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

Children must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws beginning with their first school year between the ages of 6 (if they turned 6 before September 1), or upon enrolling in a publicly supported kindergarten program, and 17 years.

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

In West Virginia, you can choose one of two legal options by which you may homeschool. The first option enables you to homeschool by seeking approval from the local school board. The second option enables you to homeschool by sending a notification to the school board.

Homeschooling by seeking school board approval:
If you choose to seek approval from your local school board, you will be required to teach the subjects approved by the school board for 180 days per year. Instruction must be in a place approved by the board and for a time equal to the school term of the county. If requested, you must furnish attendance, instruction, and progress information. The school board may deny approval in writing for “good and reasonable justification.” The board also determines the method of assessment you must use in your homeschool. Although HSLDA does not generally recommend this approach, it may be appropriate for some families. Please contact HSLDA for personal assistance in considering this option.

Homeschooling by submitting a notice of intent:
Parents may also choose to homeschool by submitting a notice that meets certain requirements to the school board. HSLDA recommends this approach because it does not require obtaining permission to homeschool; as long as the notification complies with the law, the child is excused from compulsory attendance.

To homeschool under this option, you must follow these requirements:

The person providing home instruction must have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Your notice of intent must include your child’s name, address, age, and grade level. You must also provide evidence that the person providing home instruction possesses a high school diploma or equivalent.

Some school districts may demand that you provide with the notice a plan of instruction for the year. While the law does require you to create such a plan, it is HSLDA’s position that the law does not require you to submit the plan with your notice.

The law requires that you submit the notice of intent 14 days before starting your homeschool program.

HSLDA believes that the 14-day advance notice requirement could equate to a waiting period for parents to exercise their right to direct the education of their children, and therefore may be unconstitutional. Please contact us if you wish to discuss whether this requirement applies to you.

Here is what to do if the superintendent denies your notice of intent:
The superintendent is not legally permitted to deny your notice of intent. If a superintendent believes a parent’s right to homeschool should be denied, he or she must seek an order from the circuit court, which will only be granted if the superintendent shows evidence that the child will suffer educational neglect.

If you receive any communication from the superintendent or an attendance director that asserts denial of your notice of intent or threatens legal action, you should contact HSLDA immediately.

You are required to obtain and submit an assessment to your local superintendent by June 30 of each year that you homeschool. You may choose one of four options to assess your child.

One, you may select any nationally normed, standardized test published not more than 10 years previously. The test must be administered by someone other than the parent and according to the instructions of the test publisher. The test must cover reading, language, mathematics, science, and social studies. Parents are required to pay for the testing. A child who scores at the 50th percentile or higher, or whose score has improved since the previous year’s assessment results, is considered to have made “acceptable progress” under the law.

Two, you may choose to participate in the public school testing program. Parents are not required to pay for this testing. Acceptable progress will be based on the state testing program guidelines.

Three, you may provide a written narrative that indicates a certified teacher has reviewed a portfolio of your child’s work and determined that the child’s academic progress for the year was in accordance with the child’s abilities. The narrative must include the teacher’s certification number. The narrative must include a statement about progress in the areas of reading, language, math, science, and social studies and note, if any, which areas show need for improvement or remediation.

Four, if the superintendent agrees, the child may complete any alternative academic assessment of proficiency. Acceptable progress will be determined by agreement between the superintendent and the parents.

Here is what will happen if your child does not demonstrate acceptable progress:
If assessment under one of the options above does not show acceptable progress, the county is required to notify you in writing of available services to assess your child’s special education eligibility. You are required to initiate a remedial program. The remedial program does not need to be submitted to or approved by the school district, but it must foster acceptable progress. Members of HSLDA may contact us for further advice if they have any concerns about their child meeting acceptable progress standards.


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 24, 2015