Are you considering homeschooling your child? You can do it! As you get started, it’s important to make sure you comply with the education laws where you live. This page helps you understand how to homeschool legally—step by step.


Compulsory school attendance age

When your child has reached his or her 7th birthday by the start of the school term, you must begin complying with Missouri’s compulsory attendance law. HSLDA members can receive additional guidance about what “school term” means here.

But here’s a special warning: when you enroll your child in a public school at age 5 or 6, he or she must obey the compulsory attendance law immediately until you formally request in writing that your child be dropped from that school’s attendance rolls.

Once your child reaches his or her 17th birthday, he or she is no longer subject to any of the compulsory attendance laws.

If you determine that your child of any age has earned 16 credits toward high school graduation (with a credit being at least 100 hours of instruction in a subject), he or she is exempt from the compulsory school laws.

Some of the requirements below stop when your child turns 16. 


Withdrawing your child from his or her current school

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year, and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school.

If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered to be enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark him or her as absent.

We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing from your school and starting to homeschool.

HSLDA members are eligible to use our sample letter of withdrawal (available here) to correspond with school officials. We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep a copy of the withdrawal letter (and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts) for your personal records.

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members are also eligible to use the sample letter of withdrawal for their state, available in Member Resources, to correspond with school officials.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.

Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.


Complying with your state’s homeschool law

Under Missouri law, a homeschool is a school that:

  1. Has the primary purpose of providing private or religious-based instruction.
  2. Enrolls pupils between the ages of 7 and 16 years. (No more than four students can be unrelated.)
  3. Must not charge or receive tuition, fees, or other remuneration.

To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these requirements:

You must provide your child with at least 1000 hours of instruction every school term.

Six hundred of the 1,000 hours of instruction must be among one or more of the following core subjects: reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science. Of those 600 hours among the core subjects, 400 must occur at the "regular" homeschool location, which is not defined in law.

HSLDA strongly recommends that you keep a daily log showing the hours of instruction you give your children every day. Although this is not technically required, it's the very best way to prove you really provided each child with 1,000 hours of instruction.

If you are homeschooling a child who is younger than 16, you must maintain (but do not need to submit) the following records for the child:

  • A plan book, diary, or other record indicating subjects taught and educational activities engaged in. This requirement can be satisfied by keeping a daily log of hours of instruction. (HSLDA offers a fillable spreadsheet that our members can use to keep a daily log.)
  • Samples of your child’s work.
  • Academic evaluations. (These could be regular tests in the various subjects, annual standardized tests, etc.)

Alternatively, you can maintain “other written, credible evidence” that is equivalent to the three types of records listed above.

Always have on hand at least one full year’s worth of records (unless you are just starting out).

During a child’s elementary and middle school years, you should always have on hand at least one full year’s worth of records.  For a high school student, the records (for all 4 years) should be kept indefinitely. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.


Records

If your state has any specific recordkeeping requirements, they are listed above. Regardless of your state’s recordkeeping requirements, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.

These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.



Home School Legal Defense Association is a national advocacy organization that supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. We are dedicated to protecting the legality of your homeschool while equipping you to successfully teach your children.

HSLDA members have 24/7 phone and email access to our staff of attorneys and legal assistants, who can help you understand the homeschool law in your state and will go to bat for you if a school official or other authority challenges your homeschool. Our 80,000 members—families like you!— also receive personalized advice on everything form homeschooling a high schooler to teaching a child with speical needs from our team of education consultants.


Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.


Last updated July 15, 2015