New Jersey compulsory school attendance age
When your child reaches his or her 6th birthday, you must start complying with New Jersey compulsory attendance law.
Once your child reaches his or her 16th birthday, you are no longer required to obey the school laws.
HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under New Jersey law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.
Withdrawing your child from his or her current school
If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.
We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for New Jersey available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.
We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.
Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.
Complying with New Jersey’s homeschool law
Under New Jersey law, you must give your child an education that is academically “equivalent” to what he or she would receive at school.
“Equivalent” does not mean “identical.” In practice, if parents have been making a good-faith effort to give their child an education that is appropriate for the child’s age and covers the major subjects, the courts have not ordered them to stop homeschooling.
For comparison purposes, New Jersey’s public high schools usually offer instruction in the following areas:
- language arts (4 years),
- math (3 years),
- science (3 years),
- world history (1 year),
- civics and/or U.S. and New Jersey history (2 years),
- health/safety/physical education (2.5 hours per week for 4 years),
- financial/economic or business/entrepreneurial (1 semester),
- visual or performing arts (1 year),
- foreign language (1 year, or show proficiency),
- career/technical/vocational (1 year), and
- “technological literacy,” civics, economics, geography, and “global content” (not as separate subjects, but “integrated” throughout).
Also for comparison purposes, the GED tests reading, writing, social studies, science, and math.
Note: School districts occasionally demand that families send written notice that they are homeschooling, or get approval from the district—but these are not required under the law.
The importance of recordkeeping
You can find New Jersey’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.