Homeschooling Laws: Lenient and strict

Texas requires that if you are going to homeschool you establish and operate as a private school. You must have written curriculum for reading, math, grammar, spelling, and good citizenship. There are no attendance requirements, no recording requirements, no filing requirements.

That means I live in one of the best states in the Union for teaching my children at home. I have great latitude here. Other states require everything up to and including more than a public school is required.

In Washington parents must be supervised or have special qualifications in order to homeschool. They must teach 12 subjects including music and art appreciation, occupational education, and “regular” classes. They have to file with their local school system, attesting that they are homeschooling. They have to administer and file standardized tests annually. (Texas doesn't require that of public school kids. I wonder if Washington does.) They have to have school for 1000 hours every year, even if that means that all their subjects are finished and they have to study something else to make up for it.

Think about it: In public school how much time is spent moving to and from classes and waiting for other students? Probably half the school day. I've talked to public school teachers who say that out of every 50 minutes in school the kids get about 20 minutes of instruction. (I've taught in public school. I would have said 30 minutes.) So kids in Washington that are homeschooled have to receive more instruction than public school students.

In New York a 1st through 6th grader must be taught 16 subjects. Must have standardized tests every other year. Must reach a minimum standard on the tests (not required for public school students). Must be taught for 900 hours. Must have an annual evaluation. A 9th through 12th grader must be taught more than 14 subjects. Must have standardized tests every year. Must reach a minimum standard on tests. Must be taught for 990 hours. Must have an annual evaluation.

Want to find out what your state requires? This map will let you find out. Just click on your state and the basic regulations will show up.