This Primer is a “how to” on the Ohio homeschool law (the Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3321.042 linked below. This is a step-by-step guide to the notification and assessment process in Ohio, with examples and forms to print and use.
The following Primer information should not be taken as legal advice; we encourage everyone to be personally familiar with this homeschool code. Please read it – never take for granted what *anyone* writes on the Internet. Read the code for yourself and compare what you read against the source. Ohio homeschooling regulations are found here:
This is Ohio Revised Code Section 3321.042, which replaces Ohio Administrative Code 3301-34 "Excuse for Home Education" that was repealed Oct 3, 2023. Our previous homeschool code was enacted in 1989 as an amplification of ORC 3321.04, which is a medical excuse for non-attendance. With the repeal of the administrative (amplification) code and enactment of ORC 3321.042, home educated students are exempt upon transmission of the exemption notification, and no excuse under 3321.04 is needed any longer.
For more background on the law change and why it's so important to understand the new law and how we could easily lose our freedom to home educate, please see the OHP blog post from July 2023.
Hey visual learners! Did you read through the Primer but would prefer to see a quick completed example form? Click here! (Just make sure you read through the step by step Primer information too, because it will give you the "why" information.) :)
Our homeschool law was written to be very clear and simple to follow. However, some school districts and offices sometimes try to impose their own rules which supersede what we are legally required to do here in Ohio. Wrong information is also rampant on websites and some local Facebook groups.
When districts send out their own “informational” letters and forms, they often include requests for things such as enrollment into their school before notifying for homeschooling, requiring phone numbers, email address, and other extra information, requesting proof like birth certificates and parents' diplomas, and some are including wording that makes it sound like the district has the power to approve or deny curriculum choices or your right to homeschool, or calling your notification an "application". All of these things are false, and not in alignment with Ohio law.
Despite all the confusing and sometimes wrong info out there, homeschooling in Ohio *is* very easy, and the process by which we do so legally is actually simple and takes just a few minutes a year. We notify for one purpose: to declare our exemption from compulsory attendance for a compulsory aged child. We do not notify to "be official", to announce we are homeschooling, or to gain approval to do so – you were approved to homeschool simply by being a parent in Ohio!
If you are new, know that we have all been where you are, we've all had questions, and even felt intimidated, at times, by the process. You aren't alone!
What follows, then, is a step-by-step “primer” on the process. There are sometimes nuances, of course, but consider this to be a "getting started" guide. Following the Primer, you can dig a little deeper by reading through the Ohio Homeschooling FAQ page.
First is a quick step by step guide. Following that are details on each step noted.
Building blocks - The Primer: getting started
If you are feeling overwhelmed, just read through this Quick section, and then jump to the number you are more interested in for more details. Each step in this quick step by step section matches up with the detailed numbered steps in the following section.
1. Do I need to notify for my child for this school year?
You should notify to homeschool if:
You should NOT notify to homeschool this year if:
2. If notification is necessary, complete an Ohio Home Education Notification of Exemption form.
3. Make copies of your exemption notification and put it in an envelope.
4. Send in your notification.
5. Enjoy your homeschool year!
6. Notify again by Aug 30 each year.
If your child is not yet age 6, is not currently attending public school grades K and up, and will not be age 6 by your district’s first day of school, then - congratulations! Just have a wonderful year, enjoying your children and beginning your homeschooling adventure. Notification doesn't make your child "official". It's only for the purpose of obtaining an excuse from compulsory attendance, so if your child isn't compulsory age, they cannot be excused from something they are not.
Compulsory school age is age 6 by the district’s first day of school (ORC 3321.01 (A)(1)), so if your child does not yet hit that age 6 mark, you do NOT notify for that entire year. Even if he or she turns six a day later, you would still not notify until the following year. (For example, if your school district’s first day of school is August 17, and your child turns 6 on August 18, you will not notify until the next school year.)
Notification is only for exempting your compulsory aged child from compulsory attendance. You do not notify for a non-compulsory aged child even if you do not plan on homeschooling past kindergarten. Notifying does not establish a grade level, nor does it prove grade level completion, so it will not come into a re-enrollment process.
If you enrolled your 5 year old into Kindergarten but change your mind PRIOR to the start of the school year, you do not need to notify. Simply let your school know you have changed your mind and your 5 year old will not be there. (This is called “red shirting”, and many people do it, regardless of if they decide to continue homeschooling or not. If you decide to 'red-shirt' your 5 year old, do not even mention homeschooling. Just tell them your child is not ready/not going to be there this year.) (ORC 3321.01 (A)(1))
If your child is in preschool, even public preschool, you do NOT notify to homeschool. You simply tell the school you are removing your child. See more in the Homeschooling FAQ doc.
You do not notify for a child who is enrolled in a public online e-school, or who attends a private school (online or in person) that submits a list of attendance to your local district's treasurer. Despite the location, these would not be considered as legally homeschooling. If your private school DOES NOT notify your local district treasurer of your child's enrollment, then you are legally still homeschooling even if the school calls it an enrollment. You will need to send in a notification for exemption.
If you are homeschooling a child who is over age 6 (by your district’s first day of school - generally first grade age and up), OR your child has already been enrolled and started in public Kindergarten or higher - even prior to compulsory age - then you WILL notify your school district superintendent's office of your intent to homeschool as your formal withdrawal. A notification of intent to homeschool IS the legal withdrawal. Any withdrawal forms requested by a school are a courtesy to their internal processes only; filling out these forms is not required and while it might speed along the process of their paperwork, it will not legally withdraw your child. A notification of intent to homeschool must be sent.
The following is the longest section of this document. It provides step by step instructions for filling out each line of the NOI and includes examples to follow and a form to print out.
For visual learners, you can see an example completed form here, but do read through this section so that you understand the why's on each step shown.
For typical annual (summer) notifications:
Your notification needs to be sent to your local district superintendent - not an ESC or county office - by August 30th each year. You can send it earlier, but itis best to send notifications close to the start of school, and not early in the summer, when office staff is reduced and mail could get lost. Get in the habit of sending it the same week every year, and you will not forget.
For mid-year (school withdrawal or moving into the state) notifications:
Withdrawing your child from school and notifying to homeschool at ANY time during the school year is completely legal and should not be dissuaded by school officials. ORC 3321.042 (C) notes that notification should be transmitted (sent) to the local district superintendent within 5 calendar days of withdrawal from school or moving into the district, due to how truancy hours are added up in Ohio. We recommend notifying the same day you keep your child home.
There is no waiting period or approval process in Ohio. When withdrawing from school during the school year you *should* send the notification and keep your child home the same day. Your notification to homeschool IS your legal withdraw from public school. Anything else done is a courtesy. If you are withdrawing from a public school or e-school, you could simply email or call the school to let them know your child HAS been withdrawn, and you need to send back their materials or pick up your child’s things. You can fill out a form, if you wish, but this is simply a courtesy for the school's internal processes and does not legally withdraw your child from school. Your withdrawal is the exemption notification for Ohio home education.
Form for Notification:
When you are sending in your exemption notification, no form is required by law - you can do it in a letter format. However, we HIGHLY suggest most people use the simplicity of a form, especially for a new or mid-year school withdraw, to make sure you are giving all the required information, but *nothing* extra. Using a form also makes the notification “scannable”; meaning, the office worker will not have to carefully read anything you write in order to see that you have covered Ohio requirements.
This form is provided on our Forms page. The form is taken directly from the Ohio Revised Code 3321.042, and it is strictly law-aligned. If you choose to use the Editable Form version (#2 on the Ohio Forms page), the form can be opened in a PDF writer such as DocHub or Adobe Reader and filled in online, but it will still need to be printed out to send. Forms can be hand-written or typed.
Do not use **any** form provided by your school district, or downloaded from the Ohio Department of Education's website. These typically do not strictly align to state law. The schools’ forms ask for more information than required by state law, typically things like phone numbers, email addresses, and grade level, they leave out small but important words from the law code, and usually do not include a privacy notice for protecting your family’s data. (You can see more about this, based on the old notification prior to Oct 3, 2023 on our blog, here. Once ODE updates their website for the new law, this link will be updated accordingly.)
Also, please don't call school offices for homeschooling advice or use information about homeschooling from their websites, as they are not usually accurate according to Ohio law. Again, we encourage you to read the actual law statute (linked at the start of this document) and be familiar with it, so you will be able to spot the misinformation when you come across it, and not be confused. Schools know public school laws, not homeschooling laws, so use public schools for public school questions, and consult only homeschooling sources for homeschooling questions.
How to Fill Out the Notification Form, Step by Step:
1: Fill in current calendar school year.
This is not a year ("grade") in school, but the actual calendar school year (e.g., 2024-2025).
2: Fill in parent/guardian’s name.
You can choose to add just one parent, or both. It is up to you. Even if the parent is asking someone else to provide the education, the parent is still directing the education so the parent(s) name or names go on this line.
3: Fill in the parent/guardian's home address.
This is the parent or guardian's home address. If a parent or guardian is delegating the child's education to someone else (such as a family friend or a family member, the parent is still directing (responsible for) the education as noted in section (A), and so the parent the one to notify their superintendent, so the parent/guardian's home mailing address goes here.
4: Write in the full name ONLY of compulsory aged children that will be educated at home.
You can add more than one child to one line, if you have a big family and run out of lines. Do not add other identifying information such as birthdates or grade levels.
Only list children of compulsory school age (6 by the first day of school to 18 years old or not yet graduated).
So, for example, if you have four children, one of them is age 5, one is age 7, one is age 9, and the oldest is age 11. The 11 year old will be enrolled in a public e-school like Connections Academy, which is legally not home education. The 5 year old is not yet compulsory age (even if he is doing "kindergarten" at home with you). So you would only include your 7 and 9 year old on the notification.
5: Sign and date the form.
This should be the person (parent/guardian) listed in step 2, even if you are not to be the primary instructor. You can have both parents sign, or just one; it doesn't matter and it’s your choice.
IF YOU DO NOT USE THE LINKED FORM: If you choose to use a different form (or if you write the notification in a letter format) that does not contain the full wording of the statute, you will also need to add your assurance that the child will receive home education in the subject areas required under this section: English language arts, mathematics, science, history, government, and social studies. There is more about this assurance of subjects on the FAQ page, question #16.
PRIVACY NOTICE: If you do not use the linked form (or if you used a letter format) that does not contain the following statement above your signature line, add this line for your privacy protection. It is YOUR right to opt out of the school district releasing your information:
“We hereby inform the school board that no personally identifiable information, including directory
information as defined in Ohio Revised Code §3319.321(B)(1), should be released without our prior written consent."
Make copies of all your notification for your own safe keeping, and then put it into an envelope. Any envelope is fine – regular, long white envelopes are typical.
Don't let the shortness of this step fool you - this is a VERY important step. Make copies! School offices sometimes misplace notifications.
If you have multiple children you are notifying for, all children should be notified for on the same form (as noted in step 2). You can and should send the notification for all your homeschooling children together in one envelope.
No "cover letter" is necessary, but sometimes you might want to include one if your district has been attempting to overstep Ohio law. or to correct errors such as missing children or misspelled names. If you think your district superintendent might not understand what you are sending him or her, here is some suggested wording for a cover letter. But again, this is NOT REQUIRED. You can simply put the one form page into an envelope and send that.
Dear Mr./Ms. Superintendent <Name>:
Enclosed please find my annual Home Education Exemption notification, per ORC 3321.042. Ohio law requires the district superintendent to reply in writing with an acknowledgment of your receipt of this notice, within 14 days. Each subsequent academic year, this notice will be transmitted to your office by August 30th.
As the enclosed information fully complies with Ohio Revised Code 3321.042, I look forward to receiving my written acknowledgment of the superintendent's receipt of the exemption notice for my children listed on this exemption form, within 14 days.
Mail your notification envelope to the attention and address of your local district's superintendent. Some districts ask for you to send your notification to a different location that is contrary to Ohio law, such as county of ESC offices. Locations other than the local district superintendent were removed from Ohio home education laws in July 2014, and ORC 3321.042 specifies that notifications must be transmitted to the superintendent of the child's school district of residence. The district can forward your paperwork on if they wish, for someone else to process, but our responsibility is to follow the law; what they do with it once it arrives at their office is now their responsibility, and on their watch. We should send it to the local district superintendent, so that we can know exactly what date it was received by the superintendent's office.
If you are removing your child from school, your child is officially withdrawn, and you are now homeschooling, the day you send the notification. No wait time, no approval. Congrats! Go get ice cream and celebrate.
Can’t find your superintendent’s address?
To find the location of your superintendent’s office, if you do not know it - you can often quickly find who and where this is, by Googling "<your district name> Ohio superintendent address". Use the quotation marks on your search! Doing this often brings up a "Superintendent's Message" page with the superintendent's name on the page, and the correct office address will be in a header or footer of that page.
Send your notification by certified mail
Send this notification by certified mail, and additionally purchase the physical return signature receipt. Request the green physical card option they give you at the post office. It’s important to keep hard copies of all your correspondence.
If you instead choose to walk in/ hand deliver your notification to the superintendent's office instead of mailing it certified, make sure you print out a receipt for the person who takes your notification to sign and date, stating the date received and who your notification is received by. Most issues we see with first notifications are when people walk their notifications in, so we HIGHLY RECOMMEND mailing certified, instead, for first and especially mid-year notifications.
That date of receipt by the office is VERY IMPORTANT. It is what proves your child's exemption. If you hand-deliver and your superintendent’s office worker complains or won’t provide you a stamped or dated receipt, turn around with your paperwork and take it to the post office. The $6-7 is worth your sanity and to avoid an argument with someone who doesn't understand Ohio law.
If you decide to email your notification form, do be sure to turn on Read Receipt for your email. Emailing your notification is not recommended, since it's difficult to prove the email was opened and received by the superintendent, or not sent to spam.
Then...you are DONE with your side of the legal obligations!
You are homeschooling! The child's exemption is effective immediately upon the superintendent's receipt of notice. Within 14 calendar days of receipt, the local district superintendent will provide a written acknowledgment of his or her receipt of the notice to the parent or guardian.
If your child is currently enrolled, you should inform the school or e-school of your withdraw if it's during the school year, the same day. There is no wait period, no approval. The superintendent has 14 calendar days from his or her receipt to reply back with an acknowledgment, but your child is already exempt upon that receipt date. If you sent your notification certified and with the return signature card, you will know exactly what date the superintendent’s 14 calendar day "clock" starts, and also who signed for your notification at the superintendent's office, in case the office claims it was never received.
Please don't forget to do the important step of getting that signature receipt!
Save that exemption acknowledgement paper by stapling it to your copy of the exemption notification, and keep it in your homeschool records. You do NOT need to (nor do we recommend you) keep it with you when you are out with your child. Our Bill of Rights (the 4th Amendment!) requires any government agent to produce a court order to compel you to "show your papers". You do not need to show anyone your exemption paper just because someone says they want to see it. If there is any "challenge" to your right to home educate or your child's right to move freely during the school day, a legal request would need to be made to get a signed warrant for that information. Even minors-- the Constitution applies to them, as well. Remember your Constitutional rights - and model this for your children by not carrying your exemption letter around with you.
Go about your school year! Make lots of memories with your child! Everything you do, every part of living life, is educational. Ohio does not require you to keep track of hours spent. You simply gave an assurance of providing home education in the listed subject areas on your notification - this is on the honor system. The law wording is "home education"; it is not "school hours" or "instruction". What does home education mean? It could include but can be so much more than worksheets and desk time. Just as children in school are not being directly "instructed" nonstop either but are still in their learning environment; our home education law was specifically written to reflect this reality.
Remember that every moment of every day is a learning opportunity for your child. You will not need to track, log, or report your hours. If you decide to track these things on your own, that is for your own purposes, and is not sent or seen anywhere. But if you feel unsure and decide to try to track for your own assurance, be sure to “count” every learning experience and conversation, every trip to the park, everything you do, to be accurate. :)
To be clear, a log of hours will never be asked by a school, so use that time to actually just be present with your child instead of trying to feverishly stop and count every activity you do!
By August 30th each year, prepare to notify and send your next exemption again. Notification in Ohio is done annually by the public school's academic year. Follow the steps outlined in steps 1-4 above for each school year, sending your exemption notification by August 30th.
No assessment is required by Ohio law, but many homeschoolers will still choose to do an assessment (a standardized test or a portfolio review) periodically for their own continuity of records, a time of encouragement, and piece of mind. To see more info about the common assessment options, if you choose to do one, see this page.
I hope this Primer was helpful to you, and eases any confusion you may have. We have a wonderful NEW homeschool law here in Ohio, which is even more free than the one that was written in 1989 and stood the test of time for over 30 years.
Our homeschooling laws are written very specifically to keep us as homeschoolers legal, yet limits intrusion into our day to day lives by the State. This is why we want to be VERY clear about what is and is not required of us as homeschoolers. The law was written BY homeschooling families themselves, to protect our rights (rights that were hard fought for us, at the expense of jail time, the loss of children, and even some homeschooler's lives, by homeschoolers just a few decades ago), and we want to be able to pass down these same rights we enjoy, to future generations of Ohio homeschoolers.
We are in a delicate spot right now where we now have an IDEAL, low-regulation homeschooling law. But if we do not remain vigilant, if we do not take the time to learn and understand what our rights and responsibilities are, or if we seek after state-entanglements in the form of taxpayer funding or credits, we could quickly see our ideal homeschool law vanish like balloons into the sky.
If we give in just a little here and a little there, doing more than the law requires, just to “be nice” to an unlawful request, or to "not make waves", we dishonor those who fought for our rights, and encourage school administrators to bully other law-abiding citizens. Little by little, or sometimes in sudden legislation, we will see our rights slip away.
Instead, we follow in the footsteps of those who fought for and wrote our law, who advocated for "full and minimal compliance with the law".
Let’s make sure our children have the same right to homeschool that we have, by doing the same!
Have a wonderful year, and welcome to the adventure of a lifetime!
Revised and Updated October 3, 2023- Debby Gerth, Author
Ready for more info? Have some other questions that you didn't see covered above? Or you just didn’t think that was quite enough words and want to keep reading?
Copyright © 2023 Ohio Homeschooling Parents - All Rights Reserved.
Please note, we are fellow homeschooling parents, not legal counsel. Information shared should not be taken as legal advice. We highly recommend being well-versed with the applicable administrative code and your rights to home educate. The regulation codes pertaining to Ohio homeschooling are linked on this page.