Homeschooling in Hawaii is a legal option for families wanting more input in their child’s education.
Hawaii is a moderately regulated state for homeschooling families. No teacher qualifications are needed for state-mandated subjects or immunization requirements. It is the parent’s responsibility to notify the state board of education if a child is homeschooled, student records must be kept, and there are required assessments for grades 3, 5, 8, and 10, as well as progress reports for all other grades.
Homeschooling might seem intimidating at first, but once you know the rules and laws of the state, county, and school district you are in, it becomes a more manageable task than initially thought. It is common for parents, caregivers, and students to feel nervous initially, but the excitement will soon take over as the journey continues.
Before You Begin Homeschooling in Hawaii
Before you begin homeschooling in Hawaii, submitting a notice of intent with the public school, the student has or would be attending in the current or upcoming school year is crucial. The notice of intent can be a letter that includes the student’s name, address, date of birth, grade level, and a contact telephone number.
The parent or guardian of the child must sign the letter. Form 4140 on the Hawaii Department of Education website can complete a more formal notice of intent. Children between the ages of 5, before July 31st of the new school year, and 18, unless 18 before January 1st of the current school year, are expected to be enrolled in an educational program.
Suppose your child is currently enrolled at a public school and has attended public classes before the decision to homeschool. In that case, a withdrawal notice and an intent to homeschool are required.
Ask the child’s school administration team what process is needed to withdraw the child and follow the necessary steps. It is essential to complete all the required steps for a formal withdrawal and an intent to homeschool notice to avoid any unintended truancies on the child’s school record.
While there are no mandated subjects to be taught, it is best to have a curriculum ready to use before starting a new homeschool year. Curricula must be structured and provide an educational foundation that meets the child’s needs and offers a range of skills and knowledge to be obtained.
Elementary curricula include math, science, music, language arts, physical education, social studies, and health. Junior High and High School curricula include science, math, English, social studies, physical education, health, and guidance courses.
Pre-made curriculum sets are available, or you can choose to create your lesson plans. At different grade levels, you will also find extracurricular activities and courses become available to your student.
Public School Access for Homeschooled Children in Hawaii
Hawaii does not have a law granting homeschooled children access to public schools. Therefore, it is up to each school and school district to allow or not allow special access for inquiring families.
Parents and legal guardians should contact the local school directly or call the school district central office to have any questions answered regarding public school access for their homeschooled child. Public school activities include team sports, extracurricular programs, specific teacher-led classes, public school events, and other activities typically held by the school or school district.
There may be requirements a homeschooled student will need to meet to gain access to their desired public school activity. There may also be fees to pay and academic reports to provide for necessary evaluations and associations. Any policies that need to be followed will be covered when discussing participation requirements and availability with the school administration.
Special Education Requirements
While homeschooling a child with special needs, it is essential to follow the state’s homeschooling policies and regulations. No further rules or requirements need to be followed or met to have a special needs child learn from home.
Additional services may be offered and available at public schools, but it is up to each school district to make services available at any or all public schools. To learn if a school in the child’s school district offers any services, it is best to contact the school the child would be attending if not learning from home, the main office for the school district, or the Hawaii Board of Education.
Homeschool Record Keeping
When a child participates in home-based learning, the parent or legal guardian must maintain the student’s academic records. Good record keeping is vital for proof of education, entering the military, used for rejoining the public school system, and college admittance, and can be requested as proof for background checks when the student applies for a job.
Hawaii’s homeschooling statute includes keeping a record of the planned curriculum, starting and stopping dates for the child’s full homeschooling timeframe, instructional hours for each week, subjects being taught, homeschooling method being used for each subject, and a bibliographical list of textbooks and other learning materials being used.
It is also a good idea to keep a student file on hand with samples of the child’s work, correspondence with school officials, test results, and any other document showing the child is receiving an education in compliance with Hawaii law. The records in the portfolio must be maintained for at least two years for elementary and middle school. When the child starts high school, the documents must be kept forever.
Immunizations are not required for homeschooling families. If a child has an immunization record, the parents decide whether to maintain that record in the child’s educational file.
Choosing a homeschool curriculum can be overwhelming at times. The starting point is to know what the state, city, and school district rules are for home-based learning. To meet compulsory attendance requirements, a child must be enrolled in an educational program or school if they are five years old on or before July 31st of the current school year.
A child is not required to continue schooling if he or she is 18 years old before January 1st of the school year.
Students who attend public schools must complete 180 days of classroom time, equal to 1,080 hours. Students learning at home are expected to meet the same requirements unless specified by the Hawaii Department of Education.
Remembering these two numbers will ensure the right amount of time is scheduled for the planned academic year. Educational field trips, group teaching opportunities, and assessment days can be included in the 1,080 hours necessary for the school year.
As mentioned earlier, an elementary curriculum may include language arts, math, science, and social studies for core learning objectives. Art, music, and physical education can also be included at appropriate levels of the child’s development stage.
Junior high and high school will be like elementary with progressively more difficult skills and knowledge to learn and master. Hawaii does not mandate subjects to be studied, but rather subject areas to be covered best to prepare students for their next steps.
Utilizing the Statewide Testing Program, test scores are mandatory for grades 3, 5, 8, and 10. Contact the local public school the student attends to obtain a testing schedule or arrange for private testing.
If there are any costs associated with private testing, it is the parent’s responsibility to cover those costs. A parent may request alternative means of testing and evaluating that meet the Statewide Testing Program’s standards. The school principal decides to grant permission for alternative evaluations.
It is helpful to know and understand the child’s learning style to choose a curriculum for your child or children. This benefits you as the parent, the child, and anyone else who will be active in the child’s education.
Homeschooling materials and curricula do not need to be expensive. There are many ways to teach and learn on a budget. Once you know your child’s learning style, you can narrow down the curriculum used.
The local library is a great starting point for access to free materials, computers, librarians, and copy machines. The library also hosts weekly and monthly events catered to different ages, development stages, and subjects of interest to children, parents, and guardians.
Other free educational resources are Duolingo for foreign language learning, Kahn Academy for math, and Funbrain for K-8, which put a spin on learning as they use games to help with math and reading. Language Guide is another place to learn foreign languages; JetStream is an online resource for learning whether traits, behaviors, and patterns, and US History can be fully explored online also.
Suppose the traditional school day and teacher-led classes appeal more to your child. In that case, K12 is an online version of public school that is free for students and follows the traditional systems public schools utilize for academics.
There are also curriculums available to be purchased or paid for monthly. For young learners aged 2-8, ABC Mouse is an interactive classroom that engages children in math, science, reading, and even art and color lessons.
Children ages 8-13 can continue learning in a similar environment to ABC Mouse when they use Adventure Academy to study further math, science, language arts, and social studies. Both ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy are available at a discounted yearly price or a small monthly price and can be canceled at any time.
Alpha Omega Publications, or AOP, offers online, digital, student-paced, and teacher-led options with a Christian approach to home-based learning. Curriculum and educational programs can be purchased yearly or monthly, with electives available at varying prices.
To get a hands-on and video-led science course, Super Charged Science is fantastic for grades 1-12, with different prices for grades and covered science topics.
A pre-made curriculum is not the only way to teach children from home. School House Teachers is an online resource for lesson planning, videos, core classes, elective courses, single assignments, full subject units, scheduling forms, and more for grades K 12.
Each student’s curriculum is fully customizable to meet the age and development level and offer the right educational growth challenges. Memberships can be paid for annually or monthly. When you sign up for School House Teachers, an offer to use Applecore is made available.
Applecore is an online course, grade, and attendance tracker that works as a class scheduler, student portfolio, report card, and transcript creator. Each plan level offers unlimited student tracking, all for an annual price.
Graduation Requirements for Homeschooled Students
Graduation requirements for homeschooled students will differ slightly from those of students attending a private or public school. It is essential to follow the average days and hours for academic attendance.
Still, obtaining a list of subjects being taught in public schools is also beneficial to better prepare them for the final testing phase of their high school career.
Upon completing a homeschooled student’s senior year of high school, the student can earn a high school equivalency diploma by passing the GED or HiSET test. The GED and HiSET tests are recognized as passing measures for future learning adventures and employment.
Another option for homeschooled students is to earn a Hawaii Adult Community School Diploma. A student must pass the GED or HiSET exams and complete at least one semester of high school at a public or private school within the state.
To enroll in a public or private school after being homeschooled, it is best to talk with the school the student will be attending to see what documents are needed and what steps are necessary to complete school enrollment for the desired amount of time for graduation.
Homeschool Co-Ops, Associations, and Groups
Homeschool groups, associations, and co-ops can be essential to a homeschooler’s life. Groups offer a place for team teaching, group learning, social activities, friends, and networking. It is crucial to remember that home-based learners need social time with friends just as much as they need a good education.
A list of homeschool co-ops, groups, and associations can be found through an online search, a bulletin board at a library, and the Hawaii Department of Education. Homeschool groups are a great way to get involved in your community and neighborhood, share curriculum, co-teach, network with other parents, arrange community events and ask questions about homeschooling rules, policies, and requirements.
Field Trips for Homeschooled Students
Field trips are an excellent way to teach students through hands-on and real-life experiences. A trip to the grocery store, the zoo, a national park, or a family vacation can also be turned into a learning experience through research and planning.
Homeschool groups will often schedule educational outings that include physical education activities, subject learning, or hands-on experiments that will offer students one-of-a-kind experiences they are sure to remember in future years.