Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to take the Parent Qualifying Course every year?
No, you only need to take it once. Put your certificate in a safe place.
Compulsory attendance in WA in from 8-18. If you withdraw your child from public school and they are under 8 years old, they return to “educationally free” until they turn 8 years old or you enroll them in public or private school.
How do I withdraw my child from public school?
If your child is in public school and you want to homeschool, you have to formally withdraw the child from the school they attend. This is separate from the Declaration of Intent. You email or write the school a letter officially withdrawing your child. Here’s an example of what you can write:
- I [Name of Parent] hereby formally withdraw [Name of Student(s)] from [Name of School], effective [Date of Withdraw].
- Sign it and date it.
- You can also use the school’s withdrawal form if they have one or the WHO withdrawal form: https://washhomeschool.org/withdrawal-forms/
- You can withdraw your child at any time during the year.
There are four ways to qualify to homeschool in WA and the taking the Parent Qualifying Course is one of them.
- 45 College credits
- Parent Qualifying Course ß This is how you’re qualifying
- Approval from the superintendent of your district
- Hiring a certified teacher to supervise your homeschooling
Do I need to show proof of Qualifying?
No. Unless you end up in a situation where you are dealing with family court or CPS.
Declaration of Intent
The first Declaration of Intent is due on your child’s 8th birthday or when you move to Washington or when you withdraw your 8-18 year old child from public school and begin homeschooling during the school year. The second and subsequent are due September 15th each year. The Declaration of Intent is mailed to the superintendent of the school district where you live. No one under 8 years old is added to the DOI even if they were previously in public school [RCW 28A.225.015(1)].
Hours of Instruction
We’re required to teach the same amount of time as public schoolers, which is roughly 1000 hours for 180 days. you have from Sept 15 to Sept 14 to get those hours in.
You are legally required to test OR assess your child once a year between the ages of 8 and 18. If you choose to administer the test, it must be administered by a qualified person (test providers qualify the individual) and it has to be an approved standardized achievement test. If you choose to assess, you must have a (WA) certified teacher perform the assessment. Some of the test providers offer assessment choices.
- When do you have to do testing?
Most parents administer the test or have the assessment completed during the spring or early summer since most tests are normed for spring of that school grade. But you are required to complete it once a year.
- Can I test with the school?
Yes. Go to the school in late September to find out their testing dates and get them to order extra test(s). One note: make sure that you will get the scores for your files. A few years back, when they did the Smarter Balanced Field Test, no one (not the teachers, not the schools, not the parents) got scores, so that would not have counted for the testing requirement that year.
- My kidlet turns 8 at the end of the school year, do they need to be tested?
No, wait until the first full year.
- Do I need to turn in the test results to the school or district office?
No. The test/assessment exists for YOU to have an external metric by which to measure your child. The scores are for you and you alone (unless you go enroll in a school). You don’t even have to look at them. Just file it away for your records.
- What happens if my kidlet does poorly on the test or assessment?
The law has an answer for this: “If, as a result of the annual test or assessment, it is determined that the child is not making reasonable progress consistent with his or her age or stage of development, the parent shall make a good faith effort to remedy any deficiency.” RCW28A.200.010(1)(c).
- List of Testers
It is super important to join a homeschool support group or co-op in your community. They give you support and connection with the homeschool community. Many of them have field trips and kid’s activities as well as well as moral support for homeschooling parents.
11 Required Subjects
Homeschool does not look like public school, nor should it. You make it your own that works for your family. You don’t have to cover the 11 required subjects (reading, writing, spelling, language, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational education, and art and music appreciation) every day, every week, or even necessarily every year.
Do I need to use accredited curriculum?
“Accreditation” is meaningless to homeschoolers in Washington, because homeschooling here is “provided by a parent, educating his or her child only” with “all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent.” Therefore, any curriculum (or no curriculum) is lawful, and they needn’t look for accreditation, as the law has already provided for them to use anything.
Part Time Attendance and Ancillary Services
As a homeschooler or private schooler, you are entitled to attend your local school on a part time basis and/or use ancillary services (the law defines this as anything that is not a “class”)
A good place to start is Cathy Duffy Reviews, it’s a great review of different curriculums. You are free to choose any curriculum, or to choose none. Find what works for you and yours, don’t bother trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” and you’ll see very quickly that your kids will excel in some areas, and not in others. It’s okay. Play to their strengths, mitigate their weaknesses, help them develop a sense of wonder, a love of learning, and foster their innate curiosity. The rest will take care of itself.
How, when, where you homeschool – these are choices that are completely up to you. The law specifically states that “parents who are causing their children to receive home-based instruction shall be subject only to those minimum state laws and regulations which are necessary in ensuring that a sufficient basic educational opportunity is provided to the children receiving such instruction. Therefore, all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent.
The homeschool law also states that the legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.”
So go easy on yourself and your child when you do end up with something that’s a poor fit. It’s not you — one size just doesn’t fit all.
What records do I need to keep?
Washington’s recordkeeping is pretty simple. You have to keep a copy of your annual test results or assessment evaluation, immunization records if you plan to enroll your children in public school part time or ancillary services, and if you like, you can keep a copy of your Declaration of Intent. To ensure you get a copy, you can mail in two signed DOIs and a self-addressed stamp envelope and the district will mail you back one of the signed copies. Some districts will mail you a copy. If you walk it in, you can request a copy of your stamped DOI.
You can make report card when the children are younger, especially if they’re in sports and need proof of elibility but it’s really important to start making transcripts for your children when they are in high school so they have something to use when moving on to college, trade school, military or employment in addition to a diploma.
This is a great video on how to create transcripts. Lee breaks it down for you and makes it easy to understand.
Special Needs at Home in Washington
Parents are often curious about what legal restrictions might stand in the way of homeschooling their child with special needs. The good news is that Washington’s home-based instruction law does not discriminate!
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/SpecialHSofWA
High School Diplomas, Graduation & GED
A homeschool diploma is as legimate as a public school diploma.
It’s pretty much the same for homeschooled students as it is for public schooled students, except you have total freedom to pick your coursework.
Homeschool High School
Homeschooling through high school can be one of the most rewarding times on your homeschooling journey. Being able to focus on their individual passions will put them ahead of the game working towards college or careers. Here is a great video from Linda Love Gorordo on How to Homeschool High Schoolers https://youtu.be/HeRR3Uof4RE
Sports Eligibility and Homeschooling
A student attending a private school, alternative school, or being home schooled where an activity is not offered may participate in the activity at the public school in their resident attendance area as long as all other eligibility requirements are satisfied.
I have a friend who says she never did any testing and never turned in a DOI when she homeschooled her kids. What if I don’t do the DOI or testing?
The DOI serves two purposes:
- It relieves the school of their burden to provide your child with an education
- Provides you with protection from a charge of truancy
Not complying with the homeschool laws makes your child truant from public school. If your child is truant, and you as the parent are risking potential truancy charges against you under the “Becca Bill”. We don’t have a lot of requirements to homeschool in Washington so it doesn’t take much effort to stay in compliance with the law.
Can I homeschool my sister’s kids or the neighbor’s kids?
Not in Washington, it’s not considered homeschooling under the law. Homeschooling here is “provided by a parent, educating his or her child only”. Homeschooling other children, you would need to be an approved day care (for under 8yo) or approved private school (8-18yo).
Can I hire a teacher to homeschool my child or create a microschool/pod school to homeschool?
Not in Washington, it’s not considered homeschooling under the law. Those would need to be an approved private school. Homeschooling here is “provided by a parent, educating his or her child only”. To create a private school, you would need approval of the State Board of Education: https://www.sbe.wa.gov/our-work/private-schools