Beginning when your child turns 6, you must follow the Wisconsin compulsory school law for the child.
Exception: If your child is enrolled in 5-year-old kindergarten, your child must continue to attend school regularly. However, as soon as you officially withdraw your 5-year old, he or she is no longer subject to the law (and you don't have to think about the homeschool laws) until he or she turns 6.
Once your child reaches his or her 18th birthday, he or she is no longer is required to obey the compulsory school laws.
The law says a child is exempt once he or she graduates from high school. But Wisconsin's courts have not ruled on whether this would apply to a homeschooled student.
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.
Wisconsin law allows for “home-based private educational programs” (which is the term used to officially describe homeschooling). To homeschool, you’ll need to follow these requirements:
Every year—not sooner than September’s third Friday and not later than October 15—you must file a statement of enrollment with the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). You must use the form that DPI has developed for this purpose—it is known as the PI-1206. This can be done online via the DPI’s website. The DPI insists that families only file the PI-1206 online. However, HSLDA members can download a paper version of the form from our website. If you use a paper form, be sure to send it certified mail, return receipt requested, and staple the green postal receipt to your copy when it comes back to you and maintain this with your permanent records.
Your statement must state how many students are enrolled in your homeschool. It must also certify that:
Failing to file your statement of enrollment does not mean that the children attending your homeschool program are truant. However, if a homeschool program fails to file the form as due under law, the family might be singled out for a truancy investigation. Also, if you cannot prove you filed the PI-1206 during the years your child was in high school, some employers and government agencies will treat your student’s high school education as not legitimate.
If you start homeschooling after the third Friday of September, you do not need to file the form until the following year.
Under Wisconsin law, the main purpose of your homeschool must be to provide private education—not to circumvent compulsory attendance laws.
Your homeschool must be privately controlled. (In other words, a public school or other government agency cannot operate a homeschool program.)
The program must provide at least 875 hours of instruction each school year. Keep track of your hours well enough that you could document 875 hours of instruction per year. Your records showing your student received 875 hours of instruction for each of his or her four years of high school should be maintained in your permanent records. The school year starts July 1 and ends the following June 30.
You must provide instruction every year in the following subjects:
Your records showing your student received instruction in these subjects during all four years of high school should be maintained in your permanent records.
The curriculum must be “sequentially progressive”—in other words, as you teach, you move from simpler to more challenging concepts or skills.
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.