Children must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws starting in the school year in which they turn 6 on or before December 1. They must remain in school up until the last day of session in the school year in which they turn 16, or until they graduate from high school.
However, any local board of education can vote to raise the compulsory attendance age in its school district from 16 to 17 for minors who are not employed.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized in your state's law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver's license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
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.
You must submit a notice of intent to homeschool to the district superintendent by July 1 (the beginning of the school year) annually, or within 14 days of establishing your new homeschool program during the school year. HSLDA has a notice of intent form for the use of our members available on our website.
Each school year, you must submit an IHIP by August 15 or within four weeks of the receipt of the IHIP form from the school district (whichever is later). The IHIP form requires you to submit your child’s name, age, and grade level; a list of your syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction; dates for submission of quarterly reports; and the name of whoever is giving the instruction. The IHIP form can be downloaded by HSLDA members from our website.
If applicable, your IHIP should include, along with the subjects to be covered, a statement indicating that your student will be meeting the compulsory educational requirements through full-time study (at least 12 hours a semester) at a degree-granting institution.
You must maintain records of attendance each year demonstrating that your child’s attendance meets the “substantial equivalent” of 180 days per year. Attendance records are only required to be submitted to the school district upon request of the superintendent.
In addition to the day requirement, homeschooled students are required to meet hourly attendance requirements: 900 hours of school per year in grades 1–6, and 990 hours of school per year in grades 7–12.
The subject requirements are outlined below:
At least once before grade 9
Reports must be submitted to the district superintendent each quarter. These should include the number of hours of instruction during the quarter, a description of the material covered in each subject, and a grade or narrative evaluation in each subject. Quarterly report forms are available to HSLDA members on our website.
An annual assessment is required every year. In grades 1–3, you can have your student take a standardized test or you can choose to submit a written narrative evaluation for your student. In grades 4–8, standardized testing is required at least every other year, with the written narrative evaluation available as an option in the years you do not use a standardized testing option. So, for example, you could use a written narrative evaluation in grade 4, but would need to use a standardized test in grade 5, and so on. Standardized testing is required every year in high school.
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.