Updated: Mar 13

Written By itscoolmom Founder Sara Edgar



The very first thing that you must understand is the difference between all of your schooling options.

PUBLIC SCHOOL – is defined as “a school that is maintained at public expense for the education of the children of a community or district and that constitutes a part of a system of free public education commonly including primary and secondary schools.”

PRIVATE SCHOOL – is defined as “a school founded, conducted, and maintained by a private group rather than by the government, usually charging tuition and often following a particular philosophy, viewpoint, etc.”

CHARTER SCHOOL – is defined as “an autonomous public school created by a contract between a sponsor, as a local school district or corporation, and an organizer, as a group of teachers or a community group, often with a curriculum or focus that is not traditional.”

VIRTUAL/ONLINE LEARNING – is defined as “an environment in educational technology that is a Web-based platform for the digital aspects of courses of study, usually within educational institutions. They present resources, activities and interactions within a course structure and provide for the different stages of assessment.” *DUE TO COVID many brick and mortar schools are using virtual learning at home to help prevent the spread.

HOMESCHOOL – is defined as “learning outside of the public, private schools, and virtual learning environment involving a commitment by a parent or guardian to find or create their curriculum, gather all supporting resources and documents, while maintaining state standards and overseeing their child or teen’s educational development.”


Knowing what your state requires for all standards is the most important part about homeschooling. Laws differ from state to state and getting started requires you to complete some essential tasks. They are broken down into different categories, your state falls into one of these.

These categories are:

No Notice – No required contact with state or local officials

Notice Only – Notice of intent to homeschool only

Assessments with Exceptions – Assessments with various exceptions or options

Moderate Assessment – Low thresholds of intervention

Thorough Assessment – Combined with other provisions


In some states, parents homeschool under a homeschool statute while in other states they homeschool under the private laws.

Your state will fall under one of these categories:

States with homeschool statutes or alternative instruction clauses.

States where homeschooling takes place under the private school law.

States with multiple different legal options for homeschooling


Not all states require homeschooling parents to notify education officials of their decision to homeschool, and in those states that do require some form of notice, the specific requirements vary.

Your state will fall under one of these categories:

States that require annual notice of homeschooling.

States that require one-time notice of homeschooling.

States that require no notice of homeschooling.


A few states require homeschool parents to meet basic educational qualifications such as having a high school diploma or GED, but the vast majority of states have no educational qualifications for homeschool parents.

Your state will fall within one of these two categories:

States with homeschool parent qualification requirements.

States with no homeschool parent qualification requirements.


Some states require homeschool parents to provide a certain number of days or hours of instruction. Other states have a list of required subjects homeschool parents must teach. Some states have both. A few states, however, do not have either hours of instruction or subject requirements.

Your state will fall under one of these categories:

States with academic assessments to provide accountability.

States that have required subjects but no accountability.

States that allow parents to homeschool without subject requirements or assessments.

*To be safe, most traditional schools do 180 days and 900 hours. You should also consider teaching the standard subjects: English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies


While most states do not require parents to keep any sort of permanent record of their children’s academic progress, a few require parents to maintain test scores or portfolios of students’ work. Further, in most states homeschool parents are exempted from submitting their children’s birth certificates or immunization records.

*It’s so much easier to just track their grades and keep samples of their work in a portfolio for each year of homeschool. You can find a great planner and grade cards HERE.


Twenty-four states have some form of assessment requirement to ensure that homeschooled students are making academic progress. However, most states with assessment requirements offer other homeschool options that allow parents to bypass the requirements, do not require parents to submit students’ scores or evaluations, or do not require any form of passing score. Further, many states have lax enforcement or low thresholds for intervention.

Your state will fall into one of these categories:

States that provide accountability by requiring assessments of students’ academic progress.

States that exempt some students, don’t require results to be submitted, or have no minimum score.

States with no assessment requirements.


At-Risk Children: Very few states have any protections in place for at-risk children who are homeschooled, such as children whose parents have child abuse or neglect convictions in their past or troubling histories of social services involvement.

Sports Access: In some states, homeschooled students participate in public school athletics alongside other students. In other states, they are banned from participating. In other states, homeschooled students are barred from participation in public school athletics. The trend in recent years has been towards allowing participation, and the states are today split fairly evenly down the middle on the issue.

Disabilities: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires public schools to provide every student with special needs a free appropriate public education. This means that children with special needs have the right to receive educational services appropriate to their needs at public expense. Parents who choose to homeschool are waving this right for their children, but may still be eligible for certain special needs services through their local public schools.


Reading all of this information may make you feel even more overwhelmed than when you started. Don’t fret! If you have questions or don’t understand what your state requirements are, do not hesitate to reach out and ask your questions. You can email me directly at


𝙄𝙩’𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙤𝙡 𝙈𝙊𝙈

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