Guest Post by Sue Patterson
Sometimes unschoolers worry about meeting the legal requirements for homeschooling. In the state of Texas, thanks to the Leeper decision, homeschoolers are considered private schools. What this means is that your local public school has no jurisdiction over what you do.
If you recently removed your child from the school system, it’s possible you were confronted with school officials who didn’t really understand this aspect of the law. You do NOT have to provide a list of curricula you plan to use, or any other piece of information about the learning that will be taking place in your homeschool. It’s none of their business. While saying that to them may create more of a headache for you, I’d suggest that even if they do say inaccurate or uninformed comments, just smile, nod, and say, “where do I sign to wrap this up?”
The other piece of the Texas law sometimes makes unschoolers hesitate. Texas reqires that homeschoolers learn about reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship. While you do not have to allot certain times for these topics, as the parent, you’ll want to be sure they cross your child’s path. But this can be done casually and informally. That’s often the way learning happens best anyway! Some quick examples of ways to learn these topics without textbooks:
Here are some helpful facts to know about the laws in Texas:
- School age in Texas: 6-17
- “Curriculum” consists of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, good citizenship
- Local school districts have no jurisdiction over homeschools (since they are legally
considered private schools.)
- No prior approval is required for your curriculum.
- No one is likely to ask to see your homeschooling records, but it is a good idea to maintain some sort of account of your children’s work. (scrapbooks, flyers from museums, blog posts, a simple notebook with weekly entries, a portfolio of their work)
- Standardized tests are not required for Texas homeschool students.
- You are not required to follow the schedule and calendar that the local public schools use.
- If your children have never attended public schools, you do not need to register with anyone, and you do not need to notify any governmental agency that you are homeschooling.
- Compulsory Attendance – 170 days – Only applies to public schools
- Know your curfew laws – individual city ordinances
This blog post was adapted from a talk Sue gave at the 2015 Texas Unschoolers Conference. You can find a PDF of the slides here.
Learn more about Sue on our Contributors page.
Texas Homeschool Laws provides a detailed explanation of the court rulings and laws as well as guidance on how to withdraw your child from public school.