Are you considering homeschooling your child? You can do it! As you get started, it’s important to make sure you comply with the education laws where you live. This page helps you understand how to homeschool legally in Rhode Island—step by step.
In Rhode Island, you must enroll your child in school if he or she is 6 years old on or before September 1. Your child must remain in school until he or she turns 18. If a child has been enrolled in school for kindergarten the child must continue going to school that academic year, even if he or she is not yet 6.
If your child graduates from your homeschool program prior to turning 18, and has been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program, you can obtain a waiver for subsequent school years from the superintendent of your local public school district.
If your child is not yet 18 and has not been accepted into an accredited postsecondary education program, but is over the age of 16, you can obtain a waiver from the superintendent of your local public school district if the superintendent approves an “alternative learning plan for obtaining either a high school diploma or its equivalent.”
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under Rhode Island law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver's license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
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 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 invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for Rhode Island available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Rhode Island law specifically refers to homeschooling in R.I. Gen. Laws § 16-19-2. To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these guidelines.
You must submit a notice of intent to the local school committee in the school district where your child resides. The notice (or letter) of intent must include information assuring that you will teach the same number of days as the public school, teach the subjects listed below, and maintain an attendance register.
You must teach your children the same number of days that public school students are taught. In Rhode Island, this amounts to 180 days of instruction during your school year.
You must provide instruction in reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, health, and physical education, as well as the history of the United States, the history of Rhode Island, and the principles of American government (collectively, civics).
You must keep and maintain an attendance register, and make it available to the school committee at the conclusion of your school year.
Beyond the above general requirements, each school district is permitted by state law to create its own homeschool policy. Please note that once you submit your notice of intent to your local school committee, the committee may contact you afterward if they wish you to meet any further requirements other than those listed above.
If you are considering moving to Rhode Island, or are moving to a different school district in Rhode Island, HSLDA encourages our members to contact our legal department ahead of time to discuss any additional local requirements that may be in force in your new district.
You can find Rhode Island’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.
These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.
HSLDA is a national advocacy organization that supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. We are dedicated to protecting the legality of your homeschool while equipping you to successfully teach your children.
HSLDA members have 24/7 phone and email access to our staff of attorneys and legal assistants, who can help you understand the homeschool law in your state and will go to bat for you if a school official or other authority challenges your homeschool. Our 80,000 members—families like you!— also receive personalized advice on everything from homeschooling a high schooler to teaching a child with special needs from our team of education consultants.
Please note: The information on this page has been reviewed by an attorney, but it should not be taken as legal advice specific to your individual situation.
Last updated June 21, 2019