Homeschooling in Colorado: Guidance for Getting Started

Sonlight is based in Littleton, Colorado! So we’re especially partial to The Centennial State and eager to share our insider knowledge about how to homeschool in Colorado. Considering relocating to CO? It’s a very homeschool-friendly state, and you’ll find an abundance of resources to support your decision to educate at home. Read on to discover what requirements you’ll face, what paperwork you need to file, what resources you need, and how much homeschooling costs in Colorado.

Homeschooling in Colorado: Guidance for Getting StartedHomeschooling in Colorado: Guidance for Getting Started

DISCLAIMER: This Colorado homeschooling information is not written as legal advice. Check with your local school board and official Colorado laws before making decisions about educating your children.

Is it easy to homeschool in Colorado?

Colorado is a state with relatively low regulation as per HSLDA which keeps track of homeschooling laws. Due to this lower level of homeschool requirements, most families would consider it easy to homeschool in Colorado. We asked two Colorado Sonlight moms to give us their thoughts, and here’s their feedback:

It's relatively simple to homeschool in CO. You have three options. If you're licensed to teach in the state, you can just start. For those of us without teaching experience, you can either file a notice of intent with your local school district or use an umbrella school. If you follow the requirements set by the umbrella school, you do not need to register with the state or school district.”—Sunny R. in Castle Rock, CO
The legal requirements are more than Texas, but don’t seem to be too difficult once you wrap your head around it. You just have to submit a letter to your district stating your intent to homeschool with your kids names, ages, grades, and how many hours a day you plan to teach. They also have to start state testing on the odd grade year starting in 3rd grade. However, there are ways around this.”—Kristan K., in Westcliffe, CO
The P. Family, Sonlighters from Colorado Springs, COThe P. Family, Sonlighters from Colorado Springs, CO
The P. Family, Sonlighters from Colorado Springs, CO

Requirements for Homeschooling in Colorado

As a homeschooler, you do have Colorado homeschooling statues to adhere to. But the rules for homeschooling in Colorado are not onerous! A small amount of advance preparation and a healthy dose of recordkeeping are enough to keep you on the right side of Colorado homeschooling laws. 

How many days are required for homeschool in Colorado?

The Colorado Department of Education outlines days and hours required for homeschooling in Colorado:

  • 172 days of instruction per school year 
  • 4 hours of instruction per day

Of course, these are the minimums required; many homeschool families end up with far more hours to document once they factor in field trips, extracurriculars, and a wide range of learning experiences that extend beyond their pencil and paper learning. 

Homeschoolers are expected to keep records of attendance, documenting that they have fulfilled these minimum day/hour requirements. 

Do you have to be certified to homeschool in Colorado?
Do parents need qualifications to homeschool?
Who is eligible for homeschooling?
Is unschooling legal in Colorado?
Can I homeschool someone else's child in Colorado?
The G. Family, Sonlighters from Colorado Springs, COThe G. Family, Sonlighters from Colorado Springs, CO
The G. Family, Sonlighters from Colorado Springs, CO

What are the homeschool requirements in Colorado?

The requirements vary depending on what method of homeschooling you use. There are three avenues and the requirements are listed below for each one.

Homeschool Under an Umbrella School

If you opt to homeschool under an umbrella (or cover) school, start there. Each school will provide the directions and help you with recordkeeping, the appropriate forms, etc. Here is a list of possible umbrella schools for the state of Colorado

Homeschool as Colorado Licensed Teacher

If you opt to homeschool and are a licensed teacher (or hire a licensed teacher to teach your child), you are exempt from most all requirements. There are no assessment, notification, or records required. 

Homeschool On Your Own

If you opt to go it alone and don’t have a teaching license, here are your Colorado homeschooling requirements:

  1. File a notice of intent (NOI) with your Colorado school district
  2. Teach at least 172 days, 4 hours per day
  3. Assess your child in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 with a nationally standardized test or by a qualified professional and submit those results as previously outlined in your NOI
  4. Keep records of attendance, test scores, and immunizations
  5. Teach these academic subjects:
    • communication skills of reading, writing, and speaking (language arts)
    • mathematics
    • history
    • civics
    • literature
    • science
    • the constitution of the United States

What proof is required for homeschooling in Colorado?

Recordkeeping is the parent’s responsibility in Colorado, but the bulk of your records are not actually required to be submitted anywhere. You do need to file with a Colorado school district two things:

  1. Your annual notice of intent
  2. Assessment results in grades 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11 

Aside from that, any other records are documents and data you are expected to keep but not submit to authorities. Those include attendance records, test and evaluation results, and immunization records. 

However, the Colorado homeschool law states that a school district can ask to see your records. But this is no cause for alarm. The Colorado Department of Education explains the law in their FAQ:

School districts cannot request records without probable cause and must give fourteen days written notice.”

Sonlight Homeschool PlannerHomeschool Recordkeeping Made Easy

Get Sonlight's Homeschool Planner

To help you organize your records, lesson plans, curriculum choices, book logs, field trip plans, assessment results, notice of intent, and other Colorado required homeschool records, use the Sonlight planner. It was designed by homeschoolers who know what kinds of things you’ll want to record and keep track of. So if you’re a beginner, this planner will offer the support you don’t yet know you need!

Do you have to have a curriculum when homeschooling in Colorado?

Technically, no. There is no state requirement for homeschool curriculum in Colorado. No one asks what programs you’re using or what books you’re reading. The state and school district don’t provide, suggest, or require any specific programs. Your choices are totally your own. And your curriculum choices aren’t asked for on your Notice of Intent and aren’t outlined as something you need to keep records of.

But you are expected to provide instruction in a list of specific subjects. Here’s a list of those areas, reorganized a bit to show you how simple the requirements are: 

You’ve got your four core subjects: language arts, math, history, and science plus civics. Totally doable! 

If you purchase a Sonlight All-Subjects Package, you’ll have these four core areas covered. Tack on civics with our Election Lap Book, and you’re set for your school year!

When comparing homeschooling programs in Colorado, you might wonder about online homeschooling. Yes, digital learning has a role in a child’s education, but there’s truly no substitute for real physical books. In fact, one study clearly linked paper books to stronger academic outcomes when compared to ebooks. 

Learn the incredible advantages of Sonlight’s literature-based approach here.

What do I need to homeschool my child in Colorado?

Your checklist for homeschooling in Colorado includes these must-haves:

Choose your homeschooling option

Decide what option for homeschooling in Colorado you’ll choose:

  • homeschooling as a licensed teacher
  • homeschooling under an umbrella school
  • or homeschooling on your own.

Then follow the corresponding legal requirements (outlined above).

Choose your homeschool method or style

Consider what homeschool methods and styles appeal to your personality and mesh with your goals. Although labeling yourself isn’t essential, it’s helpful to understand some of the different approaches to homeschooling like Charlotte Mason, literature-based, and classical. When you know what’s on the menu, you can order a better meal, right? Most homeschoolers opt for an eclectic approach, picking and choosing what they love most from different styles. 

Choose your curriculum

Choose your curriculum, making sure you cover the required topics outlined by Colorado homeschool requirements: math, language arts, science, and history (plus civics). A great tool for getting started is Sonlight’s SmoothCourse. If you are unsure even after working through the tool, reach out to an Advisor for one-on-one assistance.

Homeschool Curriculum Comparison ChecklistHomeschool Curriculum Comparison Checklist

Get yourself in the right mindset.

Here’s an excellent workshop to help you prepare:

Organize your materials

Organize your materials and map out the spots in your home where you’ll do your couch and table subjects. Although you don’t need a dedicated homeschool room, having bookshelves, rolling carts, and other organizational methods will help your home stay tidy.

Consider your daily schedule.

Time management is a key to homeschool success, and a well-planned curriculum can serve as the hub for organizing your day-to-day schedule and routine. An open-and-go curriculum takes Sunday night homeschool planning off your plate, leaving you margin for your own hobbies and meaningful family time. Evaluate how to juggle both work and homeschooling. It’s challenging, but many parents manage it!

Find your people!

Get connected to other Colorado homeschoolers for support for yourself and socialization for your kids. 

Give yourself grace.

You will make mistakes, but you can correct course. You will get angry, but you can ask for forgiveness. You may sometimes feel like a failure, but then you’ll realize what a gift you are giving your children by homeschooling them!

The B. Family, Sonlighters from Commerce City, COThe B. Family, Sonlighters from Commerce City, CO
The B. Family, Sonlighters from Commerce City, CO

Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Colorado?

Yes, homeschoolers are required to be assessed in specific grades: 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, and 11th. This can be done via nationally standardized test or by way of a professional evaluation (for example by a licensed teacher or psychologist). 

Homeschoolers are not required to take state assessments.

Note that if you’re homeschooling as a licensed teacher, this requirement is not applicable to you. Also, if you’re homeschooling through an umbrella school, that entity may have unique solutions for this assessment requirement, so check with them first. 

You can choose from an assortment of nationally standardized assessments such as the California Achievement Test, the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or the Stanford Achievement Test. You’ll need to arrange this and pay for it. Another option is to check with your local school district to see about having your child take the test with children in public school. 

Once you have your child’s assessment results, report those to the school district where you filed your Notice of Intent. According to the Christian Home Educators of Colorado,

Test composite score must be above the 13th percentile. Evaluation must show sufficient academic progress according to their ability.”
The R. Family, Sonlighters from Loveland, COThe R. Family, Sonlighters from Loveland, CO
The R. Family, Sonlighters from Loveland, CO

Getting Starting & Timing

We asked two Colorado homeschool moms what they consider the benefits of homeschooling in Colorado. Here’s what they said: 

Sunny R. in Castle Rock, CO says,

Perks and benefits include location, ideal weather for getting outdoors the majority of the year (dry and sunny most of the time), and that it's relatively simple to homeschool here. Oh, and your Sonlight orders arrive within 1-2 days.”

Kristan K., in Westcliffe, CO reports

We just moved to CO from TX, so I don’t have a ton of experience. However, what little I have learned is the most obvious—mountains. Beautiful mountains. We moved to Westcliffe, so we are in a small ranching town. My kids have spent so much time outside hiking, running, and horseback riding. The opportunity to explore without melting has been amazing.”

Are you ready to find out how homeschooling works in Colorado and how you can get started? 

How do I start homeschooling in Colorado?

Your first step to enroll in homeschooling in Colorado is to provide written notification to your local school district at least 14 days in advance. This is often called a notice of intent (NOI) or letter of intent. 

There is no official homeschooling form in Colorado; it’s just a letter you compose that includes these key elements:

  1. name and age of each student
  2. home address 
  3. anticipated hours of school attendance (use the minimum required 172 days, 4 hours per day)
  4. the parent’s signature
  5. where you intend to submit your child’s standardized test results (if it’s testing year)

See a sample NOI template here.

Then plan what curriculum you are going to use to cover the required topics of language arts, math, science, history, and civics. Read more in our general Getting Started Guide and watch the video below. 

At what age is school mandatory in Colorado?

In Colorado, the Compulsory School Attendance Law states that children ages 6-17 must attend public school. This means that homeschooling kindergarten in Colorado is optional.

Can you skip kindergarten in Colorado?

Yes, because compulsory school attendance doesn’t begin until age 6 in Colorado, you can skip kindergarten at age five and simply begin schooling with first grade at age six.

But why skip such a precious school year? There are so many sweet memories waiting to be made with you and your five-year-old. And since it’s outside of the mandate of compulsory schooling, you don’t need to file a notice of intent. You can homeschool kindergarten at home with zero fuss—no paperwork or recordkeeping. You can do the same thing with earlier years as well, homeschooling (without officially filing as a homeschooler with the state of Colorado) preschool and pre-K.

Shop complete packages for preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten below.

These are a great way to structure your day with your young child and try out the homeschool lifestyle to see if it will work for you at higher grades, too.

  1. product-img
    Preschool Package
    Retail Price $429.70 Special Price $365.25
  2. product-img
    Pre-Kindergarten Package
    Retail Price $473.60 As low as $402.56
  3. product-img
    Kindergarten Curriculum
    Retail Price $956.78 As low as $765.42

How long can you homeschool a child?

In Colorado you can homeschool from the very earliest ages such as preschool, pre-K, and kindergarten without any legal oversight or reporting to the school district. Then you can continue (or start) to homeschool officially when your child is six years old. This is when you’ll file your official Notice of Intent. 

And then you can homeschool as long as it’s working for your family! Many homeschool families homeschool all the way through high school graduation. Of course, if at any time, homeschooling stops working, you can always enroll your child in public school. This means you can homeschool for a single school year, a series of a few years, or all the way from first through twelfth grades. It’s your choice!

Must-see Colorado Field Trips for Homeschoolers

Sunny R., a homeschooler in Castle Rock, loves the many excursions her state offers homeschoolers:

CO has so many great field trip locations: national & state parks, museums, historical sites, the Rocky Mountains. There are activities to do all year: hike, mountain bike, whitewater raft, kayak/paddleboard, ski/snowboard, rock climb, camp, and more.”

As you document your CO-mandated 172 school days, remember that field trips count! Keep track of them with this free printable field trip log. It’s an excerpt from the Sonlight homeschool planner

Download Sonlight's free printable field trip log

Top Field Trips for Colorado Homeschoolers

Financial Considerations for Homeschooling in Colorado

If you’re considering homeschooling, you’re wise to count the cost. At least one parent will likely need to scale back working hours. This can mean less income. And then there’s your biggest expense to budget for—homeschool curriculum. Homeschooling often requires financial sacrifice, but nearly every family affirms that it’s totally worth it.

How can I homeschool in Colorado for free?

Free homeschooling in Colorado is possible, but not easy. 

Although you aren’t required by law to purchase curriculum, you are expected to teach the core academic areas at every grade level: language arts, history, science, and math (plus civics). Could you do that without buying curriculum? It’s not impossible, but may be a large burden on you or could provide a subpar education.

Sure, there are plenty of free resources online. You can download free printables, sit your child in front of learning videos and online games (maybe littered with ads), and borrow books from the library. You can craft a mish-mash of resources and muddle your way through. At younger grades, you can get away with this a bit more easily. But as children mature, they will start to experience gaps in their learning without a sequential approach, especially in a subject like math. 

And even if you’re a whiz at creating lesson plans and sourcing the very best freebies, the time you expend will be tremendous. If you have multiple children, finding materials to homeschool for free can become an all-consuming task that may suck the enjoyment out of your homeschool experience. 

So a better question than “How can I homeschool in Colorado for free?” is to ask...

How Much Does Homeschooling Cost? Why It Is Worth the InvestmentHow Much Does Homeschooling Cost? Why It Is Worth the Investment

“What is the best curriculum I can get for the budget I have available?”

To get the best value from your curriculum dollars, look for a program that 

The S. Family, Sonlighters from Longmont, COThe S. Family, Sonlighters from Longmont, CO
The S. Family, Sonlighters from Longmont, CO

How much does it cost to homeschool in Colorado?

Across America, it costs $500 to $2500 to homeschool one child each school year. 

Why the huge range? Well, younger children typically cost less to homeschool while high school students need more specialized materials. Some families cut costs by reusing materials in later years with younger siblings. And, of course, some families are spendthrifts, AKA curriculum junkies, who get a bit carried away with buying. So the figure varies quite a bit. Even at the top end, homeschooling is still significantly cheaper than private school though! 

You can learn more about the cost of homeschooling in Colorado in our comprehensive article How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?

Does Colorado pay for homeschooling?
Can I get money from the state for homeschooling?
Is homeschooling a tax write-off?
Do I have to pay school taxes if I homeschool?

Partnering with Schools in Colorado

The homeschooling laws in Colorado for school activities offer good news! Homeschoolers are allowed access to extracurricular activities at public schools. To find out what’s offered and how to get started, contact your local school district since it will vary from location to location.

The A. Family, Sonlighters from Westminster, COThe A. Family, Sonlighters from Westminster, CO
The A. Family, Sonlighters from Westminster, CO

Christian Homeschooling in Colorado

Colorado’s state Motto is Nil Sine Numine, Latin for Nothing without the Deity. Christian homeschoolers definitely abide by this motto, integrating prayer, bible study, missionary biographies, and principles of their faith into their daily homeschool lessons.

Sonlight is the original Christian literature-based homeschool curriculum. It was actually designed to help missionaries educate their children on the mission field. Each History / Bible / Literature package includes Bible reading. The discussion questions for the Readers and Read-Alouds are crafted to help you discuss life and history from a Christian worldview.  

If imparting your faith in Jesus is important to you, consider Sonlight’s Christian curriculum. Learn more about Sonlight’s goals to see if they mesh well with your own.

Finding Homeschool Community in Colorado

Homeschooling is a popular choice in The Silver State, so finding homeschooling groups and homeschool events in Colorado is not difficult. 

Here are some great reference points for starting your search: 

Homeschooling organizations in Colorado can help you navigate the specific legal requirements of your state, provide state-specific advice, and point you to local resources such as umbrella schools and homeschool co-ops.

When you get connected with other like minded homeschool parents, the benefit is two-fold. You get the support of other moms who know exactly what you’re going through and your kids get the perk of making friends with other homeschooled kids. Socialization is important for everyone in the homeschool family! And homeschooling co-ops in Colorado can help you find it.

Homeschooling High School in Colorado

Homeschooling through high school is not scary. We promise! In fact, it’s incredibly rewarding because you can customize a unique 4-year high school plan that perfectly suits your teen’s current passions and future plans. You aren’t stuck with the cookie-cutter courses offered at your local public school. Instead, you can craft a fascinating course of study for your teen. 

Colorado does not outline any high school graduation requirements in terms of credits or courses. So you have incredible freedom! However, you’ll want to keep an eye towards your teen’s post-high school plans as you choose courses and purchase curriculum. For example, does your teen plan on going to college? If yes, then scope out a few potential colleges and check their admissions requirements. 

Take, for instance, the University of Colorado Boulder’s first year class selection requirements. This school uses the Minimum Academic Preparation Standards. It’s a great starting point for planning your college-bound homeschooler’s 4-year high school program.

Build your student's high school curriculum package with Sonlight's Mix-and-match high school courses.

Can homeschoolers get into college?

 Yes, absolutely! In fact, Sonlight offers scholarships to help college bound teens achieve their dreams. Read success stories of Sonlight graduates and where they ended up: advanced degrees, military service, or missionary work. 

As the homeschool parent, you will be responsible for issuing the transcript. It’s one of those tasks that seems intimidating at first, but here’s a FREE guide to demystify the process

Create a homeschool high school transcript - Download this free guideCreate a homeschool high school transcript - Download this free guide

The same thing holds true for the graduation diploma and graduation ceremony. There is no state-accredited diploma issued to homeschooled students. You’ll have to create one and award it to your high school senior at your own graduation event. If you’re homeschooling under an umbrella school, though, they may provide this for your teen. So check with your cover school prior to ninth grade to find out how it handles high school credits, diplomas, graduation, and transcripts.

Download a free Sonlight homeschool curriculum catalog to get started homeschooling in Colorado today!Download a free Sonlight homeschool curriculum catalog to get started homeschooling in Colorado today!