Home School Legal Defense
Is it against the law to home school your children?
Home schooling is legal in the United States and is legal or tolerated in Canada, Australia, nearly all of Europe, South Africa, Japan, Hong Kong and a few other nations. There are many nations where home schooling is practiced illegally.
Though home schooling is perfectly legal in all 50 US states, the laws that regulate it vary considerably from state to state and have been known to change from year to year. Parents can't simply withdraw their children from school without notifying the proper authorities. In many states, the government must approve of lesson plans and be provided with updates on each child's progress, including the marks they receive on standardized tests.
Home schooling can be a sticky issue when it comes to laws and legalities. We aim to provide readers with general information regarding laws that pertain to home schooling. However, the information found in this section should not be used in place of legal counsel.
The Home school Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a not-for-profit organization based in Purcellville, Virginia, a short drive west of Washington, D.C. The HSLDA was established to defend the constitutional right and freedoms of home schooling families. The HSLDA states that it offers legal consultation and representation to all of its members (who pay an annual fee of around $100). However, opponents of the HSLDA point out that there's no guarantee that the association will play any role in its members' home schooling disputes and that it shies away from divorce and custody issues, the most common of disputes. It's worth it to take a close look at the HSLDA, from its foundation to present, and examine the services it offers and the arguments put forth by its opponents.
The right to home school your children is a protected right for all Canadian parents. It's in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it has been upheld in court. Like the state laws in the US, each Canadian province has its own unique laws governing home schooling. As is the case in some states, some provinces require parents to notify the government regarding the progress of their children.
It's a good idea to maintain up-to-date records throughout your child's homeschooling years. You'll need to make sure that everything is in order, should you ever decide to enroll your child in a conventional public or private school.
To begin, find out whether your state has any specific requirements regarding homeschooling records. If your child has previously attended a conventional school, make sure that you contact the school and obtain the records or files that they kept for your child. If your child has never attended school, start a file (a regular file folder will do the trick, but if you want something fancier then you can purchase something from an office supply store). Always store your records in a safe place that will allow you easy access to them.
Keep track of all subjects that your child studies and the level that he or she achieves. Periodically, put this information into his or her file. Some parents choose to do this yearly, while others prefer to do it more frequently. In addition to being required for enrollment in school, careful records can chart your child's progress and ensure that they are meeting the goals you have set for them and for yourself.
In addition to this, keep track of your child's "attendance," meaning any days that he or she was ill and missed "class." Some parents choose to store their child's health and immunization records in this file, as they'll be needed if and when you try to enroll your child in a conventional school.