Alabama law requires children “between the ages of six and 17” to attend school. The parent of a child who is 6 may opt out of enrolling the child in school by written notification to the local school board that the child will not be enrolling until age 7. Children attending a church school may withdraw from school as early as age 16.
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 under Alabama 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 Alabama 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.
In Alabama, there are three options under which you can legally homeschool. Note that church schools and private schools can establish their own policies for teacher qualification, days of instruction, and required school subjects.
Option 1: Homeschooling with a church school:
A church school offers instruction in grades K–12 or any combination thereof, including preschool, through onsite or home programs, and is operated as a ministry of a local church, group of churches, denomination, and/or association of churches that does not receive any state or federal funding. A home may be the location where a child receives instruction as a student attending a church school. A parent may establish a church school in the home, or the home may be an extension of an existing church school.
To homeschool under this option, you must take the following steps:
When your child is first enrolled in a church school, you must notify the superintendent of your local public school by filing a church school enrollment form. The church school administrator may assist you in obtaining this form. This form must be signed by a parent or legal guardian and by the church school administrator. There is no requirement to file annually.
The principal teacher of the church school must keep an attendance register for every school day of the year.
Some church schools have policies regarding teacher qualification, number of days of instruction, and required subjects. If so, you are responsible to comply with them.
Option 2: Homeschooling with a private school:
A private school is established, conducted, and supported by a nongovernmental entity or agency offering educational instruction in grades K–12 or any combination thereof, including preschool, through onsite or home programs. A home may be the location where a child receives instruction as a student attending a private school. A parent may establish a private school in the home, or the home may be an extension of an existing private school.
An Alabama statute requires private schools to register every year by October 10 with the Alabama Department of Education on a state form. The Registration form includes providing school statistics such as the number of instructors and enrolled students, student attendance, course of study, length of term, cost of tuition, funds, value of property, and the general condition of the private school.
Note: The Alabama State Department of Education is currently not accepting registrations from home-based private schools. Based on the practical reality that registration is not feasible at this time, HSLDA does not deem it necessary for home-based private schools to register with the state in order for parents to utilize the private school option. For details, please read HSLDA’s memo, Home-Based Education in an Alabama Private School, available at http://members.hslda.org/state/AL/default.asp.
Five days after the start of public school, the private school must report to the county or city superintendent the names and addresses of all school-age children enrolled in the school. Thereafter, on a weekly basis, the private school must report the names and addresses of all school-age children (1) who enroll in the school, or (2) who are absent without a lawful excuse. Private schools must furnish any other reports required by the state superintendent of education or reports required by the county or city superintendent relating to the school attendance laws. Private school enrollment and absence reporting forms are available here.
The principal teacher of the private school must keep an attendance register for every school day of the year.
Private schools must require their students to show proof of immunization, or medical or religious exemptions from immunization.
Carry out a program of physical education similar to what is taught in public schools.
Some private schools have policies regarding teacher qualification, number of days of instruction, and required subjects. If so, you are responsible to comply with them. However, such a requirement is not mandated by law.
Option 3: Homeschooling using a private tutor:
Private tutors must be Alabama-certified teachers.
A private tutor’s instruction must be in English and must include the same branches of study that are required to be taught in the public schools. The tutor must teach for at least three hours a day, for 140 days each calendar year, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
The private tutor must submit a statement to the county or city superintendent, listing the tutor’s students, the subjects taught, and the proposed tutoring schedule. The tutor must also keep a register of work, showing daily the hours of instruction, and of attendance (including absences). The tutor must also make such reports as the State Board of Education may require.
You can find Alabama’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, 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.