If you’re planning on privately educating your children in the Lone Star State, it certainly pays to become familiar with homeschool laws specific to Texas.
Not only will a deeper understanding give you peace of mind as a parent, but it’ll also make sure you’ve got all the resources you need to give your child the best possible homeschool education.
From legal requirements to social support groups, here’s everything you need to know about Texas homeschool laws.
What are the laws in Texas around homeschooling?
Compared to other states, Texas has a pretty low level of homeschooling regulations and requirements. You don’t have to register as a private school or home tutor, and a student’s progress isn’t monitored by a third party. Homeschool teachers are also open to designing their curriculum as they see fit.
The main requirements for homeschool set-ups in Texas are as follows:
- Teachers must be competent and teach their students in a bona fide manner (i.e. in good faith).
- Reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and citizenship must be taught.
- The education must have a visual component — e.g. workbooks, textbooks, worksheets, and online programs.
It’s important to note that the state of Texas does not offer a diploma to homeschooled students when they finish secondary school materials, though they can complete standardized testing to apply for tertiary education.
How do I start homeschooling in Texas?
Essentially, the only thing you have to do to start homeschooling is to design a curriculum!
But if your child is already enrolled in a public school, you’ll need to be sure you properly withdraw them so you don’t face any truancy issues. Simply send a letter or email to the school’s principal, counselor, and attendance clerk stating that you’re officially withdrawing your child. Include the date that you’ll start their homeschool education.
Homeschool parents don’t have to officially lodge their curriculum choices or student progression with the education board. However, it’s still a good idea to maintain up-to-date records of your child’s homeschool performance and progress.
These can be as simple as a notebook where you log topics covered, for your own reference. Or you can keep a detailed binder with copies of all lesson plans and worksheets your child completes. If you’re planning to re-enroll your children in public education, it might be helpful to have notes about their academic success and which subjects they’ve covered. Every district has a different process for accepting homeschool students, but having a transcript on hand will certainly be handy.
What do I need to know about the STAAR test?
The State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test is a statewide standardized test mandated by the Texas Education Agency to assess students. However, it’s only compulsory for public school students.
This means that homeschool students are not required to complete the STAAR test. However, you can access free STARR sample question sheets online, if you wish to use them to track your student’s academic progress.
What homeschool associations are available in Texas?
While homeschooling can often come with challenges, families in Texas never have to go it alone. There are two major homeschooling associations in the state designed to support students and parents.
Homeschool associations are there to help you with every aspect of homeschooling and are an invaluable resource, especially for parents adjusting to a new homeschool life.
Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC)
This homeschool association offers a wealth of resources for its members. According to its website, THSC serves to:
- Protect, defend, and advance homeschooling and parental rights in Texas
- Educate parents and students in the legal systems surrounding homeschooling so they can make informed decisions
- Aggressively promote and market homeschooling and parental rights to the general public in Texas.
They offer tailored legal advice for all members, as well as free entry to their annual homeschool convention. These conventions are a great way to stay up-to-date on all Texas homeschooling news that might affect you or your students. They also offer student and teacher ID cards, as well as customizable transcripts and diplomas that can come in handy when applying for college or switching back to public school.
Texas Home Educators (THE)
Texas Home Educators is an organization aimed at supporting members and spreading the homeschooling message as widely as possible. Their website states that THE exists to:
- Promote homeschooling in the community and advocate for it in the media
- Partner with local homeschooling families and groups to support everything they do, from staging events to organizing leadership training
- Provide support as an organized institution where needed — e.g. when a spelling bee needs to be attached to an incorporated group to be officially sanctioned.
As well as legal advice and free access to THE events, members are also provided with an up-to-date list of all homeschooling groups, clubs, co-ops, and activities in their area. This organization can be a great resource for new homeschooling families interested in building their own social and support systems.
Are there homeschool support groups in Texas?
In short: yes!
Texas has plenty of support groups founded and run by fellow homeschool parents. And these regional or local groups provide opportunities to meet other homeschooling families.
At meet-ups, homeschoolers get the chance to meet other students their own age who share their schooling experiences. Plus, parents can have discussions and ask veteran homeschoolers about their experiences.
If you’ve just decided to start homeschooling, support groups are a great way to settle any fears and address concerns. Whether you join a virtual group and have online discussions, or you attend organized events with local families, these groups contribute to a successful homeschool experience.
Texas homeschool groups
Texas is a flourishing homeschool state, so there’s a good chance that there’ll be a support group within easy driving distance of your home. Have a search through Facebook, or use this list of homeschool groups as a start. If you’re in a well-populated area, you’ll also probably be able to find sub-groups that serve different purposes — e.g. faith-based or secular. There are even sub-groups dedicated solely to organizing field trips.
Even if you struggle to find a homeschool group in your area, there are also plenty of online communities, often run through Facebook groups, where you can receive support or friendship, or just keep up on local homeschool news.
There are also quite a few homeschooling co-ops popping up in Texas. A co-op is an educational group, which usually grows organically from a regular support group, wherein parents take turns teaching a group of students. These are excellent for promoting socialization and creating a learning experience similar to what is offered in a “traditional” classroom. Some take place in rented classroom spaces and are quite structured, while some are more casual, relaxed experiences.
For example, Austin Rising School is a co-op for K-6 students that meets twice a week. Parents teach classes about subjects they’re particularly passionate about or have a background in, like math or literature.
Once you join a support group, you should be able to find a co-op operating in your area.
Texas is arguably one of the best (and easiest!) states for home educating your children
The state’s relaxed homeschooling regulations mean you can get creative with how you choose to build your lessons and teach your kids. However, this free reign can sometimes feel overwhelming.
Set yourself up with a great support system and choose an association that’s right for you. Having direct access to parents who have experience homeschooling will give you the resources you need to provide your children with a stellar education. Take it one day at a time, have fun, and explore the potential of homeschooling in Texas.
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