Please read the information on this page carefully and completely.
If you are considering homeschooling due to a crisis (such as illness outbreaks), first know your district’s policies or plans, such as holding classes online for a period of time.
Homeschooling is not generally considered a temporary or short-term fix to short-term crises like epidemics. Rather, homeschooling is an educational choice to be taken in view of the full picture of your child’s educational needs and your family’s beliefs. Your child can be enrolled in only one educational program at a time, meaning either they are enrolled in a homeschool or they are enrolled in a public, private, charter, or virtual charter school. Consider carefully how enrollment in a homeschool to address a temporary health crisis may affect your family.
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If you are ready to begin homeschooling:
What Is Legally Required?
Wisconsin has one of the most reasonable homeschooling laws in the country. It is important to understand what the law does and does not require and how to comply. Please take a few minutes to read the information below.
Please note that homeschoolers have worked long and hard through WPA since 1984 to gain and maintain Wisconsin’s homeschooling law, and we are still working to keep it. Please join WPA – your support is needed.
The first step is filing Form PI-1206 with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction on which you agree to comply with Wisconsin’s homeschooling law. Instructions on when and how to file the form are here. In signing the PI-1206, you are signing a legal affidavit saying that you will do the following:
- Provide 875 hours of instruction each academic year.
You do not need to spend 875 hours at the kitchen table, reading textbooks and completing worksheets, although you can do that if you choose. Homeschooling in Wisconsin means taking 100% responsibility for the education of your children. That means you decide how to provide the minimum 875 hours.
You can follow a schedule similar to a conventional school, that is, 5 hours a day for 175 days, taking off weekends, winter and spring breaks, and summer vacation. Or you can follow a different schedule you choose for your family. Because homeschooling offers so many opportunities for learning and because you can choose learning activities that are well suited to your children’s interests and abilities, homeschooling families find that it is not difficult to meet this requirement for 875 hours of instruction.
- Provide a “sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.”
What this means is that you will provide an educational plan for learning basic subjects in which children build on what they have already learned. You can add as many other subjects as you want to: art, music, religion, woodworking, home economics, and so on. Since there are no specific requirements for how many hours are spent on each subject, you decide what to emphasize.
- “The program is not operated or instituted for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the compulsory school attendance requirement under” Wisconsin law.
What this means is that you will be operating a legitimate home-based private educational program, and will not use homeschooling as a means to get around Wisconsin’s compulsory attendance law.
The next step is to read Wisconsin’s homeschooling law, so you can learn what is and is not required of you. It is important to do only the minimum that the law requires. Doing otherwise will reduce the freedoms you and other homeschoolers enjoy.
How do I meet the requirement of a sequentially progressive curriculum?
As the administrator of your homeschool, you decide how best to meet this requirement. Some families purchase a curriculum, some create their own using a specific approach or set of goals, and some plan to learn from life experiences. Most families combine these three options to create a plan that works for them.
Figuring out how to sort through all of the choices can be overwhelming. It also gives you the freedom to customize a program that works for your family.
Many experienced homeschooling families find that their approach changes over time and that having some flexibility and being willing to change plans if things aren’t working can be beneficial.
It’s important to remember that you can begin homeschooling without having made a definite decision about your approach.
You may want to consider a period of “deschooling,” which is a time for your child and your family to decompress, reset, and adjust to a new normal. Learning does happen during this time, and can take the form of going to the library, interest- or delight-led learning, doing interest-based research projects, field trips, watching documentaries, and so on. This process generally takes a few weeks, and you and your child will know when the deschooling period can be completed and the individualized plan or path for learning can begin.
The deschooling period is the perfect time to learn about different educational philosophies and methods, and a time to research and obtain curriculum which will best fit your homeschool.
Compulsory Attendance Law
Wisconsin has compulsory attendance laws (Wis. Stat. 118.15), which require children between the ages of 6-18 to be enrolled in and attending an educational program.
A copy of your attendance calendar or record and your PI-1206 fulfills the legal requirement of compulsory attendance.
Some Things Not Required of Wisconsin Homeschoolers
Homeschooling laws vary greatly from state to state. Wisconsin has one of the most reasonable homeschooling laws. Because parents are required to file form PI-1206 with the DPI and attest that they are complying with the law, the law holds parents accountable. However, the law acknowledges parents’ right to choose for their children an education consistent with their own principles and beliefs. The law does not require that parents raise their children according to government standards.
- Homeschoolers in Wisconsin are NOT required to follow a curriculum chosen by the state; we are free to choose our own curriculum.
- Homeschoolers are NOT required to take the state-mandated tests that students in public schools must take. Instead, we can evaluate our children’s learning in ways we choose. We can observe them learning, listen to their questions and ideas, and keep records of things they do. If we want to, we can have them take standardized tests that we have carefully chosen because they are consistent with our principles and beliefs, but we are not required to have them take any tests.
- Homeschoolers are NOT required to have school officials review and approve our curricula or collect progress reports or test results.
- Homeschooling parents do NOT have to be certified teachers or have any specific educational degrees. Homeschools are private schools, and teachers in conventional private schools are not required to be certified.
Virtual Charter Schools, or other Wisconsin-based school at home programs where the school, and not the parent, provides curriculum and other materials, and controls the educational program, are not home-based private educational programs (a/k/a homeschools), but are rather public or other types of private schools.
See our FAQs for detailed information about specific questions.
Still have questions? Contact an experienced volunteer.