Welcome to Homeschooling in Texas! If you’re already here, or plan to move here and homeschool, you couldn’t have chosen a better place to educate your children at home. The law is very friendly, and there are endless opportunities for support groups, field trips, and conventions in the Lone Star State.
Grab a drink, settle in, and get to know homeschooling in Texas. I’ve got the scoop on homeschooling laws, Texas history, field trips, and more. And be sure to subscribe to my site for updates! (If you want an organized list of general homeschooling topics, check out my Homeschooling Page.)
I have a lifetime of homeschooling experience to share with you! I was a homeschool kid in the 1980’s, and have been homeschooling my own 5 kids since 2000. My oldest two children have graduated from a lifetime of home education, and now I have 3 little students with bright shining faces! (Okay, sometimes. Haha!) I’ve been mentoring new homeschool moms for several years, served as Director of my local co-op, manage communications for my support group, and I’m a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board.
My new book, Anyone Can Homeschool, addresses many concerns from parents, including single parents, homeschooling on a budget, special needs families, homeschooling with chronic illness, working parents, feeling unqualified, and much more.
I’m here to tell you that you should definitely homeschool, and you’ll find plenty of help with how in this book and on this website.
Part 1 explains how education really works, and how it works in the home. Part 2 has everything you need to know to get started: choosing curriculum, setting a schedule, getting used to having the kids at home all day, and more!
Texas Homeschooling 101
Is it legal?
YES, it is!
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 are no testing requirements, 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. In 1994, homeschools in Texas were officially designated as private schools in the Leeper vs. Arlington I.S.D. case.
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 $20 per year (and are FREE for military families).
Heritage Defense is a great organization that protects the freedoms of families. Check them out and consider becoming a member for only $19 per month.
For a detailed explanation on the Leeper decision that resulted in this freedom, read this article at Texas Home Educators.
I’ve also written a post on my personal experience in Texas homeschool freedom HERE.
Homeschool or School-at-Home?
In light of some new ideas and legislation on education, it is important to understand what homeschooling means. I believe that homeschool freedom is more easily protected when it remains free from government intrusion by means of funding or other “help” from state or federal governments.
I define homeschooling as parent led and parent funded education that takes place in the home or in parent funded and parent taught private cooperatives outside the home.
Utilizing state-funded or provided programs (such as K-12) is not homeschooling. It is public school at home. It’s an important distinction.
I personally do not support or encourage home education that is sponsored or funded by federal, state, or local school district programs. Parents lose their freedom and flexibility when forced to teach from “approved” materials and submit to government restrictions to receive funding.
Texas law provides immense freedom in home education and it’s vital to protect it just the way it is.
The reason Texas homeschools are free is because we fund and oversee every aspect of our child’s education. Public funding requires government approved materials and content, and actually limits the freedom parents have to choose their hours, location, grade levels, special resources, and more.
How do I start?
Since the Texas state laws are so easy, you have the freedom to choose your curriculum, set your schedule, and determine the educational path your children will take.
My best advice? Don’t try to copy the public school methods in your home. For whatever reason, you have chosen an alternative to the public school; don’t recreate it!
Read my thoughts on how to design a great education here.
Here are some other posts on getting started:
- Beginning Your Homeschool Journey: De-school and Research
- Homeschool 101:
- My Must-Have Supplies for Homeschooling
- Homeschooling Multiple Ages Without Losing Your Mind
- Free Phonics Resources
- Homeschooling Children with Special Needs
Consider attending a Texas homeschool convention near you. You’ll get to choose from amazing workshops on every topic (including “getting started”) as well as browsing the curriculum hall. See all the great curricula available in person, ask questions, and meet the creators!
Do I Need an Accredited Curriculum?
“No state requires that a homeschool program, curriculum, or diploma be accredited (in fact, curriculum can’t be accredited!). Most institutions of higher learning do not require this either, although there may be exceptions by individual institutions or programs; and of course schools may change their requirements at any time.
Many families come to homeschooling from the public school system. As a result, they are asking questions based on a public school frame of reference, such as “How do I find an accredited homeschool program?” A better question to ask is, “Do I need to use an accredited homeschool program?” The answer is generally no.
Accreditation is offered to institutions by accrediting agencies (different agencies accredit public schools, private schools, and university model schools at the primary/secondary level, and a whole different set accredits institutions of higher education). These schools and universities can be accredited because they are institutions.
Curricula aren’t accredited (not ever!) because they aren’t schools or colleges. Curricula are learning resources or lesson plans; curricula are not institutions—so, they can’t be accredited!”
How does graduation work?
As a truly private entity, homeschools in Texas are not under any legal obligation for graduation. It’s up to the parent to determine a high school course of study. This can be done with a minimum amount of research into typical graduation requirements in your state, but it’s also a good idea to consider your child’s future plans. College, trade school, entering the work force, marriage and family…each of these choices will help you determine the type of education your child should need.
Keep records of their school work, extracurriculars, and volunteer work. These records will help you to form the high school transcript. If they have attended public high school before withdrawing to home school, be sure to get their most up-to-date transcript from the school.
As far as a graduation ceremony goes, the possibilities are endless! Graduation is something you can really personalize as a homeschooler, whether you have a simple party at home or church, or join with a group of area homeschoolers to host a formal ceremony and reception. You can create a diploma yourself, or order from homeschooldiploma.com. (So far, my two oldest daughters have participated in formal ceremonies with our local group.)
For specifics on high school and graduation, read my blog posts:
What about the “good citizenship” requirement?
Good citizenship, in my opinion, is a lifelong lesson in being a good citizen. It’s not just something you can learn in a semester. It’s called a requirement, but there’s never been a case of legal enforcement. So don’t panic over a “good citizenship curriculum.” My suggestion? Over the course of your children’s education, include some of these ideas:
- learn how government works (local, state, and federal) and encourage informed voting
- talk about community and community helpers with young children
- consider volunteer opportunities as a family
- visit the fire station, police station, post office, etc. in your town
- be a good neighbor
- get to know your elected officials, and consider visiting them or campaigning for them
- In high school, get my recommended resources for Homeschool Government and Civics HERE
How Can I Connect With Other Homeschoolers in My Area?
Thankfully, homeschooling in Texas has been growing by leaps and bounds for 30 years! There are groups in every region, and almost every county. Check out this great list of area groups at Texas Home Educators. You an also search Google or Facebook for your city or county and “homeshool group.” Ask your friends, too! You never know who has the inside scoop in your area.
I cannot say enough good things about Discover Texas for Texas history. It’s an amazing study that’s interactive, exciting, full of great stories and tons of hands-on activity suggestions and field trips anywhere in the state. In fact, I have been compiling the same kind of info to publish on my own website, but when I “discovered” this curriculum, and how much more thorough it was, I stopped compiling. : )
As a ninth-generation Texan, I love everything about my state and its history. Texas history, culture, and geography are not subjects we focus on at certain grade levels or semesters; it’s constant. So here are some of my favorite things to read, do, and see:
- A Time to Stand by Walter Lord – and excellent book telling the story of Texas Independence. I read it aloud to my whole family.
- The Alamo movie (both versions) – excellent follow-up to the book above (Get the DVD here)
- Visit the Alamo – instead of worrying about Texas History in 3rd grade or 5th grade or whatever, teach it before a trip to the Alamo. It will have a lasting impact!
- Visit the IMAX theater in San Antonio and watch their film, too. I dare you to not cry.
Texas has an endless supply of historic destinations. Visit your local Texas Travel Center and get a stack of free brochures for your area. Or visit Travel Texas online to see what’s in your area. Request their free Travel Guide. Also:
- stop at Historic Markers on the side of the road
- visit the museums in your town or county
- when traveling out of town, check out their historic sites, state parks, etc. Visit and ask questions, and pick up a book about that location
About the UIL Access, the Tebow Bill, and Public School Sports
There is lots of discussion and controversy surrounding the Tim Tebow legislation and homeschoolers’ involvement in public school (and UIL) events. I do not support this bill. You can read my reasons HERE.
For many years THSC has been vigilant in protecting the right of Texas homeschool families in one of the few states with zero oversight. Their work has been appreciated by me and thousands of others.
But this bill changed all of that. Their refusal to listen to hundreds of homeschool parents in Texas about their opposition to this pet bill, their silencing of those parents on public forums, their bait-and-switch tactics in the legislature, AND MOST OF ALL their willingness to risk a valuable freedom for the “opportunity” to go back into the school system from which we walked away has soured me on the leadership of that organization.
If you’d like current updates on this issue, you can follow the No2Tebow Facebook page.
If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’ll be happy to help or point you in the right direction!
About School Choice and Education Savings Accounts
I believe that School Choice (as it is being pushed in Texas) is a path to state regulation of homeschoolers. It is a hot topic for the 2019 legislative session. Please get informed and get involved, or we may very well witness the end of complete homeschool freedom in Texas.
It’s a very controversial issue, because many conservatives are for it, thinking that it gives more options to parents. And in a way, that might be true. Texas Homeschool Coalition is pushing this, as well. Beware. It will have the opposite effect on private, charter, and homeschools.
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