Is it Legal to Homeschool Your Kids?

Homeschooling is becoming more and more popular in the United States, particularly as the country becomes more polarized when it comes to politics, values, class, and other issues. While homeschooling is completely legal in all 50 states, the requirements for children’s education vary from state to state. The state of Nevada has a compulsory school attendance age. This means that when a child turns seven years old, and until he or she reaches the age of 18, the child must attend school or comply with Nevada’s homeschool laws. Many believe that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be enough to demonstrate that a child has completed his or her secondary education. Like anything else, there are pros and cons to homeschooling children. Below is a brief overview of each side.

Critique of Homeschooling

There are children advocacy groups that criticize homeschooling and its system—or lack thereof. Often, these requirements are inadequate when it comes to safeguarding the interest of children. Some states require notice be made to state or local officials, while some do not. Others require the children undergo state assessments but have some exceptions to this rule. Still others have assessment requirements with loose thresholds for intervention, and others have a more thorough assessment combined with other requirements. Nowhere in the country do homeschool laws mandate welfare checks on children to ensure they are not being harmed. Only a handful of states require academic assessments, and even fewer require this assessment be done by a third party.

Benefits of Homeschooling

Proponents of homeschooling find many benefits to staying away from the traditional school system in the United States. First, they claim homeschoolers have excellent education with higher standardized test scores than their traditionally-schooled peers, and are more highly sought after by universities because of this. Second, the student-to-teacher ratio is much lower for homeschoolers—largely done on a one-on-one basis—and the affection for the child is incomparable as usually the parent is the teacher. Third, homeschool education is tailored to the particular child’s needs much more so than in a traditional school setting and is consistent and integrated in this manner over the years. Finally, homeschoolers often have access to better materials.

Homeschooling Laws

Legal homeschooling varies from state to state. Some states allow parents to homeschool under statute while others do so under private law. Parents may homeschool through an umbrella group or school or by way of private tutors. Some few states require parents who want to homeschool meet basic educational qualifications - like a GED or high school diploma; the majority of states, however, have no parental educational requirement for homeschooling. About half of the states in the U.S. require some type of assessment to make sure the homeschooled students are progressing academically. A majority of these states, however, allow parents to opt out of these assessments; many do not require parents to submit the scores or evaluations of their students or require any passing score.

If you or someone you know has any questions about homeschooling - or any other legal question -  the attorneys at Parry & Pfau can explain your rights and obligations under applicable law.

(image courtesy of Celia Ortega)