Interested in Unschooling in Washington? We can help

We’re lucky to be living in a country that allows parents to take their kids out of school and educate them at home. However, there are still often a lot of regulations placed on homeschoolers, especially if you’re living in a stricter state like Washington.

This can be a problem if you want to do unschooling — that is, to let your children chart their own educational courses on their own timelines. How do you give your kids authentic freedom if they have to take tests and are required to learn certain subjects by law? In this article we’ll explain what the requirements are, and then explore loopholes that can get you out of them.

Washington’s Regulations

You have 2 options to homeschool legally in Washington: 1) Homeschooling under the homeschool statute or 2) Homeschooling with a private or denominational school.

1. Homeschooling under the homeschool statute

  • You can only instruct your child, and you must meet the teacher qualifications by either:
    • Being supervised by a certificated person
    • Having either 45 college quarter credits or the equivalent in semester credits (approximately 30 semester credits)
    • Having completed a course in home-based education at a postsecondary institution or a vocational-technical institute 
    • Being deemed sufficiently qualified to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local school district
  • Must file a notice of intent with the local superintendent or the superintendent of a nonresident district that accepts your child
  • Must teach 180 days per year or average 1,000 hours per year
  • Must teach these subjects: occupational education, science, math, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation of art and music
  • Conduct an annual assessment. There are 2 options:
    • A standardized test approved by the state board administered by a “qualified” person
    • Have your child evaluated by a certificated person

2. Homeschooling with a private or denominational school

  • Must enroll as an extension program of an approved private school
  • Must comply with the private school’s requirements for its extension programs

Loophole #1: Check with your local school district

If you are a homeschooler in Washington, you are required by law to abide by the above regulations. However, these regulations may or may not be enforced at the local level. If you are interested in unschooling, you can give your local school district a call to find out what guidelines they actually enforce.

This can go the other way too. If your local school district is asking for something that is not required by the state, there are homeschool legal defense associations that will step in and help you maintain your rights.

Loophole #2: Online self-directed private school

If your child is enrolled in a private school, they are not considered a homeschooler and are exempt from all homeschooling regulations.

But isn’t the whole point of unschooling that the child is not in a school?

Enter The Open School. We have a virtual program that you can enroll in from anywhere in the world. And as a self-directed school, our program is perfectly aligned with unschooling. We have no required subjects and no tests. Instead, students design virtual activities to do with other students and staff, including art projects, video games, workshops, one-on-one lessons, and anything else you can imagine. It’s a community of self-directed learners, and a great place for unschoolers to make deep, lasting friendships.

If you want your child to be a free learner in Washington, without being subject to standardized tests or a strict curriculum, a virtual private school may be your best bet. You can read more about our virtual program, or contact us directly, by clicking one of the buttons below.

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