Texas is a homeschool-friendly state
While other states have a list of requirements, such as standardized tests, required subjects, visits from school officials, and specific forms for homeschooling approval, Texas homeschool law is one of the best in the United States! I have been homeschooling in Texas since 1985, first as a student, and now as a mom. Let me help you naviate Texas homeschool law!
Texas Homeschool Law
Texas has wonderful homeschool laws. To home school legally in Texas, you must follow three state law requirements:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e., not a sham).
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g., books, workbooks, video monitor).
- The curriculum must include the five basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship.
There is no required standardized test, no compulsory attendance requirement, no need to submit attendance records, no requirement for a certain number of days, no “certification” or qualification requirements, and no reporting requirements. If your children are currently in public school, you should submit a letter to the district stating that you plan to withdraw your children for homeschooling. No matter what you are told by the district, you do not have to submit a list of curriculum or prove your qualifications to them or anyone else.
The Texas Education Agency attempted to keep homeschooling illegal in the 1980s when the movement began to grow. However, in 1994, homeschools in Texas were officially designated as private schools in the Leeper vs. Arlington I.S.D. case:
“IT IS, THEREFORE, ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that a school-age child residing in the State of Texas who is pursuing under the direction of a parent or parents or one standing in parental authority in or through the child’s home in a bona fide (good faith, not a sham or subterfuge) manner a curriculum consisting of books, workbooks, other written materials, including that which appears on an electronic screen of either a computer or video tape monitor, or any combination of the preceding from either (1) of a private or parochial school which exists apart from the child’s home or (2) which has been developed or obtained from any source, said curriculum designed to meet basic education goals of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship, is in attendance upon a private or parochial school within the meaning of Section 21.033(a)(1) of the Texas Education Code and exempt from the requirements of compulsory attendance at a public school.” (The Home Education exemption is outlined in excerpts from Texas Education Code As Passed by the 76th Texas Legislature, Chapter 25 Subchapter C. – Operation Of Schools and School Attendance, Section 25.086.)
Basically, we are a type of private school, and so our kids are exempt under section 1, enrolled in a private or parochial school. (Texas Home Educators: History of homeschooling in Texas)
I highly recommend a membership with Texas Home Educators: a wonderful group that specializes in serving the Texas homeschool community. Contact them directly if you have any questions or issues. Memberships start at only $25 per year (and are FREE for military families).
How to Get Started homeschooling in Texas
- If your children currently attend a local public school, you will need to officially withdraw them. This is easy to do. Simply mail or email a short letter to your local school district like this:
I am writing to notify you that I am withdrawing my child, [Child’s Name], from enrollment in the [School District Name] ISD, effective the date of this letter and will begin teaching [him, her] at this time. If you have further questions, please submit them to me in writing at the above address.
For high school students, request a copy of the student’s current transcript. Keep reading for info on issuing a transcript and high school diploma (below).
- If your children are not currently enrolled in your public school district, you do not need to do anything but begin your private homeschool journey.
The only requirement (as stated in the Texas Education Code, above) is that you provide a video or written curriculum for reading, spelling, grammar, math, and good citizenship. These core subjects are a guideline; homeschool parents are truly free to choose any course of study they desire.
Anyone Can Homeschool
I want you to know that this education choice is available to everyone, with any lifestyle, any budget, any home situation, and any education background. I have lived and homeschooled since 2000 through many difficult circumstances and have learned just how possible (and what a blessing) it is! And because I wanted everyone to know, I authored the book Anyone Can Homeschool, which helps you to understand how home education can be vastly different from public education, how to shift your mindset and your expectations, and how to become a homeschooling family.
Read the introduction here and get a copy!
Where do I get curriculum?
Homeschool students have an amazing variety of curriculum options available to them, and parents are not limited by their own education or ability. The choices can sometimes be overwhelming to a new homeschool parent. It’s a good idea to start with some research on how home education works, what your family’s specific needs are, and how you would like to proceed.
First, don’t panic. You won’t need a curriculum in place right away, even if you withdraw your child in the middle of a school year. Remember, Texas has no attendance requirements for homeschooling, so you don’t have to be doing school Monday-Friday from September through May. In fact, give your student time to de-school, or decompress, from their public school experience. (Sometimes public school personnel are misinformed about the law, and they might try to tell you differently. Don’t worry; they don’t always have the facts.)
I recommend starting with Cathy Duffy’s book or website on curriculum top picks. It’s a really helpful guide to the different ways to homeschool, how to decide what will work for you and your children, and how to pick a curriculum. She has info on “homeschooling styles” and learning styles, and how over one hundred different curriculum options fit into those parameters.
If you already know some friends who homeschool, ask what they like and recommend. Ask to see the books and materials. See if they will show you how they use it. Seeing a curriculum in person is super helpful!
Look up different homeschool convention websites and peruse the list of vendors (Great Homeschool Conventions, Teach Them Diligently, or a local state convention). Even better: attend one of these conventions in your area.
Will I need legal advice?
We are a couple of decades past the days when homeschooling parents were arrested for truancy. Texas homeschool requirements are easy to follow and are not actually regulated. However, many homeschool families enjoy the peace of mind that comes from legal protection. Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a national organization that specializes in homeschool legal issues and protection. They watch state and federal education law and work hard to protect our freedom.
At the state level, Texas Home Educators is a service and support organization that offers a legal protection service, as well as a discount on HSLDA memberships.
How do I find local support groups?
Local support groups offer many different things, such as social opportunities, parent support, cooperative classes, field trips, and more. The camaraderie alone is a great reason to find a group in your area; it is so helpful to get to know people on a personal level who are home educating.
Facebook is a great place to start your search. Many local support groups have a Facebook group for announcements and discussions. You can also google your town and “homeschool group.”
Texas Home Educators keeps a database of state groups to search, as well. And if your area happens to come up empty, you just might need to be the first to start a group!
What about high school graduation?
Did you know that even the Texas public schools don’t have a set graduation requirement? Public schools use “recommendations” for graduation. This is a good place for homeschool parents to start, too.
Parents create a transcript of courses over their student’s high school years, and issue homeschool diplomas. You can do a simple transcript by keeping a list of completed courses and transferring that into an Excel or similar spreadsheet. There are also free templates online, and services you may hire.
The diploma is something you will either create or order. We get ours at homeschooldiploma.com. Our local homeschool group hosts a graduation ceremony each year, complete with a speaker, special music, and a reception for guests. The ceremony is optional, of course. Some families like to have a private event with family and friends. It’s completely up to you!
What about college or other higher education?
The most important thing to do if your child is on a higher education path is to determine their desired degree and contact a few colleges or universities to determine admission requirements. Homeschooled students have consistently been sought out by higher education institutions. Your student may qualify for scholarships, too. It is wise to begin seeking this information by 8th or 9th grade.
Discuss transcript and admissions with the college counselor to help your child make the most of their high school years. This will help you determine curriculum options.
Homeschoolers are increasingly involved in dual credit programs at their local colleges. This allows them to earn high school and college credits simultaneously; some even graduate high school with their full associate’s degree complete!
Can my child participate in public school sports or activities?
Since the 2021 passage of the Tim Tebow Bill, homeschoolers are eligible to participate in certain public school events, depending on their local school district. There are certain requirement to do so, such as submitting standardized testing scores.
I do not support this option, however. I believe that mixing private home education and public school programs will lead to a beginning of homeschool oversight in Texas. It is not worth the risk.
Can I use my tax dollars to pay for homeschool curriculum?
Currently, no. And I will continue fighting to keep “school choice” legislation from pasting in Texas. It is a dangerous mixing of public money with private education that will risk the completely private nature of homeschooling in Texas. You can read more about it here.
Where can I get more information on general homeschooling?
I have a wealth of information here on my blog. Visit the Homeschool 101 page to get started!