State and Federal Laws for Homeschoolers

Millions of children in the United States are homeschooled. In fact, Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) projects that this number will reach over 12 million by 2015. The United States Constitution does not have specific laws concerning education; each state governs education and has its own laws concerning homeschooling. So, if you’ve considered homeschooling your children, you will only have to learn the laws for your individual state.

Homeschooling laws vary from state to state. Each state has a mandate to provide an education for its students; many states delegate that authority to the state’s Board of Education. The state Board of Education wants to ensure that every child receives an adequate education. Because of this mandate, one Federal law was passed, Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974. This law requires that no state can deny any child an education based on their race, color, sex, or national origin. In other words, every child within every state is guaranteed an education.

While states cannot deny a child an education, it is ultimately up to the parent to choose where that child will attend school — whether public school, private school, or homeschool. Public schools, and some private schools, are regulated by the state. However, since a large percentage of homeschool families do so for religious reasons, there are often few regulations for homeschools.

One state law that appears to be universal is the requirement for children to attend school in some fashion during set compulsory ages. These ages, however, may be different in each state. Some states require children to be in school from 5 to 17, others 7 to 16; it just depends on the state’s laws. To determine what your state’s compulsory ages are you can search the internet, or contact HSLDA.

Home School Legal Defense Association, National Home Education Network, and other websites on the Internet, list the homeschool laws for each state. If you choose to homeschool, it would be advantageous to learn your state’s laws. After you have begun to homeschool, if you move to another state, especially if you are a military family, you can go back to these sites to find the laws for the new state.

Military families often move several times throughout the length of a soldier’s career. Many are choosing to homeschool because it is one way to guarantee continuity in their children’s education. Rather than transferring a child from one school to another, often internationally, a military family that homeschools can continue their child’s education without fear of negative impact.

Choosing to homeschool is not always an easy decision to make. However, it is legal in each of the fifty states. You may have to register your intent to homeschool with your local board of education or you may have to turn in portfolios. Whatever your state requires, just remember that you are allowed by law to homeschool your child, and that there are places to turn if you have questions.