Home Schooling Your Child

Every parent in New York State has the right to home-school their child. However, home-schooling is not easy and requires parents to take certain steps. Parents must notify their school district and show that they can provide “substantially equivalent” instruction to what the child would be receiving in school. You do not have the right to pull your child out of school without notifying your school district.

Here are questions that parents often ask about home schooling. The answers are based on the Regulations and Guidance from the New York State Education Department.

Do I have to have any certifications and credentials to home school my child?

No. State law does not require parents or teachers to have any specific credentials for home instruction. You are permitted to hire a tutor or teacher or use an online program for home instruction.

What steps must I take if I want to home school my child?

When you decide to home school your child, you must provide your school district with a letter of intent to home school. Your school district must reply within 10 business days of receiving the notice of intent and must send you a copy of New York Regulations, a form on which to submit an Individualized Home Instruction Plan (“IHIP”).

What is an Individualized Home Instruction Plan?

An IHIP sets forth the details on how you will provide home instruction. The IHIP must include the child’s name, age and grade level; a list of the syllabi, curriculum materials, textbooks or plan of instruction to be used in each of NYS required subjects; the dates you will submit Quarterly Reports; the names of the individuals providing instruction; and a statement that the child will be meeting the compulsory educational requirements of Education Law.

Who reviews the IHIP?

The Superintendent of your school district will review the IHIP. If the Superintendent determines that a revised IHIP is not in compliance you may meet with the Board of Education to present evidence of compliance. If the Board finds it non-compliant, you may appeal to the Commissioner of Education within 30 days of receiving notice of the determination.

Do I have to follow the exact school calendar and schedule for home schooling?

No, but you must measure attendance and the total amount of instructional time per week should be generally comparable to that of the public school. While most parents give instruction during the school day, greater flexibility in scheduling is possible.

May my child take part in school activities such as clubs or sports? 

Children receiving home schooling may participate in school-sponsored club activities. However, only public school students may participate in interscholastic sports or intramurals.

Must students instructed at home meet immunization requirements for in-school students?

No. Parents do not have to submit proof of immunization for a home schooling program. However, children who are not immunized can be denied access to a school building, if there is an outbreak of a disease for which immunization is required.

Is the district responsible for providing remedial programs for students instructed at home?

No. The district is not responsible for providing remedial programs.

If my child is eligible, can she receive special education services? 

Yes. You must request services before June 1 of the school year and the student may receive special education services, as set forth in Individualized Education Service Plan, except for the classroom program. Some school districts will make exceptions on the June 1 deadline.

Is home schooling different than home-bound instruction?

Yes. If your child is unable to attend school because of physical, mental, or emotional illness or injury, your school district will consider the medical verification and if appropriate, will provide homebound instruction to a student of one hour a day for elementary students and two hours a day for secondary students. This is different than home-schooling.

This article is based on New York State Regulations and Guidance from the New York State Department of Education. For more information see p12.nysed.gov/sss/homeinstruction/. Nothing in this article should be relied upon as legal advice. Consult an attorney experienced in education law for advice on the details of your child’s situation.

Marion Walsh, an attorney with the law firm, Littman Krooks LLP, focuses her practice on special and general education advocacy, particularly children with anxiety. She is certified as an impartial hearing officer for children with disabilities by the New York State Education Department. She is also certified in Youth Mental Health First Aid. Littman Krooks attorneys and advocates handle educational advocacy, special education litigation, transition planning and advocacy, school disciplinary matters, special education due process, private school reimbursement, and Section 504 accommodation advocacy.