When I first moved to Idaho, I had no idea I was going to homeschool. Now that I am educating my children at home, I’m so glad I live here!
Idaho is one of the best states to live for homeschooling families. We enjoy more freedoms than most states, and have a long list of inexpensive homeschooling resources available. That’s why I wanted to gather all the information in one place!
Idaho Homeschooling Laws
In Idaho, parents are allowed to be parents, deciding what, when and where our children learn. Although attempts are constantly made to restrict Idaho homechoolers (for our own good, we are told) our freedoms and protections have actually increased in recent years.
As of this date (Aug 15, 2013), according to the Idaho Department of Education, the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators and HSLDA, Idahoans must provide an equivalent public school education beginning when our children reach 7 years of age and ending when they turn 16 (Code 33-202). As long as Idaho parents comply with this one law we enjoy the freedom to educate our children as we see fit.
We are not required to report to anyone that we are homeschooling. Statutes allow us to determine our own teaching schedule and curriculum. Idaho law does not specify the number of hours, days or weeks that parents must provide formal instruction.
When it comes to taking standardized tests, home educated children in Idaho have the best of both worlds. We are not required to take the tests but through ICHE, Idaho is the only state that has a system set up for homeschoolers to take these tests independent of the public system.
Homeschooling parents have a much better feel for how our children are performing compared to administrators, but testing may provide a valuable diagnostic tool and prepares students for college exams. Also, scores from these tests have a powerful impact on legislation as Idaho Homeschoolers score significantly higher compared to state and national percentiles.
Idaho law guarantees our right to dual-enrollment. That means that we can use specific public school resources as a supplement to our homeschools. So, as long as there are openings, our children can participate in classes, sports, band, debate or any other public school activity.
The catch is that once our children are enrolled in the public school system, we must submit to public school standards and requirements. Our children might need to take standardized tests, health assessments and submit academic records. So, by dual-enrolling our children we forfeit many of our homeschooling freedoms.
Threats to Our Freedom
While Idahoans enjoy many freedoms, we must remain vigilant. Many people are very opposed to homeschooling and constantly look for ways to regulate us. The law states that Idahoans must provide equivalent instruction in our homes. If someone reports that a homeschool family is neglecting to educate their children, an investigation can be opened and criminal charges can be brought.
Luckily, in Idaho homeschoolers are assumed innocent until evidence of guilt is presented. That means that accusations and assumptions alone are not enough to get us investigated. There must be enough evidence to bring a charge against us, just like any other criminal case.
So, if a social worker or policeman shows up at our door, we have the right to ask for a court order or search warrant. We have the right to remain silent and request a lawyer. We also have a right to know the “cause” that initiated our investigation.
The second major threat to Idaho homeschoolers is Common Core. The Common Core Standards were adopted in Idaho 4 years ago, but are just now being implemented. Idaho was baited by the U.S. Department of Education during the Great Recession in 2009.
The federal government tied stimulus money through a state competition. States were given points based on a number of factors including adopting the Common Core State Standards.
Like the rest of the country, Idaho signed on but received none of the federal dollars. The consolation was that Idaho did not have to meet requirements of previous standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. This means that Idaho did not have to report any academic failures.
While Idaho Homeschoolers have been told that we will not be affected by Common Core, it is hard to believe. Already SAT and ACT tests are being rewritten to align with Common Core. If homeschoolers want to go to college, then they will be indirectly affected by Common Core Standards.
Also, while Idaho has been very open to homeschooling in the past, it will be interesting to see how things pan out now that the federal government is running education in Idaho. But for now, Idaho homeschoolers are not required to conform to national Common Core Standards because we are not required to take standardized tests.
So future regulation aside, Idaho is perhaps one of the best places to homeschool in the world. Because of the lack of government intervention, we are free to thrive.
More Posts in this Series:
Homeschooling in Idaho: Educational Field Trips
Homeschooling in Idaho: Support, Conventions, and Free Resources
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Sometimes I feel like the only person homeschooling IN Idaho!
kimberly recently posted…daises
Thanks for stopping by Kimberly! You definitely aren’t the only one 🙂 What area do you live in?
Kimberly, like Janine, where do you live? I know here in Northern Idaho, all you need to do is call a church, and most have some sort of homeschool group… most not directly supported by the church, but members that get together. Most of my friends, including myself, have been homeschooled at one point, and there is a very larger population of homeschoolers up here!
Also, Janine, at North Idaho College, you need to only take their COMPASS test to be enrolled, since they take dual-enrollment students. So, as long as you graduate with an associates, you can move on to any other college/university in the country.
Sharon C says
Thanks for this great info!! We are planning to move to Idaho in part because of the homeschooling freedom. We are in Florida and it is not too bad here but we want complete freedom and control over our daughter’s education. We also want to move closer to WA where my MIL and SIL live.
Sharon C recently posted…Journal Time
Yay! Idaho is awesome. You’ll love it here. Do you know what area you are moving to?
Shelly H says
Thank you for the info..some things I did not know about homeschooling in Idaho. We have been here for almost 6 years now and we are loving the freedom in our homeschooling here in southeast Idaho. There just aren’t very many families homeschooling in our area though but there are a few in which we have connected with, thankfully. I was particularly interested in the dual-enrollment since my daughter is wanting to join the cross-country team as well as track this coming school year. Not sure if I really want my children to be connected to the public school system but it’s something she really wants to do..or at least try. So thank you for the information. It is very much appreciated.
Gina C says
Hi there. We are moving to Emmett at the end of this month and our 12 year old has been home schooled since first grade. I’m researching Idaho programs for home schooling and was hoping you could give me tips on what’s best. I’ve looked into IDVA, ICON, and Inspire Connections Academy so far. I’d like to find one that gives her more freedom than the one she has been in all these years. We like to do a lot of hiking and biking and need a flexible program.
Thank you for any help you can send my way.
Hi Gina! I’m so excited to hear you are moving to Emmett! It’s a great place especially for hiking and biking! I don’t know a lot about what is over there as we are more familiar with the Boise area. You might want to research K12 or Garnet Prep and if those are not a good fit, then you can ask Jamie Robb (she is one of the founders of Garent) about other options. There are lots of Facebook group for homeschooling in Idaho that will be a great place to ask as well! Feel free to email me with any other questions! firstname.lastname@example.org Welcome to Idaho!