Many parents, for many different reasons, make the decision to homeschool their children. Homeschooling allows for a specific educational experience designed to suit your child’s particular needs, and in many cases goes above and beyond what can be achieved in a public or private school system. If you make the decision to homeschool your children, it is important that you do so legally, and understand the laws in your area. It is absolutely crucial that you do this, because if you fail to meet legal standards when homeschooling your children you will inadvertently rob your children of postsecondary educational opportunities.
Homeschooling laws vary from state to state, so you have to look up the specific laws in your home state. The basis of state laws on homeschooling is the result of truancy laws that require children to attend school. The basic idea is that these laws exist to distinguish a homeschooled child from a child that is simply not going to school, which is of course against the law. Generally, states will require that you submit a “notice of intent” to homeschool your children before the upcoming academic year, and the state will then respond with the appropriate paperwork for you to fill out.
Besides familiarizing yourself with the particular laws of your state you should also consult a homeschooling association for advice. In some cases parents will be dealing with school officials who want to discourage them from homeschooling, and in these situations it is important that you understand your rights. In the state of New York, for example, parents are not required to meet with school officials. School officials may request a meeting with the parents in order to discuss homeschooling, but the state may not revoke the right to homeschool if the parents refuse this meeting.
It is also required that your child take standardized tests. This is so the state can legally assign your child to a given grade level. The laws vary from state to state but in most cases you will have a certain amount of leeway in non-standardized tests. New York allows for non-standard tests every alternate year between grades 4 and 8, for example.
Although it may seem intimidating at first, homeschooling your children legally is ultimately not that complicated. You just have to make sure that you follow every step, and don’t overlook any paperwork. While some state restrictions or rules may seem unnecessary or cumbersome, in the long run you’ll save yourself a ton of headaches if you fill everything in properly and on time.
The best thing you can do when you begin to homeschool your children is to consult other homeschooling parents and advocacy groups. Looking up legal jargon online can be confusing, but any homeschooling group will give you solid, plain-English instruction on how to properly and legally set up homeschooling for your children. Remember: it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of studying your state laws in regards to homeschooling – if you overlook or violate any of them, you could lose your right to homeschool altogether.