If you’re considering homeschooling, you might be feeling really nervous and pretty overwhelmed. One of the most common concerns I hear from new homeschoolers is wondering how to cover all of your homeschooling legal bases. So let’s hash out some details together to make sure you’re getting started on the right foot!
You’re not a criminal, right?
Yeah, I didn’t think so.
But how in the world do you make sure you’re homeschooling legally? Aren’t there a ton of hoops to jump through? Forms to fill out and phone calls to make? Official-looking people checking up on things?
Cue the heart palpitations.
Look, there’s no need to worry. Unless you’re involved in some shady underground side hustle, keeping things legal is easy. So breathe. Your children will not see you escorted out of your home in handcuffs anytime soon.
Actually, the process is quite simple.
So let any fear you’re feeling take a back seat while I walk you through the steps.
Let’s do this!
How to Cover all of Your Homeschooling Legal Bases:
Step #1 – Get Comfy
Please don’t skip this step!
I want you to settle in and feel as relaxed as possible before moving on. So make sure you have the following:
Beverage of choice? Check.
Comfy spot on the couch, your desk, or kitchen table? Check.
Computer, pen, and paper all within reach? Check.
Perfect. You’re all set!
Now moving on…
Step #2 – Check the Legal Requirements
First, identify the legal requirements for the country you live in. If you live in the United States, you need to check requirements for your specific state.
The Home School Legal Defense Association, (HSLDA) is my go-to source for making sure I’m covering all of my legal bases. The site is super easy to navigate and it has tons of helpful information.
IMPORTANT: If you reside outside of the USA, make sure you understand the laws in the country you live in. Homeschooling is ILLEGAL in some countries! It is critical to know this information.
If you reside in the United States, laws vary from state to state. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific laws of your state!
Step #3 – Review Your State (or Country’s) Homeschooling Options
Next, you will explore which ways of homeschooling are currently available to you.
I’ll give you an example of what this looks like. Because I’m a California girl, I’ll use my state as an example. Here are the options available in California.
File an affidavit to establish your own home-based private school.
Please DO NOT let a scary word like AFFIDAVIT freak you out! This is easy-peasy. And if you’re a California girl like me, you can do this all online. In fact, many states offer this option. Woo-hoo!
Enroll in a private school.
Generally, this means that you pay tuition to be a part of the school. In return, you receive specific curriculum and services while you conduct the teaching on your own.
Enroll in a public independent study option or charter. This option usually provides funding for a variety of approved curriculum and educational services.
If a parent has a valid California teaching credential, they are qualified to instruct their child under something known as the private tutorial exemption. However, this option is only available if you are a certified/credentialed teacher.
So which options is best?
Well, it really all depends.
I know many families who follow option #1. Some of these families value the freedom and flexibility they feel they have in filing an affidavit. Other families seek a religious education and do not want nonsectarian curriculum restrictions placed on them.
I also know several families who have gone with option #2. They have the means to afford tuition for their child to homeschool while benefiting from private school resources they find valuable.
Many other families are happy with option #3. This option provides funding allowing for additional resources and enrichment opportunities. Additionally, they offer oversite which many families find helpful.
Sidenote: This is the route our family has chosen. We have always homeschooled using a public charter.
We receive funding each year to apply towards approved vendors and curriculum, (which are abundant!) Because we have chosen this option, we are required to adhere to specific guidelines that option #1 families can opt-out of. However, for our specific situation and needs, option #3 has served us very well.
As far as option #4, I don’t personally know any families that homeschool this way. Alas, I am no help when it comes to this selection.
Step #4 – Make a Pros and Cons List
Your final step is to take a few minutes and brainstorm all of the positives and negatives you can think of. I want you to really identify all of the pros and cons. You will also want to discuss this information with your partner and any other family members who will be involved in your homeschooling journey.
Hash out tentative details.
Research, talk, brainstorm, sleep on it.
Make your decision.
Cue the second round of heart palpitations.
Take a deep breath. Stay with me, we’re almost to the finish line.
So to recap, here is your gameplan:
First – Get Comfy
Next – Check the Legal Requirements
Then – Review Your State (or Country’s) Homeschooling Options
Finally – Make a Pros and Cons List
And PLEASE remember…
You are not stuck!
It is SO important that you remember this.
DO NOT let fear boss you around.
And DO NOT allow yourself to stay frozen and unable to take a step forward.
Choosing a different educational path in the future and making U-turns is totally allowed.
YOU CAN DO THIS!
If you have any questions for me, ask away! And if you just need a reminder to breathe, I’m always here for that too.
I love your page!! very reassuring and encouraging. Thank you for taking your time to tell us new mom how this whole new homeschooling concept works. I really enjoy the carefree style of writing and I must confess this is the first source of information that I have seen written in such a way that it does not overwhelm the read. Once again thank you.
Sarah Takehara says
Isa, I’m SO glad that you’ve found this information helpful. The fact that you felt reassured and encouraged is exactly how I want new homeschoolers to feel! I know it can all feel really overwhelming when you’re first starting out, so let me know if you have any questions along the way. Wishing you and your family lots of learning adventures!