Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the New Jersey Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in New Jersey? 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 New Jersey 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 New Jersey homeschool requirements to get you started:
New Jersey Homeschool Law
According to New Jersey Statute 18A:38-52, ““every parent, guardian or other person having custody and control of a child between six and 16 to ensure that such child regularly attends the public schools of the district or a day school in which there is given instruction equivalent to that provided in the public schools for children of similar grades and attainments or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.” The latter part of this statute allows a parent/guardian to educate a child at home.
Per the New Jersey Department of Education, “Homeschooling is the provision of an educational program to a school-aged child, typically in the student’s home. Students that are homeschooled have either never been enrolled in a public or private school setting or have been de-enrolled by the parent/guardian to provide the educational program somewhere elsewhere than at school.
If the local board of education determines that there is credible evidence that the parent/guardian or other person(s) having custody and control of a school-age child is not causing the child either to attend school (public or nonpublic) or to receive equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school, the board may request documentation, such as a letter of intent from the parent/guardian confirming that the child is either attending a nonpublic school or receiving equivalent instruction elsewhere than at school.”
Note that “the law does not require or authorize the local board of education to review and approve the curriculum or program of a child educated elsewhere than at school. When parent/guardian[s] educate a child elsewhere than at school, they are responsible for the educational outcomes of the child. The local board of education is not required or authorized to monitor the outcomes of the child” (New Jersey Department of Education).
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
There is no required minimum qualification for a parent/guardian to homeschool a child in New Jersey; the parent/guardian does not need to be a certified teacher. “The parent/guardian may work directly with any teacher or host school/administrator regarding the program; but they are not required to do so” (New Jersey Department of Education).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
According to the New Jersey Department of Education, “There are two circumstances in which a parent/guardian of a child will be required to inform the local board of education of the intent to educate his/her child elsewhere than at school:
- If a parent/guardian attempts to register a student in a local school district and the district refuses to enroll the student, the parent may provide the district with an intent to appeal such denial. If the parent does not provide the district with an intent to appeal, the parent/guardian is required to provide a statement of verification regarding whether the student will be attending school in another school district or a nonpublic school, or will be receiving instruction elsewhere than at school […]; AND
- If a parent/guardian decides to remove an enrolled student from his/her high school educational program, the parent/guardian will be required to complete a transfer form which includes information related to the intent to provide instruction elsewhere than at school for the purposes of collecting accurate data on high school enrollment.
For any other circumstances, the New Jersey Department of Education encourages parents to notify the local board of education of the intent to educate the child elsewhere than at school so that questions do not arise with respect to the parent’s compliance with the compulsory education law.”
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
Depending on your local school district, you may have some options related to curriculum instruction and materials provided through the district. According to the New Jersey Department of Education, “A board of education may, but is not required by law to, allow a child educated elsewhere than at school to participate in curricular […] activities. […] A board of education may, but is under no obligation to, loan books or materials to a child educated elsewhere than at school.
A vocational board of education should adopt a non-discriminatory policy regarding a child educated elsewhere than at school. If a parent/guardian is a resident of the county, the child educated at home may apply on an annual basis to the county vocational school. The county vocational school may permit the child being educated elsewhere than at school to attend a shared-time county vocational school to the extent that space is available. […] Once a child educated elsewhere than at school is enrolled in a shared-time vocational school program, the child then becomes a public school student and is entitled to the payment of tuition and transportation services.”
New Jersey Homeschool Requirements
Even though New Jersey does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some New Jersey homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- Notify your local school board of education of your intent to homeschool (suggested) and/or file the required transfer form if you are removing an enrolled high school student from public education to homeschool.
- Provide instruction that is “academically equivalent to that provided in the local public school” (State v. Massa 95 N.J. Super 382 (1967)). Note, “Parents may seek information about the school curriculum from the local board of education. If the parent/guardian requests such information, the board must provide it since a district’s curriculum is a matter of public record […]. The parent/guardian may be charged for the cost of copying documents in accordance with the rates established by law […]” (New Jersey Department of Education).
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
No. “The local board of education is not required or authorized to test a child educated elsewhere than at school. The local board of education does not have to ensure through testing or another mechanism that instruction is being appropriately delivered or achieving its desired effect, to review the quality of instruction, or to monitor the results. A child educated elsewhere than at school is not required to sit for a state or district standardized test” (New Jersey Department of Education).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
Even though New Jersey does not have any required recordkeeping, 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 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 New Jersey homeschool requirements through your local school board of education.
Other New Jersey Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following New Jersey homeschool law and meeting New Jersey homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities and/or receive services offered by the public school?
According to the New Jersey Department of Education, “A board of education may, but is not required by law to, allow a child educated elsewhere than at school to participate in […] extracurricular activities or sports activities.
If the child is eligible for special education and related services, the public school district must make a free, appropriate public education available only if the child enrolls in the district. If the child does not enroll in the public school district, but the district chooses to provide services, the district would develop a plan for the services to be provided.”
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
“When a child returns to school following a period of homeschooling, the local board of education treats the child as any other new or returning child (i.e., assessed as to the acceptance of credits and the appropriate grade level for purposes of placement). There are no special provisions made for the child who was educated at home. Placement should be based on an objective assessment that is given to all students for that subject or grade. In assessing the child educated elsewhere than at school, the child may not be held to a higher standard than similarly situated students within the district or transferring from other public or nonpublic schools.
Also, if a child educated elsewhere than at school re-enrolls in the public school in order to obtain a high school diploma, an assessment is made as to the child’s compliance with state and local requirements, as the board of education would with any new or returning student, since no diploma can be issued when such requirements are not met. A determination on a student’s grade placement may include scores on the state assessments applicable to the proposed grade of entry” (New Jersey Department of Education).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
“A child educated elsewhere than at school does not receive a state-endorsed high school diploma from the board of education. If the child educated elsewhere than at school re-enrolls in the public school to obtain a high school diploma, an assessment is made as to the child’s compliance with state and local requirements and eligibility for a high school diploma.
The child educated elsewhere than at school may also obtain a New Jersey State High School Diploma: by passing the General Educational Development (GED) Test; or by completing 30 general education credits leading to a degree at an accredited institution of higher education and by performing at the proficient or advanced proficient level of achievement in all sections of the High School Proficiency Assessment (HSPA)” (New Jersey Department of Education).
As you help your child plan for life after high school, you may want to contact postsecondary colleges or universities, organizations, or the military to find out about admissions requirements.
See the Frequently Asked Questions: Homeschooling page on the New Jersey Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in New Jersey.
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 NJ homeschool law and NJ 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 New Jersey Homeschool Groups by county.