Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Nebraska Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Nebraska? You may have many questions about topics like what you need to do to begin, what recordkeeping and testing is required, and how you need to interact with your local school district. You will want to start by understanding Nebraska 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 Nebraska homeschool requirements to get you started:
Nebraska Homeschool Law
According to Nebraska Statute Section 79-201 R.R.S., “a child is of mandatory attendance age if the child (a) will reach six years of age prior to January 1 of the then-current school year and (b) has not reached eighteen years of age.”
Per the Nebraska Department of Education, “Parents (or legal guardians) may educate their child at home by electing not to meet State approval or accreditation requirements (Section 79-1601 R.R.S.). In Nebraska, “home schools” are referred to as exempt schools and are considered non-approved or non-accredited schools. By filing for and receiving exempt status, parents are electing not to have their child attend a school that meets State approval and accreditation requirements while also complying with the mandatory school attendance law (Section 79-201 R.R.S.). […] Exempt schools can also be outside the child’s home and have students from more than one family.”
“Rule 13 is the rule governing the procedures and standards for parents (or legal guardians) filing for an exemption. […] You as the parent or legal guardian are responsible for finding a curriculum that fits the needs of your exempt school student. Curriculum materials, books, and outlines are not available from the Nebraska Department of Education,” and the parent is responsible for all costs for curriculum and operation of the home school (Nebraska Department of Education).
Do I need to notify anyone of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes. “Parents/Legal Guardians must file for exempt status (under Rule 13) with the Department of Education (NDE). By filing for exempt status, a parent is electing to have their child attend a school that does not meet the requirements for approval and accreditation in the state but remain in compliance with the mandatory school attendance law. The parent is also promising to comply with the state requirements for exempt schools, and that the information provided is true and accurate” (Nebraska Department of Education). All children in the same family can be included on the same submission.
The deadline for submission is July 15. You may submit online through the Nebraska Exempt School Program, or you may submit paper forms and supporting documentation directly to the Nebraska Department of Education in person or via mail. Once your online or paper forms are complete, you will receive an Acknowledgement Letter signed by the Commissioner of Education within six weeks. The Nebraska Department of Education will notify your resident school district of your intent to homeschool. You may choose to send separate notification to your school district, especially if you have previously opted to enroll in a school district that you do not reside in through the Enrollment Option Program.
You will need to collect and summarize certain pieces of information for submission for exempt status. For example, “The program of instruction is provided through either 1) an outline, or 2) a listing of textbooks (including title and publisher), or, 3) listing by subject the name of the curriculum series or online program to be used, whichever applies.” A certified birth certificate must also accompany submission for the first year a student is enrolled in the exempt school. Additional forms are also required:
- Form A: The Statement of Election and Assurances (Form A) must be completed and signed by each parent unless only one parent has sole educational decision-making authority. Single parents must provide sole custody verification, and legal guardians must provide documentation supporting custody. Power of attorney may be used if one parent is on military assignment and cannot be contacted. For purposes of submission, according to the Nebraska Department of Education, an “instructional monitor” is “the individual(s) designated to do the teaching at the exempt school (refer to Rule 13, Section 004.02). Report this information for all of the instructional monitors used by the exempt school, including the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) if they are designated as an instructional monitor. If an online school is used, provide the instructional monitor information for the individual(s) in the home or at the exempt school site who is overseeing or monitoring the instruction.”
- Form B: Only one parent can be the “parent representative” responsible for filing the exempt school paperwork, completing the Authorized Parent Representative Form (Form B) and assuming the relevant responsibilities. “For Multi-Family schools (includes students from two or more families), the Parent Representative collects the Form A documents from each of the parents of the students attending the school and submits along with the rest of the information (Form B, Information Summary, Birth Certificate, and if applicable, court documents)” (Nebraska Department of Education).
Filing for exemption can be done mid-year in some circumstances (i.e., a family moves into a school district or decides to homeschool after July 1).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
According to the Nebraska Department of Education, “There are no formal educational qualifications. The parents or legal guardians must satisfy themselves that the individual(s) monitoring instruction are qualified to monitor instruction in the basic skills in the areas of language arts, math, science, social studies and health, and that such individuals have demonstrated an alternative competency to monitor instruction or supervise children. The evidence is provided to NDE by the parent representative when filing for exempt status and supplying the required information concerning instructional monitors (refer to Rule 13, Section 004.02). By signing the Form A (“Statement of Election and Assurances”), the parent or legal guardian is verifying they are satisfied that the individual monitoring is qualified to monitor instruction in the basic skills (refer to Rule 13, Form A).” You may also teach children other than your own providing the parents list you as the “instructional monitor” on their forms.
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
“As provided in Section 79-2,136, R.R.S., each public school district is to allow “part time enrollment” of students that reside in the district but attend an exempt (home) school (refer to Rule 13, Section 001.04)” (Nebraska Department of Education). This is known as “dual enrollment.” More specifically, dual enrollment is when your child attends “the exempt school part-time while simultaneously attending a Nebraska public K-12 school or a Nebraska private approved or accredited K-12 school. The student would not be considered dual enrolled if the student is taking courses through a post-secondary school (e.g., community college)–those courses are considered part of the exempt school’s program of instruction/curriculum–or the program of instruction/curriculum is received through an online school” (Nebraska Department of Education).
Note that you do still need to file for exempt status if your child is enrolling in an online school or program. “The only two exceptions are if your child is enrolled full-time with the University of Nebraska High School (UNHS) or the Omaha Virtual School (OVS) through Omaha Public Schools. These are Nebraska accredited schools and filing for exempt status for attendance at either of these schools does not apply.
Nebraska Homeschool Requirements
Even though Nebraska does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Nebraska homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 7 (or age 6, depending on the birthdate of your child).
- File for exempt status (under Rule 13) with the Nebraska Department of Education by July 15 of each year the school will be in operation. See the Exempt (Home) School FAQ page for information about when to file based on the birthdate of your child.
- Offer instruction for 1,032 hours in the elementary grades or 1,080 hours in the secondary grades for the school year (July 1 through June 30). You do, however, have flexibility regarding your school calendar that will meet those hour requirements.
- Provide instruction that leads to “basic skills in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies and health” (refer to Rule 13, Section 004.03). “According to the Nebraska Department of Education, “While curriculum materials, books, guidelines or technical assistance are not available from the Nebraska Department of Education, exempt schools are welcome to visit the Nebraska Open Educational Resources website, Nebraska’s statewide platform for open educational resources where educators collaborate to discover, create and share openly licensed content.”
- File required paperwork in the event your child is between the ages of 16 and 18 and is withdrawing before graduation and/or has completed the program of instruction provided by the exempt school.
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
Standardized testing “is not required of exempt school students. The state laws concerning statewide assessment of students only apply to “school districts.” The state is prohibited by law from using any achievement testing of exempt school students for the purpose of measuring, comparing or evaluating the competency of exempt school students. Consider checking with your resident public school district or with private resources for home schooling to see if they have any testing materials that might be provided to assist with the assessment of home/exempt school students by the home/exempt school” (Nebraska Department of Education).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
In Nebraska, the recordkeeping year is from July 1 to June 30. The Nebraska Department of Education suggests, “While recordkeeping and retention are not addressed in Rule 13, it is advisable that you keep records including, but not limited to, attendance data and a transcript of classes taken with grades received for each child. Homeschool organizations may have advice regarding transcript development. NDE does not collect grades or require progress reports; the exempt school parent representative is responsible for their own recordkeeping.”
We also 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 postsecondary pathways. This includes the following:
- Immunization records
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
- Test and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on Nebraska homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Nebraska Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Nebraska homeschool law and meeting Nebraska homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities or school services offered by the public school?
According to the Nebraska Department of Education, “The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) establishes bylaws for interscholastic competitive sports program participation for grades 9-12. For further information or clarification of these bylaws, please contact NSAA directly at 402/489-0386. […] Some high school competitive activities (in addition to athletics) may be covered by the NSAA bylaws referenced above. Otherwise, check with the school for their board policy on this matter. […] Contact your resident public school about what special education services your child might be eligible to receive and how such services could be provided if you choose to homeschool.”
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
You may want to re-enroll your child in public school after discontinuing homeschooling. In this case, you will need to check with the school district on grade placement and re-entry policies and procedures (developed by local school boards). “If families are educating students of high school age and elect to subsequently enroll them in an approved or accredited private or public school, they will need to refer to the local school board or private school policies on accepting credit for students from non-accredited/non-approved educational programs and graduation requirements” (Nebraska Department of Education).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Nebraska Department of Education offers this advice regarding diplomas: “The State of Nebraska does not issue high school diplomas to exempt school students. In some cases, the exempt school creates a diploma; NDE does not collect or certify those diplomas. While it is not required under Rule 13, it is recommended you keep a transcript of classes taken with grades received. It is up to the receiving entity on whether or not the diploma presented is acceptable. […] Often, individuals who have been “home schooled” take the General Educational Development (GED) exam to earn a High School Equivalency credential. If passing scores on the GED Exam are achieved and the individual meets the eligibility criteria, a person can then request a high school diploma issued by the Nebraska Department of Education. For more information on the GED, please contact the Nebraska Department of Education GED Section at 402/471-4807.”
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 Nebraska homeschool law and Nebraska 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 Nebraska Homeschool Groups by county.