Homeschooling laws can change, so be sure to check the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction website for updates.
Are you ready to start homeschooling in Wisconsin? 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 Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin homeschool requirements to get you started:
Wisconsin Homeschool Law
According to Wisconsin Statute 118.15(1)(a), “[…] any person having under control a child who is between the ages of six and 18 years shall cause the child to attend school regularly during the full period and hours, religious holidays excepted, that the public or private school in which the child should be enrolled is in session until the end of the school term, quarter or semester of the school year in which the child becomes 18 years of age.”
“Under Wis. Stat. sec. 118.15(4), a parent or guardian has the right to select a home-based private educational program, commonly referred to as homeschooling, for his or her child or children, in order to comply with the compulsory school attendance law. […] Wis. Stat. sec. 115.001(3g) states, “Home-based private educational program means a program of educational instruction provided to a child by the child’s parent or guardian or by a person designated by the parent or guardian. An instructional program provided to more than one family unit does not constitute a home-based private educational program” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
“Since children under age six are not subject to the compulsory school attendance law, it is not possible to enroll a child in a homeschool program for four- or five-year-old kindergarten. If your child will not reach age six on or before September 1, it is not necessary for you to submit report PI-1206 to enroll him/her in a homeschool program for that school year. If your child will reach age six on or before September 1, you will need to submit a PI-1206 Homeschool Enrollment Report and he/she needs to be included in the enrollment numbers for that school year if you choose to homeschool. In Wisconsin, completion of five-year-old kindergarten is a prerequisite for enrollment in a public school for first grade. If you choose not to enroll your child in a public or private school for kindergarten, then wish to enroll him/her in a public school for first grade, you will need to request an exemption from this requirement. Requests for exemptions must be made to the school district in which you wish to enroll your child” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
Note: “The Department of Public Instruction does not provide personal consultation and technical assistance regarding home-based private educational programs.”
What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?
“A homeschool parent may provide the instruction or designate someone else to do so. […] Under Wisconsin law, there are no minimum educational requirements for parents who provide a home-based private educational program. Nor are homeschooling parents required to hold a teaching certificate or license” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?
Yes! Per Wis. Stat. sec. 115.30(3), according to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, “parents must complete the PI-1206 form every school year” in order to homeschool. The form, known as the Homeschool Enrollment Report (HOMER), must be completed online, and you can access a Sample Completed PI-1206 form for your reference. “You should also update your online PI-1206 report if you move to a different school district, or if you want to change the number of children enrolled in your homeschool program” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
“Under current law, homeschooling parents are required to file the online PI-1206 homeschool report annually, on or before October 15. The earliest a PI-1206 Homeschool Enrollment Report can be submitted for a new school year is July 1st. However, the PI-1206 report is available at any time during the school year. If you withdraw your child from a public or private school after October 15, your online PI-1206 report should be submitted or updated on or before the date your child ceases to attend the school. Your child will be considered officially enrolled in the home-based program on the date you complete and electronically “submit” the online PI-1206 Homeschool Enrollment Report by pressing the “Submit Enrollment Data” button at the end of the process” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
Note that “the PI-1206 report is not an application and neither the DPI nor your school district has authority to approve or deny a parent’s homeschool program” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
What educational options are available to my homeschooler?
“Parents also have the option of enrolling their children, at the parent’s expense, in an out-of-state and/or privately operated correspondence or virtual school. Parents who choose this option are responsible for ensuring that their child’s educational program meets the requirements for a home-based private educational program in Wisconsin” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction). See the FAQ’s document on the Home-Based Private Education Program (Homeschooling) page of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s website for more information on online schools.
Also, “although local school districts are not obligated to provide materials to homeschooling families, you may contact your school district to determine if they can be of assistance. […] The part-time attendance law, Wis. Stat. sec.118.53, allows homeschooled students to attend a public school on a part-time basis. A school district is required, space permitting, to allow pupils who are enrolled in a homeschool program to take up to two courses per semester at any public school. Students must satisfy the minimum standards for admission to a course offered by the school district. To register for courses, please contact the school district office you are interested in attending. […] Wis. Stat. sec. 118.53(4) limits a homeschool student to a maximum of two courses per semester but each course could be in a different public school” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
“A homeschool student may attend summer school in the student’s resident school district. If they wish to attend in a non-resident district, the district must charge tuition” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
Wisconsin Homeschool Requirements
Even though Wisconsin does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some Wisconsin homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:
- Begin homeschooling by age 6.
- File the required Homeschool Enrollment Report (Form PI-1206) online each year.
- Provide “at least 875 hours of instruction each school year” (Wis. Stat. sec.118.165(1)).
- Offer the Wisconsin homeschool required subjects: a “sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.”
- Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.
Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?
“No. Wisconsin’s homeschooling laws do not require any form of testing or assessment. If you wish to have your child tested or assessed periodically to determine their level of progress, you would be responsible for obtaining such tests. While school districts are not obligated to provide testing services, you may contact your local school district regarding possible testing using local district tests. A fee may be imposed for any services rendered. Public school districts in Wisconsin are not allowed to administer state required assessments to students enrolled in home-based private educational programs” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?
According to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, “The statutes contain no express authority for any agency or school district to monitor home-based private educational programs or to verify the hours of instruction provided or the use of a sequential curriculum. However, it is recommended that homeschooling parents maintain records of the instruction provided as this information may be used by prospective employers, including the military, and any post-secondary institutions to which the student may apply in the future.” You should also keep copies of your Homeschool Enrollment Reports (PI-1206 forms) since “the Department of Public Instruction only maintains records of submitted PI-1206 reports for seven years.”
In addition to this suggested 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 Wisconsin homeschool requirements through your local school district.
Other Wisconsin Homeschool Policies
Once you make sure that you are following Wisconsin homeschool law and meeting Wisconsin homeschool requirements, here are some other things you need to know:
Can my homeschooled child participate in extracurricular activities and services offered by the public school?
“2015 Act 55 requires a school board to permit resident pupils enrolled in a home-based private education program to participate in interscholastic athletics on the same basis and to the same extent as pupils enrolled in the district. The home-based program must provide the school board with a written statement that the pupil meets the requirements for participation, based on age and on the pupil’s academic and disciplinary records. The school district may not question the accuracy or validity of the statement and could not request additional information. […] Questions regarding sports participation in your resident school district should be directed to the district’s athletic director or the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
“Homeschool pupils may […] participate in […] extracurricular activities in their resident school district on the same basis and to the same extent as pupils enrolled in the district. [As with participation in sports], a school board may charge a homeschool pupil who participates in extracurricular activities participation fees, including fees for uniforms, equipment, and musical instruments, on the same basis and to the same extent that it charges these fees to a pupil who is enrolled in the school district. Please contact the school district directly to inquire about its policies” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
Note that “school districts are not required to provide special education and related services to children with disabilities enrolled in home-based private educational programs. However, since neither federal nor state law prohibits districts from providing special education services to homeschooled children, school districts may provide any special education and related services to these children that they deem appropriate” (Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction).
What if I want to re-enroll my child in public school after homeschooling?
For any number of reasons, you may choose to stop homeschooling and re-enroll your child in public school. “When a student who was previously enrolled in homeschooling enrolls in a public or private school, that school district or private school has discretion regarding grade level placement and the number of credits, if any, that it will grant the student for courses completed in the homeschool program. You may wish to contact the school or school district where your child will enroll to inquire about its policies.”
Note that you will need to update your PI-1206 report to show decreased enrollment in your homeschool program.
What are my child’s postsecondary options after homeschooling?
The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has this to say about diploma options for homeschoolers:
“In Wisconsin, high school diplomas are issued by public and private schools. A home-based private educational program does not lead to a traditional Wisconsin high school diploma. Some homeschooling families do create a diploma upon completion of their home-based private educational program. Although these home-issued diplomas are not traditional high school diplomas, the Wisconsin Parents Association has indicated these home-issued diplomas are widely accepted by potential employers, colleges, and universities for admission and financial aid. A student who is enrolled in a home-based private educational program may wish to pursue the requirements for a General Educational Development (GED) certificate and/or a High School Equivalency Diploma (HSED). […] Also, private companies and schools (including universities) offer distance learning programs, and some of them grant high school diplomas upon completion of certain requirements.”
As you help your homeschooler plan for life after high school, you may want to contact colleges and universities, branches of the military, employers, and/or other postsecondary organizations regarding admissions and eligibility requirements.
See the Home-Based Private Education Program (Homeschooling) page on the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s website for even more information on homeschooling in Wisconsin.
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 Wisconsin homeschool law and Wisconsin 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 Wisconsin Homeschool Groups by county.