State Law: Missouri

Missouri compulsory school attendance age

When your child has reached his or her 7th birthday by the start of the school term, you must begin complying with Missouri’s compulsory attendance law. HSLDA members can receive additional guidance about what “school term” means here.

But here’s a special warning: when you enroll your child in a public school at age 5 or 6, he or she must obey the compulsory attendance law immediately until you formally request in writing that your child be dropped from that school’s attendance rolls.

Once your child reaches his or her 17th birthday, he or she is no longer subject to any of the compulsory attendance laws.

If you determine that your child of any age has earned 16 credits toward high school graduation (with a credit being at least 100 hours of instruction in a subject), he or she is exempt from the compulsory school laws.

Some of the requirements below stop when your child turns 16.

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 Missouri 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 Missouri 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 Missouri’s homeschool law

Under Missouri law, a homeschool is a school that:

  1. Has the primary purpose of providing private or religious-based instruction.
  2. Enrolls pupils between the ages of 7 and 16 years. (No more than four students can be unrelated.)
  3. Must not charge or receive tuition, fees, or other remuneration.

To homeschool under this statute, you’ll need to follow these requirements:

1. Teach the required subjects for the required period of time. 

You must provide your child with at least 1000 hours of instruction every school term.

Six hundred of the 1,000 hours of instruction must be among one or more of the following core subjects: reading, math, social studies, language arts, and science. Of those 600 hours among the core subjects, 400 must occur at the “regular” homeschool location, which is not defined in law.

HSLDA strongly recommends that you keep a daily log showing the hours of instruction you give your children every day. Although this is not technically required, it’s the very best way to prove you really provided each child with 1,000 hours of instruction.

2. Maintain records for all children under age 16. 

If you are homeschooling a child who is younger than 16, you must maintain (but do not need to submit) the following records for the child:

  • A plan book, diary, or other record indicating subjects taught and educational activities engaged in. This requirement can be satisfied by keeping a daily log of hours of instruction. (HSLDA offers a fillable spreadsheet that our members can use to keep a daily log.)
  • Samples of your child’s work.
  • Academic evaluations. (These could be regular tests in the various subjects, annual standardized tests, etc.)

Alternatively, you can maintain “other written, credible evidence” that is equivalent to the three types of records listed above.

Always have on hand at least one full year’s worth of records (unless you are just starting out).

During a child’s elementary and middle school years, you should always have on hand at least one full year’s worth of records.  For a high school student, the records (for all 4 years) should be kept indefinitely. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.

The importance of recordkeeping

You can find Missouri’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.