Although it can be an intimidating experience (even terrifying for some!), homeschooling is a beautiful process of learning and bonding that we strongly encourage among our readers. My husband and I have been homeschooling in Texas for over a year now and we have found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of our family (we have two kids, ages 2 and 6). Granted, it’s not for everyone, but if your family is considering embarking on the journey of home education, there are some important legal aspects that you should know. We’ve shared here some of the very helpful information the Home School Legal Defense Association shares with the general public (for what it’s worth, my husband and I are currently members, but we were not compensated to write this post).
What is the compulsory school attendance age in Texas?
According to the legal experts at the HSLDA, children in the state of Texas must attend school from age 6 to 19, either public or private (for your reference, homeschooling in Texas is always classified under ‘private school’), until they graduate or get a GED. However, if a child has been enrolled in school for prekindergarten, kindergarten, or 1st grade, the child must continue going to school that academic year, even if he or she is not yet 6.
Going forward, and as HSLDA states on their website, a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education when homeschooling in Texas. 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 Texas 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.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school:
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. As an extra precaution, I would add to use “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested” for any correspondence with school members, authorities, government agencies, etc. HSLDA also recommends to 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 doesn’t apply to your family).
Complying with Texas’s homeschool law:
In Texas, homeschools are considered to be private schools. As HSLD explains, to legally homeschool, you will need to follow these requirements:
- Teach the required subjects: These include math, reading, spelling and grammar, and a course in good citizenship. Although science and history are not required by state law, any college your student applies to will require them for admittance, so you’ll want to make sure to teach those too.
- Use a written curriculum: The private school law as interpreted by the Texas Supreme Court requires that you use some form of written curriculum (online programs meet this requirement) and that you operate your homeschool in a “bona fide” manner.
What to do if you are contacted by the public school about where your child is enrolled:
If you are contacted by the public school wanting to know where your child is enrolled in school, you should send a letter assuring the school that your children are being legally taught at home. (HSLDA provides a letter for members here.). In our case, we had enrolled our son in his assigned public school but quickly found out that it wasn’t what our family needed. For us, a simple letter sent to the teacher and school principle sufficed.
HSLDA advises on the importance of recordkeeping:
In addition to the recordkeeping requirements listed above, the organization 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. According to HSLD, your home 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. Parents should also keep the 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 website has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping).
About Home School Legal Defense:
Home School Legal Defense Association is a national advocacy organization that supports the right of parents to educate their children at home. DISCLAIMER: Other than the author’s personal membership, Noni is not affiliated in any way with this organization and did not receive compensation for sharing this information. We merely provide the excellent information they provide as a reference for our users.