Relocating from Out of Country

Email of the Day:
We are relocating from Ontario, Canada to the Seattle area for a job my husband was recruited for. We are looking at coming mid January area. Currently my children are in a very small school here in Ontario. I am thinking of home schooling when we move. We do not know what area we will be living in yet. We have temp. housing to start and then not sure as we have never been to the Seattle area before and will have to find a place to live when we arrive.
Just wondering if I do this, do I need to send a letter of intent into the school board when I arrive, even though we won’t know what district we will be in yet?
The standardizing testing (we do not do this for home schooling in Ontario), would my children need to know a lot of American measurement, history, mapping, etc. for this? Do you have to take them? Do I have to contact a school to set this up? I was hoping to finish off the Canadian curriculum they are doing in school now and slowly introducing the US curriculum for the rest of the year and then possibly checking out more a United States curriculum to follow for Sept. Any guidance would be very appreciated.
If it matters I currently have a son who just turned 10 in grade 5 and a daughter who is 7 in grade 2.
Thanks so much, I am slowly getting through your site and finding out lots and lots of information.
I would not send the Declaration of Intent in until you have permanent housing, unless you’re staying a long time in corporate housing (ie: after you get a rental apartment, not while you’re staying in a hotel).
If you’re definitely in the city limits for both, Seattle PS is a big district, and you could send it when you arrive, confident that you’ll stay in the same district.
You have a choice to test or assess each year. The tests are general knowledge and date back to the 70s and 80s. If you’re really worried, you can also order practice test books — but I don’t recommend it — it’s truly not worth the money. (Tests, assessments, and practice books are all available through many sources — I used the CAT-5 from FLO for many years). The test/assessment requirement is there to give you an external metric — I (literally) have test scores in my file cabinet that I never even opened when they came back (and my 19yo is now a senior at uni studying computer science). The law specifies that, if, as a result of the test or assessment, you find your child is deficient i an area, then you need to make a good faith effort to remedy the deficit. Do NOT stress over this requirement; it is a waste of perfectly good worrying.
Our law allows you to cover the 11 subjects in anyway you choose. If you’d like to continue to use the Canadian curriculum for the entirety of the year, that’s absolutely fine.
One last note: it is only your son who comes under the HBI/compulsory attendance law. When your daughter turns 8, you’ll need to file a Declaration of Intent for her, and begin to follow the law, but until then, she remains educationally free.
I have included a piece below that details getting started homeschooling in WA. Please let me know as you have further questions.
–Jen Garrison Stuber, WHO Board Advocacy Chair
Getting Started Homeschooling
prepared by Jen Garrison Stuber, WHO Board Advocacy Chair
The first thing to understand is that compulsory attendance in WA is from ages 8-18. Children under the age of 8 are not required to attend school, including homeschool. Therefore, none of the HBI (home-based instruction, the legal name for homeschooling) laws apply to children under the age of 8.
Those children remain educationally free.
Beginning on your child’s 8th birthday, you must either enroll in a school, or homeschool. To homeschool, you must qualify, declare intent, begin to cover the 11 subjects, test or assess annually, and keep certain records. More on each of these here:
Please note that ALEs, online schools, PPPs, etc., even those which take place in the home, are not homeschooling under WA law. Public school laws apply to those programs and are not covered in this document.
You only need meet one of the qualifications. Either 45 college quarter credit hours (about 24-30 semester hours, or one year full time college work) in any subject; OR take a Parent Qualifying Course; OR hire a teacher to supervise; OR superintendent approval.
The first Declaration of Intent should be submitted when your child turns 8. The second and subsequent will be filed on the 15th of September each year there after. The law requires only your child’s name and age on the DofI. Many schools ask for more information than is required by law. You are not obliged to provide it. There is a DofI that is in compliance with the law here:
It should be sent to the superintendent of your local school district (usually in the district office — the address will be on the district’s website).
I used to send in two copies with an SASE; my district would stamp my copy and send it back for my files. This is not necessary, but it useful for showing places where you’d like to get an educator discount.
If your child is already in school, then you need to formally withdraw h**. The school usually has a form for this, but you could write a letter that says roughly this: I [Name of Parent] hereby formally withdraw [Name of Student(s)] from [Name of School], effective [Date of Withdraw]. Then sign it and date it. If your child is >8yo, you will need to file a Declaration of Intent that same day in the superintendent’s office. If the child is <8yo, you wait until h** birthday to submit the Declaration of Intent. Many school officials erroneously believe that if the child was in school before, even if *he is 5, 6, or 7, that you must file a Declaration of Intent. This is a common misconception that is contrary to the compulsory attendance law. You may withdraw a child from public school at any point in the school year.
You do not need to cover the 11 subjects every day, every week, or even every year. Some are meant for the lower grades (social studies); some are meant for the upper grades (history). In the public schools, occupational education is that one day that the police officer, firefighter, and doctor parents come in and share about their jobs. PE is not a required subject (though it might certainly fall under health, which is), nor is literature (which just makes me cringe).
You have a choice to test OR to assess annually. The test must be an academic achievement test given by a qualified individual. It is the testing companies that qualify individuals to proctor their tests. Some require a bachelor’s degree, some an advanced degree in psychology plus specialized training in that test, and others simply require that you be a homeschooling parent in WA. The assessment must be performed by a certificated person currently working in the field of education.
The certain records you must keep are the test/assessment scores and immunization records. These are the records a school may request from you at the time of a transfer. If you have taken a medical, philosophical, or religious exemption, to vaccination, you should use that paperwork for this documentation.
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.”
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.
When it all gets to be too much, consult your local homeschool group – they’re the best source of information and support.
If you have more questions, give me a hollar at