At this moment, there are roughly 2 million home-school students in the United States. This fact is not surprising, as the reasons why parents might come to decide that homeschooling is the best option for their child are incredibly diverse.
Some children might not have a school in their area which provides the specific educational subjects a parent might want their child to study.
For others, parents decided that a child with special needs would be best served by a curriculum specifically designed by that pupil’s family.
In part because homeschooling might be the right choice for a student is so vast—frequent family relocation, flexibility regarding the shape of instruction, more time spent with one’s child, and more—the number of homeschool students drastically increases in the U.S. from year-to-year.
On top of this, homeschooling has a long legacy of positively impacting the lives of many of society’s most influential and successful people, from Margaret Atwood to Albert Einstein.
As such, this list will break down the 10 best states for homeschooling based on where each state ranks according to a report from myelearningworld.com, which analyzed Google trends data as well as other publicly available information to assess interest in homeschooling throughout the last year.
Because education is one area of public life that varies drastically from state to state, it is important to consider the full range of factors that might influence how the homeschooling experience might differ from one state when compared to another so that homeschoolers can better understand the state of at-home education where they live.
As well, this information may provide useful information to parents for whom the quality of homeschooling in a state is a significant factor in deciding one’s home state.
The Alaska Homeschool allotment, the amount of money parents receive from the state government to support their child’s education, ranges from $500-4000 a year depending on a variety of factors. Dozens of homeschool programs and curriculums qualify for this allotment, with the oldest and largest allotment-qualifying homeschool program being IDEA Homeschool.
IDEA homeschool was founded in 1997 by teachers and parents in the Galena County School district in response to Alaska only offering one state-wide, government-designed homeschool curriculum prior to IDEA’s inception.
Once it was introduced, in just two years, IDEA had enrolled over 4000 students across the state.
Alongside the plethora of local homeschooling organizations, Alaska is home to the state-wide Christian organization, Alaska Private and Home Educators Association.
With a yearly, state-wide convention for homeschool educators, this organization seeks to provide resources and community for the state’s Christian homeschool students and parents.
Idaho’s homeschool laws allow parents to enroll their child in homeschool education with relatively little interaction with school boards, the Idaho Department of Education, or other regulatory bodies.
As such, for those wanting to homeschool in Idaho, standardized tests, curriculum approval, letters of intent, and otherwise are not required of a pupil’s guardian.
The largest homeschooling organization in Idaho is a consortium of Christian homeschool educators called the Christian Homeschoolers of Idaho State, or CHOIS.
Importantly, unlike other states on this list, all costs associated with homeschooling are the responsibility of parents, and there is no government allotment. However, this is the case because Idaho does not regulate or monitor homeschool education in any capacity.
Because of this leeway, there is not one educational program that is significantly more popular than others. The only requirements are language arts and communication, mathematics, science, and social studies courses.
Although Vermont does not provide allotments for parents homeschooling their children, the state government still does give a set criteria for the shape of homeschooling education. As opposed to being restrictive, these stipulations are meant to guide homeschool educators in the challenging task of providing one’s child with the highest quality education possible.
Some of the guidelines meant to assure homeschooling is conducted as thoroughly as possible in Vermont are end-of-the-year assessments submitted to the state annually alongside an end-of-year report from the parent.
With Vermont Christian Educators being the largest homeschooling organization in the state, both homeschoolers within this group and outside of it organize to create sports leagues and provide homeschool children the opportunity to take field trips with one another to the wide array of parks in Vermont.
4. South Dakota
Although one must notify one’s local school district about the decision to homeschool, South Dakota has some of the least restrictive homeschooling laws in the country.
That being said, robust record-keeping is advised, as the state of South Dakota does check in with home school educators to track the progress of their pupil’s learning.
There are a vast array of homeschool associations throughout South Dakota, with the largest of these being the South Dakota Christian Home Educators.
These organizations hold a variety of field trips to historic sites throughout the state, with one Sioux Falls group, Our Way of Learning, hosting events such as visits to the local star lab or weekly swim classes.
Finally, in South Dakota there is a list of state-mandated subjects students must be instructed in.
The Arkansas Department of Education provides homeschool educators with a vast array of useful resources.
Among these resources, homeschoolers will find a list of online curriculums, resources such as PBS Learning courses, and an office to contact to assure the state’s homeschooling requirements are being met and ask for any potential assistance.
Furthermore, the state offers mental health and trauma-response services through Arkansas’s TRIS program, which serves schools alongside homeschools specifically.
One of the largest homeschooling organizations in Arkansas is the Central Arkansas Homeschoolers Group. This group started as a collective of just five moms and has grown in size to include hundreds of families.
Alongside providing field trips, sports events, and help with standardized testing, this group also fosters ties between parents through events such as Mom’s Night Out.
Tied for this list’s first place is Delaware, which offers three homeschooling options for its state’s educators.
Homeschool students can either be educated in a single-family household, a multi-family household in which multiple families hold classes in one location together, or in collaboration with the school district, where the same curriculum as the public school district is used, but homeschoolers have the freedom to undergo classes at home.
With roughly 5,000 homeschool students across the state, an array of organizations exist to support homeschool educators. Because of the prevalence of the multi-family model of homeschool instruction in Delaware, certain organizations, such as First State Academy, are exclusively designed to support homeschool educators using the unique multi-family option.
The largest group, however, is First State Homeschool. This secular, all-inclusive homeschool organization provides support to families trying to answer the question of how best to provide homeschool education.
Homeschoolers in Kansas only have to notify their school district regarding the decision to transition to at-home schooling a single time, when the student begins homeschooling. This is different from many states that require letters of homeschooling intent each year.
Unlike states which have specific legal statutes that permit homeschooling education as its own category, homeschools in Kansas are considered non-accredited private schools, and thus operate under the same set of stipulations a private school would operate under.
Although this might seem to complicate the process, once a household registers their house as a non-accredited school, homeschoolers actually experience a unique degree of freedom intermixed with the structure of being considered a part of the Kansas private school system.
One of the largest homeschool organizations in Kansas is the Midwest Parent Educators group, which hosts an annual conference, a curriculum sale, a Women’s Encouragement Day, home education workshops, and more.
Tied-6. New Mexico
New Mexico does require some teacher qualifications in order to teach homeschool, in the form of a high school diploma on the part of the educator, or an equivalent.
New Mexico also mandates that students undergo instruction in specific subject areas that public school students take classes in, and homeschool students must achieve the same immunizations as non-homeschool students.
An important aspect of New Mexico homeschool education is that homeschool students can participate in the same athletic, extra-curricular, and club-based activities as public school students. Parents can choose to enroll their child in their local public school district’s extra-curriculars.
As well, for parents who wish to transition their child back into public education, New Mexico provides resources to make this transition more seamless through a unique “Family School” program, which enrolls students in 80% public education and 20% at-home education as a transitional period.
Montana’s homeschool system is incredibly robust, with around 8% of all K-12 students in Montana being homeschooled.
With such a high percentage of Montana students being homeschooled, this has led to a variety of home education organizations that are unique to Montana and provide services one might not be able to find elsewhere.
For example, the EMBER Educational Co-op in the Flathead Valley brings together homeschool students once a week to participate in enrichment classes to experience a traditional classroom atmosphere without sacrificing their at-home education.
Another group, the Montana Coalition of Home Educators, provides the full range of helpful homeschool services statewide: educational resources, support groups, relevant news, and even legislative liaisons.
With homeschool enrollment increasing at about a rate of 25% each year in Montana, the number of organizations dedicated to supporting homeschool education is sure only to grow.
Tied-6. West Virginia
There are two options for homeschooling in West Virginia.
The first involves gaining approval from the local school board, and then teaching the same curriculum offered by the local school board in collaboration with them.
The second involves a parent sending the school board a letter of intent and the student then becoming exempt from compulsory public school attendance. From there, students must take an annual assessment to track the pupil’s progress.
Organizations like the West Virginia Home Educators Association provide homeschoolers in West Virginia with test prep specifically for these annual tests.
In 2016, West Virginia passed a Homeschool Modernization Bill which replaced annual letters of intent to homeschool with a one-time letter and the annual tests, though still required, now only need to be submitted to the state in grades 3, 5, 8, and 11. As such, West Virginia is on track to continue evolving its homeschooling system.