As a parent, you have countless responsibilities to your children. Going beyond the absolute necessities like food and shelter, you undoubtedly want your children to have the best education possible. The default open is to send your children to the best public (or, if possible, private) school in your city in Texas and give them all of the support to thrive. The best case scenario is that your children thrive in that environment and then proceed to post-secondary education.
But having said that, you may not be satisfied with the schools in your community. Your public school may tend to graduate students with low testing scores or may not send many graduates to college. As an alternative, you may want to send your child to a private school, but cannot afford to pay tuition.
In these situations, it is easy to feel stuck. It is easy to feel discouraged since the stakes are so high. According to one study presented by The Hamilton Project, being taught by a better teacher for just one year can provide some significant benefits, including increased lifetime earnings, a higher probability of attending college, and even a lower probability of teenage birth.
Because of this, you may want to consider an alternative option to educate your children.
That option is homeschooling.
Whether want to provide your child with a better education or if you simply want to take ownership of your child’s education, homeschooling can be immensely valuable—for both you and your children. You not only see your child’s intellect grow before your eyes, but you can also create a closer bond between you and your children. It can be a life-changing experience.
Even if homeschooling is something that you may be interested in, you may not know exactly how to start.
In reality, it isn’t as complicated as you may think.
This guide is designed to help you navigate the homeschooling process in Texas—from complying with state requirements to certain situations that you may encounter when homeschooling your child. By understanding the basics, you will be in a much better situation to begin homeschooling your children—regardless of their age.
Homeschooling in Texas: A Basic Introduction
One of the best ways to start learning about homeschooling in Texas is to examine state requirements for homeschooling. Since 1994, courts in Texas have held that Texas parents can legally homeschool their children. As part of that decision, home schools are considered to be private schools and are regulated in a similar way. More than 120,000 families and 300,000 children are homeschooled, which is the largest number of homeschooled children in the United States.
Texas requires children from six-years-old to nineteen-years-old to attend school, whether that is a public school, private school, or homeschooling. These children must attend school until they graduate or receive a GED. Ultimately, there are no reporting agencies for homeschooled families. There are also no testing requirements for homeschoolers.
There are three simple requirements in order to homeschool your children in Texas. First, the homeschooling instruction must be bona fide (in other words, not a sham). Second, the curriculum must be in visual form. This means curriculum involving things like books, workbooks, and video monitors. Finally, the third requirement is that the curriculum must include five basic subjects. Those subjects are reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship.
So what do these requirements mean in practice? In effect, the Texas law on homeschooling—as outlined in the Texas Education Code—is very broad. One of the areas that leads to much confusion is how to design a curriculum that satisfies Texas regulations and gives your child the best education possible. As a starting point, you can review the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (“TEKS”) guidance, which are state standards on what students should know and be able to do. You can use this guidance to help shape a customized curriculum for your child.
Nevertheless, if you are homeschooling your first child, you may not know where to start. Luckily, others have been in your position and have created products and services that can help. You can find comprehensive homeschooling curricula on the internet—including on Amazon.
If you want some help getting started with homeschooling, you will surely find enough resources to feel comfortable. But this leads to an important point. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can create a curriculum in any way that you desire—so long as you satisfy the minimum state requirements. Learning can happen in different forms and by following your family’s passions. Ultimately, do not be afraid to take advantage of the flexibility and latitude of homeschooling in Texas.
Even though homeschooling provides the most amount of freedom for your child’s education, it does have its downsides. One of them is due to the inherent nature of homeschooling.
Simply put, it can be an isolating experience. At times, it can even be overwhelming. It is up to you to provide for your child’s education, and there may be times when you face large obstacles or roadblocks.
Because of this, Texas has two statewide homeschooling associations that can provide guidance and support. They are the Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Home Educators. Both of these groups help out homeschool families in a variety of ways, including legal support, customizable transcripts and diplomas, and organized conventions and congregations. In effect, these homeschooling associations provide a community of driven, creative families that can provide a sense of camaraderie and share strategies to provide the best education for your children.
While both the Texas Home School Coalition and Texas Home Educators provide fees to join, they may provide enough value to justify the cost. If you are looking for an alternative, you can always find support by joining homeschooling groups on social media sites like Facebook.
Navigating Certain Situations
Now, we would like to discuss several situations that may occur if you decide to pursue homeschooling for your child. While your situation may be unique and different, the following guidelines can help you navigate some tricky situations during the homeschooling process.
1. Withdrawing your child from a school during the school year
If your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school and you want to begin homeschooling him or her, you can formally withdraw your child from the school. The next step will vary depending on the school and school district. There may be certain forms to complete or procedures to follow, so you will absolutely want to follow up with your child’s school. That said, you will sign an “intent to homeschool” form. In your correspondence with your school district, you will need to include the date that you will begin homeschooling your child. To avoid truancy charges, it is also critical to withdraw your child before homeschooling begins and that homeschooling begins immediately after the child withdraws from his or her school. For more information about withdrawing your child from school during the school year, please click here.
2. Returning to public school after homeschooling:
There may come a situation where you will want your child to return to public school after several years of homeschooling. If this applies to you, there is no need to worry. According to the Texas Education Agency, homeschooled students can enter public school at any time. That said, most students will have to follow a school district’s policies and procedures—including an exam to gauge the student’s mastery of certain skills—before entering the school. Schools use those exam results to award credit, place student in a certain grade, or both.
3. Homeschooling your children when just moving to Texas:
If you have just arrived in Texas and want to homeschool your child, you can begin the process immediately. Because, as discussed, homeschools are considered unaccredited private schools, you do not need to report to the state of Texas. In other words, you do not have to register with the local school district where you live. So long as you comply with the three homeschooling requirements as listed above, you can begin homeschooling your children immediately.
Your New Journey
Homeschooling your child can be an extremely rewarding and valuable experience. It can change not only the life of your child, but your life as well. Having said this, homeschooling can be a challenging endeavor. From actually delivering the curricula to your child to ensuring compliance with state law, there are many balls to juggle.
Ultimately, the job can be done.
As stated above, the state of Texas provides significant leeway in educating your child. While this may be concerning on the surface, it is a very empowering thing. By following the tips and strategies in this guide, you will be one step closer to providing the best educational experience for your child (or children).
So don’t be afraid to take the leap. In all likelihood, you won’t regret it. We wish you the best of luck on this journey.