Idaho families opt-out of public education

Posted at 9:03 AM, Nov 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-19 11:03:31-05

Parents and families want the most for their children, especially when it comes to education. Homeschooling can be something parents consider when thinking about what's best for their family.

As a state, Idaho is considered very homeschool friendly. There are not many regulations for parents to follow. 

For Copper Webb, having the freedom to homeschool her children also allows for a different schedule.

“We don’t have to set alarm clocks because we don’t go out to meet the yellow school bus,” Webb explained. “I wanted them to really be able to follow their passions and their goals and dreams while they are still in school, and not have to wait until they've graduated from 12th grade to really explore their interests."

An estimated 5,000 to 7,000 children are homeschooled in Idaho. Now there are organizations and support groups online to help parents with curriculum choices, co-ops and field trip groups for kids to socialize, and even dual enrollment college courses when the students reach high school. The notion of homeschooled children being educationally or socially “behind” is slowly fading.

Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, but each state has different regulations. In Idaho, there aren't many guidelines. The gem state is one of 11 states that does not require parents to notify a governing body if they decide to opt out of public or private education.

Under Idaho code, every parent or guardian of a school aged child is legally required to make sure the child is properly educated. If homeschooled, children must learn subjects commonly and usually taught in public schools.

"The statutes in Idaho are very clear, that the failure to make sure a child is educated is educational neglect. That's a juvenile offense, it's basically truancy on the part of the child, and it’s a criminal offense on behalf of the parent," Idaho Coalition of Home Educators President Barry Peters explained. "If a parent is not getting the job done, it's often the Department of Health and Welfare that will pursue that case. But we simply are not seeing it, and I think part of the reason for that is the pragmatic reason, it's a lot easier for a parent to put their child on the yellow school bus in the morning and have the day to themselves than having a child at home and making an effort to educate the child."

For families like the Webb’s, homeschooling is a lifestyle and there are always teachable moments. Homeschooling families agree, the freedom to adjust lessons to meet the needs of their children is appreciated.

“It's hard to beat a customized education for your child. You can really focus on weaknesses if your child is struggling in a certain area, or if they're excelling in another area you can really fan the flames of that passion," Webb said.

For more information on homeschooling in Idaho, visit:

Idaho State Department of Education

Idaho Coalition of Home Educators

Christian Home Educators of Idaho State

Homeschool Legal Defense Association