options require notifying intent to homeschool every year, on or before October 5. Your homeschool must submit a statement of pupil enrollment as of the last school day in September. The report must be submitted to the Department of Education on a form prescribed by the department, accessed here.
The Sunshine State offers three homeschooling options:
- Homeschooling under the homeschool statute. This mainly requires the parent or instructor to contact the county superintendent and let him or her know that you’re establishing a home education program. From there, you must maintain a portfolio of activities and work. The student must then be evaluated annually by one of several methods.
- Private school “umbrella” program. This interesting option allows you to enroll your child in a registered private school that will oversee your homeschool program. This can be an appealing option because there’s no involvement with your local public school system, but it’s important to make sure the private school you choose meets all private school requirements.
- Private tutor. The instructor you choose must hold a valid Florida teaching certificate and submit records in accordance with state law.
The state of Georgia treats homeschooling a bit differently than the other states on this list. It refers to homeschooling as a “home study program” and offers only one option with various requirements.
- The instructor must have a high school diploma or GED; teach for the equivalent of 180 school days over the course of the year; teach the required subjects of math, language arts, social studies, science, and reading; write annual progress reports; and test your child every three years after he or she completes 3rd grade.
The Aloha State offers a pretty simple homeschooling process. A letter of intent must be filed, and curriculum must be compliant. Hawaii’s recommended curriculum includes:
- Elementary school: language arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education.
- Secondary school: social studies, English, math, science, health, physical education, and guidance.
Once curriculum has been established, records must be kept and annual progress reports must be submitted to the local principal; these progress reports can come in the form of written evaluations by the instructor or by the results of a standardized test.