This Primer is a “how to” on the Ohio homeschool law (the Ohio Administrative Code section 3301-34, 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:
OAC § 3301-34: http://codes.ohio.gov/oac/3301-34
This is Ohio Administrative Code Section 3301-34, which amplifies Ohio Revised Code 3321.04 (a medical excuse for non-attendance). Our homeschool code was enacted in 1989 as an amplification of this ORC.
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 regulations were written to be very clear and simple to follow. However, some school districts and offices have tried 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 obtain a legal excuse for a compulsory aged child, from compulsory attendance. 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 a Notification of Intent to Homeschool (“NOI”).
3. Complete a curriculum addendum to fulfill items 6 and 7 on the homeschool notification.
4. Make copies of all your paperwork and put it in an envelope.
5. Send in your notification.
6. Enjoy your homeschool 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.)
If you have plans to send your child to 1st grade in public school next year, and he or she is not yet 6, YOU STILL DO NOT NOTIFY, as Ohio homeschool code OAC 3301-34-06 (linked at the start of this document) gives three specific ways the superintendent can determine grade level placement for your child’s enrollment; one of these three things must be done regardless of whether you notified for your child's K year or not. Notification does not establish a grade level, nor does it prove grade level completion, so it will not come into a re-enrollment process. Notification is ONLY for obtaining an excuse from compulsory attendance for a compulsory-aged child.
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.
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.
(Side note: There is another option by which you can stay in compliance with attendance laws and homeschool, and that is by setting up your home as an “08” private school, if you have a bachelor’s degree. This is one of the original ways of homeschooling in Ohio. It is a valid option, but as it is a private school option following private school laws, is not described in this document, which focuses on compliance with Ohio homeschool regulations.)
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 forms 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 - within a week of school starting in your district. To be sure the notification is received by then, without needing to watch a public school calendar every year, we recommend sending your notification by the second week in August, annually. (We recommend between Aug 5th through 10th.) Get in the habit of sending it the same week every year, and you will not forget. It is 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.
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. OAC 3301-34-03 (A) notes that notification should be supplied to the local district superintendent within 1 week 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 notification of intent to homeschool.
Form for Notification:
When you are sending in your notification of intent to homeschool, 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 Administrative Code 3301-34-03, 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 sign and date. 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 on our blog, here.
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 code (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:
This is not a year ("grade") in school, but the actual calendar school year (e.g., 2022-2023).
We do NOT recommend giving your phone number or email address, as by law all communication with the school district must be in writing. If the form you are using does not say “optional” next to phone number or email, you can know for certain that it does not align to Ohio law. Please write "N/A" on the lines for email address and phone number.
This is used if someone else is providing all the education, such as if a family member is providing the education while you work. If this does not describe your situation, leave this section blank or write "N/A". This line is NOT for such things as online "private" school courses (such as Abeka Academy), co-op classes, a co-teaching spouse, or supplemental activities. If Line 3 IS used because someone other than the parent is providing the education, the parent is still responsible for the education and is the one to notify their superintendent and must provide the annual assessment -- they are just designating the teaching person on this line.
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, but this 11 year old will be enrolled in Connections Academy, you will only list the name and birthdate of your 7 and 9 year olds. The 5 year old is not yet compulsory age (even if he is doing "kindergarten" at home with you) and the 11 year old is a public school enrolled student.
You are providing assurance that you will teach the concepts, topics, or practices listed, unless they are a conflict for you. You do not provide any explanation if you choose to not teach one or more of the subjects that conflict with your belief. Only checkmark the statement, not the individual subjects.
This outline will be provided in the curriculum addendum you will create and attach separately, as described later in this document, step 3 of this Primer.
The list noted will be provided in the curriculum addendum you will create and attach separately, as described later in this document, step 3 of this Primer.
This is simply your assurance of at least 900 hours of home education – specifically, purposefully, NOT written in the law as "school hours" or “instruction”. This was written to mean whatever YOU deem to be educational. You do not track or log your hours in Ohio, and a log of hours should never be asked for at an assessment or with your yearly notification. You give only this annual mark of assurance.
You do NOT indicate which qualification you have of the list, nor do you provide proof (such as copies of diplomas) of your qualification. You give only this annual mark of assurance that you have one of them, usually a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. However, Ohio regulations do provide for a parent who has not completed high school or does not have a GED to home educate their children. For more information on this (e) option, which is working under the direction of someone, feel free to contact an admin for guidance.
This should be the person (parent/guardian) listed in line (2), even if you are not to be the primary instructor, as in line (3). You can have both parents sign, or just one; it doesn't matter and it’s your choice.
LASTLY: If your form (or if you used a letter format) 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:
“Pursuant to Ohio Revised Code Section 3319.321(B)(2)(a), we hereby inform the school board that no personally identifiable information, including directory information, should be released without our prior written consent.”
To complete your notification, items number 6 and 7 on the notification ask for a list of curricula you plan on using, OR other materials or supplemental items, and your “intended plan”. We recommend doing one section for each part of the code for 6 and 7, such as in Example 1 (linked here).
This is just your "intended” curriculum - if you decide to change materials or curriculum from what you wrote on your notification, at any later time, it is completely fine. You do NOT send in any amendment.
Remember that this is just your "intended" curriculum plan, and note the wording of the law that states it’s a list of textbooks, correspondence courses, commercial curricula, or other basic teaching materials . That little word “or” is important. You do NOT need to have a list of commercially available textbooks. There is no hard and fast rule about what needs to be included on this addendum - only that you should remember that Ohio law also states that this curriculum addendum is to be "for informational purposes only", and what is written has NO bearing on whether or not you can homeschool. We are a notification state, NOT an approval state.
Repeating: Ohio is a NOTIFICATION state only – it is not an "approval" state. The district cannot approve or deny your curriculum choices, so please do not fret about giving extra info to "impress" the superintendent with your choices or plan. The school cannot have an opinion on your choices. Your brief curriculum addendum is "for informational purposes only".
There is no one "right" way to write your addendum, but there are a few examples posted on our Forms page, for anyone who would like to see an example of some ways they can do it. For a first notification, and especially mid-year, it is recommended to do one similar to the Example 1 format, which includes the actual wording of the regulations for each section 6 and 7.
Completing a subsequent notification
If this is your second (or later) year of notifying to homeschool in Ohio, then you also need to include your signed portfolio assessment form or composite standardized test results form from the previous year. (For more information on the assessment process, see step 6 below.) Only include the signed assessment form, or the test composite score form- you do NOT send in portfolio samples or actual test printouts to the district.
Assessments are not sent in with a first notification-including report cards or school tests. Nothing that happened prior to homeschooling is applicable to home education notification. According to state regulations, you ONLY include an assessment with subsequent notifications- NOT your first.
Shortest step ever. Make copies of all your paperwork for your own safe keeping, and then put the originals 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 (and even signed assessments).
If you have multiple children you are notifying for, all children should be notified for on the same form (as noted on Line (4) of step 2) and you can include all children together on one curriculum addendum as well (as shown on the Example 1 curriculum addendum format linked in the previous step). You can and should send the notification for all your homeschooling children together in one envelope. As one of our OHP admins likes to say, "One form, one addendum, one envelope. One ring to rule them all."
Mail your notification packet 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 the regulations (OAC 3301-34-01) in July 2014 to specify that notifications must be sent to the *local district superintendent ONLY*. (This was additionally noted in 2017 by a letter from the Ohio Department of Education to school superintendents). The district can forward your paperwork on if they wish, 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. If you send it to another office, the school district will not be held to the limit to request more information within 14 calendar days, since it is 14 days from the date of the *superintendent's* receipt.
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, not the electronic signature receipt. 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. If you hand-deliver and your superintendent’s office worker complains or won’t sign for your paperwork, first, assure them that you are only requesting a signature of receipt, not for the NOI to be reviewed right then. If they still balk, or refuse to sign a receipt, turn around with your paperwork and take it to the post office. The $6-7 is worth your sanity.
Then...you are DONE with your side of the legal obligations!
You are homeschooling, and 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 district has 14 calendar days to get back with you if there is something missing from your paperwork. Again, this is not an "approval" of your right to homeschool, it is simply 14 days in which they can ask for missing information (such as if you forgot to include a child's birthdate) before providing an acknowledgement of your child's excuse from compulsory attendance laws. If you sent your NOI 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.
Please don't forget to do the important step of getting that signature receipt!
The superintendent will notify you (it must be in writing and it must be from the superintendent - OAC 3301-34-03 (C)(1) ) that your notification is in compliance and your child is excused from compulsory attendance. It may take longer than 14 days for this letter to arrive. If, for some reason, the superintendent states that your child is instead not excused, he or she MUST notify you of this IN WRITING (not email and not by phone call) within 14 days of their receipt of your paperwork. If you are asked to provide more information, this may or may not be a legal overstepping of your rights - but Ohio code provides ways to prove your compliance with the Code, and gives ways to mediate the process with your district, should the situation arise. We will help direct you to resources, such as the Home School Legal Defense Association, if that occurs. However, it is rare, and it does not stop you from homeschooling nor do you have to keep your child enrolled in school while the process unfolds. Only a court of law can remove your right to home educate- NOT a school superintendent. Most "denials" received are simply a misunderstanding or there was a forgotten item on the notification; these are rectified with a quick response letter or an updated notification.
If you have filed your notification of intent appropriately, the only correspondence you should get back, within a month or so, is a written letter from the Superintendent ONLY, stating that you are in compliance, and your child is excused from compulsory attendance for the school year. This letter should be from your local district superintendent, as per Ohio Administrative Code 3301-34-03 (C)(1). (This was noted in 2017 by a letter from the Ohio Department of Education to school superintendents. This letter can be sent to your superintendent to help them understand their responsibilities if they refuse to sign the excusal.)
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 at least 900 hours of home education on your notification - this is on the honor system. This is "home education", not "school hours" or "instruction time". What does home education mean to you? It is 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, or by an assessor if you've hired someone who knows the law and their job, so use that time you would spend trying to feverishly count every activity you do, instead actually just being with your child!
Annually, once beginning home education, the parent must choose an option for assessment.
Assessment is simply "annual", not "year-end" and does not promote a child to a new grade (there are no grades noted anywhere in our homeschooling laws). The annual assessment is sent in with each subsequent notification (every annual notification after the first) regardless of when it was completed during the previous school year. Assessment is NEVER sent in on its own, but is only sent in WITH your subsequent notification. The typical options are either a nationally-normed, standardized test, or a portfolio review (“narrative assessment”) with an Ohio licensed or certified teacher. (There is actually a 3rd option as well: a mutually-agreed upon other option - but as it is not as typically utilized by new homeschoolers, it won't be described in full detail here. There is more info on this on the FAQ page.)
Nationally Normed Standardized Test Assessment Option
If you choose a standardized test, the only thing you send into the superintendent is the name of the test and the overall composite score, written on the Standardized Test Assessment Form. Actual test result pages are not required (or recommended) to be sent. The composite score must show "reasonable proficiency" which is at least a minimum 25th percentile. Individual scores do not matter - only the overall composite score is provided on the form. If your child does not achieve this score, do not send in the score as your annual assessment - re-test, or do a portfolio review instead. DO NOT use your local district's "Free" testing services. See the FAQ page (question #14) for details.
Narrative (Portfolio) Review Assessment Option
The portfolio review sounds like an intimidating prospect, but it can be one of the most helpful and easy things about homeschooling in Ohio. A homeschooling assessor is not a judge and does not determine grade level "promotion" or hold back your child. A good assessor is a homeschooling advocate and cheerleader for you.
If you choose the portfolio review, all you send into the district is a signed Narrative Assessment Form , which states:
“ I hereby attest that a portfolio of samples of <child name>’s work was reviewed by me for the 20____ -20____ academic year and is in accordance with his/her abilities.”
That one statement IS the entirety of the “narrative assessment”. This is signed by the Ohio licensed/certified teacher who performs the assessment. You do not send in portfolio samples to the superintendent, you only send in this one sentence signed assessment form.
Recommended Homeschool Assessors
If you do the portfolio review option, it is highly recommended that you use a HOMESCHOOL assessor, not a current classroom teacher who simply tells you they are “okay” with homeschooling, but has no personal experience in or knowledge about homeschooling or homeschool laws. Homeschooling is often a vastly different experience than in a classroom, and it’s best to have someone who understands that difference and is not looking to judge your child by that classroom model.
The assessor’s only job is to look for “progress for the year in accordance with the child's abilities”. This is not the same thing as “grade level”, and your assessor does not have the power to promote or hold back your child or assign a grade level. He or she simply signs his or name to that statement attesting that a sample of work has been reviewed and your child is working to his or her level of ability. Your assessor must be an Ohio licensed or certified teacher, of any grade level. There is a list of Recommended Assessors available on the Member Resources page. These are all assessors who have been interviewed and vetted as homeschooling advocates, and have been homeschooling according to Ohio law at least 3 years. They are former teachers, who understand and live the homeschooling life just like you do.
Preparing your subsequent notification
Copies of these assessment forms are available on the Forms page. You will send in one of these two options, along with your next notification of intent to homeschool. This notification with test or assessment review form must be sent in every year following your first notification year (“subsequent notification”), if you intend to continue homeschooling your child in Ohio.
A completed assessment form should not be sent on its own without the subsequent notification, even if your school asks for it “at the end of the school year” unless you are also notifying again at that time. If you are instead enrolling your child in school, have graduated your child, or have moved to a new state, then you will not send in an assessment, since you will not be notifying. How to enroll in school is found in OAC 3301-34-06.
I hope this Primer was helpful to you, and eases any confusion you may have. We have a wonderful homeschool Code here in Ohio, which was written in 1989 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.
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 July, 2022 - 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 © 2022 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.