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Can a Parent Homeschool If They Don't Have a Diploma or GED?

by Christi O'Donnell, studioD

All 50 states recognize the importance of providing children with a free basic education. For most children, this means attending public schools. For some, it means attending private schools or, for many others, being homeschooled. Homeschooling is the practice of schooling a child in the home or in a small home-based group. Homeschooling is regulated on a state-by-state basis and, in most states, does not require parents to have a GED or high school diploma.

Diploma or GED Requirements

Seven states and the District of Columbia require that parents have a high school diploma or GED in order to homeschool their children. These states are Georgia, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and West Virginia. In addition to having a GED or diploma, parents in many of these states are required to file curriculums and other related paperwork with the local school district and to ensure that their children meet standardized testing requirements.

Competent or Capable

While they don't require parents to have a GED or a diploma, New York and Kansas limit the right to homeschool to certain parents. In both states, parents who choose to homeschool their children must be "competent instructors." In New York, for instance, parents prove they are competent by submitting necessary paperwork, providing adequate instruction and being in compliance with state regulations.

No Requirements

Thirty-eight states do not set forth any requirements for parents who choose to homeschool their children. These states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Oddball States

Three states have laws without a clear answer as to whether or not a GED or diploma is required. In California, there is no option for homeschooling. Children must be enrolled in a private school, and then parents have to follow the laws regulating private school instructors. In Tennessee, parents are not required to have a GED or diploma when teaching grades kindergarten through eight, but must have one if teaching above the eighth-grade level. In North Dakota, parents who do not have a GED or a diploma must be monitored by a certified instructor for at least the first two years during which they are homeschooling.

About the Author

A lifetime resident of New York, Christi O'Donnell has been writing about education since 2003. O'Donnell is a dual-certified educator with experience writing curriculum and teaching grades preK through 12. She holds a Bachelors Degree from Sarah Lawrence College and a Masters Degree in education from Mercy College.

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