Your legal situation as a homeschooler depends mostly on what state you live in and how state and local officials enforce the laws concerning compulsory attendance, private education, and homeschooling. Whether they require registration, a notice of intent, regular evaluation, or advance approval, the statutes take in your state can be less important than how they are enforced.
To keep your homeschooling legal worries to the minimal level they deserve, here are some things which you should bear in mind:
1. Know what your state’s law says. Read the applicable statutes for yourself, talk to other homeschoolers, and join a state homeschooling organization that monitors the regulations affecting homeschoolers.
2. Learn what potential problems for homeschoolers exist in your state. Learn how other homeschoolers have dealt with them successfully, and plan how you’d respond if faced with them yourself. Don’t wait until after the fact to learn what your options could have been.
3. Do not automatically assume that any explanation of home-schooling legal issues you hear or read is correct. Whether the opinion is that of a school official, a lawyer for a home-school legal defense organization, a legislator, or another homeschooler, you need to check it out for yourself. Laws concerning homeschooling are usually complex; clear and definitive statements on legal issues typically leave out something important.
4. Do not let worry about legal problems distract you from the everyday business of homeschooling. When homeschoolers object to rules that require them to document their children’s learning or to have their kids tested on a regular basis, it’s because such requirements often interfere with that learning. If you are changing your whole approach to homeschooling because of your state’s legal requirements, you are probably worrying way too much about the law.
5. Do not be shy about your homeschooling. You don’t have to announce it to everyone you meet, but visible home-schoolers help make homeschooling familiar and acceptable to the general public. With enough of us around, the public may eventually understand that homeschooling can be fun and exciting, as well as effective, and we’ll find we
have active support even from families who would never homeschool themselves.
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