If you weren’t already aware, each of America’s 50 states has its own laws and choices regarding homeschooling. While many states’ requirements and options are similar to one another, just about every state has its own opinions, quirks, and nuances within their homeschooling regulations. In this blog series, we’ll give you a quick overview of each state’s homeschooling options and some of their requirements in order to help you set up your homeschool program. But it’s important that you thoroughly read through your state’s homeschool laws before you decide to teach your child at home, because there is quite a bit of information to digest.
The state of Idaho makes it about as easy as possible to homeschool your children. Any adult may instruct, regardless of qualifications, and no paperwork is required to be submitted to a local school district. All you need to do is teach subjects commonly taught in Idaho public schools…that’s all.
The state of Illinois treats homeschooling as a private school, but you are not required to have your private homeschool registered or recognized by the state. The only requirements that need to be satisfied are that you have to teach certain subjects (language arts, math, biological and physical sciences, social sciences, fine arts, and physical development and health), instruction must be in English, and you should always call your homeschool a private school when dealing with government officials.
Similar to Idaho and Illinois, Indiana offers only one homeschooling option. Homeschools are considered by the state to be nonaccredited private schools, meaning that homeschools must comply with Indiana’s private school statute. Beyond that, it’s only required that children are taught for approximately 180 days during the school year, attendance records be kept, and to be prepared to provide information to the state if requested.
The state of Iowa, on the other hand, offers quite a few homeschooling options–five, to be exact.
- Homeschooling by Independent Private Instruction (IPI). This option requires you to teach certain subjects: math, reading and language arts, science, and social studies. No paperwork is required to be submitted, but information may be requested by your school district’s superintendent. If IPI is the option you choose, the state provides your student with access to public school programs like driver’s education, free testing at the public school, and community college classes via the concurrent enrollment program if the school has contractually arranged to provide those classes to its students. There are, however, some programs that are not accessible to IPI homeschoolers, which may be available to other homeschoolers–you’ll want to check to see what those programs are.
- Homeschooling by Private Instruction (PI). This is similar to IPI homeschooling, with a few exceptions. School just needs to be taught in a non-public school setting for 148 days per year, or 37 days per quarter. PI homeschoolers are eligible to access the same public school programs as IPI students.
- Homeschooling with a supervising teacher. There aren’t too many requirements to meet when choosing this option. A form (called Form A) needs to be completed by September 1 each year, and the teacher you choose must possess certain qualifications (a parent can be that teacher if he or she has those qualifications). This option also grants students access to public school programs like dual enrollment in public school (with access to public school classes, extracurricular activities), driver’s education, free testing at the public school, and more.
- Homeschooling with annual assessment. This also requires an annual filing of Form A and submission of annual assessments (this can include report cards, teacher review, or standardized test). Like other options in Iowa, this allows access to public school programs like dual enrollment in public school (with access to public school classes, extracurricular activities), driver’s education, free testing at the public school, and more.
- Homeschooling with Home School Assistance Program (HSAP). While HSAP is a public school program, HSAP students are not considered public school students. However, there are some dual-enrollment benefits HSAP students can access, including public school classes, extracurricular activities, and post-secondary enrollment option low-cost college classes. Keep in mind, however, being in an HSAP does not automatically dual-enroll a student.
The Jayhawk State currently provides homeschoolers with two options.
- Homeschooling as a non-accredited private school. This option requires the following steps, according to state law:
- Choose a name and register your school; when dealing with officials, always refer to your school as a private school.
- Pick an instructor; the only requirement is that the teacher (which could be you) is “competent.”
- Teach for approximately 186 days during the year.
- There are no required subjects to teach, but it’s a good idea to stick to what’s commonly taught in Kansas public schools (reading, writing, math, spelling, geography, English, civil government, American and Kansas history, health, and hygiene).
- Plan and schedule instruction.
- Administer periodic tests.
- Homeschooling as a satellite of a private school. Per Kansas law, you’re allowed to operate your homeschool program as a satellite of–and accountable to–a local private school board. You can find more information by contacting HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association) about this option.
Aside from keeping a record of grades, there are no real requirements families would need to follow in order to homeschool their children. The state finds it sufficient for parents to provide their own diplomas or transcripts upon completion of school. This may not be enough for some colleges, however, so be sure to contact any prospective college to determine whether more records are necessary.
There are a couple of different routes a homeschooler can take in Louisiana.
- Homeschooling as a home study program. Louisiana requires parents to apply to the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and renew the application annually (submitted with certain information and records, or with another type of documentation; check the state’s rules for more information). Additionally, an actual birth certificate must be provided upon application. After approval, instructors must teach approximately 180 days during the school year, following grade-appropriate curriculum that’s taught in public schools. At 11 years old, immunization records must be furnished to the state board of education, unless you have a waiver for personal, religious, or medical reasons. Finally, students may apply for a Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) scholarship award based on their ACT scores.
- Home-based private school. This option requires only that you notify your local public school if your student had been attending there prior to homeschooling (this does not apply if your child has never attended public school). Beyond that, all that’s required for a home-based private school is 180 days of instruction during the school year, no acceptance of federal or state funds, and an annual submission of attendance.