Idaho Homeschool Law
Parent RequirementsIdaho’s homeschool law does not specify any education level or certification needed by the parents in order to homeschool. Any parent or legal guardian may instruct their children at home.
Idaho law does not require any notification in order to begin or continue homeschooling. No test scores or work samples need to be filed. However, if your child is already enrolled in an Idaho public school, best practice is to notify the school in writing that you intend to provide his or her instruction at home. This will help to avoid the appearance and/or accusation of truancy. You may withdraw from public school at any time. You are not required to provide any information about what curriculum you intend to use, your education level or teaching experience, or anything else about your home or homeschool. In order to preserve the minimal requirements we have in Idaho, be careful to avoid providing more information than that which is required by law.
Age RequirementsIdaho’s compulsory attendance law affects children between the ages of 7 and 16. Your child is considered “school age” and must be receiving instruction if they are 7 years old by the time public school starts in your district, or if they have not yet reached 16 years old. Idaho law does not dictate what grade is assigned to the age of students that homeschool, so you are free to instruct your child at the “grade level” that best meets their abilities.
Oversight RequirementsIdaho law does not include government oversight requirements for privately homeschooling parents. Neither the Idaho Department of Education nor the local school district have the authority to evaluate or approve anything about your homeschool. As the parents or guardians, you assume sole responsibility for the funding, administration, and teaching in your homeschool. You are free to operate your homeschool with the curriculum, schedule, and style that most fits your family. Remember that you do not have to conform to expectations others may have about what home education should look like. In fact, homeschool leaders in Idaho worked with Idaho Dept. of Health and Welfare to establish guidelines that will help social workers avoid making false assumptions about homeschoolers.
Subject RequirementsIdaho code states that instruction shall be “in subjects commonly and usually taught in the public schools.” The law does not define for private homeschoolers what that instruction shall be, nor does it specify any order, achievement level, or topics to be included for each subject area. You are free to set the pace and sequence that will best meet your students’ needs. Below are the main subjects required for Idaho public school students. As a homeschooler, you are free to include many other subject areas to enrich and challenge your students according to their needs and interests. In fact, you will likely find their love of learning will outpace the number of hours you have in the day to teach them!
Time RequirementsIdaho law does not mandate a number of days or hours each year in which a home school student must receive instruction. Parents are free to set up a schedule and provide instruction for any number of hours per day, during any portion of the year that best serves the student’s and family’s needs. The “instruction” required by law is not defined, and since you are free to set your own schedule, it can take place using an almost endless list of resources and activities. Remember you are not required to be “in class” while public schools are holding class, nor are you required to plan breaks at the same time, or even take breaks at all. In the high school years, wise parents will teach their home educated students to manage their time in order to prepare them for college and work environments. One advantage to the freedom from time requirements is that older students are able to include entrepreneurial pursuits, volunteerism, participation in political campaigns, or any number of other priorities they may have into their days.
Graduation RequirementsIdaho law does not specify homeschool graduation requirements. Public school graduation requirements are not applied to privately home educated students. The requirement to take the SAT in order to graduate does not apply to homeschooled students. As the administrator and teacher of your homeschool, you are solely responsible to plan your students’ high school courses, assign grades or assess their work, and write their transcripts. The transcript and diploma you write certifying your students’ completion of your requirements are legally binding and acceptable as proof of graduation. You should make your school documents professional and business-like, much as you would make your resume look professional. Since Idaho law includes home education as a legal means of providing a high school education, your documents are just as legal and official as any other legal school in the state.
Obtaining a GED is neither necessary nor recommended. For some post-high school tracks, such as military enlistment, having a GED can actually be a detriment. Your high school student is a bonafide high school graduate when they have met your requirements, and to have them get a GED is stating that homeschool was not sufficient or complete. You will need to check with individual colleges your student may be interested in to find further entrance requirements, such as SAT or ACT test scores.
Assessment RequirementsIdaho law does not require homeschool students to take standardized tests. You may choose whether to test, how often to test, and the test in which to participate. However, if you choose to participate in public school activities, such as sports, the public school has the legal right to require of your student the same qualifications that are required of the public school students. One of the requirements might be to submit scores from a standardized, nationally-normed test.
Vaccination RequirementsIdaho law specifies that ONLY students attending public, private, or parochial schools are required to receive immunizations. Homeschooled students are not required to receive vaccinations. Parents of homeschooled students do not have to file any exemption forms in order to refuse vaccinations. This means that you do not legally have to give any explanation to your doctor or anyone else for your choice on whether or not to vaccinate. The exception may be for those students who participate in public school classes or programs part-time. Those students will have to meet vaccination requirements or file an exemption.
Part-Time Public School ParticipationHomeschool students are allowed to participate in public schools for part-time enrollment, referred to as dual enrollment. Dual enrollment can be for any course or non-academic activity (such as sports or music programs). Homeschool students will be expected to meet the same requirements for participation as public school students do, such as submitting test scores or a work portfolio, and may be required to achieve a minimum test score. Homeschool students must live within the boundaries of the school with which they plan to participate. If a public school program has limited space, the school district is allowed to limit the program or course enrollment to full-time students.
Idaho law allows public school districts to require homeschool students to meet the same standards required of public school students. This means homeschool families will come under regulation and oversight not otherwise required. Homeschool families will do well to consider private alternatives for their students. The homeschool community in Idaho has a broad variety of opportunities from private sources, including sports, dance, theater, science, computer programming, and much more!
Special EducationPublic schools in Idaho are required to provide special education for disabled students and related services only to students enrolled in the public school. Additionally, public schools are required to provide gifted/talented education and services only to students enrolled in the public school.
According to the Idaho State Department of Education, nonpublic school students may not use the dual enrollment statute to receive special education services.
Homeschool families should recognize that a custom education at home will be able to meet the needs of all students, including disabled and gifted students, far better than public schools will. Loving parents will be able to know their students best, and will be able to set a pace and choose materials that strengthen any weak areas, as well as challenge gifted students to grow to their potential.
Driver's License RequirementsYoung people under the age of 18 who wish to get a driver’s permit or license are required by the Idaho Department of Motor Vehicles to provide proof of EITHER enrollment in high school OR graduation from high school. Homeschool students have had varying reactions from their local DMV offices. Usually they have to do nothing more than sign a form stating they are homeschooling. Keep in mind that your homeschool is an “equivalent” and “acceptable” program for education according to Idaho law, and your letter verifying compliance with eduction law is sufficient proof of attendance. Alternatively, the diploma you issue your homeschool graduate is sufficient proof of graduation.
Virtual Charter SchoolsAccording to Idaho state law, students in public on-line or virtual charter schools and programs are considered to be public school students, and are subject to all requirements of the public schools. Even though the instruction takes place in the home, students in these programs are under Idaho public school requirements. Families are free to choose programs that are extensions of the public schools, but their students are then legally classified as public school students.
Parents are free to homeschool without notifying the state, and without being regulated. Homeschool parents are free to school on their own schedule, select their own curriculum, use faith-based materials, set their own graduation requirements, and customize to both disabled and gifted students. With such tremendous freedom, there is much to lose! Each year during Idaho’s legislative session, from January through April, you have the opportunity and responsibility to know who your legislators are, and to follow the bills they introduce. Idaho legislators value the support of homeschool families, and we have a history of making our voices heard!