Short Answer: Here in the US, education is mandatory for all children, between the ages of 6 and 17, in every single state, and has been for the last 100 years. But there can be some exceptions for homeschooling.
Back during the pandemic, kids weren’t allowed to attend school, and parents often had to work from home, if they could work at all. And many parents took to homeschooling on a temporary basis.
And if you felt that that scenario worked well for you, you may be tempted to return to homeschooling once again.
However, here in the US school attendance is mandatory for certain age groups, in all states.
That said, however, you do occasionally hear of some children getting homeschooled. So naturally, you may wonder, “What’s the deal with that?”.
If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll be covering what the laws are surrounding compulsory education in the US, and the benefits of schooling, followed by an examination (Pun intended!) of why there may be occasional exceptions to the rule, and what action you can take going forward.
Let’s get straight to it…
What Are The Laws Surrounding Compulsory Education?
Despite schooling being considered compulsory in the US, the federal government actually has a minimal role in asserting this law.
And instead, education is considered to be the responsibility of each individual state and locality.
That said, the US Constitution makes it clear that all kids living in the United States have the right to a free public education.
What’s more, the Equal Education Opportunities Act of 1974 ensures that no state can deny equal educational opportunity to an individual on the basis of their race, gender, or even national origin.
Individual states started making education compulsory as far back as 1852 in Massachusetts, and after that, the remaining states gradually all began following suit, to the point where school education has become compulsory in every US state.
All that said, however, technically speaking, homeschooling is legal in all 50 states. But it’s important to note at this point that the regulations around this vary from state to state…
For example, some states will require tutors to produce education plans and assessments, others request formal periodic testing, and others have virtually no formal requirements at all.
Benefits Of A School Environment
There are several benefits of a school environment for typical children that go beyond matters such as a broad curriculum and, in some instances at least, education tailored for their particular levels of ability…
And this is the social aspect of school life. Being in and among their peers gives children social skills that will carry with them through to adulthood.
Not to mention an additional sense of belonging, and often, mutual respect both of and for their fellows.
In What Circumstances Can A Child Be Homeschooled
There are lots of reasons, as you may be aware of already if you’re reading this article, that a parent may wish to homeschool their child or children.
Here are some of the more common reasons (in no particular order).
- Your child may be gifted and may benefit from a less traditional learning environment.
- Your child may have a learning disability that your state school may struggle to work with.
- Your child may be medically vulnerable, and you have to shield them from contact with others.
- You may require a more flexible learning schedule, due to frequent family travel.
- You may wish to add or remove religious elements to your child’s education.
- You find yourself at odds with the state school’s educational philosophies or practices.
While these may all sound like good reasons to you, and even if more than one of these reasons apply to your child’s circumstances, it’s worth looking into what alternative forms of educational provision are available to your child before you go right ahead and withdraw them from traditional schooling completely.
For instance, your state may (or may not) have facilities especially tailored to the intellectually gifted, or the learning disabled.
If private schooling would be a good option for your child, but you do not have the budget, you may be able to apply to a non-profit organization for funding or sponsorship.
How Do I Go About Arranging Homeschooling For My Child?
If, as is often the case, your child is already enrolled in a school, and you wish to withdraw them from public school enrollment, then you will usually have to do this formally, in liaison with your state’s school district.
But before you do so, you would be best advised to learn your state’s laws concerning homeschooling, and think about how you want your child’s education to be carried out.
We say this because in addition to more traditional homeschooling, whereby a parent or legal guardian takes on the role of a teacher, an alternative consideration would be a distance-learning program, or a “virtual school”.
If you decide to go with traditional homeschooling, you will have to consider who is going to teach the child, and whether they have, or can attain, the sufficient skills and knowledge to convey a worthy curriculum.
Either way, however, you will have to contact your state’s school district.
So, in summary, education is considered to be compulsory throughout the US, so if you would like to tutor your child at home or from home, you will have to check with the laws of your particular state to determine what the educational requirements are for your child, and for their particular circumstances.
For many people, homeschool education is a last resort. But it does have its benefits. If this is something you would like to consider, we actively encourage you to explore all of the options available prior to taking any actions that cannot be taken back.
Why not take advantage of our website to learn more about homeschooling, so that you have the full facts before you, so that if and when you do decide to take action, you do so fully informed and with confidence.