Homeschooling in Texas is about as uncomplicated as it gets. The laws favor homeschoolers, the requirements are few, and testing is not necessary. So what do you need to do?
Texas State Laws
Texas has state laws regarding the education of children just like any other state. Specifically the law states:
- A child who is at least six years of age, or who is younger than six years of age and has previously been enrolled in first grade, and who has not yet reached the child's 18th birthday shall attend school." A child 17 years of age who has been issued an equivalency certificate is exempt. Texas Educ. Code Ann. § 25.085
- A school year constitutes 180 days for public schools. Private schools have no such requirements. A private school can have any length year and any length day.
- The required subjects are:
- Good citizenship
Therefore, if your child is between the ages of six and eighteen he, must be enrolled and attend a school where the required subjects are taught and school is scheduled for the required number of days. The law goes on to state:
- Homeschools can legally operate as private schools in Texas.
- The legislature may not establish or maintain private education.
- Homeschools must use a written curriculum which consists of the required subjects and no other requirements apply.
- School districts cannot mandate standardized testing.
- The Religious Freedom Act states that parents do not have to comply with state requirements that substantially restrict their religious freedoms.
How to Start Homeschooling in Texas
All of the legal jargon basically means that you just need to have some books to teach your children the basics. Good citizenship can be as simple as Bible study or the spiritual training of your choice. It would also include the Pledge of Allegiance, government, and other important civics courses. If your child is already enrolled in school in a school district. you only need to tell the school that you are withdrawing your child to homeschool. They should, at that point, release all records to you without problem. If the school seems resistant then you might want to have a look at this official letter of withdrawal from the Texas Homeschool Coalition.
It is also a good idea to consider becoming a member of the Home School Legal Defense Association. For the cost of membership you will receive free legal counsel and representation for your homeschool if you ever need it. Although Texas is very friendly toward homeschooling at this time, you never know when that climate can change.
Steps to Begin
- Obtain your curriculum. This can come from anywhere. EBay is a great source of inexpensive homeschool materials.
- Notify your school district of your decision. This is not required by state law but may make it less likely that you have trouble from the school district. If your child has never been enrolled in school there is no need to contact anyone.
- Begin your homeschooling adventure. Decide on the days you will school, the hours involved, and what you want your child to learn, it is completely up to you. This means that if you want your school to operate Monday through Thursday then you have that freedom. If you want your school hours to be noon until three p.m., then you have the freedom to do that as well. You can use a full curriculum like Abeka or choose to unschool. It is completely up to you.
Homeschools in Texas are private schools. Private schools are not at all regulated by the state. You have complete freedom to educate your child your way. The only potential problem that you may have is if your child is out by himself during the day and your city has a daytime curfew. Check with your town about this. If there is a daytime curfew, your child may need to carry a note that you have prepared explaining that he is homeschooled. Teach him to always answer questions from those in authority thoroughly and respectfully and there should be no problems.
You can easily homeschool all the way through high school in Texas. When your child has completed his high school studies, you can write your own transcript and your own diploma. Remember, as a Texas homeschool you are a private school. The state will not regulate what you do. The diploma is generally accepted by the military as well as colleges.
Texas also has a dual credit program. Your child may be eligible to attend the local community college part time for free. Call your community college district and ask about dual credits for more information and to see if you qualify. This makes it easy to ensure that subjects like algebra and biology are covered thoroughly.
Helpful Texas Homeschool Links
This is a small over-view of homeschooling in Texas. You may need information that is not covered here, or have questions that pertain to your unique situation. Some great Internet resources are:
Beginning to homeschool can be a stressful point in any parent's life, full of questions and "what if's", but when you are located in Texas there is very little to worry about. Do your research, gather the information and materials that you need, and begin a rewarding family journey as a Texas homeschool family.