Q&A Friday: How “homeschool friendly” are the laws where you live?

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and Steady Mom

It amazes me that within one country like the United States, homeschooling laws can vary from extremely lenient or nonexistent to highly regulated and legislated.

And of course in other parts of the world, there are countries where it is illegal to choose this educational lifestyle.

Recently I received this question from a reader:

“I’d love to know where various readers reside in the country and how “homeschooling friendly” their area is. For example, maybe you could ask readers to share which state they live in and what their state requires in terms of reporting and/or how friendly (or hostile) the homeschooling reporting process is for them.

I’m just curious to know what it’s like elsewhere and if my experience is similar to others’. Just something I’ve been curious about, as our family is contemplating a major move.”

So that’s our question for the day:

What country (or state if based in the US) do you live in? What are you required to do when it comes to reporting to authorities? Would you consider moving in order to be in a place that was friendlier to homeschoolers?

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.

Comments

  1. Carol F says:

    We live in New Mexico. Homeschooling here is very easy. We must send a Notice of Establishment of a Homeschool when we start, at least one teacher must have obtained at least a GED or high school diploma, we have to keep immunization records, and we have to teach 180 days. We must submit another NOE before April 1st every year that we continue to homeschool. There are no regulations or tests, and no oversight. It is recommended we keep a file with pertinent information in it, but I don’t know why it would ever actually be needed.

  2. MzBaker says:

    We live in Alabama and they are really lenient, no reporting as long as registered in church homeschool. We are from Michigan and its basically the same there to. I keep records though for transcripts and future purposes. You can find the laws for Alabama through my sons site.
    MzBaker’s latest post: Our Garden lol its okay I guess, not the best though….

  3. Alison says:

    Here in Massachusetts I feel it’s moderately easy. We must submit a letter of intent each year, and agree to some kind of evaluation (can be standardized test of your choice, a portfolio of work, or a progress report). That is pretty much it in a nutshell. No required meetings with the school district, no immunization or attendance records.

  4. Sarah says:

    I scrolled through and didn’t see anyone else from Maryland. Here in Maryland it’s fairly simple to homeschool. This is our first year, and I had to contact the county school board letting them know of my intent to homeschool and fill out their application. Then I have to go in twice per school year to have a review of what I’ve been teaching. They give their feedback on how they think you’re doing and where you can improve, which I’ve heard is fairly subjective depending on who you get as your reviewer. They don’t really have the power to enforce anything, but they can give you a bit of a hard time if they choose. That’s about it. No testing is forced or required, though you can opt in for testing if you want.
    Sarah’s latest post: Grass-Fed Beef?

  5. Trina says:

    We live in Michigan and have no reporting or notification required. Period.

  6. Desiree Casperson says:

    We live in Idaho and our homeschool laws are very relaxed here. Children are required to be taught between the ages of 7 and 16, so they can start later and be done earlier, which is really nice. No notification is required, though we notified the school district when we took our kids out; the ones who started in public school. Attendance, standardized tests, hours per day, and record-keeping are all not required, but we generally keep records in case of a problem. The only real ‘requirement’ is that the kids be taught in the same subjects as the public schools.

    Dual enrollment is an option here, though sometimes the practice of it is difficult. I think that varies depending on the school district. The kids do have to take the required standardized tests if they are going to dual enroll for any subject or music or sport.

    We have not run into any problems personally with our choice to homeschool. We have done a little off and on with it, but there are other people just in our neighborhood area who also homeschool, so the support is there. Idaho in general is quite a relaxed state for the most part, and life is generally low-key here. In fact, I know a homeschool mom who moved here with her family because of the freedom we have here for homeschooling. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is having troubles in other states, if it is possible for your family!

    - Desiree Casperson

  7. Another Marylander here: form to fill out stating intent to homeschool, then semi-annual “interviews” to verify that the student is performing about on average with his/her peers. My only complaint is that our county doesn’t allow homeschoolers to participate in extra-curriculars (I believe that other counties _do_ allow this, so it’s not a state thing). Hubs and I were big into marching band in high school and college and would like to share that experience with our kids if we could….but our oldest is just going to start kindergarten this year, so I guess we have a “little” time to change the system!

    All in all, it doesn’t scare me as much as it maybe should.
    Melissa Jones’s latest post: MommyBee Designs

  8. momof3 says:

    PA, and I dislike it. Strongly. Yes, it is workable, but it is ridiculous. Even a person who is pro-oversight has to realize the step of taking the port to the evaluator, getting a letter from the evaluator, and then having to submit both a port and an evaluator letter to the district is pretty ridiculous. I moved to an “easy” district, and then there was a personnel change. Now they are trying to dictate the size and formatting of the portfolio (none of which is in the law), trying to obligate HSers to use their district-generated evaluator letter that asks for things beyond what is in the scope of the law, etc.

  9. Jill says:

    We are in New Jersey and the laws are very relaxed here. No need to report anything. As far as I am aware we do not even have to send a letter of intent to homeschool unless withdrawing from a public school. We also do not have to take any state exams or other assessments. If someone were to accuse you of educational neglect, then it is up to you to prove that you are educating your children to the same level as a public school. Keeping a portfolio of subjects covered, field trips taken, and samples of work completed though would make that pretty easy to prove. If we were to move I would definitely choose an area based on homeschooling laws.

  10. Kelli says:

    West Virginia is fairly simple. A simple intent to homeschool letter (with outline of what you will do for the year), fill out their application, then at the end of the year either portfolio or testing.

  11. Tina H. says:

    Wisconsin is quite reasonable, in my opinion. We file a simple, one-page annual notification form online. It contains parent names and address but we are not required to identify children by name, or in another way. We don’t even need to put grade level; instead, we can simply tally “1-8 Ungraded” or “9-12 Ungraded.” The law requires us to teach 875 hours a year in what pretty much everyone would consider core subjects (reading, math, language arts, science, social studies, and health), but it doesn’t dictate how, when, or where that be accomplished. We needed test or keep other records, and we have no requirement to meet with any bureaucrats about our curriculum or anything else.

    I WOULD DEFINITELY move if I lived in a high-reg state and have told my husband I will never move to such a state (such as PA, NY, and ND). I am radical about my parental rights, and will not give any of that over to the government.
    Tina H.’s latest post: The Start of Our Summer Hiatus

  12. Maggie says:

    I live in Kansas. Home-based schools fall under non-accredited private schools, I we have to fill out a form (one time) to register our school with the state. The public schools are not required to allow homeschoolers to participate in extra-curriculars.
    I have found, however, that in my area of the state there is a firmly established culture of fear among homeschoolers. I tried to start a homeschool group, only to be reprimanded by one of the local moms for calling it the “Blank County Homeschool Assocation.” The theory is, if you put “homeschool” in the name, SRS is going to find out who the homeschoolers are and harass them. I found out there WAS actually already a homeschool group, but it was called “Blank Christian Fellowship” so it wasn’t apparent it was for homeschoolers. The group has a Facebook page that is completely private- it doesn’t even come up in a search unless you’re already a member of the group. I run a used bookstore and hosted a homeschool history workshop at the store, which I publicized as much as I could. I recieved a phone call from a mom who was interested in attending with her children, but expressed concern that the local police might show up and give us a hard time!

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