Homeschooling in South Dakota & Homeschool Laws


You may be considering homeschooling in South Dakota, but don’t know where to start regarding state regulations and requirements. This guide will walk you through what you need to know to successfully set up your own homeschool program legally in South Dakota. We’ll cover the history of homeschooling in South Dakota, current laws and regulations, required notifications and filings, curriculum and testing, transcripts, extracurricular activities, graduation requirements, and special education services.

History of Homeschooling in South Dakota

South Dakota boasts one of the nation’s most extended compulsory school attendance, mandating between twelve and thirteen years of schooling.

As the homeschooling movement gained momentum, lawmakers established homeschooling laws. In the early 1990s, South Dakota passed legislation recognizing homeschooling as a legitimate educational option.

Since then, South Dakota has been known for its favorable homeschool laws, which have attracted many from across the country to start homeschooling in South Dakota. The state’s low population density and rural character have also contributed to the popularity of South Dakota homeschooling.

Homeschooling in South Dakota is thriving, with numerous resources available for the South Dakota homeschool journey.

Current Homeschooling South Dakota Laws and Regulations

In 2021, South Dakota updated South Dakota homeschool laws concerning alternative instruction, including:

  • Revised procedures to notify the Department of Education about plans for alternative instruction.

  • Eliminated requirement for a parent practicing alternative instruction to report assessment results.

  • Clarified truancy statutes.

  • Granted participation in student activities.

  • To legally begin homeschooling in South Dakota, follow these guidelines:

  • Within the initial 30 days of commencing South Dakota homeschooling, file a notification form with your local school district. The form, provided by the Department of Education, should contain the name of your child, age, and district.

  • If there’s a change in your residence or if your child enrolls in a different school district, file another notification form within 30 days of the transition.

  • A single individual is not permitted to homeschool more than 22 students.

  • Design and implement a comprehensive teaching program with curriculum in language arts and mathematics.

How to Set Up a Homeschool in South Dakota

The South Dakota Department of Education terms home education as standard form of “alternative instruction”. Comprehension of the laws governing homeschooling in South Dakota is pivotal for a fulfilling homeschooling experience. Here are a few things to remember on how to homeschool in South Dakota.

  • File a notification for alternative instruction within 30 days of a student beginning South Dakota homeschooling for: enrollment in a public or nonpublic school, or relocation to a different school district.

  • Parents are not obligated to submit a child’s birth certificate to offer alternative instruction. However, for participation in various school activities, a child’s birth certificate might be necessary.

  • Students receiving alternative instruction are legally required to receive education in at least the basic skills of language arts and mathematics. 

Maintaining Your Homeschool in South Dakota

Once a South Dakota homeschool exemption certificate is established, maintaining it is straightforward. South Dakota does not require ongoing paperwork.

Parents homeschooling with transcripts play a crucial role in various educational milestones, such as participation in extracurricular activities, re-entry into the public school system, admission into higher education institutions, and applying for scholarships.

Homeschool Reporting Requirements in South Dakota

In South Dakota, there are no specific reporting requirements for a South Dakota homeschool. The lack of requirements in South Dakota reflects the state’s commitment to providing homeschool without excessive oversight.

Maintaining comprehensive records of your student’s South Dakota homeschooling journey not only provides tangible evidence of their education for future academic endeavors but also serves as a permanent record in the event of inquiries regarding your homeschool’s legitimacy.

While the South Dakota alternative instruction statute and South Dakota homeschool laws do not mandate record-keeping, we strongly advise preserving the following essential documents for your South Dakota homeschooling process:

  • Attendance logs

  • Details of textbooks

  • Samples of your student’s work

  • Communications with school officials, including a copy of the alternative instruction notification form acknowledged by the Department of Education

  • Portfolios and test results

Although not required under South Dakota homeschool laws, it’s recommended to keep these records for a minimum of two years. Furthermore, it’s crucial to indefinitely retain documentation of adherence to South Dakota homeschooling laws during their highschool years, including South Dakota homeschooling notifications submitted to authorities.

Homeschool Testing in South Dakota

In South Dakota, homeschoolers do not have a testing requirement under South Dakota homeschool laws. However, parents who choose to homeschool are required to provide annual notification to the local school district or school board of their intent to homeschool. This notification must include the name and age of the homeschoolers, as well as the name and address of the homeschool parent providing the instruction. While testing is not obligatory, parents are responsible for providing a quality education and maintaining records of their academic progress. Some South Dakota homeschool families may choose to administer standardized tests to track the progress of the homeschooler, but this is not mandated by the state.

Funding Your South Dakota Homeschool

South Dakota does not provide any direct funding to South Dakota homeschool families. South Dakota homeschooling is considered a private educational choice not public school, and the responsibility for resources is on the parents.

There are several ways to manage costs associated with South Dakota homeschooling:

  • Utilize free or low-cost online resources, such as open educational resources and digital libraries.

  • Join South Dakota homeschooling co-ops or South Dakota homeschool groups to share resources among homeschoolers.

  • Apply for scholarships offered by South Dakota homeschooling associations.

  • Seek discounts from homeschool curriculum providers.

  • Utilize public library resources, which can provide access to books and online databases.

  • Consider part-time employment to supplement the income.

While funding South Dakota homeschooling can be a challenge, many parents find creative ways to manage costs and prioritize their children’s education. Building a supportive South Dakota homeschooling community and sharing resources can help alleviate the financial burden.

Federal Tax Breaks

South Dakota homeschooling families may be eligible for certain federal tax benefits to help offset educational expenses. One option is a Coverdell Education Savings Account, which allows money to grow tax-free when used for qualified costs. Homeschool parents might also be able to deduct a portion of mortgage interest or rent if part of the home is used regularly and exclusively for South Dakota homeschooling. Finally, tax credits or deductions could be available for required books, supplies, equipment and curriculum used for South Dakota homeschool instruction. To learn more about these potential tax advantages, homeschool families should review the information and resources provided by the IRS.

Immunization Requirements In South Dakota

South Dakota does not have specific immunization requirements for a homeschooled student. South Dakota homeschool laws do not differentiate between homeschooled and public school when it comes to immunization policies.

However, it is important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that all children receive routine vaccinations to protect them from various communicable diseases.

Homeschool parents in South Dakota are encouraged to follow the recommended immunization schedule. Keeping their children up-to-date on immunizations can help protect not only the individual child but also the broader community by reducing the spread of preventable diseases.

While there are no legal requirements for a homeschooled student to be immunized, it is essential to make informed decisions about a child’s health and well-being. By following the recommended immunization guidelines, South Dakota homeschool families can contribute to the overall public health and safety of their communities.

South Dakota State Graduation Requirements

South Dakota does not have specific graduation requirements for homeschooled students. The state recognizes the right of parents to determine the curriculum for their homeschool, child’s education, including the requirements for graduation.

Homeschooling parents in South Dakota have the flexibility to design their own graduation requirements for the future of their child. They can choose to follow a traditional course of study as in public school, with a focus on core subjects such as English, mathematics, science, and social studies, or they can create a more personalized and unique educational experience for their child.

While South Dakota does not issue high school diplomas to homeschooled students, parents have the option to create their own certified copy of South Dakota homeschool diplomas. These documents can be useful when applying for college, employment, or other opportunities that require proof of high school completion.

Each year, hundreds of South Dakotans pursue a high school equivalency exam, marking it as the second most prevalent method of obtaining a high school credential following a public school high school diploma. In South Dakota, individuals have the option to take the General Educational Development (GED) test to achieve their high school equivalency.  See reference here

Parents should research the admission policies of their preferred colleges and ensure that their homeschooled child reaches the necessary criteria.

South Dakota Homeschool Charters

South Dakota does not have any homeschool charter schools funded by the state. The state’s system does not include provisions for public charter schools or state-sponsored online academies for home schooled students.

However, some private online schools may be available for home schooled students in South Dakota. These institutions operate independently and are not affiliated with the public school district. Parents who are interested in exploring online school options for their homeschooled children should research and evaluate these private providers carefully to ensure they align with their educational goals and expectations.

South Dakota Local Homeschooling Resources

While South Dakota does not have any state-funded homeschool resources or programs, the state has a thriving South Dakota homeschooling community that offers various local and national resources to support those who choose to homeschool their child.

Here are some of the key resources available to homeschool families in South Dakota:

  • South Dakota Christian Home Educators. A statewide organization that provides support, resources, and advocacy for Christian homeschool groups in South Dakota. They offer a variety of services, including a lending library, curriculum fairs, and social events.

  • The National Home School Association is a national organization that provides resources, support, and legal advocacy for homeschool families across the United States. They offer a variety of services, including a national homeschool curriculum fair, online courses, and discounts on educational services.

  • Home School Legal Defense Association is a national organization that provides legal resources and advocacy for homeschool families. They offer legal advice and support in cases where home schooling rights are challenged.

South Dakota Homeschool Co-ops and Support Groups:

Many communities in South Dakota have local homeschool co-ops and support groups that organize field trips, classes, social events, and educational activities for South Dakota homeschool students and their families. These groups are invaluable resources for building a sense of community, sharing resources, and providing enrichment opportunities for homeschooled children.

In addition to these resources, South Dakota’s public libraries can also be valuable sources of resources and support for South Dakota homeschooling. Many libraries offer homeschool-friendly programs, access to databases and online resources, and opportunities for homeschooled students to participate in reading clubs and educational events.

By taking advantage of these local and national resources, homeschooling families in South Dakota can access a wealth of support, educational materials, and opportunities to enhance their South Dakota homeschooling experience and provide a well-rounded education for their children.

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