Just like any other type of schooling, homeschooling is an international endeavor. Millions of families around the world have made the decision to take their child’s education into their own hands, especially during and in the wake of COVID-19. And, like the United States, every country has its own opinions, philosophies, and laws surrounding homeschooling.
In this monthly series, we’ll take a look at different countries around the world and how they view homeschooling as well as the types of laws (if any) those countries have to govern homeschooling. The first country we visited was the second-largest country in the world, northern neighbor to the United States–Canada. Then we traveled to the Far East to the Southeast Asian island country of the Philippines. In this edition, we’ll head to the Caribbean and check out homeschooling in Puerto Rico.
Located just east of the Dominican Republic and just west of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States. With a stunning landscape of mountains, waterfalls, and even a tropical rainforest, it’s no surprise that the island of Puerto Rico is a popular vacation destination. Puerto Rico’s population currently hovers around the 2.8 million mark, which ranks 141 out of the world’s 235 countries in population.
Rules and Regulations for Homeschooling in Puerto Rico
Tracking down updated homeschooling statistics for Puerto Rico is an ongoing challenge, particularly because there are so many families living in poverty who either can’t afford internet access or don’t receive sufficient WiFi signals with their devices–even as close as 20 miles from the island’s capital of San Juan. Of Puerto Rico’s approximately 600,000 children under the age of 18, 71 percent are either on the verge of, or live in, poverty. And 38 percent live in extreme poverty. As of last year, approximately 25 percent of Puerto Rico’s children had no access to the internet, and 56 percent did not own a computer.
And while Puerto Rican government officials are using their funding to purchase laptops, iPads, and other equipment for students and teachers, the internet issue continues to create large obstacles that stand in the way of children receiving a quality education.
While homeschool has been gradually increasing in popularity in Puerto Rico and many other regions of the world, it’s not a widespread method of education just yet. As of 2019, it was estimated that only 300 to 400 families participated in homeschooling, which is a tiny sampling of the overall population. But, prompted by COVID-19, more and more families in Puerto Rico have switched or are considering switching to homeschooling.
There are plenty of support groups that can help guide you through the process. Websites like The Caribbean Center of Home Education Resources and Casa Escuela offer a wide range of resources, links, and tips on how to get started homeschooling in Puerto Rico.
In Puerto Rico, homeschools are considered “non-governmental schools,” which means they are not regulated. The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) recommends, however, that parents should teach the same subjects for the same number of days as the local public schools do. One important note: a “primary or secondary academic” school that “declares, promises, announces, or expresses the intention of granting certificates, diplomas, degrees, or licenses” must be licensed. Meaning, if you plan on presenting an official certificate or diploma upon graduation, your homeschool must be licensed. That said, homeschools are authorized to issue transcripts showing that the student has completed relevant academic courses and studies.
The law in Puerto Rico states that children between the ages of 5 and 18 must attend school or comply with homeschool laws.
- Access to Public Schools: The term “public school access” refers to participation in public school classes, sports, and extracurricular activities. There currently is no law in Puerto Rico stating that homeschool students have the right to participate in public school activities and classes. Ultimately, this is left to the discretion of individual schools and school district authorities; they determine whether to allow homeschooled students to participate in their school’s activities. Parents should contact their local school administration if they have interest in pursuing public school access.
- Independent Homeschooling: Since there are no real regulations to homeschool your child in Puerto Rico (it is recommended, however, that you formally withdraw your student from the public school system if he/she is enrolled), most homeschooling families opt to go the independent route. As HSLDA recommended, it’s probably the best course of action to teach the same subjects taught in Puerto Rican public schools.
Homeschool teachers in Puerto Rico are not required to be certified, licensed, or hold any specific degree in order to teach at home. Also, since homeschools are considered non-governmental, homeschool teachers and parents are not required to administer any type of standardized testing.
So, with no required testing, are homeschooling parents required to keep records or provide progress reports to school officials? No, this is not a requirement in Puerto Rico. But the HSLDA advises that it’s always a good idea to keep the following–not only for yourself and your child, but in the event laws change and school administrators suddenly want to see proof of your child’s education:
- Attendance records
- Titles of textbooks and workbooks used
- Any correspondence with school officials
- Samples of your student’s work
- A portfolio and/or test results from exams you administered
- Any other relevant documents
- High school records and proof of compliance with any applicable home education laws during high school
Independent homeschooling in Puerto Rico grants families plenty of freedom. Since there are so few rules and regulations, you’re able to choose your own courses, curriculum, resources, and materials. You can also opt for a US-based homeschool program like Bridgeway Academy!
Bridgeway in Puerto Rico
Despite some of the obstacles Puerto Rican families face, Bridgeway Academy is an ideal homeschool choice for students on the island. Bridgeway can help your family choose the right program to fit your schedule and needs, including courses and curriculum that don’t require much, if any, internet access. We’re also aware of the island’s education requirements, so our team is ready to get you set up with the perfect homeschool program. You can download our free PDF about homeschooling with a U.S.-based program and then contact our admissions team today at (800) 863-1474 to start your homeschool adventure.
If you’re considering a homeschool adventure in Puerto Rico, congratulations! It’s sure to be an exciting journey for the whole family. Just remember, Bridgeway Academy offers plenty of amazing homeschool programs–plus accreditation, record-keeping, and support–that can be used anywhere in the world! Stay tuned–we’ll be bringing you homeschooling info from another international location soon!