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Homeschooling is legal in most states but the method followed depends on the guidelines and regulations set by the respective state’s education council. Consequently, these varying levels of rules for homeschooling make it confusing to follow one standard routine of homeschooling unless, of course, you are well-acquainted with the laws.
Some states make it easier for parents to homeschool by intervening less in their methods and curriculum while others have strict regulations and guidelines as to how to conduct homeschooling. A hands-on approach might be easier for those who wish to have prepared guidelines while a more lenient approach might be for those who have a plan of their own for their child’s education.
Homeschooling in America
The choice of the best state for homeschooling depends on what parents want for their kids. Some American states require parents to file paperwork regarding their homeschooling activities which include
- Participating in state testing every year
- Teaching specific subjects
- Participating in home evaluations
- Teaching a set number of hours every day, and more
For instance, New York has stricter requirements for homeschooling that includes teaching state-mandated subjects, annual assessment for homeschooling families, and more.
Meanwhile, on the other hand, some states need homeschooling parents to simply file the initial paperwork. They are on their own when it comes to deciding the curriculum, activities, texting, etc. with very little intervention from their state government. They allow parents to be autonomous and guide their kid’s education as they see fit. Some states even allow parents to access online homeschooling programs.
For some parents, these factors make homeschooling easier and subsequently make the best homeschooling states. Take the state of Oklahoma for example, homeschoolers are not required to test or report anything to any government councils. Their only requirement is that the homeschool must run for 180 days.
To help parents determine their homeschooling methods with age-appropriate subjects and activities, the Homeschool Legal Defence Association (HSLDA) has come up with a map containing the homeschooling requirements of each state. This article lists the best states for homeschooling based on the same map.
Here’s an overview of how HSLDA categorizes homeschooling in each state according to their level of regulation:
States With Few Homeschool Regulations
HSLDA considered the following states as homeschool-friendly because of the lack of homeschool regulations the state imposes. By considering the number of laws stated to run a homeschool, HSLDA prepared this list of states that have very low regulations on homeschooling:
- New Mexico
States With Moderate Homeschool Regulations
You can go to the HSLDA website and choose your territory or state to get detailed information on homeschooling resources, mandatory subjects, testing, and more. Here’s a list of all the states with moderate homeschooling regulations:
- North Carolina
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- Washington, DC
- West Virginia
States With Stricter Homeschooling Regulations
States that require homeschooling parents to send achievement or notification reports along with professional evaluation and other requirements are as follows. Moreover, the curriculum must be approved by the state, the parents must have teacher qualifications, and officials will give them a visit now and then to check on the progress.
- New York
- Rhode Island
States With No Reporting for Homeschoolers: Best States for Homeschooling
Opinions on how much regulation is too many regulations vary across the board. Some parents appreciate the extra regulation because the curriculum is planned out for them. They just need to keep records and reports. On the other hand, some find the guidelines and regulations suffocating and infringing on their freedom to homeschool their kids. Here’s a look at the states with almost no regulations for homeschooling )often considered the best states for homeschooling):
It is compulsory with the Alaskan state’s homeschool law that children ages 7 to 16 must attend school. The homeschool statute requires no certified teacher, tests, approvals, or notification to the state. That’s why parents can choose to homeschool their children with a lot of freedom when it comes to their education. However, it is still important to keep planning a curriculum and maintain a good record. Make sure you don’t compromise on your kid’s career and future goals.
Idaho residents don’t need any qualifications to homeschool their kids, according to state regulations. They are also not required to test their children or obtain district approval. If the local school asks for information about their homeschooling, they are not required to provide so under the law.
Idaho does have rules to select the kid’s instructor which could be an unrelated person, a relative, or even themselves. They have to teach all the required subjects including social studies, science, maths, and language arts. Even then, Idaho is one of the best states for homeschooling.
Homeschools in Illinois are treated as regular schools. Parents don’t have to register their homeschooled children with the Illinois State Board of Education. They also don’t have to get any recognition from the state. Additionally, homeschoolers must learn all the required subjects including physical development, health, fine arts, social studies, science, maths, and language arts. They also need to mention that the instructions are being done in English and what you call the homeschooling program.
Parents who homeschool their children in Indiana must teach in English and provide a curriculum equivalent to private schools. However, the Indiana State Board of Education is not allowed to define what equivalent means so it’s basically up to the parents to make sure their kids get the same level of education as their private school counterparts. They are also not authorized to approve homeschool programs.
Indiana homeschooling must comply with the state’s private school statute and are considered private schools. The homeschool must operate the same number of days as any public school (that’s 180 days usually) and keep attendance records.
Homeschooling in Michigan comes under the non-public school or homeschooling statute or both. Regardless of what parents choose, they need to teach specific subjects but the rules don’t state at what grade level or how often the courses are taught. Therefore, HSLDA suggests that parents teach the subjects at age-appropriate levels each year, especially during middle and elementary school.
In Missouri, parents are required to maintain records as well as teach all necessary subjects to kids under 16 years of age. However, they don’t need to provide any notification about their homeschooling but must provide at least 1000 hours of curriculum, every school term. 600 of those hours must involve learning the core subjects.
The New Jersey law states that homeschooling kids must be provided the same education equivalent to what they would receive in a public school. So, parents must make sure that they are teaching the same school subjects to their kids as their public school counterparts.
There are no reporting or testing needs for homeschooled kids in Oklahoma. As long as they operate the homeschool for at least 180 days, they can introduce programs as they see fit. But the HSLDA strongly urges parents to introduce a curriculum that includes social studies, language arts, science, and maths. For parents who do not want to follow a strict curriculum, Oklahoma is the best state for homeschooling.
Texas regulations consider homeschooling to be private schools and want parents to teach a course in citizenship, history, grammar, spelling, reading, and maths. Even though history and science are not required, it’s still a good idea to teach them so that their child is prepared for college. Parents also must have a written curriculum that can be qualified through online programs.
Common Questions on Homeschooling
Parents might have a ton of queries when they plan to homeschool their children. Some of the most common concerns are the cost of homeschooling. Here’s what they have in mind:
- What type of financial impact must be expected?
- What if parents work while homeschooling?
- How should the budget be?
- Should you stop working to homeschool your child?
- Do you get tax breaks for homeschooling?
The answers always depend on personal situations but you could follow the average costs and general guidelines to get started:
- According to Time4Learning, homeschooling supplies cost $700 to $1800 per child.
- HSLDA reports parents spend an average of $50 to $500 on curriculum.
- According to a Deloitte back-to-school survey conducted in 2020, families spend approximately:
- $395 for computers and hardware
- $316 for electronic gadgets and subscriptions
- $102 on school supplies
A Final Word
A 2019 ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) report stated that more than 2 million students are homeschooled every year and these numbers are increasing by 5% every year. In 2020, the United States Census reported that homeschooling households doubled to 11.1% after the Covid-19 pandemic. Until you live in a state with stringent homeschooling oversight, consider the pros and cons of homeschooling before you put your child through it.
Get in touch with a community of homeschoolers and learn what makes the decision interesting, entertaining, and informative to the child. Together, you can share ideas and methods you adopted for your child and lend one another support. This way you can also make sure that you abide by the state’s requirements and give your child the educational experience of your choosing. To know more about the best states for homeschooling, visit the HSLDA website.
Best States For Homeschoolin FAQs
1. Which state has the easiest homeschool laws?
2. What are the negative effects of homeschooling?
3. How many kids in the US are homeschooled?
4. Are homeschoolers happier?
5. Are homeschoolers socially awkward?
- National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), Homeschooling: The Research, 15 September 2022
- HSLDA home page
- The Alaska State Legislature, 32nd Legislature (2021 – 2022)
- Idaho State Department of Education (SDE)
- Department of Education, Michigan, Nonpublic & Home Schools
- New Jersey, Frequently Asked Questions: Homeschooling
- Homeschool Laws By State
- Indiana Department of Education, Nonpublic School Number Requirements
- Diverse, Tolerant, Civically Engaged. That’s Homeschooling.
- Homeschooling on the Rise During COVID-19 Pandemic
- New York State Education Department
- Homeschool Laws By State
- Homeschooling on a Budget . . . or No Budget?
- How Much Does Homeschooling Cost? | Time4Learning
- 2020 Deloitte back-to-school survey Learning to grow amidst uncertainty
- ALEC Releases 23rd Annual Report Card on American Education
- Oklahoma State Department of Education
- Missouri Homeschool Laws
- Illinois Homeschooling
- Idaho State Department of Education (SDE)