The Best States for Homeschooling
Learn if your state is homeschool-friendly.
Considering homeschooling your children? Here’s what you need to know. Just 3.4% of kids in the U.S., or 1.7 million, are homeschooled. One study found that students who are homeschooled are more likely to live in rural areas, come from bigger families, and have both parents living in the home. That same study found that homeschooled kids were more likely to graduate from college than their non-homeschooled-peers (66.7% and 57.5%, respectively).
This article explores the best states for homeschooling, the cost and time commitments required, as well as the social impact it can have on your children (the latter may surprise you). Read on to learn if homeschooling is the right choice for you and your family.
Best States for Homeschooling
Regulations for homeschooling vary greatly by state. For example, some states require no notification of homeschooling to the local school district (Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Texas), while others require just a one-time notification (Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Kansas, Alabama, Florida, North Carolina, and New Hampshire.)
Other states require annual notification to the local school district that parents will homeschool their children (Washington, California, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Georgia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Maine.)
Another list of homeschool-friendly cities, which took into account state-mandated requirements, homeschool groups and classes, and extracurricular activities included Austin, Texas; Chicago, Illinois; Oakland, California; Anchorage, Alaska; and Decatur, Georgia.
Before you decide to take the leap and homeschool your children, keep a few things in mind.
- In many states, there is no minimum required education for parents who would be teaching their children in a homeschool environment. Only a few states (New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, D.C. and Georgia) require a high school diploma.
- Only two states prohibit parents from homeschooling based on criminal history.
- Your state may require that you teach certain subjects – in fact, 34 states require it.
- Your child will likely be exempt from any sort of standardized testing or assessment since only 18 states mandate any sort of regular assessment.
- Homeschooled children are usually not required to be vaccinated.
There is also some debate on how tightly regulated homeschooled children and their parents should be. Some legislators are calling for tighter regulations on homeschooling, to prevent children from receiving a subpar education or abused or neglected children from falling through the cracks.
Parents choose to homeschool their children for a myriad of reasons. Forming an individualized curriculum plan is one reason, while religious reasons are another sticking point. Others may consider homeschooling to foster close family relationships, and other parents are guardians like that it gives them more control over the subject matter taught to their children.
Even though they don’t attend school in a traditional educational environment, research has shown that kids who are homeschooled are also well-adjusted socially, and tend to be involved, engaged members of their community as adults.
The Cost of Homeschooling
As far as the cost of homeschooling your child? That amount is nominal. Some experts estimate the cost to be around $300-$600 annually per child, but you can save money by borrowing books and other curriculum materials from friends or other homeschoolers, shopping around to find the best deals on needed materials, re-using existing materials for more than one child.
Homeschooling is also cheaper for taxpayers, who spend an average of $11,732 per each year for each student enrolled in public schools. Taxpayers pay nothing for homeschooled students since homeschooled kids don’t receive any money in public funds.
Another thing to consider before homeschooling is the time commitment. While regulations vary by state, expect to spend at least an average of four hours per day homeschooling. This is in addition to the time you’ll spend preparing lessons, grading papers, and completing other necessary paperwork as your child’s instructor.
Not sure you can handle all the teaching duties on your own? You can also hire a private tutor to help homeschool your child or to take on a specific subject, like music or math.