Homeschooling in New York: Guidance for Getting Started
Whether you already live in New York or are considering a move to the Empire State, use this guide to find out exactly what’s required of you as a homeschooler. Homeschooling in New York does require filing paperwork and meeting specific obligations, but it’s totally doable. So don’t let the New York homeschooling laws discourage you. Find out what you need to homeschool in New York, including curriculum, paperwork, and the steps to follow to get started.
DISCLAIMER: This New York homeschooling information is not written as legal advice. Check with your local school board and official New York state laws before making decisions about educating your children.
Is it easy to homeschool in New York?
Whether it’s easy or not is somewhat subjective. What’s hard for one family may be a walk in Central Park for another. Let’s hear from three actual New York homeschool moms for their thoughts on how easy it is to homeschool in the state.
NY is one of the highest regulated states for homeschooling. So it is one of the most difficult states to homeschool in, but is still very manageable. You have to submit an educational plan annually and then report quarterly on what was completed to your local school district as well as submit to testing and subject requirements.” —Jennie L., Sonlighter in Ballston Lake, NY.
New York isn't the easiest state to homeschool in. There's a lot of paperwork to file. It isn't hard to follow the regulations, and once you do it for a year or so it really just becomes routine. For one child you need to file 7 different pieces of paperwork each year: a letter of intent, an IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan which shows how you'll cover each required subject), 4 quarterly reports, and a year end evaluation (either testing or a written narrative). Most schools seem easy to work with. They don't question much and just file the paperwork.” —Jannette I., Sonlighter in Jamestown, NY
I began my homeschooling journey in NY and have since homeschooled in three other states. NY is difficult in that there is more paperwork to turn in to the district, but as a former teacher I did not find it to be painful. It just required that I stay on top of what I needed to do. I was thankful to be part of HSLDA while in those states. Even though we had to report to the district, there was no personal contact and we had no issues with them.” —Amber S., Sonlighter in Amherst, NY
Is homeschooling regulated in New York?
Yes, New York is one of the highest regulated states in terms of home education. So there are hoops to jump through and boxes to tick to make sure you’re in compliance with the homeschool laws. But just because it’s regulated doesn’t mean it’s difficult. It simply means you need to get organized to meet filing deadlines and keep good records.
Requirements for Homeschooling in New York
Judy W. is a veteran homeschooler in Homer, NY with adult children who wants to encourage you:
I homeschooled for about 20 years in NY. It’s definitely a regulation-heavy state, but once you get a handle on those regulations, it's more a matter of staying on top of your deadlines.”
Find out precisely what the New York homeschooling statues outline for parents below: days and hours required, certifications, qualifications, forms to file, and curriculum.
Who is eligible for homeschooling in New York?
New York law states that parents or legal guardians have the right to instruct their children at home. As long as they file the appropriate forms and reports, they are eligible to homeschool.
Is unschooling legal in New York?
There is no stipulation in New York homeschool laws about the style of the instruction, only that it must be offered for 180 days per school year and cover the listed subjects with a planned curriculum outlined in the annual Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP).
Unschooling is an educational approach that gives the child autonomy about what and how to learn. You can use this child-led style of homeschooling and still be in compliance with New York homeschool laws as long as you can document days of instruction and the materials you’ve provided your child for learning. Read more from Unschooling Mom2Mom about how to comply with NY regulations as an unschooler.
There is no New York homeschooling unschooling affidavit required.
Can I homeschool someone else's child in New York?
Yes, you can be enlisted (either as a volunteer or as a paid position) to homeschool a child that is not your own. However, the parents maintain all responsibility for filing paperwork and making sure requirements are met.
Do you need to report homeschooling in New York?
Yes, there is a letter of intent for homeschooling in New York that must be filed by July 1 (or within 14 days of beginning home instruction). Further, you must file an Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) each year for each child you are homeschooling. And there are quarterly reports that must be filed throughout the school year.
What do I need to homeschool my child in New York?
The Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP) form that is submitted annually to the state includes this information:
- the child's name, age, and grade
- a list curriculum, materials, textbooks, or plan of instruction for each of the required academic subjects
- the dates for submission of quarterly reports
- the names of the individuals providing instruction
So to homeschool in New York, you’ll definitely need curriculum and resources that adequately cover these academic topics at the indicated grade levels:
Homeschool New York has an excellent one-page summary of these required courses at each level. Although the state outlines topics to cover, homeschoolers are not required to do the same activities or follow the same course content as public school students.
What are homeschool requirements in New York?
In a nutshell, New York homeschooling requirements involve five obligations:
- filing a notice of intent
- creating an Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP)
- obtaining curriculum to meet the mandated subjects
- providing 180 days of instruction each school year
- filing quarterly reports
- filing an annual assessment that includes results of a standardized test
What proof is required for homeschooling in New York?
Due to the regulations in New York, you’ll want to become adept at recordkeeping as a homeschooler. To see examples visit Kathy Ceceri’s homeschool paperwork examples here.
Get yourself a binder and a homeschool planner like the one published by Sonlight. It was designed by homeschoolers who know exactly what kinds of records you’ll want to keep throughout the year. And with a three-ring binder, it’s easy to add in the specific New York forms and letters you’ll want for proof if there are ever any questions:
- Keep copies of all forms you file, always notating filing/sending dates.
- Keep the confirmation of your letter of intent. This proves you’re homeschooling legally with your district’s knowledge.
- Your school district is obligated to notify you that your IHIP is in compliance. This notice is another document of important proof.
- Keep track of your school days (and hours if high school level). Remember that field trips, co-ops, and extracurriculars count as instruction!
To further cover yourself legally, consider joining the Home School Legal Defense Association, a nonprofit organization that supports the constitutional right of parents to homeschool.
Jennie L. in Ballston Lake, NY finds her HSLDA membership beneficial:
I would recommend being a member of the HSLDA. I had one of their lawyers call my school district when they were insisting we submit info which was not required. Many times whoever is in charge of the homeschool reporting in the district is not aware of the actual requirements and will ask for more, thinking they have a right to it. I recommend being thoroughly acquainted with the real requirements and graciously pushing back when more is asked in order to help protect homeschooling freedoms in the state.”
HSLDA offers a membership discount for Sonlight customers. Look for this code to appear immediately after your curriculum purchase. If you’re a current customer who has purchased within the last 12 months, reach out to customer service if you didn’t make a record of the discount code.
Do you have to have a curriculum when homeschooling?
To homeschool in New York, yes, you must have a curriculum that is clearly outlined in your annual Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). Although you have to file the IHIP for each child, you can in many cases use the same curriculum for multiple children. Teaching two or more children together saves you money on curriculum and time in your daily routine!
For frictionless curriculum shopping that will include everything you need to fulfill New York homeschool requirements, use the SmoothCourse™ curriculum builder tool.
When you’re looking at homeschooling programs in New York, you might be wondering about online homeschooling that a child can do alone without much input from you. While virtual classes have a rightful place in a child’s education, there’s truly no replacement for enjoying and discussing great books alongside your child. Learn the valuable perks of Sonlight’s literature-based approach here.
Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in New York?
New York education laws specify that homeschool families must include an annual assessment along with their fourth quarterly report. This end-of-year reporting must include “the results of a commercially published norm-referenced achievement test or an alternative method.”
Homeschoolers in New York are not required to take state assessments, but they may use a state test to meet their annual testing requirement (as long as the test is one that evaluates individual student achievement).
Contact your local school district to find out how your homeschooler can take an assessment at a public school for free. If you opt for a different test than what is provided in the public school, you’ll need to arrange and pay for that yourself.
At grades 1-3, you may opt for the alternative method of end-of-year reporting—a written narrative that certifies adequate progress—instead of a standardized test. As the teaching parent, you can write this narrative yourself based on your experience with your child and their progress as evidenced by school work. At grades 4-8, you can use this alternative method only every other school year.
Getting Starting & Timing
When starting as a homeschooler in New York, remember these two key due dates for homeschooling forms:
- by July 1- File letter of intent
- by August 15 - File Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP)
These steps apply whether you're switching from public to homeschooling in New York or whether your child has never been in public school before and is starting homeschooling as a 6-year-old.
How do I start homeschooling in New York?
The first step to become a homeschooler in New York is to submit written notice to the superintendent of schools in your school district. The district must respond to a parent’s letter of intent regardless of when it is filed. It cannot be rejected simply because it’s mid-school year. But it’s smoother if you do this filing in the summer, on or before July 1.
Within 10 business days, the district will provide a copy of the homeschooling regulations and a way to submit the Individualized Home Instruction Plan (IHIP). The IHIP must be submitted by August 15 or within four weeks of receiving the form (whichever is later).
Then the school district has 10 business days (or by Aug. 31) to confirm that the IHIP is compliant (or that it is deficient). This confirmation is an important document you’ll want to add to your homeschooling records. After you’ve completed these two simple steps, you’ve enrolled in homeschooling in New York.
Now it’s time to start thinking like a homeschooler. Follow this guide to getting started for tips that work in New York or any state.
At what age is school mandatory in New York?
Six is the age of mandatory schooling. Here’s more detail from the NYSED:
The law now requires children who turn six on or before December 1 to receive instruction from the start of the school year in September of that year. Children who turn six after December 1 must begin to receive instruction no later than the first day of school the following September.”
Can you skip kindergarten in New York?
Because the age of compulsory schooling is six, yes, you can skip kindergarten in New York and start with first grade at age six.
However, many five-year-olds benefit from a gentle dabbling into more formal schooling. So you are free to teach kindergarten at home as a homeschooler. And the upside is that there’s no regulation at this stage or at younger levels like preschool or pre-K. You can do preschool, pre-K, or kindergarten at home without notifying the state or filing any paperwork.
Choose an age-appropriate curriculum that nurtures your youngster’s natural curiosity and instills a love of reading. Here are three choices to consider before compulsory schooling at age 6:
- Preschool Package: Fiction, Fairy Tales, and Fun for ages 3-4
- Pre-Kindergarten Package: Exploring God's World for ages 4-5
- Exploring American History: History / Bible / Literature K for ages 5-7
How does homeschooling work in New York?
In New York, any parent can choose to homeschool by submitting these documents each year: a letter of intent, an IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) for each child, quarterly reports, and an end-of-year evaluation.
Homeschool parents are responsible for choosing a curriculum which covers the required academic subjects, but the specific materials and teaching methods are up to them. Further, homeschoolers have to document 180 days of instruction each school year.
Parents don’t get paid to homeschool or receive any funds to support their venture. All costs fall to the families to cover. But there is an active state homeschool organization (Homeschool New York: Loving Education at Home) and many smaller local groups that provide networking and practical tips to support your choice. You are far from alone as a homeschooler in New York!
How long can you homeschool a child?
In New York, you can homeschool from first grade to twelfth grade and can graduate your homeschooler from high school with a homeschool diploma.
But you don’t have to commit to an entire educational career of homeschooling from the start. You can make the choice year by year, deciding anew at the conclusion of each school year. Or you can opt to homeschool during elementary years after a few years in public or private school. Some families choose to transition from public school to homeschool during middle school or even during high school, although those numbers tend to be smaller than those switching at younger years.
Must-see New York Field Trips for Homeschoolers
Melissa N. of Chittenango, NY raves about New York field trip possibilities:
I think it's impossible to choose a favorite New York field trip location. I live in a small town in upstate New York that happens to be the birthplace of L. Frank Baum, has its own amazingly beautiful waterfall, and sits on the Erie Canal with a hands-on Canal Boat Museum, not to mention our very own zoo, The Wild Animal Park.
A short drive away from my town, you can find numerous historical sites such as the Gerrit Smith Estate historic landmark, Matilda Joslyn Gage Museum, Fort Stanwix, plus a dozen more waterfalls, as well as countless nature preserves, state and national forests.
I believe nearly every town in New York has a similar story. We all have something to offer, or we are a short drive to something marvelous. The real dilemma is choosing which field trips to not do so you can get your other school work done. But then again, that's what audiobooks are for! Put on a story, take a 2-3 hour drive in any direction, and you'll no doubt find something of interest.”
Judy W., a Sonlighter in Homer, NY echoes Melissa’s excitement,
NY is rich in field trip opportunities. Landmarks, battle fields, museums, living history sites, forts, etc... Outdoor activities abound with hiking, skiing, water sports, camping, etc…”
Here are 20 additional top New York field trips for homeschoolers:
- Saratoga Battlefield “an excellent Revolutionary War field trip” as per Jennie L. in Ballston Lake, NY.
- Niagara Falls
- Letchworth Falls
- Onöhsagwë:de’ Cultural Center
- Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York — the burial site of Susan B. Anthony and Fredrick Douglass
- Seneca Falls Historic District
- Museum of Jewish Heritage
- Cradle of Aviation Museum and Education Center
- Bailey Arboretum
- Howe Caverns
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology
- Museum of the Earth
- The New York State Museum
- Almanzo Wilder Homestead
- Harriet Tubman Home
- Rockwell Museum
- Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site
- John Brown Farm State Historic Site
- Ellis Island (Statue of Liberty National Monument)
- Adirondack Experience
Benefits of Homeschooling in New York
Jannette I., a Sonlighter in Jamestown, NY outlines her favorite parts of homeschooling in New York:
The benefits for us are that we are still near family. We have the ability to go help grandparents when we need to. We can enjoy the summer without it being too hot most of the time. Winter we can enjoy snow activities like skiing and sledding. We are part of a great homeschool organization called Homeschool New York. Our local chapter has been a great place for our family to make friends. Through the co-op we got to be part of a musical and enjoy many classes like art, woodworking, PE, cake decorating, and others. Just like any other state, homeschooling allows us to reach our kids where they are in their learning. They get their best possible education with all the one-on-one [support] they need.”
Financial Considerations for Homeschooling in New York
The greatest single expense for homeschooling is your curriculum and other learning materials. Second to that is the cost of extras like field trips, clubs, sports, and other extracurriculars.
Of course, one big cost is the loss of income. Typically at least one parent will have to sacrifice full time employment in order to homeschool. But some families are able to juggle working and homeschooling simultaneously, even running their own business while they work from home.
How much does it cost to homeschool in New York?
The annual expense to homeschool ranges from $500 to $2500. (This figure is per child per school year.)
To dive more deeply into the cost of homeschooling in New York, visit this extensive guide How Much Does Homeschooling Cost? And as you count the cost and rewards of homeschooling, read these additional perspectives:
Does New York pay for homeschooling?
No, New York does not provide any state funding for homeschooling, nor are there any grants or vouchers for homeschooling. Basically all funding for homeschooling in New York comes from the individual homeschool families themselves.
How can I homeschool in New York for free?
If you can get your hands on free materials that adequately cover the required topics for the mandated 180 days each school year, then theoretically, yes, you can homeschool in New York for free.
But most families find that free homeschooling in New York creates other costs, namely in the time and attention it takes to scour the internet for freebies and plan a DIY curriculum that satisfies state requirements. And then there’s the uncertainty that the program is truly adequate.
It’s best to rely on tried and true homeschool programs that you pay for (and can trust are complete) versus trying to homeschool for free. With an established homeschool curriculum, your annual IHIP filing is easy. For example, if you’re using Sonlight, you simply list the books in your program and print out the scope and sequence. With that documentation, it’s crystal clear that your program is robust and more than enough to meet New York homeschool requirements.
Can I get money from the state for homeschooling in New York?
New York does not provide families with any kind of money or credits for homeschooling. All financial costs are the responsibility of the family choosing to homeschool.
Is homeschooling a tax write-off or tax-deductible in New York?
No, there is no tax deduction, tax credit, or other tax benefit to homeschooling in New York on either your state or federal tax returns.
Do I have to pay school taxes if I homeschool?
Yes, you still have to pay state taxes even if you are a homeschooler. Homeschooling doesn’t give you a pass from paying the state and local taxes that support public schools.
Partnering with Schools in New York
There is no legal basis for part-time homeschooling in New York. As a result, homeschoolers in New York are not allowed to participate in the instructional program of a school district. Summer school is an exception to that rule, however.
But check with your local school district about school-sponsored club activities (such as band or music) since each local area can make their own policies about extracurriculars. The same holds true for borrowing learning resources such as library books or microscopes. Each district has its own policies and may be willing to work with you as a homeschooler.
Jannette I., a Sonlighter in Jamestown, NY shares her experience:
We don't get to participate in public school activities at all. The high school kids can't go to BOCES for vocational training unless they pay like adults. Sports are limited without being allowed to join public school sports, especially after about age 12 in the rural areas. We knew that when we started and we still believe the benefits outweigh the downsides.”
Christian Homeschooling in New York
Homeschool families choose this educational path for many reasons, including the opportunity to infuse their Christian faith into their daily studies. Homeschooling for religious reasons can give you resolve on the days when it feels like a slog. After all, you’re homeschooling to the glory of God!
- add Bible into their curriculum
- read Christian biographies
- pray for missionaries
- discuss everything through the lens of faith in Christ
If you’d like a curriculum that has already baked in all these Christian components, go with Sonlight. It’s the original Christian literature-based homeschool curriculum.
Finding Homeschool Community in New York
Community is key to success as a homeschooler! So here are starting points for finding the support network you’ll need.
Homeschool New York (formerly Loving Education at Home) is the long-standing state homeschool organization that holds in-person events as well as online support. Judy W. in Homer NY suggests you
Definitely check them out. They do a good job of assisting new homeschoolers, providing access to the regulations, and encouraging local support groups.”
To get more local, check Facebook for groups of homeschoolers in your city, county, or general region. And do an internet search for co-ops and homeschool groups in your area. For example, Mosaic Homeschool Community is an inclusive group for homeschoolers in western NY. Homeschool New York also lists local groups on their website. Some groups are mostly for the parents to connect and learn while other groups focus on activities for the children.
For users of Sonlight curriculum, there’s Sonlight Connections. You can search for an in-person homeschooling group in New York (or start one yourself). And of course, there’s a Sonlight Connections Facebook group where you can chat with like-minded homeschool moms and Advisors.
Homeschooling High School in New York
When it comes to homeschooling high school in New York, you still have the same requirements of paperwork and specific subjects to cover. The main difference at this stage relates to what your teen wants to do after high school and making sure those prerequisites for next steps are met.
You, the homeschool parent, are responsible for issuing a high school diploma and a transcript. The school system will not provide that.
Twenty-two credits are required for New York public high school graduation as outlined below. (See the actual NY state graduation regulations here.) While homeschool requirements are slightly different, it’s wise to at least meet the minimum public school expectations, especially if your teen wants to attend college. In fact, many college admissions standards are higher than the minimum state graduation requirement. So looking at college requirements is really your safest option.
|Global History and Geography
|Participation in Government
|Additional Life Science or Physical Science
|Visual Art, Music, Dance, and/or Theater
To help you create your 4-year high school plan in New York, follow these steps:
- Watch the video above.
- Order the Sonlight College and Career Planning Kit.
- Read this advice to homeschoolers who want to attend college, provided by The New York State Education Department.
- Get admissions requirements from all of your teen’s potential colleges and universities.
- Identify any additional documentation you may need to verify your teen’s education. For example, many homeschoolers ask their local district to verify that the high school graduate has successfully finished the substantial equivalent of a high school education. Other teens take the GED or another standardized test such as the SAT as proof.