Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Homeschooling in Texas

Michelle Kretzschmar www.diycollegerankings.com

Is it legal?

Who do I have to register with or report to?


What is a letter of intent?

Is there a required curriculum?

Does the school district have to approve my curriculum?

Do I have to have specific qualifications to homeschool?

Do I have join a homeschool group?

What are the different kinds of homeschool groups?

Will my child have to take the TAKS?

Do I have to test my child?

Will my child receive a diploma?

Can I deduct the costs of homeschooling from my taxes?

How do I withdraw my child from school?

Where can I get curriculum?

How do I pick curriculum?

Do I have to keep attendance?

Can I hire someone to teach my child for me?

Can my child go out during the day?

What should I do if a truant officers knocks on my door?

Can my child go to college?

What if I want to send my child back to public school?

Can I get special education services for my child through the school?

How much does it cost? What is a statement of faith?

What is the difference between inclusive and exclusive groups?

Can my child play football with the local high school?


Do I have to keep Records?

What is Decomposition/Deschooling?

How will I know if they are learning?

How Can I teach what I don’t know?

Will my child be truant if I do not have a curriculum before I start homeschooling?

Who do I have to register with or report to?

You do not have to register with your local school district or with any government organizations. As a private school, you are not subject to any regulations regarding public schools.

What is a letter of intent?

A letter of intent is a letter that states that you are educating your child at home and that you are providing “a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals of reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics and a study of good citizenship.” A letter of intent is not required for withdrawing your child from school although it can be used to meet any requests from the school district.

School districts which become aware of a student who is potentially being home schooled may request in writing a letter of notification from the parents of the student regarding their intention to home-school the student. This letter may require assurances that the home-school curriculum is designed to meet basic education goals including reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and a study of good citizenship. Please note that a letter of this type is not required each year (from the April 20, 2004 Commissioner’s Home School Policy Letter)

You may want to provide a letter of intent when you withdraw your child from school to provide any necessary assurances.

return to top


Is there a required curriculum?

You must follow a curriculum that is “designed to meet basic education goals including reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and a study of good citizenship.” This does not have to be a packaged, commercial curriculum. Homeschooling Methods: Charlotte Mason Homeschooling Methods: School at Home/Structured Homeschooling Methods: Waldorf

return to top

Will my child have to take the TAKS?

No. The TAKS test as well as any other state mandated tests do not apply to homeschoolers. You may download previous years tests from the TEA website to administer yourself. You may also pay to take national achievement tests such as the Iowa or Stanford.

return to top

Do I have to Texas my child?

No. The State of Texas does not require any testing of homeschoolers. Some homeschools do test their children with programs such as Iowa Testing Program to measure their progress, but this is a personal choice.

return to top

Will my child receive a diploma?

If you provide one. The state will not provide a diploma. As a private school you award your own diploma.

return to top

Can I deduct the costs of homeschooling from my taxes?

No. Just because you choose not to use the public school does not mean that you can somehow “recover” the money you spend in school taxes. We all pay for government services that we don’t use.

return to top

How do I withdraw my child from school?

According to the Commissioner’s Home School Policy Letter “Students should be disenrolled by school officials when they receive written notice either by signing withdrawal forms or sending a letter of withdrawal. It is not necessary for the parents to make a personal appearance with school officials or present curriculum for review.” You can send a letter of intent by register mail so that you have proof the school received it. You should also bring paper and pen and record the name of everyone you deal with for future reference.

return to top

Where can I get curriculum?

You can purchase curriculum online, through local homeschool book stores, or used curriculum sales. You do not have to purchase curriculum. You can design your own using your local library resources and free resources. Most museums and organizations that have education outreach, have material that is aligned to state or national curriculum standards. You do not have to purchase curriculum before withdrawing your child from school. Your child will not be truant since she is no longer attending the public school. Curriculum Resources

return to top

How do I pick curriculum?

There are a bewildering number of options to choose from. You can use the state’s Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills curriculum as a guide which is available on the TEA website. I’ve written more on this at “I’ve Decided to Homeschool–now what?”

return to top

Do I have to keep attendance?

No. There is no minimum number of days you are required to homeschool or any set number of hours during the day.

return to top

Can I hire someone to teach my child for me?

Yes. In Texas you are a private school and you can consider it the equivalent of hiring a teacher.

Can my child go out during the day?

There are a variety of daytime curfew laws across the state. There is no problem if you are accompanying your child. In general, these curfews do not allow children outside their house alone during school hours unless their school is not in session. You will need to check the ordinances in your locality.

return to top

What should I do if a truant officer knocks on my door?

The truant officer can only enter your house if he has a warrant of you give him permission. You have the right to ask for the request in writing. You do not have to let him talk to your children. Visit the THSC website for specific information on what to do in such a situation.

return to top

Can my child go to college?

Colleges accept homeschoolers. You will have to provide your own transcripts or portfolio for your student. Your student may still have to take a college entrance exam such as the ACT or SAT. Some community colleges allow homeschoolers to enroll in dual credit classes. Entrance requirements vary by college but many actively recruit homeschoolers. Homeschooling and Higher Education 5 Elements Homeschoolers must have on their High School Transcripts Do It Yourself College Rankings

return to top

What if I want to send my child back to public school?

According to the Commissioner’s Home School Policy Letter” Students transferring from home schools should be afforded the same treatment as students transferring from unaccredited private school.” What ever method the school uses to place students from unaccredited private schools should also be used for assessing and placing your child in the public school.

return to top

Can I get special education services for my child through the school?

It depends. Districts used to provide some special education services regardless of a child’s enrollment status. Section 25.086 of the education code states that:

(b) This section does not relieve a school district in which a child eligible to participate in the district’s special education program resides of its fiscal and administrative responsibilities under Subchapter A, Chapter 29, or of its responsibility to provide a free appropriate public education to a child with a disability.

However, in recent years, schools have been deny homeschoolers services, presumably with some legal basis to do so (remember, I’m not a lawyer.)

return to top

How much does it cost?

As much or as little as you want. There will be no shortage of companies offering to sell you curriculum and supplies. Some packaged, comprehensive curriculums with teacher support cost more than $1,000 a year. Your local library card is free.

return to top

What is a statement of faith?

Many homeschool groups are based on religious principles. They may compile these principals into a single document referred to as a statement of faith.

return to top

What is the difference between inclusive and exclusive groups?

Some homeschool groups restrict their membership based on religious values or education philosophies. These groups are considered exclusive. Groups that do not restrict membership are considered inclusive. There are groups that have a statement of faith but allow people who don’t share their beliefs to participate.

return to top

Can my child play football with the local high school?

Not in Texas. While individual schools may allow homechoolers to participate in some school extracurricular activities, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) does not allow them UIL sanctioned events. In other words, you wouldn’t be able to play in the games or participate in the competition for any other activities. Homeschoolers have set up their own teams to compete in baseball, basketball, football, softball, track and field, and volleyball.

return to top

Do I have to keep Records?

No, not in Texas. But it’s probably a good idea to, especially if you’ll be moving to another state or plan on returning to public school. You don’t have to create a report card or transcript unless you want to. At the younger ages, you know how your child did; do you need a transcript to tell you? You might if she is applying for summer academic programs. By high school, a transcript or portfolio substitute is a requirement for virtually all colleges. There are lots of ways to keep records but probably the most critical information to keep is a list of textbooks used. If you have that, you can probably create a transcript even three years after the fact.

return to top

What is Decomposition/Deschooling?

Decomposition or deschooling refers to the time period that many children need after withdrawing from school to adjust to homeschooling. Depending on the situation, some kids have been so traumatized by their school experience that they’ll reject anything that resembles school, including homework and tests. Others may take a while to get used to mom (or dad) as the teacher and performing without the threat of a poor report card. This period can be especially important for kids who are leaving a toxic situation at school. It’s important not to recreate the situation at home that was causing problems in school.

return to top

How will I know if they are learning?

You can always test them. Some states require homeschoolers to be tested or evaluated each year—not Texas. Just remember, testing isn’t the only way to determine if a child is learning. Are they progressing in their math book? Can they explain to you what they just read? Do they attempt projects seen in videos or on the computer? This is a natural feeling for you, “have I screwed up and they’ll be living under a bridge for the rest of their lives?” In my case, these bursts of panic, which happened every 9 to 12 month or so, ended up with me printing out the seventh grade TAKS or similar test for my son to take.

return to top

How Can I teach what I don’t know?

There many possibilities. Learn it with your kids. Hire someone else to teach it. Join a co-op so that they can learn from others. Take an online course (the child, not you.) If it’s important enough, the kid will probably learn it himself—people learn to read for all kinds of reasons. Maybe it’s not as important as you think since you’ve managed to go through life without knowing it.

return to top

Will my child be truant if I do not have a curriculum before I start homeschooling?

No. Truancy happens when a child enrolled in a public school doesn’t show up for class. So if you child isn’t enrolled in public school, what can she be truant from—your own homeschool? There are no set days or hours for homeschooling in Texas. In other words, just because you aren’t teaching on a certain day doesn’t mean that your child is truant. Anyone who tries to tell you that your child will be truant if you withdraw them from public school and don’t have your curriculum yet is just trying to sell you curriculum.

return to top