Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Rhode Island Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Rhode Island? 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 Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island homeschool requirements to get you started:
Rhode Island Homeschool Law
According to Rhode Island Statute § 16-19-1, “Every child who has completed, or will have completed, six (6) years of life on or before September 1 of any school year, or is enrolled in kindergarten, and has not completed eighteen (18) years of life, shall regularly attend some public day school during all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides.” One exception to this is when a child is attending “a course of at-home instruction approved by the school committee of the town where the child resides.”
Note that the Rhode Island Department of Education [RIDE] “does not directly supervise home instruction. In Rhode Island, approval of home instruction occurs at the local school district level. If you are thinking of home-schooling your child, please call your local school superintendent’s office for information.”
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
In Rhode Island, there are no minimum qualifications for you to homeschool your child. You need only be able to provide “thorough and efficient” instruction (RIDE).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! Prior to beginning home instruction, “you need to present your proposed home instruction program to your local school committee for approval. Your plan will need to show that you will teach the required subjects. There should be agreement between you and your local school committee regarding how your child’s academic progress will be evaluated” (RIDE).
If your local school committee denies approval of your home instruction plan, you may appeal the decision to the Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, Angélica Infante-Green, 255 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903.
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
In order to fulfill the homeschooling requirements of Rhode Island, “you may copy the public school curriculum or use correspondence courses, or you may design your own curriculum. R.I. Basic Education Program Regulations may also be helpful to you, as they include a framework for a comprehensive curriculum that is used in the public schools. The BEP may be found at 200-RICR-20-10-1 and the section on curriculum is §1.2.1” (RIDE). You can also check with your local school department, public library, and other printed and online resources.
According to the Rhode Island Department of Education, “local school districts must loan certain textbooks, including e-books, in English/language arts, history/social studies, science, math, and modern foreign languages, as well as texts for some other subject areas. The textbooks available for loan under the “textbook loan program” are on a list published annually by the Commissioner of Education. You are responsible for the purchase of other instructional materials needed for your child’s home instruction program.”
You must have approval from your local school committee if you intend to use an online program for virtual instruction in your home instruction plan (RIDE).
Rhode Island Homeschool Requirements
Even though Rhode Island does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Rhode Island homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- Obtain approval of your plan for home instruction from your local school committee.
- Provide instruction for a period of attendance “substantially equal to that required in public schools. School districts in Rhode Island are currently required to provide a minimum of one thousand eighty (1,080) school hours during each school year” (RIDE). Rhode Island does not require that home instruction start in September as long as the duration of the home program meets the “substantial equivalent” regulation.
- Teach the required subjects of “reading, writing, geography, arithmetic, history of the United States, history of Rhode Island, principles of American Government, civics, health and physical education” (RIDE).
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
According to the Rhode Island Department of Education, “The parent and the school committee should agree on a way of evaluating your child’s progress in all required subjects. This may include testing in the required subjects at regular intervals. If testing is the method of evaluating your child’s progress in his/her home instruction program, the site of testing is subject to agreement by you and representatives of your district. Testing at the home is an option you should discuss with district representatives, if you are interested in this.”
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
“You must keep attendance records. If you and your school committee agree that you will test at home, you must keep progress reports/test scores” (RIDE). You must submit these attendance records, as well as evaluations of your child’s progress in the home instruction program through regular reports to the person in charge of home instruction at your district.
In addition to attendance, 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:
- Attendance, required
- 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 Rhode Island homeschool requirements through your local school district by contacting the superintendent’s office.
Other Rhode Island Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Rhode Island homeschool law and meeting Rhode Island homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities and/or services offered by the public school?
“The Commissioner of Education has encouraged all school districts to allow participation in academic, extra-curricular and interscholastic activities on a space available basis, no cost to the district or school basis. However, each school committee has authority to decide whether or not to allow a home-schooled child to participate in public school programs and public school extra-curricular activities. Additional requirements must be met by children who wish to participate in Rhode Island Interscholastic League athletic programs” (RIDE).
“If your child is eligible for special education services, you should discuss this with the Special Education Office of your local school district to determine how these needs will be met” (RIDE).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Rhode Island Department of Education has this to say about life after homeschooling: “In Rhode Island some districts issue a ‘certificate of completion of home-schooling program’ while others issue a certificate denoting the completion of individual courses for purposes of the parent maintaining the student’s academic record. Your child may take the G.E.D. test to receive a high school equivalency diploma. […] Some colleges do not require a high school diploma and will accept home-schooled students. We recommend that you check with the specific colleges your child is considering.”
See the Home Schooling page on the Rhode Island Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Rhode Island.
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 Rhode Island homeschool law and Rhode Island 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 Rhode Island Homeschool Groups by county.