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

Your child must start attending school in the year when he or she will be age 6 on or before September 1. Thereafter, your child must continue attending school at least until the year when he or she will be age 17 on or before September 1.

The compulsory school attendance requirement also applies to children who are 5 years old on or before September 1, if they are enrolled in a full-day public school kindergarten program.

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 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

Every year, on or before September 15, you must submit a certificate of enrollment including your and your child’s names, address, and telephone number; your child’s date of birth; and a “simple description” of the type of education your child is receiving. “Home instruction program” is an acceptable description. Contact the school attendance officer at the public school district where your child lives to request a certificate of enrollment form. Submit the completed certificate of enrollment to the attendance officer after first saving a copy for your records. You may begin homeschooling midyear, but be sure to file the certificate of enrollment at that time.

The certificate of enrollment must be submitted by the child’s parent, a court-appointed guardian, or a person other than a parent or legal guardian who has present care or custody of the child.

It is up to you to choose the subjects that you will teach in your home instruction program. Although public schools are required to be in session for 180 days every school year, this requirement does not apply to nonpublic schools, including home instruction programs.


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 from homeschooling a high schooler to teaching a child with special 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 June 25, 2015