Homeschool Law Points of Interest
There are a few important areas you should investigate when researching homeschool laws. This article reviews laws that homeschoolers must follow to meet state requirements in the areas of age, homeschool curriculum, assessment, and school year length.
As you review the homeschool laws for your state, there are many things to consider. Here are some particular points that deserve your attention, not least because one might think that they would be the same in all the United States, but they’re not. This is not an exhaustive list, but will help you focus on some of the crucial to consider as you investigate home school options.
This is not an exhaustive list, but will help you focus on some of the crucial things to consider as you investigate home school options.
- Compulsory school age
- Length of the school year
- Student body
Age requirements for homeschoolers
States differ in the age at which the requirement for school begins and the age or other criteria for the completion of compulsory schooling. In most states, the laws indicate that the student must begin attendance somewhere between the ages of 5 and 7, and this can vary, depending on the date of the child’s birthday. Some states indicate completion of a grade (8th grade in Wyoming, 10th grade in Vermont) or completion of high school as an alternative to an upper age limit.
The legal requirements in this area may be periodically reconsidered, or even changed: in 2006, for example, Colorado lowered the minimum age for compulsory schooling to 6 from 7, and increased the maximum age from 16 to 17. Florida raised the maximum age from 16 to 18.
Curriculum requirements for homeschoolers
Subject matter requirements vary, depending on which state you’re in. In Vermont, the list is:
- Basic Communication Skills (including reading, writing, and mathematics)
- Citizenship, History, and Government
- Physical Education & Comprehensive Health Education
- English, American, and Other Literature
- The Natural Sciences
- The Fine Arts
In other states you may find subject matter requirements different, such as: mathematics separate from reading and writing; specifications of topics by grade; no fine arts requirement; and other differences. Many states require the teaching of the history of the state in which the student lives, so this naturally differs.
Assessment requirements for homeschoolers
Some states may require an annual assessment. Some require a standardized assessment in certain grades, and may require a portfolio as well.
School year requirements for homeschoolers
The length of the school year is often specified by number of days, but also may be indicated by a number of hours (in New York, it’s 900 hours for grades 1-6 and 990 hours each for grades 7-12, but it’s longer than that in, say, Kansas, and shorter in North Dakota).
Rated by days, the number is generally found to be between 175 and 180, with Kansas at 186.
Student body requirements for homeschoolers
It might not occur to you to think of your homeschool as having a student body, but some states offer particular regulations for whether a homeschool can include students from outside a single family, sometimes regulating how many such students may be included.
Record-keeping requirements, teacher qualifications, and notification of a student’s attendance at a home school are other areas in which you may find requirements vary from state to state and from your expectations. These are all worthy of careful checking for discerning the basic needs to establish a legal home school where you live.
Written by Mary Elizabeth