Is Unschooling Legal?

Is Unschooling Really Legal; gavel, laptop, scales, city background

Another big question that pops up when people first hear about unschooling...

"Is Unschooling legal?  Surely, this can't be ok to do!" 

2 Different Starting Points

This question can come from two different ends of the spectrum. 

  1. Some people are worried that bringing a child home from a school means limiting their world and depriving them advantages they see in school.Let me reassure you that unschooling is not neglecting your child or shrinking their world - it's the opposite actually. It just doesn't look anything like school.
  2. Others are really excited to hear about the creativity and following the natural inclinations of the learner.

A Few Facts about Legalities

I've collected a few facts over the years, for those worried about the legalities. Sometimes it can get confusing when people don't realize that the legal situation in one place may be very different in another.

🔸 Unschooling is legal in every state, and US Territory.  It's legal in many countries, but this varies.

🔸  It's really important to know your laws really well.

🔸 From a legal standpoint, unschooling is simply a homeschooling method. So when you look up the laws, don't expect to see the word unschooling - it's a subcategory.

🔸 Every state varies on the child's age range that it's applicable. You'll see this written as Complusory Attendance. (There's NOTHING in the law that says "compulsory education" - simply "attendance." And most kids wake up in their own homes, so they're "Present." But the low end of the range is 5 or 6 usually. And the cutoff is somewhere between 16-18. Why this matters, is your child may be younger and not need to fulfill the homeschooling legal requirements - or maybe they've even aged out. Knowing this might make your life a little calmer.

🔸 States and countries vary on what documentation they require from home educating families.

  • Some require testing at certain grade levels - many do not.
  • Some that do require testing, do not require that the tests be turned in anywhere.
  • Some require certain subject be "covered" within the curriculum
  • Some require Evaluators for each child
  • Some require certain progress reports be turned in annually to the school district.
  • Many require no oversight at all.

If You Have to Do Testing...

Or even if you're curious about the idea of testing, this Unschooling Guide has so much information for you to look at. Instead of diving down various rabbit holes on the internet - I've collect the Best of the Best information right here for you!

This Unschooling Guide: About Testing will help you:

  • Overcome questions about NOT Testing, like:
      • How will your kids ever learn to do it?
      • How will you know what they've learned?
      • What about accountability?
      • What about teens, college, SAT/ACT tests?
      • How do unschoolers make sure they "hit all the subjects?"
  • Look at the Parent Side of test-taking
  • Find out which states test and what to do if you have to?
  • Read the Articles and follow the links to more resources
  • Access a big Reading List about Testing so you can continue to learn
  • Find a little Humor in it all!

🔸  Unschooling parents find ways to meet the legal requirements all over the world. It's ALWAYS best to talk with local unschoolers. Occasionally, the more traditional homeschooling community interprets the law in ways that adds unnecessary record keeping or activities. Usually this comes from a bit of fear. Steer clear of anyone trying to scare you! Unschooling is not scary a scary thing - unfamiliar, and unconvention, but not scary or illegal!  😉

Find other unschoolers based on states/countires:

  • Unschooling Mom2Mom has offered a webpage with links to local groups for years now. It's a fabulous resource for anyone who'd like to connect with the local unschoolers. If you find a link that doesn't work or know of a resource in your state/country, please let us know in the comments below!
    Find Local Groups webpage
  • In the free Facebook Group, Unschooling Mom2Mom offers threads for each state and many countries. This allows group members to connect or share information about local happenings.  We have a document that lists all the threads, so group members can find their state quickly. It is "housed" in the Guides/Units area of the FB group.
    Find Others in Your State/Country

🔸  State organizations often have updates about legal changes happening locally. This is another reason to be in contact with the local unschoolers to see how it really affects you. For instance, some organizations push for a variety of extra advantages for homeschoolers. Others tend to want to ride under the radar and handle situations when a problem surfaces. This is another place to avoid those who push from a fear-based perspective. Entire organizations have been created to keep homeschoolers worried - don't buy into that.

🔸 Open your mind to the idea that "Curriculum" may come in a wide range of formats. Think of the most interesting classroom experience you've ever encountered. The topics presented were discussed in conversations, possibly videos or podcasts, or even hands-on experiential learning. All of these options are available to you in an unschooling day - and they count! Don't let what's familiar to you, shrink your idea of what is considered legitimate curriculum. The goal is for the child to gain access to more information - in whatever mode works best for them!

🔸  If you do live in a state requiring documentation, remember that you can do that without really impacting your child much. Learning happens all the time - you just have to notice in. And then you can record it, using educational jargon that will meet the requirements. You become the bridge between the Real Life Learning that's happening in your home, and the governing body you report to. I have some resources that might help you see how this works:

Translating Into Educational Lingo

You may have to create portfolios or progress reports at the end of the year. This can make new unschoolers panic, wondering how to translate all of these daily activities into educational language that will work for the state/country/evaluator requirements.

This ebook will relieve your fear! In it, we'll look at ways every subject shows up and weaves through daily life. Obviously, I cannot list ALL the ways! But this will get you started on reframing how you look at what the kids are doing - and help you SEE the learning that's been there all along!

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