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Understanding Homeschool Laws In Missouri (Q&A)

By July 1, 202452 Comments

One of our conference workshops discussed homeschool laws in Missouri and Kansas. We didn’t have enough time to finish it, because of all the questions asked during the workshop!

As a result, we arranged for a Q&A with Scott Woodruff, Senior Counsel at Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), to finish his presentation on Missouri homeschool laws.

NOTE FOR 2024: Missouri signed SB 727 and HB 2287 into law this year, which will take effect Aug. 28. The Families for Home Education (FHE) website features an update regarding these and how they will affect homeschoolers.

Transcript of conversation between Shanxi, MPE online content director, and Scott Woodruff

Shanxi: OK, Scott, take it away!

Scott: OK. Hello everyone, I’m Scott Woodruff, senior counsel of Home School Legal Defense Association, and it’s my pleasure to chat with you for a little while about Missouri homeschool law.

And my objective in talking with you this evening is to give you the confidence to know that you’re homeschooling in compliance with the law, so you never have to wonder, if there’s a knock at the door and a social worker shows up, or a policeman, or a truant officer, if you are complying with the law.

You want to have that locked down good and tight, so you can give your full, undivided attention to those wonderful kids you’re teaching. So let’s take a quick tour.

When do you have to start thinking about compulsory attendance age? And that is age 7. When does it end? Age 17. …

Here’s a rundown of what you have to do, and they are three:

  1. You need to keep track of work samples of your child.
  2. You need to keep a record of periodic assessments.
  3. You need to have documentation showing a thousand hours of instruction during the school term.

Of that thousand hours, 600 have to be in what I’ll call core subjects, and the other 400 can be in the electives.

And the core hours are reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science. And there’s no component for what the electives can be; it can be anything you wish.

And it’s important that you actually write this down because the law does require some documentation of that. The way most people will do it, to get that down and be totally secure, is to write what’s called a daily log. And as the word daily implies, you do that every day.

missouri homeschool law

So as you go along through the day, you take a notebook, or a form, or a spreadsheet, or a notepad, and you write, for example, “Math: 30 minutes. Or social studies: 45 minutes. Or language arts: 1 hour.”

And you do that during the course of the year, and then by the end of the school term that you set, you should have at least 1,000 hours.

And if you have that, then you have a very strong case if anyone tries to claim that you are violating compulsory law.

That’s a quick sketch. Now I’ll go back and fill in a few blanks:

I said compulsory age starts at 7, and that’s if your child is 7 when your school term begins. For example, if you want your school term to begin Sept. 1 and your child turns 7 in December, your child was not of school age or age 7 when your term began…

Another nuance at the other end … I told you compulsory age ends at 17. Little nuance: once your child hits 16, the records that you required that I mentioned briefly before – the work samples, the assessments, the logging of hours – that goes away.

So between when your child is 16 and 17, you can relax. You still need to educate them, but you don’t have to keep all those records.

Now, there’s one final part of the word on compulsory age. If you enroll a 5- or 6-year-old child in public school, he becomes subject to compulsory attendance at that point. The parents must request in writing that he be dropped once he enrolls.

Not too terribly bad, but you don’t want the other situation where your child is attending public school and starts to wrack up unexcused absences.

Because if you get in a situation like that, and you are charged with truancy, and then something really awful happens, then you go to court. And then something worse happens, and a judge says that you have violated the law, and they’re taking jurisdiction of your child. He might say, “And oh by the way, now you cannot homeschool.”

So if your child is one who suffers from anxiety, or who will not go to school, or being bullied or humiliated, or life is just miserable, and they just won’t or can’t go to school, don’t wait until the truancy problem gets significant. If you do, you may already have dug yourself a kind of hole.

If you see you have an attendance problem that’s not resolvable, you need to decide fairly soon if you’re going to go the other route, which is homeschooling. Don’t wait until you’re facing a court challenge.

Now, if a court challenge should come, it doesn’t mean you should give up hope. But it can make your life a lot more complicated.

Now, to fine-tune on the required subjects. As I mentioned before, they are reading, math, social studies, language arts and science. There is no particular division on those subjects that you need to have.

So, for example, you can have all 600 of your core hours on math. If you do that, I’ll personally report you for child abuse! Just kidding. But obviously, parents are going to want to distribute that according to the child’s interests and the parents’ vision of what a lawful education should be.

But nobody’s going to fault you, for example, for providing only 100 hours in social studies during the course of the year. That is within your discretion.

Another little nuance on the core hours or required subjects is that of the 600 hours that I said you needed during the school term, 400 have to be “within the regular homeschool location.”

Now, some of us – who knows where the regular homeschool location is because they go to a tutor, or they go to a co-op, or they take classes at the local community college, or they’re going on a tour of the country in the RV, going from Missouri to Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska. Who knows? …

Suffice it to say that you’re going to have to pick one [location], and in that one, you need 400 of your core hours, even if that makes your location your RV rolling across the fruited plains and purple mountains of America.

Now something you don’t need to know and we won’t spend much time on is that there is a definition of homeschool. But I’m not going to read that to you.

The only people who need you to think about that are the people who are operating a homeschool program that is starting to look like an institutional private school. In that case, they may not be able to establish themselves as a private school if they’re actually a homeschool. …

missouri homeschool

I get the question often [about recording evaluations], “What kind of evaluations of progress does that mean?” The law does not tell you. It simply says, “A record of evaluations of the child’s academic progress.”

So that could be, for example, spelling tests that you grade, math tests that you grade, essays you grade, projects you grade. Evaluations are something that says, you did well, you did bad, you did excellent. It’s not just a child filling out a work page and sticking it in a binder.

For it to be an evaluation, you have to evaluate it with some kind of mark on it, indicating of course that you have given the child some feedback on that report.

Now, it appears that some people are asked to file what’s called a voluntary notice of enrollment, and that is found in Missouri code 167.042. But don’t do it! Even though this notice of enrollment, or declaration of enrollment as it’s called, is an option, there’s essentially zero value to you doing that.

If you move to Missouri, don’t file the declaration of enrollment. You don’t need to. If you have a 4-, 5-, or 6-year-old, and you’re about to start homeschooling, don’t file the declaration of enrollment.

Now, if you have a child in public school, don’t just take them away one day and don’t say anything to the school. They will wonder where Johnny is. So would you if you were a conscientious parent.

If you’re going to take a child out of public school, give the school a courtesy notice. They want to know why Johnny’s not coming back, and it’s appropriate and very sound and safe for you to do so.

It can be a very simple letter, saying, “Dear Mrs. Smith, My son Johnny will no longer be attending your school. As of tomorrow, we will be homeschooling him as per Missouri law. Sincerely yours, ___.” And that will do it.

[Editor’s note: See a sample withdrawal letter recommended by Families for Home Education (FHE), including an IEP release letter for special needs children with an IEP.]

Schools occasionally demand that declaration of enrollment, but you should and probably want to just say, “No, thank you. We’ve already given you our notice, and that’s all we need to do.”

Now, I’ll give you a little fine point on enforcement. Like I said, there is no requirement that you file anything. For example, if you’ve lived in Kansas, you know that to homeschool there, you have to be registered as a private school. …

Missouri is one of about 15 states where you can actually homeschool without filing anything. You can just get up and go.

But there is a very clear enforcement process, and if you don’t comply with the law, you can be brought down over your head and shoulders rather quickly. The one thing that should not happen is, if the only complaint against you is that you’re homeschooling, a social worker should not be at your door because they do not have jurisdiction.

Under the statutes we have on the books, by the courtesy of Families for Home Education (FHE) a couple of years ago, if the only complaint is homeschooling, social workers have no jurisdiction.

In fact, the only person who has jurisdiction to investigate you at that point is the prosecutor. Now if you want to mention the prosecutor, you obviously don’t want to be disrespectful, but he does have the power to enforce it.

I will say that we have known families who have been taken to court. I know personally of one family who was taken to court, and the judge took jurisdiction of their son. And he did not release that till about two years.

So there’s that, even though you don’t have to file anything to start homeschooling, that should in no way lull you into a false sense of security that you can just sit back and disregard the law.

Know the law, do it diligently. That way you’re protecting your freedom and the freedom of all other homeschool families. …

Questions from the audience

  • When logging hours and recorded lessons completed, can those be on the same form or do they need to be separated?

Scott: They can be on the same form.

  • Since Missouri law doesn’t require school attendance until a child is 7 years old, could/should I homeschool a younger child without keeping records up until she is age 7 at the time when our school term begins?

Scott: My answer to that is that, the only time you can create an unnecessary complication for yourself is, if you treat a 6-year-old as if she is subject to the compulsory attendance law and begin keeping records – for example, if you say that your school term starts Sept. 1 and your child is going to turn 7 in October – but you actually start tracking 1,000 hours on Sept. 1.

missouri homeschool laws

And you start keeping track of samples and assessments. And then you get to the end of the year and you only have, say, 850 hours.

It’s possible that a court could go back and look at that and say, “Oh, your school term actually began when you began keeping records, because you were acting like that. Therefore, we’re going to hold you accountable for the full 1,000 hours during the year. And since you fell short, now we resolve that you have not satisfied the law.”

So that only applies if you have a child right on the borderline because if you begin acting like he is subject to the compulsory attendance law, that might say that yes, he is subject and your term has begun.

  • Are required hours by the clock?

Scott: The hours of instruction are a unit of time. It is not a unit of instruction. It is not a chapter, it is not a unit in a book, it is not a page in a worksheet. An hour always means something measured by time.

For literally decades, I have heard people in Missouri say something like, “Well, we do one lesson, and we count that as one hour.” And I want to in the strongest terms say, “Please don’t do that. That will not carry weight in court.”

Because the requirement is not instruction, your requirement is time. And if you think about it, that’s actually a fairly reasonable way to do it.

homeschool record keeping

We don’t really want the state, for example, telling us that you have to do 25 lessons in math this year. We don’t want the state saying, “You have to do 16 lessons in social studies.” That would be a level of interference none of us would enjoy.

Instead, it’s far simpler. You just spend a certain amount of time giving instructions, and you will be OK.

When the Missouri homeschool law was enacted around mid-’80s, at that time public schools were required to provide approximately 1,060 hours of instruction. And so our 1,000 hours of instruction was a slight discount off what the public school students had to do.

So for those of you who say, “Well, I’ll count it as an hour even though I only spent half an hour because I can get twice as much done,” that’s not going to fly.

The efficiencies of homeschooling do not allow you to take 30 minutes of instruction and call it one hour. Please don’t even try.

  • How many work samples would you recommend we keep and how long should we keep the records?

Scott: Very good question. The law does not state how many samples. I think at a minimum, I would keep one per month for every required subject, every core subject. I think if you wanted to beef that up to a couple samples a month, that would be even better.

But at minimum, I would do one a month in every required subject.

As to how long to keep them, there are two parts to that answer. One is, when your child is in high school, the records you maintain at that point could be important to help in getting your child into college, get a job, or into the military.

So you want to keep those records until your child is well settled in his career.

You may have a child who, after high school, decides to be a waitress for five years, then go work at a horse ranch for five years, then take a vacation for a year, then lo and behold, they want to go work as an air control specialist in an airfield town.

Now, it becomes important to document what they did in high school. So, you want to keep those records until your child is well settled.

The NCAA can be a stickler on the content of your high school record. They’ve been known to say, “OK, I know your basketball star has geometry on his transcript, but show me the content of that geometry course.” And you want to be able to show that.

So for high school, and by that I mean the last four years, grades 9-12, keep those records until your child is well established in his career or lifelong ambition.

And you might even keep some more stuff – say, table of contents of books or reading lists – in case the NCAA or someone else wants to inquire behind the summary that’s on your transcript.

That’s part 1.

Part 2 is for kids who are in grades 1-8. Those are the elementary ages. Colleges don’t care what your child learned in the fourth grade, whether it was fractions, or decimals, or timekeeping, or expanded notation. But you will need those records if you are hauled into court. May it not be so, but it could happen.

homeschool transition

So for those elementary years, I recommend at a minimum that you have your current records plus one school year and back.

So, for example, if you wanted to follow Scott’s minimum plan, you’d have all your 2015-16 school year plus all your records for 2014-15 safely stored in a box.

I’d probably feel better if you actually kept two school years of records in a box plus your current one, but in most circumstances I think you’ll be OK with one. But there is no clear statutory answer.

  • I have a homeschool graduate. Do I need to keep all 12 years of his records? [Shanxi] I think you kind of answered that in saying your minimum plan is current records plus 1-2 school years back?

Scott: Right. And be sure to store those in a way that’s durable. For example, a computer is like a light bulb. One day it will go “dink!” and it will not work anymore. And if all your records are on that computer, all your child’s school records goes too.

If you keep your records in a basement anywhere near a river, the Missouri River, the Mississippi River, or any tributary thereof, you may get flooded. And if the flood wipes out your records, do not expect somebody to be merciful and say, “Oh, that’s all right. Don’t worry about it. You don’t really have to show us your records.”

So your job is to make sure your records are safe and sound. And it’s therefore your responsibility as a mature, wise, loving adult to keep those records in a secure place. Maybe even keep those somewhere else, just in case, as a backup.

So keep the records good and secure, and protect against flood and fire, and one day when your child gets old enough, say, “Barbie, I have a present for you. Here’s a trailer load full of your high school records. They are now yours to keep. Have a nice day.”

  • Is it OK to count activities like church and baseball as non-core hours?

Scott: The watchword here is instruction. If you can safely claim that any activity is legitimately instructional, then yes, you can certainly count that.

Church – a good message, a good sermon – is incredibly instructional. Baseball can certainly be instructional. You’re learning PE while helping your body get stronger and learning skills that can benefit you for a lifetime.

So as long as you can put your hand on a Bible and swear in court that it is your sincere belief that it’s instructional, you can count it in the 400 elective hours.

Now at some point, routine stuff – you’re going to have a hard time counting it instructional.

Say, for example, you teach a 9-year-old how to make his bed. That’s instructional.

But once he’s 15, he knows how to make his bed. That’s not instructional any more. That’s just kind of chores.

So make sure you don’t have to be embarrassed or be a little bit skittish when you raise your hand about instruction.

  • The HSLDA Missouri hours form spreadsheet has listed out the individual subjects in the core hours (e.g., reading, language arts, science, social studies, math). However, I think the law doesn’t say I have to keep track of the core hours individually, but only collectively. So is it acceptable/advisable to just track the core hours collectively and then have a separate daily log where I enter the subjects taught and activities engaged in? That way if I’m homeschooling several children it’s not as tedious to keep track of how long they spend in each subject.

Scott: Let me respond by saying that the phrase I’ve been using, “core hours,” or for that matter, core subjects, or for that matter, required subjects, that phrase is not in the law. We use those as a nickname.

The law doesn’t categorize them or call them anything. It simply says, “The home school must offer these 1,000 hours of instruction, 600 of which will be in reading, language arts, math, social studies and science.”

homeschool missouri

So I would be a little bit reluctant to simply put, for example, “2 core hours today.” Because it has no definition in court. It’s simply my nomenclature, your nickname, our collective way of referring to it.

However, for a large family – and I’ve spoken to families with 10 kids – and I can imagine the paperwork for tracking 1,000 hours is big.

An alternate method that could work could be if you kept a plan, and then kept very good records that you had accomplished it.

So you planned a day where every child had half an hour in every one of his subjects, and then for example, you put a check mark when you accomplished what your plan is, that’s the equivalent of documenting you did those hours.

So having a plan, and including some kind of documentation that you kept that plan, would suffice as long as the plan is written in time and not instruction.

If you wanted to go that route, don’t put, “All my 10 kids are going to get one math lesson today.” You need to put, “All my 10 kids are going to get half an hour in math today.”

Then put a check mark for each child, and that would be a good documentation that you’d accomplished that. …

For those of you who have really gifted children who you may feel may want to graduate from high school early, there is a way to be exempted early from the compulsory attendance law if you’ve given your child 16 statutory credits.

Now that’s an odd phrase, but what it means in the law is 100 hours of instruction in subjects that will lead to high school graduation.

So for most kids, that’s going to be kind of moot. They’re going to be graduating from your program about age 17 anyway.

But if you have an unusually bright child, and maybe they’re going to finish their 12th-grade work by the time they’re 14 or 15, you might truly want to keep track of their statutory credit so you can document that they are exempt from instruction once they have those 16 credits.

I don’t know of anybody who’s actually done that, but it certainly is a lawful opportunity for a bright child.

You may have a prodigy who’s going to finish high school at age 15, go to college, go to medial school, and it’d be nice if you could look down the issue that yes, you can get through the compulsory attendance law.

But for most folks, you can just totally forget that I mentioned the phrase statutory credits. It’s not going to apply to you.

  • Are standardized tests necessary?

Scott: That’s a good question. As I mentioned before, the law says that you must keep a record of evaluations of the child’s progress, but it doesn’t say what kind of evaluation.

homeschooling with adhd tips

The standardized test is an excellent evaluation. If you’d like to go that route, I’d recommend one a year. That is certainly a credible, authentic, respectable way to check a child’s academic progress.

  • For children with learning difficulties, both diagnosed and undiagnosed – is it necessary to document an IEP or SEP? Also, how helpful is it to seek official diagnosis?

Scott: Very good question. The homeschool laws apply to every child equally, regardless of whether he’s a weak learner, strong learner, special needs or if they need more than most other kids. You don’t need to have an IEP or an SEP.

However, let me throw in here that you actually have the right to the same level of special-education access as public schools. That’s in Missouri section 162.996. So, if you desire special-education services through the schools, you have an entitlement to that.

The second part of the question was whether it was desirable.

I can think of one scenario where it would be very helpful. Say for example that you have a child who just takes longer; he accepts that. Your child may get to the point where he’s taking college admission tests and wants what’s called an accommodation – generally a longer time to take the test.

If you think your child is going to need an accommodation like that on a college admission test, it’s very helpful to get that documented now, somehow, using some kind of live authority or expert or some source that will say yes, when he was in ninth grade, even back then, his condition required him to have an extra half-hour to finish the test.

The problem is if you get to take the ACT, and then three months before the schedule, you say, “Hey, I’d like to have an extra hour to finish the test,” they’re going to ask you to prove why they should do that.

homeschool missouri law

And one element could be, “Did he need any accommodation before?” And if your answer is, “I don’t know. We just took longer in our homeschool,” that may or may not fly. …

You’re going to be much better off if you have some documentation from some expert saying that yes, this child needed certain accommodations even before he started sweating about his college reports.

  • Follow-up question: Is it best to go through the school to get that diagnosis or is it best to seek a private practitioner?

Scott: I am going to bow out of that question because you just exceeded my knowledge base. I just don’t know.

… I’ll also mention that under Missouri law, fire departments, police departments and state agencies cannot discriminate in employment based on the fact that your child was homeschooled, as long as it was permitted under Missouri law.

So if you’re ever had difficulty with your child getting a job with a state or local government agency, give HSLDA a call or get somebody else to work on your behalf.

FHE enacted a very good statute several years ago, which prevents local and state agencies from that kind of discrimination. So don’t suffer in silence. Let the problem be known until you get a solution.

Shanxi: Is there anything you wanted to mention about membership with HSLDA? I did want to mention to everyone listening that HSLDA offers a $15 discount for an annual membership if you join MPE first, so you can check our website for more details on that.

Scott: HSLDA is a voluntary organization composed of homeschool families who said, “Yes, we would like to band together with families all across the country to protect the right to homeschool.”

And so they banded together, they gave $100 a year, and that allows the ministry of HSLDA to continue.

Our mission is to protect your right to homeschool, and if you are challenged in court or by a social worker, HSLDA should be your very first call if you are a member.

Our legal advocacy services are only available to members, so I do encourage you to call or go online and apply to join.

And once your application is completed and accepted, then HSLDA should be your very first call if you get a summons, or a complaint about education, or a social worker comes to your door.

And we would love to look at that very carefully and provide you all the help we can within normal operating procedures.

See more steps for starting a homeschool in Missouri.

This blog post was originally published in May 2016. We have updated it for timeliness and detail.

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Shanxi Omoniyi

Shanxi Omoniyi (@ShanxiO on Twitter) is MPE's online content director. A homeschool alumna, Shanxi graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in journalism and English. Her company, Wordspire Media, helps businesses and nonprofits share their stories through content marketing, social media management, and email marketing.


  • Hi Misty, we already replied to you on Facebook. So sad to hear you’re having such trouble! If it’s running in a circle, it may be that your Internet connection is having trouble buffering the video. Try checking that as a last resort.

    We do have the transcript in our post, so you can always read that if all else fails with the video. Hope this helps!

    • Mckenzee says:

      Hello! I have a quick question I was hoping you could answer for me. I’m about to pull my 5 year old out of kindergarten for homeschooling. Other than the school do I have to notify the state ?

      • No, a formal school withdrawal letter should be all that you need. Homeschool laws vary by state, so some states do require notification if you choose to homeschool (such as Kansas). However, if you are in Missouri, that requirement does not apply.

        Hope that helps!

        • Mckenzee says:

          Thank you! Also, a lot of people have been telling me that my 5 year old is subject to compulsory law because he was enrolled in kindergarten for about three weeks. I just took him out today. He’s 5. Do I have to log hours and keep records for him just because he was enrolled in kindergarten??

          • Unfortunately, this is correct – you will need to log hours and keep records. Because he was enrolled in public school kindergarten, he’s now subject to compulsory attendance law even though he’s 5 years old.


  • Ashley Wright says:

    Shanxi the blog is really awesome!!!! I have just started homeschooling and there are lot of people who want to start homeschooling but people don’t know how to start homeschooling.Thank you and keep writing so that people will know what laws are there to start homeschooling.

  • Amanda says:

    Hello! We just moved to Missouri from Colorado, and since my child has never been enrolled in public school in Missouri, do I have to notify the school district which we reside in, or the recorder of deeds my intent to homeschool? Or can I simply just begin our curriculum, with all the appropriate documentation? Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Hi Amanda! Thanks for your question. You don’t need to notify anyone in Missouri. This is only true for Kansas. You can start homeschooling and keeping your records compliant with the state.

      If you can make it to our homeschool conference this weekend, we’d love to give you more info on homeschooling in Missouri! All the best! 🙂

  • Amanda says:

    Thank you for your response! I will see about attending the conference. When and where will it be held? Also any future conferences scheduled Incase I can’t make this one? Thanks!!

  • Amanda says:

    Awesome, thanks for the info, your a big help!! Thanks again!!

  • Jody says:

    Is it legal to teach another families children while I homeschool my own and charge for that service? Say my neighbor wants me to teach their homeschool child while she works during the day. Am I allowed to charge money for my time spent instructing this child that isn’t mine?

    • Jody, it is becoming more acceptable to compensate a parent to homeschool another family’s child(ren). While we don’t believe there is a legal reason why you cannot, we caution you to weigh all the pros and cons before committing to this large task. You should also both be in agreement with an arrangement/contract. It might be a good idea to have it all in writing to prevent any possible misunderstandings.

      In Kansas, since you are the principal of your homeschool in your application to KSDE, you are considered ultimately responsible for your student’s education, even if you sub-contract that out to another teacher or community college.

      We have several member families who are involved in co-ops where a certified teacher is teaching, somebody teaches who is passionate about the subject, or were employed in the field they are teaching. Those involved in co-ops are receiving an income for teaching, and we also believe you can be compensated for your time teaching in your home. This would be very similar to receiving compensation for tutoring, although that usually isn’t a long-term commitment like homeschooling.

      Be sure to weigh all the pros and cons before committing, but this would be an excellent way to continue homeschooling your children while bringing in an income at the same time.

      Hope this helps!

  • LeAnn Barker says:

    I had enrolled my son in the Early Education special needs program through the public school system for the last two years due to a speech delay he developed due to hearing issues. His hearing issues have been resolved and he is ready to enter Kindergarten in the fall. It is still recommended he gets speech therapy and I plan on homeschooling and using the speech therapy services offered in his school district, which is a different school than he went to for Early Childhood. It was recommended by the school system that he register at the school in his district and than I send the withdrawal letter so they can process an IEP for him to get the special needs services without needing to attend the school.

    Do I treat him like he is compulsory age even though he is going to be 6 is September?

    • Erin McGhee says:

      Hi LeAnn,

      Thank you for commenting. Because he was already enrolled in Early Childhood through the public school, you would treat him as compulsory age even though he is 6.

      We also recommend you check out the Home School Legal Defense Association:

  • Gabriela says:

    My family and I just moved to MO from MN. I didn’t grow up in the States, but was homeschooled for some of my elementary years. My husband was born and raised in MO but doesn’t know much about homeschooling.
    We have 4 children ages 1-3-5 & 7. Last year I did first grade with my oldest 2 children. My 5 year old is for the most part in the same academic level as my 7 year old.
    We finished 1st grade, and we are planning on doing 2nd grade this year. My question is, is it okay for my 2nd year old to start 2nd grade this year even though I didn’t keep track of all of their 1st grade stuff as it is required by the MO law? And would it be okay for my 5 year old to keep doing what he’s doing and not start keeping records for him until he turns 7?
    I really want to homeschool and do everything as I should, but sometimes is gets confusing and I get very anxious.

    • Hi Gabriela! Thanks for your question!

      We recommend contacting the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) if you haven’t already done so. What’s important to note is that compulsory attendance age doesn’t start until your child is 7, at which point you are required to track your homeschool hours in Missouri.

      So, as long as neither child has attended any school outside your homeschool (at which point you must track your homeschool hours, even if they’re not 7 yet), you are only required to track your homeschool hours and activities in the school term in which they turn 7 years old. It goes by age, not grade level.

      We hope that helps! As we mentioned earlier, we highly recommend contacting HSLDA and becoming a member – they provide homeschoolers with outstanding legal help and counsel at a fantastic price. (And being an MPE member qualifies you for a discount off their annual membership!)


  • Leanne says:

    My name is Leanne and I am beginning homeschool this year with our 6 year old twins. I am originally from Missouri, and my tax home is Missouri; however, I am currently living abroad. Do I follow Missouri’s homeschool laws?

    • Hi Leanne,

      We encourage you to follow Missouri’s homeschool laws since your tax home is still here. If you ever return to Missouri, then you will already have fulfilled all the record-keeping and other requirements.

      We also encourage you (if you haven’t already done so) to become an HSLDA member. They can represent you and give you any legal advice necessary for your unique situation. In addition, they have a worldwide presence and can represent you wherever you’re living!

  • Ashley says:

    I feel very dense and like I am missing something obvious, but I just want to make sure I am doing this correctly. Is this correct?

    If my daughter is under the age of 7 when I do kindergarten with her, I don’t need to track and prove 1,000 hours. But I assume it would be good to keep a list of books and activities we did. But because 1st grade is mandatory, I will need to track and prove the 1,000 hours, even if she is under age 7.

    Is this correct? Thank you. I look forward to reading more on the blog!

    • Hi Ashley,

      According to MO law, it’s only if your daughter turns 7 by the start of the school term. Here’s a link to an HSLDA article on it (however, if you’re not a member, you won’t be able to access it):

      In their example, if your school term starts Sept. 1 and your child turns 7 on Sept. 2, they do not have to start school that year. School term is 365 days, but each term can be individualized. However, they shouldn’t adjust it. Most people use July 1 – June 30. The actual school year is when they do school, so to speak. They may not start official academics until Aug. 15.

      One last tidbit, if your child is not age 7 at the beginning of the term, but you choose to start logging hours anyway, you activate the law and will be held accountable regardless of the age of the child.

      We’re copying a bit from the HSLDA page:

      “A parent … of a child … seven years of age … shall cause the child to attend regularly … not less than the entire school term of the school which the child attends.”

      This is why the law quoted above says the child who is 7 years of age shall attend “not less than the entire school term.” He can’t be commanded to attend the “entire” school term unless he is of such an age that he is required to attend at the beginning of the term. So the real “trigger” date is the child’s age when his own school term starts.
      For example, if his school term starts September 1, and he turns 7 on September 2, he is not under compulsory attendance. The following year, of course, he will be.”

      Hope that helps! You can also email us at with any further questions.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am trying to double check that the 2018- 2019 Missouri required homeschool hours of instruction is still 1,000. Is the Missouri term still July to June? Within those months, we are free to start and finish when we want as long as meet the 1,000-hour requirements with the 600/400 breakdown? Do we have the option of homeschooling all year long but having shorter days so we cover the same material but it allows for less daily time?
    Thank you,

    • Hi Jennifer,

      The law does not specify when your homeschool year will start, but once you establish the homeschool year for your family, you should be consistent in sticking to it each year.

      Yes, the required homeschool hours is 1,000.

      In answer to your question, yes, you can arrange your homeschool in whatever daily pattern you wish. So long as you meet the minimum required 1,000 hours of instruction, you should be fine.

      We strongly recommend joining HSLDA as a member. They will not only provide you all the legal counsel you need, but also be ready to answer these and any other questions you may have about homeschooling in Missouri.

      If you’re an MPE member, you get a discount on HSLDA’s annual membership rates!

      Hope that helps!

      • Jennifer says:

        Thank you for your reply. As soon as we can afford it I hope to join the group you mentioned. I have read over information about them and I feel they will be an asset and sense of security through this homeschooling journey that we are just beginning. I feel like being a member will help relieve some of the sense of “out on my own” feelings that can come with homeschooling as I work hard to follow every rule.

        Thank you again,

  • Cara Giammanco says:

    Hello. We are starting to Homeschool our 4th grade daughter in December of this year. Since we are taking her out of public school half way through the year, how many hours of instruction will we need to give her to make sure she has enough for a full 4th grade year by the end of May? Better said, how do we count the hours she already has from public school and have them tie in to our homeschool hours? Thank you.

    • Shanxi Omoniyi (MPE Online Content Director) says:

      Hi Cara,

      Thank you for contacting us! We suggest contacting Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA) at 540-338-5600 for clarification if that would make you feel more comfortable. We cannot give you legal advice.

      Although our office manager lived in Missouri for most of her homeschooling career, she has never been asked this question before. If she were in your position, she says she would first calculate how many days your daughter was in school, and multiply that by the “hours” they were in school.

      Then take that total and subtract it from the 1,000 hours (600 core and 400 non-core) that the state requires. Staple that to your child’s grade card. This would be your documentation for the first part of the year if questioned.

      In January, you start fresh and complete the required hours necessary. You will find it’s not very hard to complete the 600 core and 400 non-core hours required by the state. Please remember to keep sample work (daily assignments/test) available with your documented hours. This will be used if you are ever questioned.

      If you have any other questions or concerns, please email the office at or call during office hours at 913-599-0311.

  • Lois says:

    I am considering homeschooling my 15 year old. She is currently a freshman in public high school. My main concern is that she is in all 4 honors classes, band, Spanish, FACS1 (homeEc on steriods) and computers. She has a 3.84 (4.4 wiegted) GPA and likes to participate in clubs like FCCLA, FBLA, Pit Music, Art Club, Foreign Language Club, Drama Club and Smokebusters Club. She also likes to participate in Cross Country and Track. My main concern is that I won’t be able to replicate all of that and that I might harm her high school transcript for college and scholarships. She would also miss out on the Upward Bound program. Are there low cost curriculums that will at least keep her on the Honors Path?

    • Shanxi Omoniyi (MPE Online Content Director) says:

      Thank you for contacting Midwest Parent Educators. First of all, we don’t think your daughter’s academic learning or GPA will be hindered if you homeschool her. It might even enhance it!

      We highly recommend this article by HSLDA that explains many FAQs about honor courses, how homeschoolers can prepare for and document them for transcripts, and how to best prepare your homeschooled high school student for college:

      Honors programs and other activities come across as your main concerns at the moment. Choosing honors level courses would be up to how you choose curriculum. For example: Tapestry of Grace states which parts of the curriculum would fulfill a regular credit and how much more has to be added for it to be considered Honors level.

      A few co-op homeschool groups also offer Honors level courses. Choosing that option usually depends on finances. Courses outside the home are more expensive than buying a curriculum and doing the work solely at home. While a lot of work can be done independently by a high schooler, you would still need to grade the work.

      Since your child is doing so well, she may consider taking classes at your local community college. She would be challenged because it is a college class, and she would be receiving dual credit at the same time. It also takes half the time since classes are only half a semester.

      Our office manager, Christy Jolly, writes, “My youngest daughter started at JCCC her junior year. She is very bright, but wasn’t applying herself at home. This pushed her. Since she was taking it slow, she will be a 5 year high school student. This also helped her get accepted into the cosmetology program starting this January as a high school student. The Senate Bill 155 is covering the entire cost of that class, which is roughly $1800. This is a benefit of living in Kansas.

      It’s possible there may be a similar program in Missouri. Unfortunately, a Missouri resident cannot take advantage of SB 155. Even if they don’t provide this program in MO, taking classes at the college level will help ultimately reduce your costs for schooling. For example, you wouldn’t be paying for the high school books then paying for the college classes/books once she entered college. You could also CLEP out of some college classes since she’s so bright. If she can CLEP, then you could give high school credit.”

      Here’s more input from another of our members and workshop speakers, Martha Kedrovsky:

      “In the homeschool community, there are many extracurricular opportunities. One of the benefits of being a member of MPE is their knowledge and advertising of the various co-ops and groups that are local.

      As Christy also mentioned, dual enrollment at a community college might also be a good path for a solid student. The biggest difference between regular high school and a dual enrollment course is the pace. We’ve also found professors show no leniency. My oldest daughter thrived at dual enrollment and loved the challenge. The next sibling had a much harder time adjusting to the pace. I also live on the Kansas side and am not familiar with enrollment at Missouri community colleges. I faintly recall MO having age requirements, whereas Kansas doesn’t. Both states have testing to ensure the child is put at the appropriate level of study.

      There are a myriad of scholarships for college. The most common is scoring incredibly well on the ACT or SAT. It’s extremely competitive so many parents choose to have their children start preparing for it very early and count on taking the test multiple times. At least at Kansas state schools, the test score is crucial to getting a scholarship. They care about extracurriculars, but more about leadership and special awards a student has received.

      Besides knowing why you want to homeschool, you also need to keep in mind that once you opt out of public high school, it’s common for them to not accept any credits earned while homeschooling. You would need to ask your particular high school about their exact policy. I’ve heard different answers – some say they accept nothing, others say they’ll retest the child and put them in the appropriate class. Definitely something to explore before making your final decision. High school diplomas are issued based on credits earned. Each state has different requirements.

      Homeschooling high school is an option and doable. There will be a learning curve for you and your child. Evaluating your why, and how your family would do it, are the biggest questions to answer first.”

      Hope that helps! If you have any other questions or concerns, please contact the office at info [at] midwesthomeschoolers dot org or by calling 913-599-0311.

  • JC says:

    My daughter did Pre-K (age4-5) I had her working often the same logged times as my son (2nd grader), does she have to follow compulsory law now? She will start kindergarten this coming year (age 5-6). She is on the young side so will not by starting a school year of being 7 or older until 2nd grade. Would it be advisable to record from K1 on? Thank you!

    • If your daughter has attended public school outside homeschool, then yes, she is subject to follow compulsory law.

      If you have been homeschooling her alongside your son, however, then you do not have to begin recordkeeping for her until the school year in which she turns 7 years old. As the blog post states, you can determine when your school year starts and ends as a homeschool.

      Hope this helps!

  • Jc says:

    She was in Montessori from 18 months to four. Last year she was with her brother for pre school. We withdrew her brother for this past year with documentation. As we began our homeschooling journey this past year. Does Montessori count as it is not an actual school with curriculum?

  • Cindy says:

    Question for you about possibly moving to MO after several years of homeschooling in states (KS and TX) that did not require a log of hours. I have homeschooled my 10 year old daughter since kindergarten, my 15 year old since then as well (and she will be doing a year of public school this fall to repeat her 9th grade year as this past year did not go to plan), and I have a 4 year old son who will turn 5 in March, who we’re just doing the basics with. We currently are in TX, and before that KS, and I’ve never recorded hours for either of my girls, but I have kept binders of all their previous year’s school work since kindergarten in binders. We are possibly looking at moving to MO next spring/summer after the end of the school year, and at that point my high schooler may be coming back home to homeschool. Would it present a problem if we are questioned and we are not able to provide documentation of all the hours we’ve done in the past since we were not required by law to keep track, since we didn’t live in MO before then?

    And so I understand….I don’t need to start keeping records for my son at all until he turns 7? And my high schooler, if she comes back home, once she is 16 I don’t have to record hours for her any longer either?

    Thanks for your help!!

    • Hi Cindy,

      We strongly recommend asking HSLDA for specific guidance concerning your situation. They will be able to help you understand the legal specifics and requirements for people moving to MO.

      If you’re not yet an HSLDA member, we can offer you a discount off their annual membership if you sign up with MPE at the Family tier or higher: Join/Renew Membership

      Hope this helps!



    would like to be able to print the laws for home school

  • Jim Callier says:

    I was hoping to confirm that the 1000 hour requirement is for the year, not semester. so if between 7/1 to 6/30, we achieve the 1000 in the required 600 hours and 400 elective (with appropriate documentation) we would be good. Also, does someone need to be present at all times during the school (e.g. if there are online classes?) I’m in Missouri for reference. Thanks! Great Blog!!!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Jim!

      Yes, the 1000-hour requirement is for the entire school year, not just a semester. So yes, between 7/1/19 and 6/30/20, for example, if you achieve the 1,000-hour requirement in 600 required hours and 400 elective hours, you’ve complied with Missouri homeschool law.

      Our understanding is that someone will usually be present during your child’s school, even when taking online classes. However, your question raises an important point. Some (but not all) online classes are not considered homeschools at all, but virtual schools offered by school districts. In this case, your school would be considered an extension of the public school district, and not a homeschool.

      Feel free to contact us for more details, and we also recommend contacting HSLDA if you’re considering homeschooling for the first time.

  • Brandon Jonas says:

    Hello Shanxi,
    Do public school districts in MO have any obligation to supply textbooks to homeschooling families in their district?

  • Joshua says:

    Thank you so much for this great transcript and the ability to read questions that others pose. After reviewing all the content I believe I have one that has not been asked and would be helpful to my wife and I. We are residents of Texas planning to move to Missouri within the next month or so (so April to May time frame). We have been home schooling our kids in Texas and there is no requirement in Texas regarding compulsory attendance or to track hours of instruction. The rules are very relaxed in Texas. However when we move to Missouri during the April/May time frame, it will be during the Missouri school year (July to June).
    So how will we provide proof, if necessary, of us meeting compulsory attendance and required hours when clearly we will not have any of that upon arrival to Missouri, nor will we have completed 1000 hours in Missouri by the time June rolls around?
    A follow up question, some things I have read indicate that the parents set the school year and then the law shows July to June. So which is it? Can we as home educators say the school year for our child begins in say April and ends in March each year?

    • Thank you for all your great questions! We pray your move and transition to Missouri is safe and smooth for your family. We would be happy to answer these specific questions directly by contacting us at our office – 913-599-0311 or emailing us at

      Another great way to get answers to these questions is our April 9-10 homeschool conference, which will be offered virtually and in person:

      There is a workshop on KS & MO Law, and there will be a Q-and-A session. We can submit your question to the speaker for them to answer.

      Thank you again!

  • katie says:

    How many evaluations would be recommended for a school year to fulfil the law requirement?

    • The law does not give any specific number of recommended evaluations, so it’s up to your discretion as a parent. Typically these can include such items as quizzes, tests, etc., that can already be built into your curriculum. The key is to remember that they need to be graded, or assessed, in some form.

      Additionally, standardized testing can fit this requirement. We have opportunities for standardized testing here.

  • Sheila R. Reed says:

    My son wants to do homeschooling on Saturdays, is that ok in Missouri?

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