Homeschooling is legal in every state of the United States and every province of Canada. However, the state or provence governs homeschooling. This means each state has its own requirements. Before beginning to homeschool, make sure to understand the laws of your state or province. Following homeschool laws often discourage new homeschoolers, but once you understanding yours is easier than you may fear.
Why it’s important
Understanding your state laws is essential to knowing how to begin homeschooling in your area. While homeschooling is legal, you need to still comply to the state guidelines. The state laws will tell you how to officially begin homeschooling. They will also spell out what you need to do, as far as record keeping or testing. Knowing this at the beginning will save you so much stress at the end of the year. Also, being familiar with your state requirements will help in picking curriculum. It is better to pick resources that will cover any required subjects before beginning than trying to cram it in further down the road.
How to find it
You can find state and province laws at your education department. All homeschool laws are published and are usually available online. A quick internet search for “Homeschool Laws” plus the name of your state will give you a list of pages to read. One of the best resources is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), though. The HSLDA tracks homeschooling law around the world. A members of the HSLDA receive legal support and counsel for any homeschooling legal issues. However, there is a wealth of information available to non-members, including a complete database of homeschool laws by state and province. HSLDA breaks down the law and explains it in easy to follow terms.
Who to Contact & What to Ask
Your next step should be to contact your local homeschool organization. Local, county, or state level homeschool organizations can be a great resources for how to fulfill requirements. To find a local group, search on the internet or on Facebook. Simply enter your location (town, county, or state/province) plus “homeschool.”
Once you find an organization (or several), contact the representative in charge and ask the following questions:
- How do you join the group?
- Which co-ops or meet-ups are available?
- What should new homeschoolers know about the state or provence laws?
- What support does the organization provide?
- Does the organization offer testing services?
- Are there local umbrella schools?
- What records need to be kept?
- What advice do they have for fulfilling the requirements?
How to stay organized
Once you understand what is required by your homeschool law, it is important to set up an organization system to gather the information. First, focus on what you absolutely need. Does your state require a portfolio? Do you need to submit a grade and attendance report? Does the state require you to submit a learning plan with resources and textbooks you will use? There are many types of records that you could keep for your homeschool, but only concentrate on what is required.
The first step to getting organized is finding a place to store your records. Make sure it is something easy to use and has a specific home so it is easy to find. Next integrate the habit of upkeeping your records daily, weekly, or monthly. Having solid habits to collect and organize information will make homeschool law compliance much easier. The best organization systems are easy to maintain, fit into your daily routine, and can be used by the students involved. Obviously, the children cannot write end of year reports or grade exams, however collecting tests, sample work, and checking in for attendance can all be done by the student. Set up a specific location for work collection and attendance checklists.