What Are the Best States for Homeschooling?

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Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, the path to educating your children at home is vastly different depending largely on the state in which you live. Each state has its own laws, guidelines, and regulations.

Consequently, these varying levels of regulation have led parents to label some states more homeschooling-friendly than others.

In other words, these states make it somewhat easier for homeschooling parents to engage in educating their children with very little intervention and oversight, while other states have a much more hands-on approach with a lot of regulations and requirements and thus earning them the label as the worst homeschooling states.

How Homeschooling Varies Among States

In some states, homeschool parents are required to file paperwork every year, teach for a set number of hours each day, participate in-home evaluations, teach specific subjects, and participate in state testing each year.

Meanwhile, in other states, parents only have to file the initial paperwork and then they are completely on their own with very little requirements from their state government.

These states are often labeled homeschooling friendly or the "best states for homeschooling" because they allow parents to be autonomous and guide their child's education as they see fit. What's more, in these states, officials typically require less record-keeping, less testing, and less reporting than other states.

They may even allow parents to develop their own curriculum or utilize online homeschool programs. To some parents, these factors make homeschooling easier—and consequently the best homeschooling states.

For instance in New York, which is often considered a stricter homeschooling state, homeschool families must participate in an annual assessment and teach state-mandated subjects.

But in Oklahoma, which is often considered a homeschool-friendly state, there are no reporting or testing requirements. The only requirement is that you operate your homeschool for 180 days.

Likewise, in New Jersey, another homeschool-friendly state, the only requirement is that you provide your child with an education equivalent to one they would receive in public school.

To help parents determine how to go about homeschooling their kids in their specific state, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has created a map containing each state's homeschooling requirements. It also provides detailed information about the requirements including step-by-step instructions on how to meet each state's requirements.

Here's an overview of how HSLDA categorizes the level of regulation required for homeschooling in each state.

  • States requiring no notice to the school district: Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas.
  • States with low regulation: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Arkansas, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Delaware
  • States with moderate regulation: Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Maine, Maryland, and Washington D.C.
  • States with high regulation: Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont

"Best" States for Homeschooling

Of course opinions on how much regulation is too much regulation varies across the board. In some cases, parents appreciate the extra regulation because other than reporting and recordkeeping, the curriculum is planned out for them.

Other parents find the regulations and guidelines suffocating and feel that they infringe on the freedom that homeschooling often promises. Here's an overview of what homeschooling looks like in the states with the least amount of regulations.—often considered the "best" states for homeschooling.

Alaska

In Alaska, children between the ages of 7 and 16 must attend a school or comply with the state's homeschool law. Under the homeschool statute, there are no requirements to notify the state, get approval, take tests, or to be a certified teacher.

As a result, parents who choose to homeschool their children in Alaska have a lot of freedom when it comes to educating their children. However, it's still important to keep good records and plan a curriculum that not only fits with your child's needs but also will prepare them for their future college and career goals.

Idaho

Parents who homeschool their kids in Idaho don't have to possess any particular qualifications like some states require. Additionally, they are not required to obtain district approval or test their children. And if their local school district asks for information about their homeschool program, they are not legally required to provide it.

In Idaho, they do have to select an instructor for their kids, which can be themselves, a relative, or even an unrelated person. They also have to teach required subjects including language arts, math, science, and social studies.

Illinois

In Illinois, homeschools are treated as private schools. Parents don't have to register their home-based private schools with the Illinois State Board of Education. They also are not required to get state-recognition of their home-based private school.

Additionally, homeschool parents in Illinois must teach the required subjects including language arts, math, science, social studies, fine arts, and physical development and health. They also specify that instruction must take place in English and that you must know what you want to call your homeschool program.

Indiana

Parents who homeschool in Indiana, must teach in English and provide instruction that is equivalent to public schools. But, the Indiana State Board of Education is not permitted to define what equivalent means nor are they allowed to approve homeschool programs.

Essentially, home schools in Indiana are considered private schools and must comply with the state's private school statute. They also must operate their homeschool the same number of days as the public school, which is usually 180 days and keep attendance records.

Michigan

Parents in Michigan have the option of homeschooling under that homeschooling statute or as a nonpublic school or both. Regardless of which option they choose, they are required to teach specific subjects but the regulations don't stipulate how often or at what grade level the courses are taught.

As a result, the HSLDA suggests that parents plan to teach the subjects at age-appropriate levels every year, especially during elementary and middle school.

Missouri

In Missouri, homeschool parents must teach certain required subjects as well as maintain records for all kids under age 16. They are not required to provide notification that they are homeschooling but must provide at least 1,000 hours of instruction during every school term. Six hundred of those hours must be lessons involving the core subjects.

New Jersey

Under New Jersey law, the only requirement is that you provide your child with an education equivalent to one they would receive in public school. For this reason, parents should consider making sure they are teaching the same subjects to their kids that they would be taught at the local public school.

Oklahoma

There are no testing or reporting requirements for homeschool parents in Oklahoma. As long as parents operate their homeschools for at least 180 days, they can operate their homeschool program any way they see fit.

However, the HSLDA strongly urges parents to develop a curriculum that includes math, science, language arts, and social studies.

Texas

In Texas, homeschools are considered private schools and must teach math, reading, spelling and grammar, and a course in good citizenship. And even though science and history are not required, it's still a good idea to teach those subjects so that the student is prepared for college.

Additionally, homeschool parents must use some sort of written curriculum. Online programs qualify as a written curriculum.

A Word From Verywell

According to the ALEC report card, more than 2 million students are homeschooled each year and the number is growing annually at a rate of about 5%. And because homeschooled students tend to achieve exceptional academic success, there is reason to believe that more states will embrace this form of education and loosen their requirements making it easier for parents to engage in homeschooling.

Until then, if you live in a state with challenging homeschooling oversight, be sure you evaluate the pros and cons of homeschooling as well as get connected to a community of homeschoolers.

Together, you can share information and ideas as well as lend one another support. You also can ensure that are meeting your state's requirements and giving your children the educational experience of your choosing.

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Article Sources
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  1. Homeschool Legal Defense Association. Homeschool Laws by State.

  2. American Legislative Exchange Council. Report Card on American Education: 23rd edition. Published: September 19, 2019.