Can I Just Take My Kid Out of School and Start Homeschooling?!
OK, a few caveats:
- This assumes you are in the United States, I am unfamiliar with regulations in other countries other than, they CAN differ. For example, as I understand it, in Germany homeschooling is NOT legal.
- There will likely be some paperwork to do. This will differ by state. That paperwork can be confusing and daunting! Look up homeschooling groups for your state. Making connections with other homeschool parents in the area/state will help you TREMENDOUSLY. Pay it forward when other families you know are wondering about how to navigate your state's system.
- Get all parents/guardians on the same page. This blog post of course does NOT constitute legal advice, so get ACTUAL legal advice if there is ANY HINT of ANYTHING that could be disagreed upon by any legal parent guardian.
- Contact the school district. Get every response IN WRITING. If you make a phone call, send an email to follow up and include the information exchanged in the previous phone call. But please don't worry too much at all. School districts do not have the time or resources to really worry too much about what you are doing, so as long as you do a bit of due diligence you will be just fine.
- Keep some records of what you are doing. This will help YOU if your kids are high school age. Otherwise it might not be THAT helpful for you personally, but it will bring some peace of mind if you worry about the local school district investigating what you are up to. But, let me repeat, they do not have the time or the resources to pay attention to what you are doing.
Let's say you didn't do the things I have suggested you do. You just pull your kid out of school, don't contact the school district, don't keep records, etc...well, IN THEORY that could make it more difficult to get access to resources that some districts/states provide for homeschool families or in other aspects of dealing with the district or state. In our case, I was concerned that my son wouldn't be allowed to complete Driver's Ed as a homeschool student unless I had done all the forms just right in the previous year. It did not matter. At all. By FAR that has been my experience in working with homeschool families: the scenarios you imagine that are worrying you: in almost every case it ends up being a non-issue. So much so that it would be kind of funny - there is SO little oversight - but homeschool parents WORRY and that worry can be truly stressful!
Another example: I was VERY careful to make sure I had all my forms filled out because I wanted my son to participate in a program where our state pays for some college classes for high school students. Again, it was a non-issue.
The biggest problems you might run into come when you are dealing with the local school district: maybe you want your child to go to public school part-time and homeschool part-time. Or maybe your child wants to still play sports for the local public school (in my state the district is required to allow that, but might set deadlines to notify the district that could get in the way). The best way to prevent any problems here is to talk early (and often if needed) to your local school district. Other local homeschool parents are of course a SUPER valuable resource too!
If you are like most homeschool parents I know (myself included!) you probably are spending too much time worrying about details that end up not really mattering. But, again, if you are like most homeschool parents I know: you will feel better if you DO keep some records, contact the school district, and most especially TALK to (or email or social media or whatever) with other homeschool parents close by. The more people's personal stories about homeschooling you can hear, the more at ease you will be.