Understanding Homeschool Laws in Wisconsin for 2024

Homeschool laws in Wisconsin might seem like a nightmare of legalese and red tape for parents thinking about alternative education. But don’t worry, I’ve got your back to make sense of it all.

I totally get how confusing state regulations can be; I’ve been there myself. But here’s the deal: knowing Wisconsin’s homeschool laws is key if you want to manage your child’s education effectively.

So, let’s cut through the noise and get to the heart of what you need to know. No more sleepless nights spent worrying about compliance. No more confusion about your rights and responsibilities. It’s time to demystify homeschool laws in wisconsin once and for all.

Table of Contents:

Wisconsin Homeschool Laws

Wisconsin has some of the most straightforward homeschool laws in the country. But don’t let that fool you – there are still important requirements you need to know about to legally homeschool your child.

In this post, I’ll break down the key things you need to understand about wisconsin homeschooling law. I’ve been homeschooling my kids here in Wisconsin for over a decade now. So I’m pretty familiar with the ins and outs of our state’s homeschool law.

Requirements for Home-Based Private Education

To legally homeschool in Wisconsin, you’ll need to follow the requirements laid out in Wisconsin Statute 115.001(3g). This defines a home-based private educational program as one that:

  • Provides at least 875 hours of instruction per school year
  • Provides a sequentially progressive curriculum in reading, language arts, math, social studies, science, and health
  • Is privately controlled by the parent or guardian
  • Is not operated by a school district or cooperative educational service agency

As long as your homeschool meets those criteria, you’re good to go. No teacher certification, standardized testing, or home visits required.

Compulsory Attendance

In Wisconsin, kids between the ages of 6 and 18 are required to attend school. But don’t worry – homeschooling is considered a form of private education that fulfills this requirement.

All you need to do is file a simple report with the Department of Public Instruction each year. This is called the PI-1206 Home-Based Private Educational Program Report. It’s just a quick form where you confirm your homeschool meets the state requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from new homeschool families about wisconsin homeschooling law. Here are some of the most common ones:

Do I need to be a certified teacher to homeschool?
Nope. Wisconsin doesn’t require any specific qualifications for homeschool parents.

How many hours do I need to homeschool each day?
The law requires 875 hours of instruction per year. How you break that down is up to you.

What subjects do I have to teach?
Your curriculum needs to include reading, language arts, math, social studies, and science. But you have a lot of flexibility in how you cover those subjects.

Do I need to submit test scores or portfolios?
No, Wisconsin doesn’t require any sort of formal assessment or review of your homeschool program. The PI-1206 report is all you need to file.

How to Start Homeschooling in Wisconsin

If you’re ready to start homeschooling in Wisconsin, there are a few key steps you’ll need to take. Don’t worry though – the process is pretty simple. As a veteran homeschool mom, I’m here to walk you through it.

Choosing a Curriculum

Choosing the right homeschool curriculum is one of your first big steps. The beauty of homeschooling lies in its flexibility, offering a variety of options like traditional textbooks, interactive online programs, and hands-on learning activities. There’s something to match every family’s style.

When picking a curriculum, remember that Wisconsin requires it to be sequentially progressive. This means your lessons should follow a logical order and build on what students have already learned. For more details, check out the official guidelines here.

Some of the most popular curriculum choices among Wisconsin homeschoolers include:

  • Time4Learning (online, interactive curriculum for PreK-12th grade)
  • Sonlight (literature-based Christian curriculum)
  • Saxon (rigorous, traditional math and language arts)
  • Oak Meadow (nature-based, creative curriculum)

Creating an Educational Plan

Once you’ve chosen your curriculum, it’s time to create your educational plan for the year. This doesn’t have to be anything super formal or complicated. Just a general outline of what topics you’ll cover in each subject.

I like to start by looking at the scope and sequence provided by my curriculum. This gives me an overview of the key concepts and skills covered in each grade level. From there, I break things down into smaller units and decide roughly how long I want to spend on each one.

Keep in mind, your plan doesn’t have to be set in stone. One of the beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility to adjust your plans as needed. If your child is struggling with a concept, you can slow down and spend more time on it. Or if they’re flying through the material, you can accelerate the pace.

Notifying the School District

The final step to officially start homeschooling in Wisconsin is to file the PI-1206 Home-Based Private Educational Program Report. This is a simple, one-page form that you submit to the Department of Public Instruction each year.

On the form, you’ll need to provide:

  • The name of your homeschool program
  • The number of students enrolled
  • Parent/guardian contact information
  • Assurance that your program meets the state requirements for hours of instruction, curriculum, and private control

You can find the PI-1206 form on the DPI website. The form is due by October 15th each year, or within 30 days of starting your homeschool program if you begin after the start of the school year.

That’s all there is to it. After filing your PI-1206, you’re now part of the Wisconsin homeschooling community. Congrats and welcome.

Homeschool Reporting and Oversight

As a homeschooler in Wisconsin, there are a few reporting and oversight requirements you need to be aware of. But don’t stress – compared to a lot of other states, Wisconsin is pretty hands-off when it comes to regulating homeschoolers.

Annual Reporting Requirements

The main thing you need to do each year is file the PI-1206 Home-Based Private Educational Program Report. This is a quick, one-page form that lets the state know your homeschool program is meeting the basic requirements.

On the PI-1206, you’ll affirm that your program:

  • Will provide at least 875 hours of instruction for the school year
  • Will provide a sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health
  • Is privately controlled by the parent or guardian

The form is due to the Department of Public Instruction by October 15th each year. I like to set a reminder on my calendar so I don’t forget. You can submit it by mail or online through the DPI website.

Designated Person Responsibilities

On the PI-1206 form, you’ll need to designate a primary contact person for your homeschool program. This is usually a parent or guardian, but it could be another relative or homeschool administrator.

The person designated has a few key responsibilities. For more details, check out the link provided here.

  • Submitting the annual PI-1206 report
  • Maintaining any homeschool records
  • Communicating with the DPI if any issues arise

Basically, this is just the point person for your homeschool. It doesn’t require any special qualifications or background checks. Just someone willing to handle the minimal paperwork and oversight.

Maintaining Records

While Wisconsin doesn’t require homeschoolers to submit attendance reports or student portfolios, it’s still a good idea to keep some basic records. This can be helpful if you ever need to re-enroll your child in public school or apply to college.

A few elements worth monitoring include:

  • Attendance (just a simple log of days/hours spent on school work)
  • Subjects covered and curriculum used
  • Samples of your child’s work (tests, essays, projects, artwork, etc.)
  • Extracurricular activities and achievements

I like to keep a binder for each of my kids with this type of information. At the end of the year, I’ll also put together a simple portfolio showcasing some of their best work. It’s a nice way to document their progress and accomplishments.

While Wisconsin doesn’t legally require this, it’s a smart move to adopt these practices. They can save you future hassles and offer a fun way to look back on all the progress made.

Homeschool Access to Public School Resources

Many homeschool families in Wisconsin often ask about the resources they can access through their local public schools. The great news is that state laws provide a variety of options for these families to utilize public school services.

Participating in Extracurricular Activities

Did you know homeschoolers in Wisconsin have the right to participate in public school extracurricular activities? Yep, it’s true. Wisconsin Statute 118.133 says homeschool students can take part in sports, music, clubs, and other activities at their local district school.

There are a few requirements to be aware of:

  • You must file the PI-1206 homeschool report each year
  • You must meet the same eligibility criteria as public school students (age, residency, academic standards, etc.)
  • You may be charged the same fees as public school students for participation

Thinking about getting your kid into public school sports? Get in touch with the school’s athletic director or activities coordinator. They’ll have all the scoop on when tryouts are happening, practice times, and everything else you need to know.

Using School Facilities

Wisconsin homeschoolers also have the option to use public school facilities for some educational activities. This could include things like:

  • Checking out books from the school library
  • Using computer labs or science equipment
  • Attending school plays, concerts, or special events
  • Renting gym space for homeschool group activities

Policies on facility use vary by district. Some are very welcoming to homeschoolers, while others are more restrictive. It never hurts to ask though. Building a positive relationship with your local school administrators can open a lot of doors.

Enrolling in Individual Classes

Part-time enrollment is another option for Wisconsin homeschoolers who want to access public school resources. State law allows homeschooled students to attend up to 2 courses per semester at their district school.

For homeschool families, tackling subjects like foreign languages or advanced math can be tough. Online classes offer a solid solution while also giving kids the chance to join a classroom environment and meet other students.

To enroll in individual public school classes, you’ll need to work with your district to determine:

  • Which classes have space available
  • How to handle registration and fees
  • What academic records or testing may be required
  • How grades and credits will be handled

Part-time enrollment comes with a bit more paperwork and oversight compared to traditional homeschooling. However, for many families, it’s an excellent way to blend both educational worlds.

Wisconsin Homeschool Support and Resources

Jumping into homeschooling might seem a bit scary at first, but don’t worry. In Wisconsin, you’ll find a lively and helpful homeschool community ready to support you with tons of resources.

Wisconsin Homeschool Associations

Start by checking out your state-wide homeschool associations. These non-profits in Wisconsin provide resources, connections, and support for homeschooling families.

The two main associations are:

  • Wisconsin Parents Association (WPA) – The WPA has been supporting homeschoolers since 1984. They offer an annual conference, local chapters, a newsletter, and tons of great resources on their website.
  • Wisconsin Homeschool Parents Association (WHPA) – WHPA is another state-wide group that provides information and support. They have an online forum, local meet-ups, and a variety of member events throughout the year.

Both of these organizations are volunteer-run and member-supported. I highly recommend joining one (or both.) when you start homeschooling. The small membership fee is well worth the wealth of resources and community you gain access to.

Local Homeschool Groups

Apart from state-wide organizations, you’ll find numerous local homeschool support groups throughout Wisconsin. They’re perfect for connecting with fellow homeschoolers in your community through playdates, educational outings, and cooperative learning opportunities.

Some of the larger local groups include:

  • Southeastern Wisconsin Home Educators (SEWHE) – Serving homeschoolers in the Milwaukee metro area
  • Christian Homeschoolers of the Madison Area (CHMA) – A Christian support group for homeschoolers in Dane County
  • Christian Home Educators of Wisconsin Valley (CHEWV) – Supporting homeschool families in central Wisconsin

You can find a more comprehensive list of local groups on the WPA website. And if there’s not currently a group in your area – consider starting one. Chances are there are other homeschool families nearby who would love to connect.

Online Resources

You can’t talk about homeschool resources without mentioning the internet. Tons of fantastic websites, blogs, and social media groups are out there to help support homeschooling families.

When homeschooling in Wisconsin, I find these websites incredibly helpful.

  • For more engaging discussions and updates, join our Facebook group here.
Key Takeaway:

Wisconsin’s homeschool laws are straightforward but still have important requirements. You need to provide 875 hours of instruction per year and teach core subjects like reading, language arts, math, social studies, and science. File the PI-1206 form annually with the Department of Public Instruction by October 15th.

Conclusion

Homeschool laws in wisconsin may seem daunting at first glance, but they don’t have to be a roadblock on your educational journey. By understanding the requirements, embracing your role as an educator, and staying connected with the homeschool community, you can create a thriving learning environment for your child.

Knowledge is power, and now that you understand Wisconsin’s homeschool regulations, you’re all set to navigate the state education system with confidence.

You’re ready! With all the resources and backing at your disposal, success is within reach. For homeschooling families in Wisconsin, things are looking up—let’s take full advantage!