Homeschooling in Maryland: Guidance for Getting Started
Is your child nearing school age? Or are you unhappy with your current public or private school in Maryland? If homeschooling in Maryland is on your radar, this guide will get you started with the basics of the homeschool laws and requirements, what you’ll need, first steps for enrolling as a homeschooler, and how much it could cost you.
DISCLAIMER: Please note this Maryland homeschooling information is not written as legal advice. Check with your local school board and official Maryland laws before making decisions about educating your children.
Is it easy to homeschool in Maryland?
Although homeschooling is regulated in Maryland, it’s considered a low-regulation state by the Home School Legal Defense Association. So great news! Compared to stricter states, you are given quite a bit of freedom as a Maryland homeschooler to decide your own school calendar, choose the length of your school days, select your own materials and methods, and add extras to the eight required subjects.
Requirements for Maryland Homeschooling
Learn the rules for homeschooling in Maryland so you can reassure yourself just how doable homeschooling actually is in the Free State. Maryland homeschooling laws aren’t onerous at all. You’ll need to file some paperwork to get started and keep records through your year—nothing that you can’t manage even if you tend to be a bit disorganized!
How many days are required to homeschool in Maryland?
Although a number of days is not specified, Maryland law dictates that homeschool instruction “must take place on a regular basis during the school year and be of sufficient duration to implement the instruction program.” There are no Maryland homeschool hour requirements either.
No, Maryland’s homeschool laws allow any parent or guardian to homeschool their own children.
No, Maryland’s homeschool laws do not require parents to hold any certification or have any certain level of education in order to homeschool their own children.
As long as you report your intent to homeschool in Maryland with the Home Instruction Notification form, any parent or guardian is eligible to homeschool.
Whether you are switching from public school to homeschooling in Maryland or whether you’re homeschooling a kindergartener, you’ll need to file that same document to your local school system’s Home Instruction Coordinator.
Yes, the student-led style of homeschooling called unschooling is legal in Maryland. Although you are required to cover a certain list of 8 topics, how you do that is up to you.
The laws in Maryland allow a parent or guardian, but no one else, to bear the responsibility to homeschool a child. Guidelines do refer to the common practice of homeschool co-ops where families join to share teaching duties. While participating with a homeschool co-op as a supplement to home instruction is an acceptable practice, a homeschool parent always retains the primary responsibility for the education of the child. Even if that parent hires a tutor, the parent (or guardian) is ultimately responsible for adhering to the Maryland homeschool laws.
What are homeschool requirements in Maryland?
There is a required letter of intent for homeschooling in Maryland. This form is called the Home School/Home Instruction Notification Form and must be submitted 15 before you begin homeschooling. You can get a copy of this form from the Maryland State Department of Education here. This form needs to be filed annually for each year you are homeschooling.
This form asks basic information about your student, your contact information, and asks which of two methods you’ll use to homeschool:
- Maintaining your own portfolio of student work under the supervision of your local school district.
- Offering home instruction under the supervision of a Nonpublic Entity Registered to Supervise Home Instruction of Maryland Students, sometimes called an umbrella school.
What proof is required for homeschooling in Maryland?
Besides the Home School/Home Instruction Notification Form, homeschoolers must keep a portfolio that demonstrates “regular, thorough instruction in the studies usually taught in the public schools to children of the same age.” Source
Suggested items to include are
- instructional materials
- reading materials
- examples of the child’s writing
- creative materials
Visit the Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators for tips on keeping a homeschool portfolio and how to document the trickier subjects like PE or music.
These portfolios are reviewed at least twice per school year, usually at the end of each semester, with a maximum of three reviews per school year. Check with your school district about scheduling these assessments and any forms you may need to fill out. For example, Anne Arundel County Public School System has a Portfolio Review Form to submit.
Do you have to have a curriculum for homeschooling in Maryland?
Maryland homeschool law does not specifically require a curriculum. But it does outline eight topics homeschoolers must cover in their studies:
The state (or local school system) does not provide any teaching materials for homeschool families in Maryland. Parents are given liberty to craft an instructional plan as they see fit—in terms of both materials and methods.
So although you aren’t mandated to have a curriculum or tell on your letter of intent what curriculum you’ll be using, a curriculum certainly makes homeschooling easier! (Your portfolio review process will likely include questions about the curriculum you’ve chosen.)
You could try to wing it with off-the-cuff lessons and spontaneous internet explorations. But keeping a portfolio of such a loose style of homeschooling is quite a bit more challenging than sticking to a well-planned program.
For these reasons, most Maryland homeschoolers opt for a homeschool curriculum that provides them a solid base for their weekly and daily lesson plans and gives them tangible materials for a homeschool portfolio.
For the ultimate ease in homeschooling, buy a Sonlight All-Subjects Package that combines all you need in a single program. An ASP is the best curriculum for homeschooling in Maryland because you know your children are meeting—and surpassing—the Maryland state requirements.
When you’re shopping for homeschooling programs in Maryland, you may wonder about online homeschooling. While digital resources absolutely have their place in a child’s education, there’s no replacement for real books. Learn the incredible advantages of Sonlight’s literature-based approach here.
What do I need to homeschool my child in Maryland?
Once you’ve filed your letter of intent, you’ll want to gather these homeschool necessities and equip your home for learning adventures:
A Homeschool Curriculum
Choose a program (or a combination of various programs) that covers all of the eight required topics: English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education. Talk to a Sonlight Advisor if you need help customizing the perfect curriculum.
A Homeschool Planner for Yourself
Homeschooling is pretty much a full time job, and to stay on top of it, you’ll want a planner that shows you at a glance what your yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily plans are. The Sonlight homeschool planner is a pretty, 3-ring loose leaf organizer that was designed by homeschoolers who know what you’ll need to record throughout your school year (even if you aren’t quite sure yet).
A Place or System for the Homeschool Portfolio Contents
Each student needs a portfolio that will be evaluated at least twice per academic year. Prepare a bin or cart for physical items. Or set up online cloud storage where you scan or photograph work for digital safekeeping.
Spots for Reading, Writing, and Doing
Homeschooling doesn’t require a homeschool room at all! You can use your house in new ways to serve as your learning center.
For example, if you choose a literature-based curriculum like Sonlight, you’ll spend lots of time together reading books. A couch and a living room rug are perfect places to sprawl out and enjoy your read-alouds and then discuss them afterward. For the table subjects like math and language arts, you can repurpose your kitchen or dining room table as a school desk. And for science experiments and history crafts, you can clear off a kitchen counter or island!
A Shelf, Cart, or Cabinet for Books and Resources
As your materials arrive, organize them so that the daily necessities are handy and the long term resources are safely stored for future use. Watch these two videos for tips:
Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Maryland?
One of the questions on your Home Instruction Notification is whether your not you’d like your child/children to participate in the standardized testing program. So you have this option, but it’s not required.
Getting Starting with Homeschooling in Maryland
Are you convinced of the benefits of homeschooling in Maryland and ready for your first steps? Here’s how homeschooling works in Maryland.
How do I start homeschooling in Maryland?
Maryland has a great system for getting details about how to get started as a homeschooler since each school system has a designated home instruction program coordinator. Find who to contact in your local area on the state DOE site here.
Your main first step is to file that official form stating your intent to homeschool. Then you’ll want to devise a plan for how to cover the eight required subjects, allocate a method to keep student work for the required portfolio, and organize your at-home learning spaces.
Here are two official introductory videos created by Anne Arundel County Public Schools to help you get started with homeschooling in Maryland:
At what age is school mandatory in Maryland?
School is compulsory for all children ages 5-18 in Maryland. So children in this age range must either attend public school, private school, or be homeschooled.
Can you skip kindergarten in Maryland?
Since mandatory schooling starts at age 6 in Maryland, yes, you can skip kindergarten and start formal homeschooling with first grade at age 6. Or you can provide preschool or kindergarten at home without filing an intent to homeschool.
Homeschooling kindergarten or preschool in Maryland can be done at home with ease by using one of the three excellent programs below.
Read more here to figure out which one is best for your child. And reach out to an Advisor for free assistance if you’re still unsure.
- Preschool PackageRetail Price $429.70 Special Price $365.25
- Pre-Kindergarten PackageRetail Price $473.60 As low as $402.56
- Kindergarten CurriculumRetail Price $956.78 As low as $765.42
How long can you homeschool a child in Maryland?
There’s no limit to how long you can homeschool. Some families homeschool from kindergarten to high school graduation whereas other families homeschool only for a season of 2-4 years. Because your child’s education is such a huge decision, it’s wise to revisit your choice each year based on your family’s changing needs. Use this free guide to evaluate your goals and renew your decision to homeschool.
If you do decide to return to public school after a season of homeschooling, contact your local Maryland school district. The school may use tests and/or interviews to evaluate your child and determine grade placement.
Must-see Maryland Field Trips for Homeschoolers
Maryland is jam-packed with historical sites, museums, and parks to bring your American history and science studies into three-dimensional relief right before your eyes. Better yet, many venues offer special homeschool programs or discounted homeschool days. MDHSA has a great list of these, but don’t be shy to call up your potential field trip destination and ask.
Document your learning excursions on this printable field trip log —a freebie taken from the Sonlight homeschool planner.
What are the best field trips for homeschoolers in Maryland?
Among the hundreds of Maryland field trip venues, here’s a list of twenty of the very best:
- Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine
- B&O (Baltimore & Ohio) Railroad Museum
- Historic St. Mary's City
- College Park Aviation Museum
- Antietam National Battlefield
- National Museum of Civil War Medicine
- Benjamin Banneker Historical Park & Museum
- Frederick Douglass Museum and Cultural Center
- Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park
- Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum
- National Aquarium
- Goddard Space Flight Center
- Pride of Baltimore II
- Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park
- Flag Ponds Nature Park
- Hancock’s Resolution
- Historic Jerusalem Mill Village
- Northampton Slave Quarters and Archaeological Park
- Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum
- Baltimore Museum of Industry
Financial Considerations for Homeschooling in Maryland
Choosing to homeschool in Maryland will impact your family finances in two main ways:
- Typically at least one parent will have to stop working or dramatically reduce working hours, thus lowering the household income.
- The Maryland family will have to purchase curriculum, learning resources, and finance all the extras like field trips, co-ops, and extracurriculars, adding a new expense to the family budget.
On the upside, many parents who work from home are able to successfully integrate homeschooling into their daily routines. And some families actually find that homeschooling is roughly equivalent to what they were spending on public school uniforms, school supplies, fees, fundraisers, etc. So don’t let the financial considerations cause you to automatically rule out homeschooling.
Besides, there are so many perks to homeschooling that truly cannot be measured in terms of dollars and cents. The real question is what will you lose if you don’t homeschool and what will you gain if you do?
How much does it cost to homeschool in Maryland?
School Choice Week reports that the state of Maryland spends an average of $15,489 per public school student each year. Compared to that whopping figure, homeschooling is incredibly low cost at just $500 to $2500 per student per year in Maryland.
To navigate the costs of homeschooling in The Old Line State follow these tips:
- Reassure yourself, first of all, that homeschooling is worth the sacrifices.
- Shop curriculum that can be used with multiple children and that builds a cherished home library.
- Choose materials that provide a money back guarantee and payment plans.
Through the BOOST program, there are funds available for low income families to get vouchers for private schools. But there is no state funding for homeschooling in Maryland.
It’s legal to homeschool in Maryland for free, but it’s probably not easy! To cover the eight required subjects with adequate instruction and to document your work with a portfolio, you’re better served by investing in materials and curriculum that will guide you, step by step through a pre-planned course of study. To supplement your at-home instruction, invest your homeschool budget in high quality co-op classes and digital subscriptions.
Don’t your children deserve the best you can provide? Would you expect to feed your children for free? Or clothe them for free? Of course not. So expecting to homeschool them for free is equally unreasonable. Now that doesn’t mean that you don’t shop the bargain racks, stock up on discounted grocery items, or use hand-me-downs! Getting a good deal and stretching your dollars are both wise choices! But think about how to best spend your limited resources instead of devising how to homeschool for zero cost.
No, Maryland does not provide families with money to homeschool.
No, homeschooling is not tax-deductible in Maryland.
Yes, you still have to pay school taxes even if you homeschool and don’t send your kids to public schools. Homeschooling doesn’t impact your tax liabilities on local, state, or federal returns.
Partnering with Schools in Maryland
Homeschooling laws in Maryland allow for two areas where homeschooled children can participate in school activities: standardized testing and Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). Aside from those two allowances, there is no other provision for homeschoolers to receive services from public schools.
Christian Homeschooling in Maryland
We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done.” —Psalm 78:4 When you read that verse, does the Holy Spirit tug at your heart, nudging you to homeschool?
Christian homeschoolers in Maryland have the benefit of adding Bible study and discussions to the required subjects. You can memorize scripture, read missionary biographies, and sing songs based on Bible verses. When you read books, you can discuss the characters’ choices and talk about your faith-based values with your children. When you have a bad day, you can stop and pray with your children.
If passing your faith to your children is a key reason you’re opting to homeschool, consider Sonlight. It’s a Christ-centered curriculum that weaves the gospel into every History / Bible / Literature package. Read Sonlight’s Christian homeschooling goals to see if they match yours.
Finding Homeschool Community in Maryland
You’re an introverted homebody who can’t wait to homeschool. Why would you need community? So many reasons!
There are going to be bad days, moments of self-doubt, and times when you question your decision. Your homeschool BFFs can lift you out of a homeschool slump, give you perspective and pray with you.
When you feel overwhelmed by so many curriculum choices or yet another math program has failed, your homeschool community can point you to the best resources. Whether it’s homeschooling with a toddler underfoot, motivating a reluctant middle schooler, or getting dinner on the table after a hectic day of lessons, your homeschool community has real-life answers that can make a huge difference in your success.
If you’re a tad too laid back, your homeschool group may provide a very needed kick in the pants. On the other hand, if you tend to set too lofty goals, your homeschool community can bring you back to reality.
Your homeschool community can be a valuable avenue for adult camaraderie, but in many cases your support also provides socialization for your children. With play dates, co-op classes, field trips, and Valentine exchanges, your local homeschool group gives kids chances to make friends and practice social niceties.
Visit the Sonlight Connections page where you can look for (or launch) an in-person homeschooling group in Maryland.
Maryland boasts a number of robust state-wide homeschool groups/websites:
- Maryland Homeschool Association - This diverse group of parents shares links to homeschool related news alongside helpful articles.
- Maryland Home Education Association - MHEA is the state’s first homeschool organization. Their barebones website provides a history of homeschooling in Maryland, tips for getting started, and a FAQ.
- Maryland Association of Christian Home Educators - For over 30 years, MACHE has been providing information, legislative alerts, in-person events, and local community groups. This is a must-visit website!
- Maryland Catholic Homeschoolers - This group aims to restore Christian unity among Roman Catholics and Catholic-Orthodox faiths.
Visit these sites, register as a member, sign up for their emails, consider their in-person events where provided, and browse their helpful articles. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There are generations of homeschoolers who have already walked this path. And they are generally thrilled to reassure a nervous newbie.
Homeschooling High School in Maryland
Don’t let the fear of transcripts, awarding credits, and college admissions without a high school guidance counselor hold you back from homeschooling through high school. Ask any veteran homeschool mom, and she’ll tell you that these years are the most rewarding!
Watch this video for inspiration and then get the Sonlight College and Career Planning Kit.
Sonlight's College and Career Planning Kit
As a homeschooler in Maryland, you have loads of freedom to craft a 4-year plan that suits your teen’s current passions and future goals. As long as you meet the eight required topics, you can choose the methods, materials, and electives that you desire. Sonlight offers flexible, mix-and-match curriculum packages for high school that will meet your state requirements.
As you scope out the high school years, keep in mind higher education goals. For example, if your teen might attend one of the colleges in the University System of Maryland, it’s wise to reverse engineer your 4-year high school plan to meet—even better, exceed—the admissions requirements. Here’s a brief outline of what’s required for incoming freshmen in terms of minimum core content:
- English 4
- Biological and Physical Sciences 3
- Social Science/History 3
- Mathematics 4
- Language other than English 2
For college admissions to Maryland state universities, homeschooled teens are held to the same standards as those who attended private or public schools. Both the transcript and diploma for a homeschooled high schooler are issued by the parents and not by any Maryland school. Get our free guide to creating homeschool transcripts here.
Homeschoolers in Maryland are eligible to participate in dual enrollment programs. Check with your local community college or university.