FAQs

Homeschooling FAQs

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Homeschooling


Getting Started

Homeschooling is a growing education movement with several unique characteristics:

  • Parents or guardians are the primary directors of their child’s education and can tailor it to meet their child’s unique educational needs.
  • Education encompasses more than just “academics.” Homeschooling allows parents to incorporate real-life skills and disciplines into their child’s education as they weave studies into daily life.
  • Most learning takes place within the home. While homeschool families can certainly supplement education with learning outside of the home through homeschool groups, tutors, or online courses, primary education occurs in the context of the home.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and parents have a lot of liberty to make educational choices. However, they still must comply with their state’s homeschool laws.  

Interested in learning more about homeschooling? Read more.

There are several factors to keep in mind when answering this question.

The typical homeschool day—especially for elementary-age children—takes a lot less time than it does in a traditional school setting because of the concentrated, one-on-one instruction that you can give your children.

Homeschooling is also incredibly flexible, which gives you the opportunity to customize your homeschool schedule. You can organize your homeschool day (and week!) around your child’s learning pace, your family’s calendar, extracurricular activities, and even your work schedule.

However, homeschooling is still a big investment for you as a parent. It involves taking full responsibility for your child’s education—planning out their school year and field trips, arranging for testing or other assessments, recordkeeping, figuring out what subjects or lessons you will teach and which ones you might delegate to a tutor, a co-op, another parent, or an online or local course, and so on.

HSLDA is committed to helping you on your homeschool journey! Check out our free resources to help you start strong.

It depends! Homeschooling is personalized to each child and each family, so homeschool budgets can vary.

If you have the time and flexibility to borrow curriculum, use the library, shop for used books, find reusable, multilevel, or free curriculum, and exchange services for extracurriculars like music and art, you might pare your costs down to $50–100 per student.

Adding in extra resources like co-ops, online courses, enrichment classes, or sports could bring your budget up to $300–500 per student.

And if you opt for tutors, video courses, or all-inclusive curriculum packages, your cost could be $500 or more. (Still, that’s a lot less than private school!)

You can check out more creative ways to stretch your dollars here.

Yes! In fact, studies have shown that homeschooled children tend to have higher standardized test scores, persevere though college longer, and have higher GPAs in college.

In large part, this is because homeschool students receive an education that is tailored to their specific needs and talents. Parents know their children best and can give them one-on-one help and attention. 

Yes! For a long time, the most commonly expressed concern about homeschooling was whether homeschooled children would be disadvantaged socially. However, studies have found that homeschoolers do well socially, emotionally, and psychologically.

And opportunities for social enrichment continue to grow! With the rise in homeschooling popularity, there are literally countless ways homeschooling families can find socialization opportunities—through volunteering, co-ops, sports, youth groups, community orchestras, part-time jobs, and the list goes on. In fact, for many families, the hardest part is deciding which activities to say no to.

Yes! You can homeschool even if you are working full-time! Options like alternating work schedules (when there are two working parents) or working from home can allow you to homeschool while supporting your family.

It takes creativity, commitment, and even saying no to some opportunities. But without the restriction of a traditional school-day routine, families are able to carve out time together and adjust their homeschool schedule to fit with work schedules.

No, you don't! While some states have a special homeschooling option for parents who are certified teachers, no state requires that every homeschooling parent be a certified teacher.

In fact, research has found little difference between the academic achievement of homeschooled students whose parents were certified teachers and those whose parents were not. They both scored on average much higher than their counterparts in public school.

However, be aware that some states require homeschool parents to meet certain qualifications (such as having a high school diploma or its equivalent). You can find homeschool laws (including any qualification requirements) for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map.

That’s OK! Not every schoolteacher teaches every subject. For the elementary grades, textbooks with teacher’s guides will give you the structure and the teaching tools that you need to teach subjects you’re unfamiliar with.

When your child reaches high school, you can call on subject specialists to help you out! Think about reaching out to your friends, family, faith community, homeschool groups, local networks, and online communities to for help with tutoring your teen, grading essays, or answering questions. You can also have your high schooler take outside courses at a co-op, community college, or online.

For an added boost to your confidence, keep in mind that homeschooling melds two of the strongest predictors of academic achievement: parental involvement and one-on-one learning.

Generally, yes. The Constitution protects the fundamental right of parents to direct the education of their children, which includes the right to privately teach one’s own children instead of sending them to public schools. That said, you should follow two basic steps when you decide to homeschool your child.

First, you need to comply with any legal requirements to set up your homeschool program. You can find homeschool laws (including any requirements to get started) for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map. HSLDA members can also contact their state’s legal team with any questions about starting a homeschool program.

Second, if your child was previously enrolled in another school (whether public or private), you should formally withdraw your student from that school when you begin your homeschool program.

For more information about withdrawing, read our "How do I withdraw my child from public or private school?" FAQ.

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered as enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter, any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts for your personal records.

Note that local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures, especially if you are withdrawing midyear (for example, you may have to return school computers or other technology). If you are an HSLDA member, you can contact your state’s legal team for more information about complying with these procedures. HSLDA members can also use one of our sample letters of withdrawal to correspond with school officials. You can find the sample withdrawal form for your state through our interactive legal map.

You should follow the law of the state in which you are physically present. This is true even if your legal residency is in another state and you are only living elsewhere temporarily (such as if you are an active member of the military completing a temporary assignment). This is because when you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws—and often to the jurisdiction of its courts.

If you will be living in another state longer than a month while that state’s public schools are in session, HSLDA generally recommends that you comply with that state’s homeschool requirements. This general recommendation applies even if you or your spouse pay taxes, own property, or have employment in a different state.

If you’re an HSLDA member, please contact your state's legal team for specific advice about how state home education laws apply in your specific situation.

If your state homeschool law specifies a minimum score or percentile for your child’s required year-end standardized testing and your child doesn’t meet that minimum, please contact your state’s legal team immediately. We will work with you on important next steps to communicate clearly with officials while keeping your child and your homeschool moving forward. 

Parents can homeschool their adopted children.

If you are a foster parent, the option of homeschooling may be determined by your caseworker or a juvenile court judge.

There are many ways to track your child’s progress, such as report cards, transcripts, work samples, book lists, attendance records, and test scores (just to name a few). For more information on recordkeeping, click here.

Note that some state laws require that certain records be kept. You can find homeschool laws (including any recordkeeping requirements) for all 50 states and US territories on our interactive legal map.

High School

Absolutely! You can start homeschooling your teen at any time—even if they have completed a few years of high school. Make sure to get a partial transcript from the public or private high school and add those classes to your student’s final transcript.

For more information about homeschooling through high school, click here

Teaching your teen at home can feel overwhelming! Just know that you don’t have to be an experienced teacher for your student to excel. High school is an opportunity for you to support your student and learn alongside them. When you’re not confident in a particular subject, you can always use resources such as local tutors, online courses, homeschool co-ops, or dual enrollment (in which your student earns high school and college credit simultaneously).

Check out this article to answer more of your big questions about homeschooling in high school.

Yes! Homeschool students have proven themselves in colleges and universities for decades. Most admissions officers are familiar with homeschooling, and many institutions even post homeschool admission policies on their websites.

You can maximize your student’s chances of acceptance by visiting college websites, understanding their high school credit requirements, and incorporating these into your student’s high school program.

Colleges want focused and motivated students who love learning. With well-kept records and competitive college entrance test scores, homeschooled applicants are generally welcome at postsecondary schools.

Check out this series to learn more about college prep for teens.

Homeschool parents can either make a transcript for their student or find a subscription service that creates a transcript for them. HSLDA has free high school transcript templates that anyone can download. We also offer a Transcript Service that comes with automatic GPA calculation, professional formatting, and 24/7 online access.

HSLDA recommends that you start creating a transcript for your student when they finish 9th grade (or whenever they finish their first high school classes) and add onto it after each additional year of high school.

If you’re an HSLDA member, you can contact our Educational Consultants for additional support and guidance in making your transcript.

Homeschool students receive their diplomas from their parents. Since parents are the ones who structure and organize a homeschool student’s education, they are also the ones qualified to judge when that education has been successfully completed and a diploma earned.

A few states have high school graduation requirements for homeschoolers, so you can check your state’s homeschool laws on our interactive legal map. If you’re an HSLDA member, please contact your state’s legal team if you have any further questions.

Are you wondering more about where to get diplomas, what you should put on a diploma, and whether you should have your child take a GED test? Check out our Diploma FAQs.
Homeschool students are eligible to take college entrance exams wherever the exams are offered, typically at local high schools or colleges. Your teen can register at any testing location for the SAT or ACT using the nationwide homeschool code. The CLT is an online exam, so it can be taken at home. Read more details here

As more families choose homeschooling through high school, new sports opportunities are emerging. Here are just a few of the opportunities available each year:

  • National and regional homeschool sports associations—Your teen could compete in a regional or national tournament offered by one of the growing number of organizations providing support for homeschool teams.
  • Homeschool teams—New teams for homeschoolers are being organized throughout the country by homeschool groups and parents. You could connect with local groups, check on Facebook, or do a Google search to locate teams near you. You could also check our group search feature and use the “Sports” filter to quickly see if there are any sports groups in your area.
  • Sports associations—Local sports associations offer both recreational and competitive leagues for a variety of sports. Competitive teams provide the opportunity to play at the local, regional, national, and even international level.
  • Public school teams—You can check to see if your state has equal access laws, which allow homeschooled students to try out for spots on local public school teams.
  • Private school teams—Many local private schools let homeschooled students try out for their teams.
You can check with your local community to see which youth sport opportunities are available in your area!

The exact hows and whens of joining the military depend on a few factors: Which branch? Does your student want to join as an enlistee or as an officer? Do they want to attend college?

Check out our post on preparing to enter the military to learn how to identify the best stepping-stones for your teen to reach their goals.

Special Needs

Yes, and often parents find that the homeschool setting allows their children to thrive! There are many resources available—from diagnostic testing and specialized curriculum to supportive or therapeutic services and more. HSLDA’s Special Needs Consultants are available to assist members with questions and support.

Yes. And it can be a great option! Whether your child has a physical or mental disability or a specific learning disability, homeschooling may be the best option to help them thrive educationally. You may not be a special education expert, but you are an expert on your child!

Check out your state’s special needs provisions to see regulations that may apply to your homeschool. And please visit our Special Needs page to access free articles and other resources. HSLDA members can contact our Special Needs Consultants for personalized guidance and support.

Your homeschool program is, by nature, unique and individualized to your child’s needs. As a homeschooling parent, you are not required to follow the individualized education program (IEP) that your child had in public school or to get an IEP from the public school.

However, if your child has had an IEP in the past, the wisest path may be to continue with some or all of the IEP’s elements, using a private provider instead of the public school for services like speech and occupational therapy.

You are free to select any appropriate goals and helpful instructional strategies from your child’s past IEP that you want to use in your child’s new homeschool program. HSLDA encourages parents to draft (and keep in their homeschool files) their own written plan, often referred to as a student education plan (SEP) in the homeschool world.

Want to go deeper? Check out these articles:

There are! In some states where homeschools qualify as “private schools,” you may qualify for services through the public schools. You can learn more about your state’s special needs provisions here.

Alternatively, if your child is currently receiving public education services, you may wish to begin transitioning to private sources for your child’s educational needs. There are many ways to obtain a private service provider. You can learn more about locating one here.

HSLDA members can reach out to our Special Needs Consultants to get additional help and support.

If you would like to learn more about homeschooling a child with special needs, we invite you to check out our Special Needs page. We’ve got lots of resources and support for your homeschooling journey, from start to finish!

Concerned about being able to afford services? You might be interested in applying for one of HSLDA’s Compassion Curriculum Grants.

Finding the right resources for your student with special needs is critical, and HSLDA can help you find them! We have a lot of free articles and resources that you can look into. Here are a few options:

You can find a lot more articles and resources on our Special Needs page. If you’re an HSLDA member, you can contact our Special Needs Consultants at any time to receive personalized guidance and support!

HSLDA understands that private therapeutic services can add up quickly. And we know that you are committed to providing the best education possible for your child no matter the cost.

That’s why HSLDA offers Curriculum Grants to homeschooling families in need of private services. You can learn more and apply for a grant here.

Other local, state, and national organizations also offer assistance to families needing help with private services for their children. If you’re an HSLDA member, feel free to reach out to our Special Needs Consultants for more information.