Whatever your reasons for wanting to home school your children, rest assured that every state in the United States and all the provinces of Canada permit a parent to chose home schooling over public or private options. This does not mean that a parent can count on simply keeping their children home, however, as most areas of North America do have at least minimal legal requirements in order to home school within the statutes, regulations and rules applicable to your location.

There are also many resources available for home schooling families, sometimes through the very governmental entities that are responsible for public and private school regulation. If you have questions about the particular rules in the place your live, the local schools may be more of resource than you might have thought. A number of local and national organizations that support home schooling families are also easily found online. Many attorneys specialize in education law and may be of assistance in your state as well.

A State Level Of Regulation

Since the federal government does not regulate public education, each state is free to make its own laws and enforces its own rules and regulations. A handful of states permit a family to educate their children at home with no notice to the state and no real definition of the process. Other states tend to follow one of the two following models.

Home School States

Some states allow families to home school their children under a network of rules that permit a child to receive instruction directly from their parent or parents. Within these states the students are termed “home school'” “home schooled,” or “home educated” students. Typically these states require that the instruction is provided directly by the parent. There may or may not be a series of hoops to jump through concerning notification of state authorities and testing, depending on the state.

Private School Law States

The children are considered enrolled in a type of private school when home schooled in these states, which may or may not be the actual home in which they are doing their learning. This model may require families to team with approved private schools that work with them to deliver the instruction or oversee the delivery. Sometimes it is simply that once a family applies, they are given status as a private school in their own right within their own home.

Record Keeping

Depending on the state, there may be minimal or very intensive record keeping required of a home schooling family. This is why it is important to understand the requirements of the state that is your primary residence before homeschooling. The actual location of the schooling is what determines the record keeping, so if it is unimportant where you live, a family who wants to home school might wish to move to an area where regulation of home schools is to their liking, particularly if they prefer little intrusion by the state.

On the other hand, if a home school family welcomes the record keeping and appreciates a way to show future employers or colleges what their home school students have achieved it may be advantageous to be in a more highly regulated state. Testing and other benchmarks may prove helpful. It may also be to the advantage of a family to use the private school law, if available in their state, to help prepare and present the record keeping.

Special Education Services

If a home schooled student could benefit from special education services be mindful that the federal portion of monies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) cannot be given directly to a student. Since the majority of the funds used for special education services comes from the states, it may be that a particular state will pay the home school family directly. It is also common for home school students to receive the special education services from a private or public school district. If this is a concern, check your state’s statutes, regulations and rules carefully.

Extra Curricular Activities

These activities include a broad range of clubs, organizations and groups, and also encompass competitive activities like sports, debate, speech, music and adapted versions of the above for students with challenges. Depending on the state home schooled children can participate in their home school districts, through a private school or with other home schooled individuals. The rules are usually comprehensive and typically a state agency manages the activities and can give guidance to the home school family. As always, local home education advocacy groups and an attorney can help, too.