Understanding Wisconsin homeschool laws is the first step to homeschooling in Wisconsin.
Congratulations! I assume you have found your way to this site because you are either thinking about homeschooling or have made the awesome choice to homeschool your kids. This blog post is going to take you through the legal requirements for homeschooling in Wisconsin.
Check out these posts if you are still on the fence about homeschooling!
- Thinking of homeschooling, read this first!
- Why we homeschool and think you should too!
- Homeschool advocate
First off, what does it mean to homeschool?
Wisconsin Homeschool Laws
You live in Wisconsin, you want to homeschool. What does the law require? Wisconsin is a low-regulation state meaning, we have a few laws in place for homeschoolers, but not many.
Cliff’s notes version: children between the ages of 6-18 must complete 875 hours of instruction each academic year with an educational plan. That’s it! No testing. You can pick or build your own curriculum. Your curriculum need only be approved by YOU. And you do not need to be a certified teacher or have a certain level of education.
Ok. That was the short version. Now let’s get a little more in-depth.
Compulsory Attendance Law
In the state of Wisconsin, there is a compulsory attendance law. Which means all children ages six and eighteen must be enrolled in school: home education, public or private schools.
To officially make the step to home education, you must fill out form PI-1206 provided by the Department of Public Instruction. This form is NOT to ask for permission to homeschool. You are NOT registering or enrolling your child in a homeschool. You are simply REPORTING that you are homeschooling. This form is how you legally homeschool because you are telling the state you are meeting the compulsory attendance law and agreeing to comply with Wisconsin homeschool laws. It is illegal to homeschool without filling out this form. This form needs to be filled out on or before October 15 each year you are homeschooling your children. Click here for a sample of a completed PI-106 form.
Ok. The form is filled out. What exactly are you agreeing to?
Requirement number 1 is to provide 875 hours of instruction each academic year.
Requirement number 2 the program must provide a “… sequentially progressive curriculum of fundamental instruction in reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and health.” WI-DPI website.
This is where it becomes a bit confusing. You are signing a legal document to provide 875 hours of instruction and an educational plan. But I thought the state didn’t have any authority over my homeschooling? Again, from the DPI’s website:
“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.” WI-DPI website.
I’m not here to debate the requirements or analyze what this means, but yes you “have” to keep track of hours and educational plans that no one will see. Makes sense I know.
In short, 4 things to remember when homeschooling in Wisconsin
- PI-1206 Form to be filled out on or before October 15.
- Applies to kids ages 6-18.
- 875 hours of instruction each academic year.
- Educational plan.
Homeschooling In Wisconsin
As far as curriculum goes, in the state of Wisconsin, you can choose whatever suits your family. You can purchase a curriculum or create your own. You can participate in co-ops or do all the teaching yourself. Charlotte Mason to unschooling, nothing is off-limits is Wisconsin. Our family does a mix of unschooling and unit studies.
An Important Distinction
If you are participating in a virtual charter school, YOU ARE NOT A HOMESCHOOLER! At least in the eyes of Wisconsin law. From the Department of Public Instruction’s website “Virtual charter schools are public schools. If your child is enrolled in a virtual charter school, he/she is considered to be a public school student and you should not submit form PI-1206.” More on that form in a bit.
This distinction is so important. The laws for families participating in a charter program and those who chose a home education where they buy or create their own curriculum are different. I know some homeschoolers get upset when virtual school families call themselves homeschoolers. Why? I have no clue, but according to Wisconsin homeschool laws, if you participate in a virtual charter school, you are considered a public school student and should work with your school district.
Again, from the DPI’s website “Virtual charter schools are public schools. If your child is enrolled in a virtual charter school, he/she is considered to be a public school student and you should not submit form PI-1206.” I can’t stress this enough, not to insult anyone’s intelligence but to help out those trying to navigate through all the homeschooling information out there.
Homeschooling a Preschooler?
Download this cheat sheet for preschool planning!
- The website for Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s: Home-Based Private Education Program (Homeschooling)
- The website of WPA: Wisconsin Parents Assocaition. On the website you can purchase the WPA Handbook “Homeschooling in Wisconsin: At Home With Learning.” It was one of the first books I read about homeschooling, and it was a big help. It covers the topics of curriculum, legal requirements, record keeping, socialization, dealing with critics, and much more!
And there you have it! The Wisconsin homeschool laws to help you get started on your homeschool journey. They may seem a little complicated, but once you do a little research, homeschooling in Wisconsin faces few restrictions and many freedoms!
This post is linked up with Eva Varga for her “Homeschooling State-by-State” series.