Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the South Carolina Department of Education website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in South Carolina? 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 South Carolina 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 South Carolina homeschool requirements to get you started:
South Carolina Homeschool Law
According to South Carolina Statute, Section 59-65-10, “All parents or guardians shall cause their children or wards to attend regularly a public or private school or kindergarten of this State which has been approved by the State Board of Education or a member school of the South Carolina Independent Schools’ Association or some similar organization, or a parochial, denominational, or church-related school, or other programs which have been approved by the State Board of Education from the school year in which the child or ward is five years of age before September first until the child or ward attains his seventeenth birthday or graduates from high school. A parent or guardian whose child or ward is not six years of age on or before the first day of September of a particular school year may elect for their child or ward not to attend kindergarten. For this purpose, the parent or guardian shall sign a written document making the election with the governing body of the school district in which the parent or guardian resides.”
South Carolina allows three home schooling options for parents that satisfy the compulsory education attendance requirements:
- Option 1: Homeschooling with approval by the district board of trustees (Section 59-65-40)
- Option 2: Homeschooling “under the auspices of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools” (Section 59-65-45)
- Option 3: Homeschooling “under the auspices of an association of home schools which has no fewer than fifty members” and meets certain requirements (Section 59-65-47)
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
In order to homeschool your child under Option 1, the parent must meet either of these criteria:
- “holds at least a high school diploma or the equivalent general educational development (GED) certificate and, beginning in the 1989-90 school year, attains a passing score on the basic skills examination developed pursuant to Section 59-26-20(b)(1) after the State Department of Education has validated the test for use with home schooling parents; or
- has earned a baccalaureate degree” (Section 59-65-40).
Under Options 2 and 3, the association standards must require that “a parent must hold at least a high school diploma or the equivalent general educational development (GED) certificate” (Section 59-65-45 and Section 59-65-47).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! Families homeschooling under Option 1 must get prior approval to begin homeschooling: “The district board of trustees shall provide for an application process which elicits the information necessary for processing the home schooling request, including a description of the program, the texts and materials to be used, the methods of program evaluation, and the place of instruction. Parents must be notified in advance of the date, place, and time of the meeting at which the application is considered by the board and parents may be heard at the meeting” (Section 59-65-40).
“At any time the school district determines that the parent is not maintaining the home school program in keeping with the standards specified in this section the district board of trustees shall notify the parent to correct the deficiencies within thirty days. If the deficiencies are not corrected within thirty days, the district board of trustees may withdraw its approval” (Section 59-65-40).
Note the following for Options 2 and 3: “By January thirtieth of each year, all associations shall report the number and grade level of children homeschooled through the association to the children’s respective school districts” (Section 59-65-45 and Section 59-65-47).
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
As a homeschooler, you do have options. According to the South Carolina Department of Education, “State law does not require districts to provide home-schooled students with textbooks and instructional materials. The local school district may, however, provide home-schooled students with materials such as books.” If you are looking for a more general alternative, “homeschooled students may earn credit through the South Carolina Virtual School Program if they meet the guidelines of that program” (South Carolina Department of Education).
South Carolina Homeschool Requirements
Even though South Carolina does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some South Carolina homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool under Option 1 (Section 56-65-40):
- Begin homeschooling by age 5 (or age 6, with proper documentation).
- Obtain approval of the home instruction program through the district board of trustees
- “Agree in writing to hold the district, the district board of trustees and the district’s employees harmless for any educational deficiencies of the student sustained as a result of home instruction”
- Provide instruction for at least one hundred eighty days and at least four and one-half hours per day, excluding lunch and recesses
- Teach at least these required subjects: “reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies and in grades seven through twelve, composition and literature”
- Provide access to library facilities
- Maintain required records (see below) and be able to present records for inspection “upon reasonable notice by a representative of the school district”
- Arrange for participation in the annual statewide testing program and the state-approved Basic Skills Assessment Program
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements
Under Options 2 and 3, the association standards must ensure that “the instructional year is at least one hundred eighty days; and the curriculum includes, but is not limited to, the basic instructional areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies, and in grades seven through twelve, composition and literature” (Section 59-65-45 and Section 59-65-47).
Additional requirements under Option 3 require that the association standards ensure the maintenance of educational records by the parent-teacher, including:
- “a plan book, diary, or other record indicating subjects taught and activities in which the student and parent-teacher engage;
- a portfolio of samples of the student’s academic work; and
- a semiannual progress report including attendance records and individualized documentation of the student’s academic progress in each of the basic instructional areas specified” (Section 59-65-47).
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
Yes, students homeschooling under Option 1 “must participate in the annual statewide testing program and the Basic Skills Assessment Program approved by the State Board of Education for their appropriate grade level. The tests must be administered by a certified school district employee either with public school students or by special arrangement at the student’s place of instruction, at the parent’s option. The parent is responsible for paying the test administrator if the test is administered at the student’s home” (Section 56-65-40).
Also, under Option 1, “within the first fifteen instructional days of the public school year, students participating in home instruction and eligible for enrollment in the first grade of the public schools must be tested to determine their readiness for the first grade using the readiness instrument approved by the State Board of Education for public school students. If a student is determined to be “not ready” or is determined to lack the necessary emotional maturity, the parent must be advised by appropriate school district personnel whether a kindergarten or a first grade curriculum should be used for the child” (Section 56-65-40).
What happens to my child’s annual testing results?
The following applies to families homeschooling under Option 1: “Should a student in a homeschooling program score below the test requirements of the promotion standard prescribed for public school students by the State Board of Education for one year, the district board of trustees shall decide whether or not the student shall receive appropriate instructional placement in the public school, special services as a handicapped student, or homeschooling with an instructional support system at parental expense. […] If a parent is denied permission to begin or continue homeschooling by a district board of trustees, the decision of the district board of trustees may be appealed, within ten days, to the State Board of Education. Any appeal from the decision of the State Board of Education must be taken, within thirty days, to the family court” (Section 56-65-40).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
Parents homeschooling under Option 1 are responsible for certain recordkeeping. According to (Section 56-65-40), “as evidence that a student is receiving regular instruction, the parent shall present a system for maintaining and maintain the following records for inspection upon reasonable notice by a representative of the school district:
- a plan book, diary, or other written record indicating subjects taught and activities in which the student and parent engage;
- a portfolio of samples of the student’s academic work; and
- a record of evaluations of the student’s academic progress. A semiannual progress report including attendance records and individualized assessments of the student’s academic progress in each of the basic instructional areas […] must be submitted to the school district.”
In addition to the required 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:
- Attendance, required
- Immunization records
- Lists of texts and workbooks used
- Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios, required
- Test and evaluation results
- Correspondence with school officials
You may also be able to find more information on South Carolina homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other South Carolina Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following South Carolina homeschool law and meeting South Carolina homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities offered by the public school?
Yes! “Act 203, the Equal Access to Interscholastic Activities Act, permits home-schooled students to participate in extra-curricular and interscholastic activities after statutorily-required conditions are met” (South Carolina Department of Education). According to Section 59-63-100, “[…] homeschool students may not be denied by a school district the opportunity to participate in interscholastic activities” if the student meets certain conditions:
- “student meets all school district eligibility requirements with the exception of the
- school district’s school or class attendance requirements; and
- class and enrollment requirements of the associations administering the interscholastic activities; […]
- student participating in interscholastic activities:
- resides within the attendance boundaries of the school for which the student participates; […] and
- student notifies the superintendent of the school district in writing of his intent to participate in the interscholastic activity as a representative of the school before the beginning date of the season for the activity in which he wishes to participate.”
Note that a “homeschool student is required to fulfill the same responsibilities and standards of behavior and performance, including related practice requirements, of other students participating in the interscholastic activities of the team or squad and is required to meet the same standards for acceptance on the team or squad” (Section 59-63-100).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
“If homeschooled students return to a South Carolina public school district, the district has the right to place the students in classes/grade levels which the district/school deems is instructionally appropriate for the students. In other words, because parents tell the district that the students have completed certain grade levels, does not mean the students will be placed into the next grade level. (District instructional placement of returning homeschooled students is usually based on some type of test results that the district determines)” (South Carolina Department of Education).
This discretion by the school applies to middle and high school students as well. “Homeschooled students in grades 7–12 receive credits from their home school program. These credits would show on the transcript that is maintained by the parent or the association. Those credits, however, are not automatically accepted by other public or private schools” (South Carolina Department of Education).
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
In South Carolina, homeschoolers do not receive a South Carolina high school diploma. According to the South Carolina Department of Education, “only accredited public South Carolina high schools issue a South Carolina high school diploma. […] There is no “official” homeschool diploma. Homeschool “diplomas” are issued by the parent or in some cases the homeschool association.”
As you plan for your homeschooler’s postsecondary years, you may want to contact colleges and universities, organizations, and/or branches of the military to find out about admissions requirements.
See the Home Schooling page on the South Carolina Department of Education’s website for even more information on homeschooling in South Carolina.
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 South Carolina homeschool law and South Carolina 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 South Carolina Homeschool Groups by county.