Homeschooling is a great way to educate your child; foster a strong and cohesive family life; and have an impact on the influences that surround your child. These benefits sound fantastic, but you may be wondering how to start homeschooling. Here are the steps to beginning your homeschool journey!
How to Start Homeschooling in Texas
7 Easy Steps to Begin
- Join THSC. We believe that families have the God-given right to raise their children. THSC has been serving homeschool families for over 30 years. Learn how a membership can benefit your family and help us continue Keeping Texas Families Free!
- Become familiar with the law. Understand what is—and what isn’t—legally required of homeschoolers.
- Withdraw from public school. Learn how to avoid legal problems when disenrolling your children from the public school system.
- Find a local homeschool group. Being connected with other homeschoolers provides important information, ideas and activities in addition to much-needed advice and encouragement.
- Research curriculum. Learn about the many options and narrow down your choices to find the best curriculum for your family.
- Listen to our homeschooling 101 audios. These audios will answer many of your questions and help you get started down the right path.
- Begin homeschooling. How to start homeschooling in Texas, plus a few final thoughts before you begin your journey.
Homeschooling in Other States
Not from Texas? Find the homeschooling organization in your state.
Now let’s look in detail at each of the steps to start homeschooling in Texas.
THSC is constantly working to promote homeschooling and family rights by:
- Lobbying the Texas legislature;
- Communicating with school districts and other public officials;
- Monitoring court cases;
- Raising awareness of important issues that impact homeschooling.
As a coalition impacting over 150,000 Texas homeschool families, THSC connects homeschoolers and provides your family with an invaluable wealth of information and support. We have a staff and volunteer network of hundreds, all of whom have homeschooling experience in Texas
THSC is the state authority on home education in Texas. In fact, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) often refers calls regarding homeschooling to THSC for verification or resolution. You can depend on us to support your family rights in Texas.
Joining THSC connects your family with other homeschoolers, allows your voice to be heard in protecting your homeschool freedoms and empowers us to fight for you.
THSC provides over a dozen benefits including:
- Free legal assistance and advocacy in Texas with problems related to home education;
- Access to a THSC members-only CPS hotline, with direct access to attorney consultation in the event of an emergency;
- Free adult registration to both of THSC’s Called to Teach Conventions in Dallas and The Woodlands;
- Digital copy of the Texas Home School Handbook and the Lone Star Study (updated in 2016);
- Student and teacher photo ID cards;
- Instant customized diplomas;
- Featured Convention Audio of the Month (includes all past months);
- Grade school report card template;
- Term average template;
- High school transcript templates;
- Discounts from select homeschool providers;
- Special needs consultant and support;
- Online IEP Generator;
- Free three-month subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com, plus $50 off an annual subscription;
- Knowledgeable homeschool staff to support you by phone or online.
THSC Membership Payment Options
- Lifetime membership: $1,000 one-time payment
- Annual membership: $120 per year
- Discounted annual membership: $100 per year
- We offer $20 off the annual membership price for qualifying groups.
- Annual membership: Quarterly installment plan, $40 per quarter)
Lifetime Members receive all member benefits plus:
- Two polo shirts available exclusively to Lifetime Members;
- Exclusive invitations to Lifetime Member meet-and-greets during THSC events.
Since 1986, THSC has been serving and informing the Texas homeschool community. We continue to serve you by Keeping Texas Families Free. Will you join THSC today and actively fight with us to protect Texas families and their rights?
Step 2: Become Familiar With the Law
The only requirements to legally homeschool in Texas are that:
- The instruction must be bona fide (i.e. not a sham);
- The curriculum must be in visual form (e.g. books, workbooks, video monitor);
- The curriculum must include the basic subjects of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and good citizenship.
Your child may also be taught in another family’s home or you may use a tutor for instruction.
The courts have determined that Texas homeschools are private schools for the purpose of compulsory attendance. Therefore, homeschools are not regulated, do not require teacher certification or third-party curriculum approval and are exempt from compulsory attendance laws.
Local school officials do have the right to make a “reasonable inquiry” to determine whether your school-aged child is attending a private school. A 2010 letter from the Texas commissioner of education gives direction to school districts on how to legally make a “reasonable inquiry.”
See what directives Texas government agencies have been given regarding home schoolers.
Visit our Record Keeping page for more information regarding high school transcripts.
For college admissions, homeschoolers are required to successfully complete the recommended or advanced (distinguished) high school program. If your student is considering attending a college or university, check out our After Graduation pages for information on college admissions, scholarship information, and more.
How Did Homeschooling Become Legal?
Homeschooling is legal is because of the Leeper vs. Arlington ISD class action lawsuit (case no. 17-88761-85). The April 13, 1987, decision completely vindicated the right of Texas families to educate their children at home.
Presiding Judge Charles J. Murray concluded that:
A school-age child residing in the state of Texas who is being educated in a bona fide manner by the parents, or those standing in parental authority, in or through the child’s home using a curriculum, consisting of books, workbooks, other written materials, including that which appears on an electronic screen of either a computer or video tape monitor, or any combination of the preceding from either (1) a private or parochial school which exists apart from the child’s home or (2) which has been developed or obtained from any source, said curriculum designed to meet basic education goals of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship, is in attendance upon a private or parochial school within the meaning of Section 25.086(a)(1) of the Texas Education Code and exempt from the requirements of compulsory attendance at a public school.
Step 3: Withdraw from Public School
You are not legally required to register with your local school district or receive their permission to homeschool, but you must withdraw your child from public school if they are already enrolled.
Note: The Texas Education Agency (TEA) requires you to specify the date that you will begin homeschooling in order to withdraw your child from public school.
It is important to ensure that students are withdrawn before homeschooling begins and that homeschooling begins as soon as the student is withdrawn. This prevents the school from counting the student absent prior to withdrawal and from potentially filing truancy charges.
Withdrawal Process from Public School
Withdraw by email (recommended):
- Send a withdrawal email to the principal, counselor and attendance clerk of the school, as well as any other contacts at the school. Send a copy of the email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep your child home the day after withdrawal and begin homeschooling.
- If you are already in contact with a local homeschool support group, email a copy of the letter to the leader(s) of the group.
Withdraw by letter:
- Write a withdrawal letter to the principal of the school, using our automated form. When you get the PDF version of the letter in your email, open and print three or four copies of all pages of the PDF.
- Mail a signed copy of the letter and request a certified mail receipt to receive and retain proof of delivery.
- Keep the second copy of the withdrawal letter and the post office receipts in your records to document your correspondence.
- Keep your child home the day after withdrawal and begin homeschooling.
- Send the third copy of the letter to us (Texas Home School Coalition, PO Box 6747, Lubbock, TX 79493).
- If you are already in contact with a local homeschool support group, mail the fourth copy to the leader(s) of the group.
Note: In some cases, school districts have not opened certified letters and have returned them unopened to the sender.
Letters of Assurance
If the school subsequently contacts you and says that you must do more (such as come to the school office, fill out a form, etc.), do not go to the school. Instead, respond by email or mail with a letter of assurance. The TEA has instructed school districts that such letters meet the guidelines of cooperation in compliance with compulsory attendance laws.
Step 4: Find a Local Homeschool Group
Homeschool support groups comprise families who come together to meet the needs of other families involved in their group. There are many types of homeschool groups that provide fellowship, activities, co-op classes, support for moms and dads, family events and more.
Benefits of joining a homeschool group include:
- Building friendships for you and your children
- Sharing encouragement and ideas
- Activities such as field trips, sporting events, play groups, etc.
- Co-op classes to help share and expand learning opportunities for students
- If you join a THSC partner group, your group leader can share a discount code for $20 off your THSC membership
Step 5: Research Curriculum
There are many different types of curriculum to meet the needs of your family and individual students. THSC does not endorse specific curriculum providers or types of curriculum.
Please be aware that curriculum is not “accredited.” Schools and programs can be accredited. To be accredited, a school must satisfy certain standards such as holding classes for the same number of days and hours required of public schools, employing certified teachers, etc.
You may enroll your student in an accredited correspondence school. Teachers from these schools give out and grade all assignments. Such programs tend to be more expensive because the school is doing more of the work. Enrollment in an accredited school is not legally necessary to homeschool.
You will order most homeschool curriculum from the publisher or online provider. Publishers and online providers usually have a website with contact and pricing information. There is no state funding for parent-taught homeschool curriculum. All expenses are the parent’s responsibility.
To get a hands-on look at curriculum, attend a Called to Teach Homeschool Convention and shop our Exhibit Hall!
Parents may choose to mix and match from different curriculum providers to cover the five basic subjects. For example, a family might choose an online provider for math and good citizenship while choosing a traditional textbook for reading, grammar and spelling.
Additional Curriculum Information
Step 6: Online Orientation (Homeschool 101 Audios)
Our homeschool experts will answer many of the questions you have, and probably some you hadn’t thought of yet. You can listen to the audios while house cleaning, exercising or driving!
Ready, Set, Now What Do I Do? (Tim and Lyndsay Lambert)
Where do I get curriculum? Do I have to make bulletin boards? How do I teach several grades at once? Do I need to have lesson plans and give grades? Do I need a lawyer? What about socialization? Exactly what is the law in Texas concerning homeschooling? Tim and Lyndsay Lambert answer these questions and more with advice to new homeschoolers.
Listen to “Ready, Set, Now What Do I Do?”
Realistic Organization and Life Management (Beverly Parrish)
Real people tips for keeping up with laundry, meals and cleaning while homeschooling and still having a life.
Who Me? Homeschool? (Roxanne Parks)
Are you unsure or doubtful about your ability to do this? Do you need help to know how to feel empowered and equipped to homeschool your child? These are the exact words that Roxanne said when first contemplating her homeschooling option. She will share how the Lord helped redeem her fears and delivered more than she could have imagined in this often difficult journey.
Listen to “Who Me? Homeschool?”
Which Way Do I Go? (Mary James)
Join Mary for an explanation of the most popular teaching methodologies (textbook, living book, unit studies, classical and unschooling). She shares great tips on many popular curriculum providers and what they offer.
Listen to “Which Way Do I Go?”
Extra Considerations When Homeschooling a Special Needs Student (Peggy Ployhar)
Peggy Ployhar discusses individualized education programs (IEP), transition planning from high school to life, therapy integration, and curriculum and modifications.
Step 7: Begin Homeschooling
If you have read and followed the last six steps, you should be prepared to homeschool. Now all you have to do is start!
A few things to remember:
- Enjoy your students and the opportunity to homeschool.
- Be flexible.
- If something is not working, be willing to try something new.
- Keep realistic expectations.
- Comparisons to the public school system or other homeschoolers will leave you frustrated.
- Set educational goals that fit the needs of your children.
- Know that you are not alone.
- Staying connected with other homeschoolers will provide information, support and encouragement during difficult times.
Graphic source: Pros and Cons of Homeschooling – TeepeeJoy Blog
How to Homeschool for Free
Here is a list of free curriculum providers. You may find more by searching online for “free homeschool curriculum.” Also, here are tips for setting up your homeschool classroom!
- Is homeschooling legal in Texas?
Yes, it is legal. Homeschools in Texas are private schools for the purpose of compulsory attendance. Therefore, homeschool students are exempt from compulsory school attendance laws.
The only requirements in Texas are that you pursue a basic curriculum of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study in good citizenship in a bona fide manner. Learn more about homeschooling in Texas.
- Does homeschooling work?
If you homeschool your child, you may worry if they will be ruined for life, if they will be able to get into college, if they will be “normal,” etc. Although homeschooling is not for everyone, many families find that their homeschooled children not only survive but thrive. With the customized education and special attention that homeschooling provides, homeschool students flourish in a welcoming environment.
Read more about how homeschoolers perform in college!
- Homeschoolers in College
- Homeschoolers on to College: What Research Shows Us
- Academic Testing Proves Homeschooling Works
- How can I teach my children if I have not been trained?
A large variety of curriculum options and resources are available. Some take a step-by-step instructional approach, some require intensive parental preparation, and others are DVD or computer-based programs that require parental supervision with very little preparation. There are many different styles created to meet your needs as an educator.
- What about activities and socialization?
As you start homeschooling, you may ask, “What about socialization?” Homeschool families often have difficulty deciding which activities to exclude because so many opportunities exist.
Homeschoolers have many chances to socialize with varying age groups through local support, co-op and church groups; sports groups and leagues; 4-H; extracurricular activities; volunteer opportunities and more.
Homeschoolers tend to have more social skills compared to students who are limited to a classroom 180 days each year with peers of the same age group.
THSC facilitates socialization by offering information about events and opportunities to help connect you with local homeschool groups. Texas leads the nation in homeschooling.
- How does THSC support homeschoolers in Texas?
Members of THSC receive free legal assistance for issues related to home education and access to resources for children with special needs.
You also receive the latest news about homeschooling in Texas, current family rights issues, our interactions with state and local officials and much more.
Still have questions? Visit our FAQ page.
Public School at Home Programs
Texas also offers public school at home programs that provide a virtual schooling option to parents. These programs are administered by the public school system and are not considered to be homeschools
Parents should be aware that at least four hours of instruction are required daily and students must take standardized tests like all other public school students.
Contact your local school for information on public school at home options. There are specific enrollment requirements for each of these services. If you are considering this option, ask for written requirements and check them carefully before you decide to pursue public school at home.
The TEA oversees public school at home programs.
THSC believes that parents should be empowered to raise and educate the next generation of leaders.
Check out our membership benefits and the many ways that we are Keeping Texas Families Free!