Homeschooling in Tennessee: Guidance for Getting Started

Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, if you are a parent considering homeschooling your child, it is important to know the details of what your specific state requires.

This has everything you need to get started homeschooling in Tennessee, including legal requirements, documentation information, and resources to help you connect with other homeschoolers in your area. 

With this valuable information, you’ll be well-equipped to decide if homeschooling is right for your family, what type of approach you prefer for homeschooling in TN, and the action steps to take in order to get started today. 

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

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

Is it easy to homeschool in Tennessee?

The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has classified Tennessee as a “low regulation state.” This means that state regulations are limited in Tennessee. Many families in the state find it to be quite easy to navigate homeschooling.

We are pretty new to Tennessee (we moved here last July), and we are loving it! We came from WA state and requirements are lighter here. We have already met so many homeschoolers which has been great!”  — Raqueli D., Sonlight Homeschooler, Lewisburg, TN

Homeschooling is increasing in popularity in the state of Tennessee with approximately 13.2% of all TN students being homeschooled in 2021, according to U.S.Census data. This was a 7.8% increase compared to 2019.

The W. Family, Sonlighters from Fairview, TNThe W. Family, Sonlighters from Fairview, TN
The W. Family, Sonlighters from Fairview, TN

What are the Requirements for Homeschooling in Tennessee?

Homeschoolers in Tennessee have three options to choose from in order to legally learn at home. Each option has its own set of requirements. They are:

  • An independent homeschool
  • A church-related school or CRS
  • A Category III distance learning school

Let’s examine the legal statutes associated with each of these alternatives:

An Independent Homeschool

In order to operate as an “independent homeschool” in Tennessee,  you must meet the following requirements each year:

  • Meet all required teacher's qualifications. In Tennessee, you must have at least a high school diploma or a GED in order to homeschool your child.
  • Submit a notice of intent. Before each school year, you must submit a notice of intent to homeschool to your local school district. This notice should include your children’s names and ages, the total number of homeschooled students in your household and their grade levels, your address, the curriculum being used, and your proposed hours of instruction. You must also confirm that you meet Tennessee’s educational qualifications (high school diploma/GED). You will find the notice of intent form on the Tennessee Department of Education’s website
  • Submit proof of immunization. You must attach proof of your child’s immunizations or a medical/religious exemption to your letter of intent.
  • Meet day and hour requirements. You are required to homeschool 180 days each year, four hours each day in Tennessee. Attendance records must be submitted each year to the director of schools in your local school district. 
  • Testing in grades 5, 7, and 9. Standardized testing is required for homeschoolers in grades 5, 7, and 9. This is administered by the commissioner of education or by a professional testing service approved by your local education agency. 

A Church Related School (CRS)

Another option for homeschoolers in Tennessee is enrolling in a church-related school or “CRS.” This “umbrella school” oversees you, as your child’s teacher, and provides varying levels of homeschool support and resources. This statute requires:

  • Formal enrollment in the CRS
  • Submit proof of immunization or exemption status to the CRS

Comply with all policies established by the CRS. This will include attendance requirements, documentation, and testing, although the specifics of these requirements will vary from school to school.

A Category III Distance Learning School

“Category III” schools are accredited non-public schools. These schools are required to report student attendance information to the school district in which the student resides. More information about Category III schools is available through the Tennessee Department of Education

How many days are required for homeschool in Tennessee?

The state of Tennessee requires 180 days of instruction for all students, including homeschoolers, each school year. One of the benefits of homeschooling in Tennessee is that these 180 days can be any days throughout the calendar year. You choose which days to teach and learn in your homeschool. 

There is also a four-hour learning requirement each school day. Again, homeschooling your child gives you the flexibility to determine which four hours and learning activities make up your school day. 

You are required to keep attendance records in Tennessee and submit them each year to the director of schools in your local school district.

How Long Does Homeschooling Take?

The truth is how long homeschooling takes varies by the level and age of your students. One thing is for sure, it doesn't take as long as a public school - you have far fewer transitions in your homeschool day. No need for attendance, lining up, and waiting for personal teaching instruction if your child needs help. In the video below, we address how long homeschooling takes with Sonlight.

Do you have to be certified to homeschool in Tennessee?
Who is eligible for homeschooling in Tennessee?
​Is unschooling legal in Tennessee?
Can I homeschool someone else's child in Tennessee?
The A. Family, Sonlighters in Knoxville, TNThe A. Family, Sonlighters in Knoxville, TN
The A. Family, Sonlighters in Knoxville, TN

Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Tennessee?

One of the requirements of homeschooling as an independent homeschool in Tennessee is standardized testing in grades 5, 7, and 9. Tests are administered by designated agencies through your local school district. You are allowed to remain with your child as they take their first test in the 5th grade. 

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

When you file your notice of intent each year in Tennessee, you are asked to describe the subjects you will cover in your homeschool. This is only a general description, as there is no requirement to use a set curriculum for homeschooling in Tennessee. This means that you are free to choose the learning resources and materials you feel best meet your child’s needs. 

That being said, finding the best curriculum for your homeschool can sometimes feel overwhelming. Even though there isn’t a legal requirement to use a specific type of program, finding a dynamic, comprehensive curriculum will make homeschooling your child so much easier!

The Sonlight All-Subjects Package has everything you need to homeschool in Tennessee. You can confidently teach your child knowing that all state requirements are being met. More importantly, you’ll provide an excellent learning experience for your child. 

You may be considering online learning programs as part of your homeschool curriculum plan. While there is certainly a place for digital resources in your homeschool, we have found that there is no substitute for learning with inviting and powerful books. Learn more about the significant advantages of Sonlight’s literature-based approach here. 

The C. Family, Sonlighters in Selmer, TNThe C. Family, Sonlighters in Selmer, TN
The C. Family, Sonlighters in Selmer, TN

Getting Started as an Tennessee homeschooler

Once you have submitted your notice of intent to homeschool, we recommend that you review our 101 Guide to Getting Started as a Homeschooler. This will help you develop an understanding of the basics of a homeschool day in Tennessee. It also provides practical considerations to review as you begin homeschooling in Tennessee. 

How do I start homeschooling in Tennessee?

After completing Tennessee homeschool documentation requirements, it is wise to begin to create your homeschool plan for learning. Many families find it helpful to have some idea of what the day-to-day routine of homeschooling entails. Here are two videos to help you prepare:

Once you have an idea of how you would like to approach homeschooling in your family, you’ll need to choose a curriculum. Your choice should include all subjects you listed in your annual notice of intent to homeschool. 

Many families find the transition from a classroom to home education to be a welcome change. As with any change, however, it can take some time to get comfortable with the different demands of learning at home. This video provides helpful tips for making the transition to homeschooling. 

It is also a good idea to designate a space in your home to house all of your books and learning resources. You may find that homeschooling often happens on your couch, at the dining room table, or even in your backyard! There is no need to designate a specific room for school, but you will likely find it helpful to keep all of your materials in one location for easy access. 

At what age is school mandatory in Tennessee?

School is compulsory for all children ages 6-17 in the state of Tennessee. Prior to six, you may choose to homeschool, but it is not required.

Can you skip kindergarten in Tennessee?

Because school is not compulsory until age 6, you may choose to skip kindergarten entirely. 

Many families find that the flexibility of homeschooling allows for gentle learning in early education. You may feel that your preschooler is ready for some level of learning

The good news is, Sonlight has three different options for a gentle approach to homeschooling in the early years.

  1. product-img
    Pre-Kindergarten Package
  2. product-img
    All-Subjects Package K