Homeschooling has been a legal practice in Washington since 1985. Since then, thousands of families have adopted homeschooling as a way of life. However, Washington has some stricter requirements than other states regarding homeschooling.
To homeschool, you must choose one of the following options:
- Have 45 college credit hours, or
- Take a qualification course for parents, or
- Hire a teacher to supervise the process, or
- Obtain approval from the district superintendent.
Before determining if this schooling method is suitable for your family, it may be helpful to ask yourself some questions. What are the requirements? Will we be able to meet all of them according to the law? This article will cover everything you need to know before you start homeschooling in Washington.
The state of Washington offers two legal homeschooling options for parents to carry out this methodology. Below are the requirements of the two types of homeschooling that we can choose from.
- You must meet the qualifications required of teachers. In this requirement, you may instruct only your child with the supervision of a certified instructor. This person must contact the child for at least one hour per week. The other alternative is to teach your child exclusively. Still, you must have at least 45 college credits or the equivalent in semester credits.
- Another option under this sub-modality is that you must first complete a homeschooling course at a vocational-technical institute to be your child’s sole teacher.
- You may instruct your child alone if the district superintendent finds you sufficiently qualified to work from home. You must submit a statement of intent. You must complete this requirement annually by September 15 or up until two weeks after the beginning of any public school term or semester.
- You must teach the number of school days required by law.
- You must teach the required subjects.
- You must take an annual assessment which you are not required to submit to the public school, but you must keep on file.
- You must enroll in a certified private school extension program. Private schools approved by the school district may authorize families to homeschool through their extension program. To find out if a school supports homeschooling, visit their website or contact them in person.
- You must meet the requirements of the private school to enter the outreach program.
Homeschooling should be a well-thought-out decision by the family. Many experts in this field recommend that parents thoroughly research all aspects of homeschooling before taking the plunge. What you should know about homeschooling is:
- You cannot have your child in a traditional school and start homeschooling simultaneously. The correct thing to do is file a statement of intent for homeschooling, contact the school to arrange for the student’s formal withdrawal, and begin homeschooling.
- The curriculum must include occupational education, science, language arts, mathematics, social studies, health, history, reading, writing, spelling, art, and music.
- Homeschooled students must receive 180 days of classes or an average of 1000 hours per school year.
- The state demands that you keep records of annual testing and other documents related to the child’s entire educational process.
- Homeschooled students must participate in state-required testing by taking a yearly standardized achievement test or be tested by a certified teacher following these same standards.
- Suppose the parents decide to reinstate the child in the traditional school at some point. In that case, it is likely that they will be asked for homeschooling records and will have to take tests to determine placement.
Choosing an appropriate curriculum may not be as simple as it seems. In Washington State, curriculum selection is entirely up to parents and students. Fortunately, today’s educational resources go beyond textbooks, workbooks, or traditional methods.
Many educational resources, including online courses, interactive videos, personal computers, laptops, and tablets, make the student experience much more fun and exciting.
As time goes by, they understand that the mix of all these tools and activities forms the basis of an excellent curriculum. But let’s face it, so many methods and resources can be confusing, especially if it’s a parent’s first homeschooling experience.
Below is a small list of well-known home-based learning companies to help get the search started. Many will even offer a free trial to help you find the right one for the student and the parent.
- ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy
- Hooked on Phonics
- Schoolhouse Teachers
- Alpha Omega Publications
- Code Advantage
- Supercharged Science
Keeping detailed records of educational activities is always an essential activity in homeschooling. In Washington, homeschooled teachers must keep records of the following:
- Students’ annual examinations.
- Evaluation reports.
- Immunization records.
- Relevant documents (papers, projects, assignments).
You should be aware that institutions will request these records in the event of a student’s transfer to the traditional school system or even for college admissions.
You must comply with the state’s educational standards if your child requires special education. In Washington, there are no additional requirements for homeschooling in these cases.
Homeschooled students with special needs may receive ancillary services. These services include:
- Special testing.
- Remedial instruction
- Speech and hearing therapy.
In addition to these support tools, Washington has a grant plan to assist with diagnostic services, therapies, unique curriculums, and other educational materials.
In Washington, homeschooled students have access to interscholastic contests and competitions. The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) considers homeschooled students to be regular members of public schools, provided they have submitted a declaration of intent to homeschool.
Parents, children, the public school principal, and the athletic director must sign an academic contract developed by the WIAA. This contract certifies that school districts allow enrollment and provide ancillary services to part-time homeschooled students.
When families homeschool, two issues always raise questions: testing and graduation requirements.
The Washington Comprehensive Assessment Program is a standardized test that uses short computer-based tests. Every homeschooled student must participate in an annual assessment. A qualified person is responsible for administering the standardized tests as a condition of meeting this requirement.
This test assesses reading, math, writing, and science. Parents can also take standardized tests to meet the annual testing requirement.
In Washington State, parents are the ones who decide what the graduation requirements are for the homeschooled student. Parents are also responsible for issuing the student’s diploma.
These graduation requirements should relate to what the student wants to do after high school, college, or other career opportunities.
As a complement to the homeschooling process, field trips for academic and recreational purposes are fundamental. Here is a list of options Washington State offers us to continue teaching children.
- Hobbit House, Port Orchard. This attraction allows all visitors to enter this fantastic story and see the miniature houses of the hobbits and much more of this world.
- Mount Rainier, Ashford. This is the highest mountain in Washington. Here you can hike almost all year round. It has many hiking trails and a visitor center.
- Space Needle, Seattle. This monument has an observation deck, a rotating restaurant, and an impressive glass floor. Thanks to high-tech elevators, families can reach their highest point in 40 seconds.
- Pacific Science Center, Seattle. Here you can have a great science lesson in a center with a planetarium, a laser dome, and multiple exhibits geared to all ages.
- Beacon Rock, Stevenson. Here children can study geology through the area’s trails and terrain.
- Ape Cave, Skamania. Families can hike the most extended continuous lava tube in the United States. Explore the caves and rock formations that abound in this stunning setting.
- Olympic Hot Springs, Port Angeles. Homeschooled students will learn about the characteristics of the land and its fabulous hot springs. This place is ideal for picnics and hiking its many trails.
Parents can seek support from organizations with extensive experience supporting children and families who adopt homeschooling as a lifestyle on this challenging homeschooling journey. Some of these organizations are:
- Whatcom Homeschool Association.
- Trestle Homeschool Association.
- Clark County Home Educators.
- Seattle Homeschoolers.
- Homeschooling on the Pacific Peninsula.
- Washington State Secular Homeschoolers
- Home-Oriented Meaningful Education.
- Tacoma Area Homeschoolers
- Spokane Area Homeschool Community
- Kitsap Homeschool Mamas
Washington is arguably one of the strictest states in terms of the requirements for homeschooling. However, once your family achieves this goal, you will work hand in hand with a state that will support and invest wholeheartedly in the success of homeschooling.