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 Washington—step by step.
Children must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws between the ages of 8 and 18 years.
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 Washington 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 are also eligible to use the sample letter of withdrawal for Washington available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent “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.
Washington provides two legal options under which parents may homeschool. After choosing the option you wish to use, follow the steps listed below it.
Option 1: Homeschooling under the homeschool statute:
You must be qualified to operate a homeschool program by either:
You must annually file a signed declaration of intent to homeschool by September 15 or within two weeks of the beginning of any public school quarter, trimester, or semester. File with the local superintendent or with the superintendent of a nonresident district that accepts the homeschool student as a transfer student. The declaration must include the name and age of your child, specify whether a certificated person will be supervising the instruction, and be written in a format prescribed by the superintendent of public instruction. HSLDA has a declaration of intent form available for our members’ use here.
You must teach 180 days per year, or average 1,000 hours per year.
Your homeschool curriculum must include occupational education, science, math, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music.
You have two options for the required annual assessments. The results of the assessment do not need to be submitted to the public schools, but must be retained as part of your child’s permanent school record.
The assessment options are:
Option 2: Homeschooling with a private or denominational school:
Approved private schools are permitted to allow families to operate their homeschools as extension programs of the school. You will need to locate an approved private school that allows extension programs and enroll your children in that school. A list of approved private schools is available here. The best way to determine if a school accepts extension students is to visit the school’s website or contact the school directly.
You can find Washington’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.
Home School Legal Defense Association 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 July 10, 2015