At a glance
Some states allow homeschoolers to participate in public school classes and extracurricular activities.
In other states, the decision is left up to individual school districts.
Check with your school district to find out what resources are available.
Homeschooling can be a good option for some kids with learning and thinking differences. It allows parents to work closely with their kids. And there are generally fewer distractions at home than at a school.
But learning at home does have some potential drawbacks. One of them is limited social interaction. Another is limited or nonexistent services.
Fortunately, there are public resources available to homeschoolers that can make those less of an issue. (Unschooling, a type of homeschooling, relies less on a curriculum and encourages children to learn based on their passions and interests. The same regulations and resources apply to both unschooling and homeschooling families.)
Public school activities and classes for homeschoolers
Some parents worry that their kids will miss out on important experiences if they’re schooled at home. They may wonder if their kids can still participate in public school activities like team sports or band. Or if they can take certain public school classes when the school has better resources, such as science lab classes.
The answers to those questions vary by state, and sometimes even by school district. The right to homeschool is nationwide. Equal access to public school resources isn’t.
Right now, some states allow access to classes or activities. But kids often need to meet certain requirements to participate. For instance, they may have to show proof that they’re passing their core subjects.
In other states, the decision is left up to each school district.
Contact your local school district to find out what kind of access it gives. If you’re unsure which district you’re in, try this school district map tool at GreatSchools.
Supports for kids with learning and thinking differences
Eligible kids who go to public school have a legal right to services. These may include , , and things like occupational or .
But what about kids who are schooled at home? Can they also get these free resources? The short answer is yes. But they may need to be enrolled part-time or full-time in public school.
First, you’ll need to seek an evaluation for special education services from your school district. If the results show your child is eligible, the district must provide them for free — but only if your child attends public school on at least a part-time basis.
Understanding your options
To find out what resources are available to your child, you have to contact your local school district. But even if your child can’t get access, there are ways to create some of the opportunities of public school.
You can connect with other parents in your area who homeschool and work with them to form sports teams, go on field trips, and find supports. You can also check out these homeschool organizations in your state affiliated with the Home School Legal Defense Association.
A number of states allow homeschoolers who meet certain requirements to access some public school resources.
Kids with learning and thinking differences may need to be enrolled part-time in public schools to get accommodations like assistive technology paid for by the state.
You can also find support and resources through homeschool organizations.