Homeschooling in Texas: Guidance for Getting Started
Howdy, Texas parents! This article is your beginner guide for homeschooling in Texas—a Homeschool Texas 101 that will answer the most commonly asked questions about getting started in Texas as a homeschooler. What do you need as a homeschooler? What does Texas require from you? And what are the best Texas field trip destinations?
DISCLAIMER: This article is not written as legal advice. Check with your local school board and official Texas state laws before making decisions about educating your children.
Is it easy to homeschool in Texas?
The Lone Star State has a one-word state motto: Friendship. This friendly tone carries over into the state’s perspective towards homeschooling. Texas Sonlighters affirm unanimously that Texas is a very homeschool-friendly state and that it’s easy to homeschool in Texas.
Here’s a common example of what Texas homeschool moms say:
It is extremely easy to homeschool in Texas! The requirements are beyond met just using your Sonlight curriculum, and there isn’t any oversight.”—Branalyn D. in Bryan, TX
Is Homeschooling Regulated in Texas?
The low regulation of homeschooling in Texas is a major perk. As Annabelle R. in Montalba, TX says,
It’s super easy to homeschool in Texas!”
There is virtually zero regulation, oversight, or requirements made of homeschoolers. You’re on your own! For most parents, this freedom is a huge relief. But if you prefer to have a bit more accountability or support, be sure to invest in a well-planned curriculum and find a solid community of like-minded parents.
Is Homeschooling Popular in Texas?
Yes, homeschooling is quite popular in Texas. The baseline 2019 rate of homeschooled children (before the Covid-19 pandemic caused rates to surge threefold) was 4.5%.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that in 2016 3.3% of American children were being homeschooled. This puts Texas ahead of the national average.
Meredith H. is a Sonlighter in Bertram, TX who reports,
Homeschooling isn’t seen as weird because it’s pretty common here. Texas colleges also actively recruit homeschooled students.”
Homeschooling in Texas: Stats
The number of students withdrawing from public school to homeschool has increased at an average of 6.5% per year between 1997 and 2019. See the data here.
Texas Homeschool Coalition conservatively estimates that over 400,000 families in Texas are currently homeschooling. That’s a quarter of a million children!
Texas Homeschool Requirements
Mandy A. in Corpus Christi, TX says it succinctly:
The BEST PART about homeschooling in Texas is that we are completely detached from the government. No registering. No reporting. No testing.”
A look at the US Department of Education’s webpage about Texas proves the state’s minimal oversight of homeschool requirements in Texas. The entire “Home Schools” section is a scant 270 words and twice uses the sentence, “No state policy currently exists.”
You are mostly free to educate however you’d like as long as you follow the minimal and reasonable rules for homeschooling in Texas.
How many days are required for homeschool in Texas?
In Texas, children being taught at home are exempt from the compulsory attendance requirement of 170 days. Thus, there is no set number of school days required for homeschoolers. It’s up to you as a parent to
- plan your own homeschool schedule
- set your start and end dates for the school year
- choose what days you’ll do bookwork
- select which days you’ll take field trips
Texas homeschooling: Hour Requirements
Along the same lines, there is no specified minimum of instructional hours for homeschoolers.
Due to the efficiency of homeschooling, the school day for homeschoolers is typically much shorter than that of public schoolers. So don’t feel that you have to mimic the 7:45 to 2:15 daily routines of the elementary school or middle school in your neighborhood. And the younger your children are, the shorter your school day will be—just a couple of hours at the lower levels!
Who is eligible for homeschooling?
Because there are no parental qualifications to homeschool, any Texas parent is eligible for homeschooling.
According to Texas homeschooling laws and statutes, there is no affidavit or letter of intent required to homeschool. You do not need to report anywhere that you are choosing to homeschool, especially if your child has never been to public school.
However, there may be a rare situation when a school or district asks you to affirm in writing that you will abide by the law when you are withdrawing a child from public school.
If you are switching from public to homeschooling in Texas, do formally withdraw your child from school so there are no issues with truancy. But if your child has never been to public school, no communication with the school or district is necessary on your part. You are eligible to homeschool without any reporting needed.
Absolutely not. There is no requirement to be a certified teacher (or hold any other type of certification or degree) to homeschool in Texas. Any parent can homeschool their children.
There are no parental qualifications in place in Texas. Any parent (or parental authority) can choose to homeschool.
Is unschooling legal in Texas?
As long as the simple requirements (see below) are met, parents are free to choose the educational philosophy they prefer, including unschooling. So, yes, unschooling is legal in Texas. Just be sure that your children are touching on the five key academic areas: math, reading, spelling, grammar, and good citizenship.
See specific examples of how unschooling can meet Texas’s requirements at Texas Unschoolers.
Can I homeschool someone else's child in Texas?
A Texas Supreme Court ruling states that “a parent or one standing in parental authority” may homeschool. The parent or guardian holds the responsibility to make the choice to homeschool and to determine how it is achieved.
It’s common to outsource the teaching of certain topics to experts by way of co-ops, tutors, or online instruction while the parent remains the ultimate authority on decision making. Enlisting a second party to do all the homeschooling is an unusual situation, but when done under the close supervision and control of a parent or guardian, it is likely to fall within the bounds of acceptable Texas homeschooling.
What do I need to homeschool my child in Texas?
The Texas Education Agency states, “The TEA does not regulate, index, monitor, approve, register, or accredit the programs available to parents who choose to home school.”
Brandi H. is a Sonlighter in El Paso, TX who says,
Texas is wonderfully homeschool-friendly. We are able to spend time in public, during school hours, without fear of harassment.”
In Texas, you’ll need what any homeschooler needs:
- time and energy to spend teaching your children
- materials that cover the five key areas outlined for Texas homeschoolers
Keep reading for more specific options for homeschooling in Texas.
What are homeschool requirements in Texas?
Homeschool requirements are very minimal in Texas. Parents who choose to homeschool must teach these five subjects:
- good citizenship
The curriculum must be bona fide, that is real and purposeful, not a ruse to appear as if you’re homeschooling when you actually are not teaching your children.
What Proof Is Required for Homeschooling in Texas?
There is no proof required for homeschooling in Texas. A Texas school district may ask a parent to affirm in writing that those five subjects are being covered, but there is no curriculum approval process. And this affirmation is not required on an annual basis. In fact, if your child has never attended public school, it’s unlikely you’ll ever hear from your local school district at all.
Texas homeschooling requirements are truly minimal, making Texas an easy state to homeschool in.
Do you have to have a curriculum when homeschooling?
While there are no specific requirements about curriculum, Texas homeschoolers are expected to cover a few key academic areas: math, spelling, reading, grammar, and good citizenship. So as long as your chosen curriculum or activities cover those five areas, you are well within Texas law.
While you can DIY your way through those five core subjects, a curriculum will give you peace of mind that you’re not leaving out big chunks of information. And a curriculum means the planning is done for you. It removes all the research and gathering so you have the time to enjoy learning alongside your children—the fun part!
Curriculum for Homeschooling in Texas
You may want to piece together different homeschool programs to cover these areas.
- Choose trusted spelling programs here.
- Look at the best math curriculum here.
- See grammar options here.
- Find a great reading (phonics) curriculum here.
Or go for the easiest and most comprehensive option and buy a Sonlight All-Subjects Package that will go well beyond fulfilling this list of five topics. An ASP is your best curriculum for homeschooling in Texas, because you know your children are meeting all the Texas state requirements and so much more!
When you’re weighing homeschooling programs in Texas, you may be considering online homeschooling. While digital resources have their place in a child’s education, there’s no substitute for real books. Learn the incredible advantages of Sonlight’s literature-based approach here.
Do homeschoolers have to take standardized tests in Texas?
What are Texas education laws regarding homeschooling testing? Homeschoolers are not required to take standardized tests. Remember there is virtually no regulation over Texas homeschoolers.
However, if your children ever do return to public schools, the district may opt to test them for placement purposes or to award credit.
Or you may voluntarily choose to have your children tested to keep tabs on their progress and compare them to their peers. But there’s no Texas entity forcing you to take the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR®) or any other standardized tests.
Getting Starting & Timing
There are so many benefits of homeschooling in Texas! The geography, infrastructure, and history of Texas offer a wealth of real world learning opportunities for families.
For example, Brandi H. in El Paso, TX reports,
Texas has every type of landscape for studying science, for outdoor PE, or for family vacations. We have mountains, deserts, hill country, plains, and beaches. We have big, bustling cities with all the opportunities they have to offer, and we have wide open spaces with brilliant night skies for stargazing.
We have rich cultural heritages: cowboys and Indians, Civil War, Mexican and Native American. All of these opportunities provide options for bringing learning to life—making it real and personal.
Texas also has 89 state parks and a very affordable park pass making travel to these locations very affordable for large families who like to camp."
So how does homeschooling work in Texas? Here are more facts (keep reading) about getting started.
How do I start homeschooling in Texas?
To get started as a homeschooler in Texas, there’s little required.
If your child has never been enrolled in a public school, you don’t have to do any reporting, file any forms, sign any affidavits, or otherwise take any official actions. You simply teach your child at home! Thus there is no way to enroll in homeschooling in Texas. You simply start homeschooling!
If your child has been enrolled at a public school, however, you will first want to officially withdraw your child. There are no homeschooling forms in Texas even in this case. You simply let the school know you are withdrawing to homeschool. And that’s it!
At what age is school mandatory in Texas?
In Texas, children ages 6-17 are considered school age.
Can you skip kindergarten in Texas?
Since kindergarten is typically done at age 5 and school-age doesn’t start until 6, you can infer that kindergarten is not required in Texas. Homeschoolers can opt to skip the kindergarten level altogether and simply start with first grade at age 6.
And of course, pre-K or preschool are not required either.
However, homeschooling kindergarten in Texas is very popular! And there’s no reason to skip this precious school year if your child is ready to start a gentle approach to academics.
Sonlight History / Bible / Literature K is a beautiful option for ages 5 or 6, so you could use it for kindergarten or for first grade.
How long can you homeschool a child in Texas?
In Texas, school is compulsory for ages 6-17, and you can homeschool during all of those ages and grades. However, you can also start sooner with preschool at home.
You can homeschool a child all the way from the earliest grades all the way through high school graduation after twelfth grade. Be inspired by these stories of successful Sonlight graduates here.
Must-see Texas Field Trips for Homeschoolers
Are you a fan of homeschool field trips? Meredith H. of Bertram, TX wants to encourage you! She says,
Homeschooling in Texas is just a lot of fun! There is so much to do and see, and the weather is conducive to lots of outdoor activity. Texas has a very unique state history, culture, and topography, so there are lots of fun things to learn about and experience!”
To get you started with planning your Texas field trips, here’s a list of favorite venues as reported by Texan homeschoolers:
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
- National Museum of the Pacific War
- San Antonio Zoo
- U.S.S. Lexington
- South Padre Island
- The Alamo
- Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
- Perot Museum of Nature and Science
- Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History
- Space Center Houston
- Fort Davis
- Fort Worth Cowtown
- The McDonald Observatory
- Institute for Creation Research Museum
- Monahans Sandhills State Park
- Big Bend
- Dinosaur Valley State Park
And here’s great news from Annabelle R., a homeschool mom located in Montalba, Texas. She says,
A lot of places have homeschool days, homeschool discounts, and embrace us with love!” So be sure to inquire about what homeschool perks these destinations may have for you.
Finding Homeschool Community in Texas
Because you have so much freedom as a homeschooler in Texas, finding outside support is crucial. You’ll want trusted advisors to narrow down the multitude of choices you have. You’ll want to bounce ideas off other moms and dads. And you’ll need the uplifting camaraderie of being around other homeschool parents who understand your challenges firsthand.
Start your search on the Sonlight Connections page where you can
- look for (or launch) an in-person homeschooling group in Texas
- download the Sonlight app
- join the Sonlight email list
- request to join the Facebook group
Then connect with state-wide homeschooling organizations in Texas like
Search for homeschooling co-ops and support groups in your county or city of Texas. And get involved in Texas homeschooling events.
Financial Considerations for Homeschooling in Texas
Let’s talk dollars and cents …
How much does it cost to homeschool in Texas?
Homeschooling can cost as much as you’d like it to cost! In other words, there’s always something else to buy: a cool museum to tour, a new supplemental activity, or a fresh curriculum.
But you don’t have to go overboard on homeschool spending when your budget is limited. There are many Texas homeschool families who are frugal about their spending.
Your largest expense will probably lie with your curriculum, so be sure to get a program that’s 100% worth the cost, one that you can use again in future years with younger siblings, and one that allows you to teach multiple students at once.
To learn more about the cost of homeschooling in Texas, read our extensive guide How Much Does Homeschooling Cost? There you’ll see that the annual expense to homeschool one child per school year ranges from $500 to $2500.
Remember that thanks to interest-free payment plans, this expense can be drawn out over multiple months, making it a very doable investment. And be sure to check if your program of choice has a money-back guarantee!
Does Texas pay for homeschooling?
There is no state funding for homeschooling in Texas nor are there Texas grants for homeschooling. Texas does not have a school voucher program for homeschooling. In short, homeschool families are on their own financially and do not receive any federal or state money to support the education of their children at home.
Are there options for free homeschooling in Texas?
How can I homeschool in Texas for free? You can cobble together a homeschool curriculum for your children using solely free resources from your library or the internet. But this does consume quite a lot of time and research, especially if you don’t have an education background.
With a DIY approach, you may question if your patchwork of free printables, YouTube videos, and library loans is comprehensive enough. (It very well may not be.)
These kinds of time constraints and fears about learning gaps are why most families opt to purchase a pre-planned, professional homeschool curriculum. It’s worth the money to save the headaches and time.
Texas does not provide funding for homeschoolers.
No, homeschooling is not tax-deductible in Texas (or any other state). The costs you incur are your own to bear, and there is currently no federal or Texas state funding to compensate for those expenses.
Homeschooling doesn’t affect your responsibility to pay federal, state, or local taxes in any way. You are still obligated to pay property taxes even if your children are not enrolled in public schools.
Partnering with Schools in Texas
As per public school access for homeschoolers, the US Dept. of Education says, “No state policy currently exists.”
Thus, there is no formal structure for part-time homeschooling in Texas. And there are no laws in Texas that govern school activities for homeschoolers.
Contact your neighborhood school district to see if there are policies or programs in place at the local level that would make room for your homeschooler to partner with schools in Texas.
Christian Homeschooling in Texas
If passing along your Christian faith is important to you, consider using a Christian homeschool curriculum that includes Bible study, Bible memorization, and God-honoring missionary biographies.
Sonlight is the original literature-based Christian homeschool curriculum, and it will help you raise up your children in the faith. See if Sonlight’s Top Ten Goals match your own.
Special Needs Homeschooling
Yes, you can homeschool your child with special needs in Texas. In fact, special needs such as autism, dyslexia, and anxiety are common reasons to choose homeschooling. Special needs children thrive academically in the loving environment of home!
According to the US Department of Education, citing Texas Administrative Code, Title 19, Part II, §89.1096:
A home school will be considered a private school for the provision of services for children with disabilities if it provides elementary or secondary education that includes a curriculum designed to meet basic education goals, with a scope and sequential progress of courses and a review and documentation of student progress in place.
Although it’s not required by Texas law, you may find it beneficial to create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your special needs child. THSC has a great IEP generator for members.
Homeschooling High School in Texas
Yes, you can homeschool all the way through to high school graduation, issue a transcript, and get your graduate into college! Thousands of Texas homeschoolers have done it successfully. And you can too.
Calculating High School Credits in Homeschooling Texas
Even at the highschool level, Texas has no specific requirements for coursework, curriculum, or credits from homeschoolers. It’s all at your discretion. So you’ll need to consider what your teen wants to do after high school graduation to craft a 4-year high school plan that meets your own goals.
There are two safe options here that leave the door open for many possibilities:
- If your child is college-bound, work from the college entrance requirements of your child’s most stringent possible choice.
- Go by the Texas high school requirements for public school. Get this information directly from the Texas Education Agency here.
Sonlight's College and Career Planning Kit is a fantastic resource that will help you flesh out a plan for high school, assign credits, and create a transcript.
Homeschooling High School Diploma in Texas
As a homeschooler, you are responsible for creating your teen’s transcript. But it’s not as scary as it may sound!
See our complete guide to high school transcripts here. It will help you create a document that will help your teen to the next step, whether that’s military service, vocational school, workforce, ministry, or college.
As far as a homeschool diploma, you can easily customize a very dignified document, suitable for framing. Visit Homeschool Diploma to see the options, and order early!
Homeschooling in Texas Dual Enrollment
Texas colleges do allow homeschoolers to dual enroll, meaning they are taking one course for both high school credit and for college credit. Inquire of your local community college or 4-year university to see what options are available to your teen.
Texas DMV Homeschooling Form
Young drivers under 18 who are seeking a Texas drivers license must present 2 key documents.
Either a high school diploma or proof of current high school attendance. As the homeschool parent/teacher, you can fill out the Verification of Enrollment and Attendance (VOE) Form yourself.
Proof of a driver education course. You can either teach the course yourself or hire a private drivers ed agency which will give you a form to use.