Homeschooling in Georgia: Guidance for Getting Started
Looking for Georgia homeschooling information? Whether you are making decisions about a young child not yet in school or you’re worried about a child who isn’t thriving in public school, this guide can set you on the path for homeschooling in Georgia. Armed with these Georgia homeschool facts, you’ll be able to provide an excellent at-home education—one that meets all the legal requirements as outlined in Georgia’s homeschool law. Let’s learn how to get started as a homeschooler in Georgia!
DISCLAIMER: This article is not written as legal advice. Check with your local school board and official Georgia state laws before making decisions about educating your children.
Is it easy to homeschool in Georgia?
Georgia is considered a low-regulation state as per the Home School Legal Defense Association. Lower regulation means fewer hoops to jump through and thus feels easier from a parent’s perspective.
For example, Sarah Z. is a Sonlighter in Clarkston, GA who has been homeschooling in Georgia for five years. She reports,
...homeschooling in Georgia is easy because the state requires very little and there are a lot of homeschoolers, so we’re in good company. Very few people question seeing our kids out and about during school hours.”
So while homeschooling is regulated in Georgia, the regulations are not cumbersome or intrusive.
The Georgia Department of Education does not publish homeschool numbers, but based on consistently declining numbers of public school enrollment, it’s obvious that homeschooling is popular in Georgia, and growing in popularity each year!
Georgia Homeschool Requirements
Georgia homeschooling statues are very straightforward and minimal, so it’s not hard to decipher what the requirements for homeschooling in Georgia are. Read on for answers to the most frequently asked questions about Georgia homeschooling laws.
How many days are required for homeschool in Georgia?
Georgia homeschool law requires at least 180 instructional days per academic school year. A school day is defined as at least 4.5 hours.
The good news is that homeschooling is incredibly efficient. Watch the video below to find out why a homeschool day is typically much shorter than that of a public school.
There are no attendance forms required to submit in Georgia. Simply keep records for yourself and in the case that anyone ever questions your situation.
To help you keep good records, get a homeschool planner like the Sonlight planner.
It includes pages for nearly everything you’d want to document: goal setting, weekly student schedules, reading log, meal planning, chores, shopping lists, field trips, etc. Since it fits into a three-ring binder, you can easily slide in your Georgia-specific paperwork like your Declaration of Intent, standardized test results, and your annual summaries.
Do you have to be certified to homeschool in Georgia?
There is no certification process for homeschool parents in Georgia.
Do parents need qualifications to homeschool?
In Georgia, parents who homeschool must have a high school diploma (or GED).
Who is eligible for homeschooling?
Any parent with a high school diploma or GED is eligible to homeschool. When choosing to homeschool, you do first need to report your decision to the state board of education. You do this by registering with a Declaration of Intent. This important form is due within 30 days of beginning to homeschool and by September 1 in subsequent years.
The same process applies when switching from public schools to homeschooling in Georgia. Simply file your Declaration of Intent within 30 days to fulfill Georgia homeschool laws.
Is unschooling legal in Georgia?
Georgia homeschool regulations do not stipulate the methods of instruction. As long as you are fulfilling the required days and hours and are covering the five necessary academic subjects, you may opt to use the child-centered approach of unschooling.
Can I homeschool someone else's child in Georgia?
Homeschooling is confined to teaching only your own children. However, Georgia allows a parent to hire a tutor for homeschooling. So, yes, in the case of tutoring you can homeschool someone else’s child, but the parent retains legal responsibility for abiding by all regulations.
What are homeschooling requirements in Georgia?
Every state has its own homeschool regulations. Fortunately, the requirements of homeschooling in Georgia can be drilled down to a short list of five tasks:
To officially register as a homeschooler, you must file a Home Study Program Declaration Of Intent.
You can do that online with the Georgia Department of Education here (preferred method) or print the form here. If your child is enrolled in a public school, first withdraw the child and then file your intent. Be sure to save/print your Declaration of Intent because it is your official proof that you’ve legally registered as a homeschooler. Also, in the case of needing proof of enrollment (for example for a driver’s license or military enlistment), your declaration of intent serves as verification.
You need curriculum to cover these five academic areas:
Provide 180 days of instruction per school year. One day must be at least 4.5 hours long.
You need to write an annual progress assessment report in each subject area.
Although you aren’t required to submit those reports to anyone, the state expects you to retain these records for 3 years. This report should include the content your child covered along with notes about mastery and progress.
Starting at the end of third grade, homeschooled children must be tested every three years with a nationally standardized test.
Do you have to have a curriculum when homeschooling in Georgia?
Yes, to homeschool in Georgia, you’re required to provide a “basic academic educational program” that includes (at least) these five subjects: math, English language arts, science, social studies, and reading. So you’ll certainly need a curriculum to homeschool in Georgia.
Although the Georgia Department of Education maintains your Declaration of Intent records, it has no hand in your choice of homeschool curriculum. The DOE doesn’t suggest, evaluate, or provide curriculum. Choosing and purchasing curriculum is completely the parent’s responsibility.
Choosing curriculum can actually be a pain free experience. Start with a trusted curriculum provider whose goals match your own. Then purchase a complete package such as Sonlight’s All-Subjects Package. You can get everything you need in an integrated program in one single purchase. You can be sure that you’re meeting and exceeding all the Georgia homeschooling requirements.
When you’re choosing your Georgia homeschooling program, online homeschooling may look attractive to you. Of course, digital resources have a place in a child’s education, especially for supplementing, there’s no substitute for real books. Learn the powerful benefits of Sonlight’s literature-based approach here.
What do I need to homeschool my child in Georgia?
Once you’ve met the legal requirements of filing your letter of intent and chosen your curriculum, you need to consider the more intangible necessities for a successful homeschool experience. Let these thoughts by Laura Lee Ellis inspire you.
What I really need for my homeschool year
Those shiny new pencils aren't what's writing on the hearts of my children. I believe that if I want to give my kids a good education, I give them myself. As I use my brand new school supplies, I’ll think about what I really need to homeschool.
- When I lay out that blank sheet of fresh paper, I’m going to see the possibilities in my children.
- Every time I use my rubber bands, they’ll remind me to be flexible.
- An eraser will help me remember to forgive and forget. Everyone needs a clean slate.
- A ruler reminds me that the only standard I need to measure myself against is what God thinks of me. No comparison games! When I am measured by His love for me, I am more than enough and so are my children.
- When I wash off sticky little fingers covered in glue, I want to remember that sometimes being stuck together (all day) makes us strong.
- Modeling clay reminds me that I am shaping souls. I must be ready to be shaped and molded, too.
- Permanent markers help me remember that we are making our mark on the world with our daily choices. The investments I make today in my children are lasting.
- Paper clips hint that I can’t hold it all together, but I can give God my best and trust Him. He’s got this.
- A lunch box signals how I’ll nourish my children with healthy and sweet words.
- Crayons tell me to live life in full color, to bring beauty and fun to everyday things and show my children the wonder of being alive.
- When I see the pencil sharpener, I remember that I want my kids not only to be protected at home, but to be sharpened and refined as strategic ambassadors for the Kingdom.
- A globe signifies a perspective that others matter.
- A calculator and a stopwatch remind me to wisely learn to number my days and feel the brevity of my time.
I'm humbly asking for grace for the year ahead, so that I can remember what we really need in our homeschool each day. When I forget, I pray that sticky little hands will remind me and that the clean slate will be waiting each morning.
Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Georgia?
As per Georgia homeschool law, students “must be evaluated at least every three years beginning at the end of the third grade.” This assessment can be chosen by the parent but should be with a nationally standardized test. The Georgia Home Education Association has a wonderful list of approved standardized tests here.
Keeping records of the assessment is the responsibility of the homeschool parent. There is no requirement to submit scores or verification of test-taking to the state.
Getting Starting & Timing
Ready to get started as a homeschooler in Georgia? Find out how homeschooling works in the Peach State with these frequently asked questions and their answers. The good news is that it’s fairly simple to begin your homeschool adventure, and you can make this transition at any time of the school year and at any age/grade.
How do I start homeschooling in Georgia?
Of largest importance is filing your Declaration of Intent. This is how you officially enroll in homeschooling in the state of Georgia. Aside from that, there are no other homeschooling forms for Georgia.
If your child is currently enrolled in a public school, be sure to first withdraw the child before filing the Declaration of Intent. Reach out to the school to find out the official process for withdrawal.
Then you’ll want to choose a curriculum that covers all five required subjects: math, language arts, science, social studies, and reading. Read our getting started guide for the basics that apply in any state, including Georgia.
At what age is school mandatory in Georgia?
Compulsory school is in effect in Georgia for ages 6-16.
Can you skip kindergarten in Georgia?
Yes, since school attendance is required starting at age 6, kindergarten is optional in Georgia. You can skip kindergarten if you like and simply start homeschooling with first grade.
But you can certainly provide kindergarten at home, without the need to file a Declaration of Intent. A lovely, age-appropriate and gentle program is Sonlight History / Bible / Literature K. Learn more about it in the video below:
How long can you homeschool a child?
You can homeschool from grades K to 12, or you can opt to homeschool for a single school year. Some Georgia families are career homeschoolers who go all the way through high school while others homeschool only for a season. Remember that if homeschooling doesn’t work out for you, you can always return to or enroll in public school at any time.
Must-see Georgia Field Trips for Homeschoolers
Remember that field trip days count as instructional days! So document them as part of your 180 required school days. Use this field trip log which is a free excerpt from the Sonlight Planner to record your excursions.
Sarah Z., a Sonlighter in Clarkston, GA says,
With our Declaration of Intent that is filed with the Georgia Department of Education each year we can get homeschooling discounts at stores and museums. Our favorite homeschool field trips are Fernbank Museum, Stone Mountain Park, and all the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites, especially the Civil War and Revolutionary War battlefields.”
Here is a short list of possible Georgia field trip ideas for homeschoolers.
- Fernbank Museum
- Stone Mountain Park
- Computer Museum of America
- Museum of Aviation
- African-American Panoramic Experience (APEX) Museum
- Flint Riverquarium
- Roosevelt’s Little White House
- Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park
- Children’s Museum of Atlanta
- Historic Oakland Cemetery
- Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum
- Georgia Aquarium
- Coca-Cola Space Science Center
- Crisson Gold Mine
- Wylde Center
- Southeastern Railroad Museum
- Sunrise Planetarium
- Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm
- Chattahoochee Forest National Fish Hatchery
- Atlanta Monetary Museum at the Federal Reserve
Financial Considerations for Homeschooling in Georgia
There is a cost to be counted when you make the leap to at-home schooling in Georgia. Instead of relying on the state to educate your child, you are now responsible all the financial costs which include not only the purchase of curriculum, school supplies, extracurricular activities, and field trips, but may also involve a loss of income since one parent will likely have to sacrifice some working hours to educate the children.
The typical expense to homeschool a child per school year is $500 to $2500. For more in depth coverage of the topic, read this detailed guide How Much Does Homeschooling Cost?
Yes, you can homeschool in Georgia for free. But do you really want to?
The allure of free homeschooling resources from the library and the internet may make you question investing in a curriculum. Why pay when you can manage with free, right?
But the decision to homeschool for free is far more complex than comparing $0 to $600. When you opt to homeschool for free, that typically means you are investing a large percentage of your time in planning homeschool lessons and hunting for free resources. Even worse, there’s the very real possibility that the program you piece together will be subpar, inadequate, and riddled with gaps.
Admittedly, the younger your child is, the more you can get by with a DIY approach to homeschooling. But there’s an invaluable peace of mind when you invest in a pre-planned, trusted curriculum. You just open and go each day, knowing that professionals have designed a comprehensive, age-appropriate program.
To mitigate the cost of homeschooling in Georgia, leverage these frugal tips:
- Combine multiple children in a single program.
- Find a curriculum that is fully planned, saving you time that you can spend on your revenue generating side gig or job.
- Choose a program that is high quality, builds a home library, and matches your family’s values.
- Make use of payment plans to spread your outlay.
- Ensure the curriculum you choose has a money back guarantee.
There is no state funding for homeschooling in Georgia: no grants, and no homeschool voucher program.
No, the state of Georgia doesn’t provide any financial resources for homeschool families. All the costs are the responsibility of the family that has chosen to homeschool. The one exception is Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program for 9th-12th graders which will pay tuition, fees and books for approved courses.
No, homeschooling is not tax-deductible in Georgia.
As a resident, you are still obligated to pay any federal and state taxes you owe. There are no tax exemptions even if you opt out of the public school system to homeschool.
Finding Homeschool Community in Georgia
Despite all the benefits of homeschooling, at times the path can be weary. It’s during those discouraging moments that having a homeschool community is key. A support structure with like minded parents can help you maintain your perspective, suggest practical hacks for solving common problems, and provide a sympathetic ear.
To find homeschool community in Georgia, try these tips:
- Start at the Georgia Home Educators Association. This state-run organization has several resources for locating local and online support.
- Search Facebook groups for regional or city-based networks.
- Check the Sonlight Connections page for Georgia meet-ups
Christian Homeschooling in Georgia
As a homeschooler, you can infuse your day-to-day homeschool routine with your Christian faith. This is called Christian homeschooling.
You can read the Bible as part of the additional topics you add to the five subjects required by Georgia homeschool law. You can discuss everything you learn from the perspective of a Christ-follower.
Sonlight is the original Christian literature-based homeschool curriculum. It weaves Bible reading, missionary biographies, and a Christian worldview throughout each program, making it seamless to homeschool from a Christian worldview.
Partnering with Schools in Georgia
The Dexter Mosely Act outlines how Georgia homeschoolers in grades 6-12 may participate in their local school’s extracurricular and interscholastic activities.
In short, a parent wishing to take advantage of this perk must contact the principal and superintendent about the intent to enroll in a qualifying course at least 30 days ahead of time. The parent must provide the principal and superintendent with the student’s most recent annual progress report. Of course, a homeschooled student joining extracurricular activities at a public school must adhere to all the requirements (tryouts, rehearsals, etc.), qualifications, code of conduct, and policies that other students adhere to.
Homeschooling High School in Georgia
Yes, you can homeschool all the way through high school in Georgia. In fact, as a homeschooler, you have the unique freedom to craft a customized 4-year plan that allows your teen room to explore passions and experiment with future careers. Here’s a short list of resources to prepare you:
- Read our comprehensive guide here about getting started with homeschooling a high schooler.
- Get the Sonlight College and Career Planning Kit.
- Read this guide to Homeschool High School Requirements.
- Download the free homeschool transcript guide.
- Watch the video embedded below.
- Reach out to a Sonlight Advisor for personalized help.
Calculating High School Credits for Georgia Homeschoolers
As a homeschooler, you are responsible for awarding credits and issuing a high school transcript. Although Georgia public schools have to follow specific graduation requirements, homeschoolers are not held to those same standards.
However, if your teen wants to attend college, it’s wise to consult college admissions requirements to make sure you craft your 4-year high school plan accordingly. For example, see the University of Georgia’s admission criteria here.
The number of courses taken beyond the minimum requirement of 17–not to mention those designated as advanced, Honors, gifted, AP/IB or dual enrollment–will be heavily considered in the admission process.” —University of Georgia First Year Admission Criteria
There’s no reason to stick with the bare minimum when you can provide your high schooler a robust education, perfectly tailored to their interests. For advanced students, see Sonlight’s AP Preparation Courses here.
Getting a Georgia Driver’s License as a Homeschooler
Teens need a Certificate of Attendance to apply for a GA driver’s license. As a homeschooler, you simply use your signed Declaration of Intent to verify school attendance. Easy! Everything else about the process is the same.
Homeschooling High School Diploma in Georgia
Your local homeschool support group or co-op may offer a graduation ceremony and/or other traditional trappings for seniors such as a prom, an awards banquet, or a yearbook. But ultimately, awarding a diploma will be up to you. You can actually buy a homeschool diploma document online and personalize it accordingly.
Homeschooling with Dual Enrollment in Georgia
An excellent way to provide your teen challenging high school courses while also earning college credits is the dual enrollment program. Yes, dual enrollment is available for homeschoolers just like public schooled teens. These courses will appear on both the high school transcript (that you create) and their college transcript (provided by the institution).
The great news is that Georgia’s Dual Enrollment program will pay for tuition, fees, and books for approved college courses! Simply contact your local community college or university for details about enrolling and any requirements. Or visit the official state website here. This state-funded program is an excellent way to outsource some of your high schooler’s education, provide socialization experiences, and earn free college credits.