Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Maryland Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Maryland? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, what subjects are required for homeschooling in Maryland, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Maryland homeschool law. You may feel overwhelmed as you start this process, but there are resources available and other homeschoolers who have already succeeded on this adventure!
Here is some information on Maryland homeschool requirements to get you started:
Maryland Homeschool Law
According to the Maryland’s Education Article §7-301, “each child who resides in Maryland and is 5 years old or older and under 18 shall attend a public school regularly during the entire school year unless the child is otherwise receiving regular, thorough schooling during the school year in the studies usually taught in the public school to children of the same age.”
As an alternative, “Maryland recognizes nonpublic schools and home schooling as options to public school enrollment for students to receive regular, thorough instruction. […] A parent or guardian who chooses to provide a home instruction program for his or her child must submit to portfolio reviews by the local school system or be supervised by one of the following [registered nonpublic] entities: 1) a nonpublic school that holds a Certificate of Approval from the Maryland State Department of Education; 2) a church-exempt nonpublic school; or 3) an institution (education ministry) offering an educational program operated by a bona fide church organization.”
A document titled, Compulsory Attendance Law as Applied to Home Instruction Students, clarifies supervision as it relates to compulsory attendance: “Until the child reaches the age of 18, his or her home instruction program must be reviewed by a supervising entity, which may be a local school system or a nonpublic school or institution, consistent with COMAR 13A.10.01-.05. Once the child turns 18 years old, there is no longer a legal requirement for his or her home instruction program to be reviewed. Of course, the law does not preclude a supervising entity from reviewing the work of a child who is 18 years or older, if the child wants to finish the home instruction program and the supervising entity agrees.”
A child under the age of 18 who has completed coursework may be exempt from the compulsory attendance law, as long as certain criteria are met. “If a child is over the age of 16, and is either participating in a home instruction program or has completed one […], he or she may register for the GED test. If the child has not completed his or her home instruction program, however, and does not achieve passing scores in all subject matters on the GED test, the child must continue to participate in a home instruction program or enroll in school until he or she reaches the age of 18.”
The requirements for a home instruction program are described in the Code of Maryland Regulations, COMAR 13A.10.01.01.
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
There are no qualifications for you to homeschool your child, and teacher certification is not required for anyone involved in the education of your child. You do have the option to “arrange for individualized instruction to be delivered by another person inside or outside of the home. […] Some families may seek to utilize a co-op arrangement, in which a group of parents and guardians come together to provide instruction to all of their children in certain subjects or on certain days, either by dividing teaching duties among them or by collectively hiring a tutor. While this may be used to supplement a home instruction program, a co-op cannot provide regular daily instruction to an organized group of students who are not in the same family because this may constitute an unapproved nonpublic ‘school’.” Regardless of whether you include other adults in the education of your child, you are “ultimately responsible for complying with the home instruction regulations” (Maryland Department of Education).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
“A parent or guardian who chooses to provide a home instruction program for his or her child must sign a statement on a form prescribed by the Maryland State Department of Education, indicating consent to home instruction requirements. The home instruction regulations specify that the form must be submitted to the local superintendent or designee at least 15 calendar days prior to beginning home instruction. […] The parent or guardian should contact his or her local school system for a copy of the applicable form and COMAR 13A.10.01 (the home instruction regulations)” (Maryland Department of Education).
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
You do have some educational options as a homeschooling family. According to the Maryland Department of Education, “The home instruction regulations expressly authorize enrollment on a part-time or full-time basis in courses offered by accredited or unaccredited colleges. Actual enrollment is subject to acceptance by the college and payment of any required tuition and fees. A parent or guardian who chooses to enroll his or her child in college courses may elect to provide to the local superintendent or designee a copy of a report card or transcript from the college at the conclusion of each semester in lieu of a portfolio of materials for those courses.”
Your child may not enroll in public school courses; however, your child may be able to enroll in private school courses, “provided that the child has been accepted by the private school and arrangements have been made regarding tuition. As long as the student is using those courses for home instruction, they must be registered as home instruction students and follow all home instruction regulations” (Maryland Department of Education).
Alternatively, you may choose to enroll your child in an accredited online program; you must continue to follow all homeschool regulations in this case as well.
Maryland Homeschool Requirements
Even though Maryland does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Maryland homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 5.
- File the required statement of intent to homeschool according to the requirements.
- Provide annual verification of the continuation of homeschooling with the local school system or nonpublic school or institution supervising the homeschool program (and notify that entity of any change in status within the school year).
- Teach the Maryland homeschool required subjects: “English, mathematics, science, social studies, art, music, health, and physical education” (Maryland Department of Education). You are responsible for choosing a curriculum and instructional materials, but your homeschool program does not need to be aligned with Maryland’s College- and Career-Ready Standards.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
You do not need to administer standardized testing, but you do have the option to access standardized testing from the public school: “A child receiving home instruction may participate in the regularly scheduled standardized testing programs that are administered in the public school the child is eligible to attend. It is the responsibility of the parent or guardian to contact the public school that the child is eligible to attend to find out the testing schedule and to make arrangements for participation prior to the testing date.”
As an assessment of your child’s progress, however, you are responsible to submit portfolios periodically to your supervising entity: “Portfolio reviews occur at the end of each semester. No more than three reviews can occur during a school year. Although the parent or guardian must agree to permit a representative of the local school system to review the portfolio and discuss the instructional program, the local school system can only conduct its reviews at a time and place mutually agreeable to both parties” (Maryland Department of Education).
What happens to my child’s portfolio results?
According to the Maryland Department of Education, “If a local superintendent determines on the review of a home instruction program or inspection of the portfolio that a child is not receiving a regular, thorough instruction in conformity with the home instruction regulations, the local superintendent or designee shall notify the parent or guardian in writing of any deficiencies in the program. Within 30 calendar days of receipt of the written notification, the parent or guardian must provide evidence that the deficiency has been or is being corrected. If sufficient evidence is not provided, the child shall be promptly enrolled in a public or nonpublic school.”
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
In order to provide a portfolio for review by the local school system or registered nonpublic entity, you will need to maintain some of the following materials:
- instructional materials
- reading materials
- examples of the child’s writing, worksheets, workbooks, creative materials, and tests
- other materials that may be relevant for demonstrating regular, thorough instruction
In addition to the recordkeeping needed for portfolio reviews, we recommend you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or post-secondary pathways. This includes the following:
- Immunization records
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on Maryland homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Maryland Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Maryland homeschool law and meeting Maryland homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
“No. The home instruction regulations do not include a provision to allow children receiving home instruction to participate in courses or activities offered by the local school system other than the standardized testing programs” (Maryland Department of Education). That being said, “the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) has approved Standards of Competition that, if met, allow a child who is participating in a home instruction program to compete as a member of a private school sports team against MPSSAA member schools. Such participation, however, is at the discretion of the private school” (Maryland Department of Education).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
According to the Maryland Department of Education, “The parent or guardian must contact the local school system for specific procedures regarding transferring from home instruction to enrollment in a public school. The local superintendent or designee shall determine by an evaluation the placement of the child and any credits to be awarded toward high school graduation. The evaluation may include administration of standardized tests and examinations and interviews with the child.”
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Maryland Department of Education offers this guidance related to diplomas: “A Maryland High School Diploma is a specific kind of high school diploma that can only be issued by public schools, and which can only be issued after a child has met the requirements of COMAR 13A.03.02.09B. This type of diploma is therefore not available to students who complete their secondary education in a home instruction program. If a child transfers from a home instruction program to a public school and meets all graduation requirements, then he or she may receive a Maryland High School Diploma. […] There is no provision that prohibits a parent or guardian, or a supervising nonpublic school or institution, from issuing a diploma upon completion of the home instruction program, but it may not imply that it is a Maryland High School Diploma.
Another option is to obtain a Maryland High School Diploma by examination, which requires that a child successfully complete the General Educational Development (GED) test. If a child is 16 years old or over, and is either participating in a home instruction program or has completed such a program, he or she may register for the GED test.”
See the Maryland Home Instruction and Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Home Instruction in Maryland pages on the Maryland Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Maryland or watch the Home Instruction Process in Maryland Video Series (accessible in Spanish). You can also ask for information by contacting your county’s Home Schooling Coordinator.
Connect With Local Homeschoolers
Remember, too, that you are not alone. You should connect with local homeschoolers from your state, who can help you with Maryland homeschool law and Maryland homeschool requirements and offer you all kinds of practical advice and suggestions. They can give you guidance on everything from curriculum to daily schedules to recordkeeping, and they may be able to share information about local resources, support groups, and field trips. Click the image below to find Maryland Homeschool Groups by county.