Parents who wish to educate their children at home rather than send them to public or private schools, need to know what type of certification—if any—is needed to be in compliance with state laws and guidelines. The requirements for certification vary from one extreme (no high school diploma required) to the other (a college degree in education required). Rulings about certification of home schooling instructors are made solely by the state and not the federal government.

Contact the department of education for your state. Call or visit the website.

Look for “home schooling” once you are on the state department of education site. If you have difficulty finding specific information, call the state office and ask for assistance personally.

Carefully read through the basic requirements for home school certification. Some states, such as Mississippi, require no certification, while in California, for example, only certified teachers can home school their children.

Decide if taking specific actions, such as increasing the number of college hours you have accumulated, taking a particular course (one on your state history, for example) or fulfilling other requirements, are steps you are willing to take in order to qualify for home schooling certification. Before enrolling in any course, make sure that it will specifically apply to the certification guidelines.

Follow the guidelines given by the state for home schooling as far as how many hours of instruction must be provided and how those hours are to be broken down. For example, the state of Missouri requires the following: “1,000 hours of instruction during the school year, with at least 600 hours in the basics, which will be in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.”

Pay close attention to the kinds of records parents who home school their children must keep. Those records might consist of lesson plans, samples of student work, grades given and how they were justified, and other information.

Find out if students in home school programs must take standardized tests in order to receive certificates of achievement. If so, make sure you are clear about how those tests will be administered.

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  • Contact a state university in to find out what requirements the university sets for students who have been home schooled through their high school years.


  • Pay close attention to deadlines that states set for declaring your intention to home school for your child.

About the Author

Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.