Getting Started on Your Homeschool Journey
There is so much information about homeschooling that it can seem overwhelming. We've gathered information to help you make your homeschooling decision and to inform you about laws and other legal issues. Here you'll find research and statistics that support the notion that homeschooling provides specific advantages to children and families. And we'll help you take the first steps on the road of your own homeschooling adventure.
Why Homeschool?
The first step to homeschooling is making your decision to home educate your child. It is important to become informed and knowledgeable about some of the main concerns you may have. Explore these areas of our website to learn more about the initial decision to homeschool.
How to Begin
You've decided to homeschool your child! But what comes first? For many parents, knowing where to begin in the homeschooling process can be confusing. Although there seems to be so much information available, it may be hard to get your questions answered. We've put together some resources to start you on your journey, giving you the information and motivation you need to successfully begin to homeschool in South Dakota.
Legal/Homeschool Laws
Laws that regulate home education vary from state to state. It is important to understand the legal requirements in your state and to be aware of legislative and other legal issues that affect homeschoolers in your community. We've compiled resources that will help you become informed. Although homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, and the vast majority of homeschoolers face no problems, you may find that you need legal assistance at some point in your homeschooling career. We've compiled a list of resources to help you find the support you need. And if you'd like to become more involved in working towards homeschooling freedoms, we discuss some of the issues facing homeschoolers that we hope you find compelling.
History of Homeschooling
How did homeschooling start? When did it become legal? Who were the key players in making homeschooling the social movement it is today? The story of the history of homeschooling in the United States is a compelling tale of dedication, innovative ideas, and personal conviction and sacrifice. We have put together a history of this educational and social phenomenon, hoping it will inspire you to learn from the early and more recent pioneers of home education in America.
What's Popular
13-27-3.1. Birth certificate or affidavit to be submitted--Violation as misdemeanor.
Any person who is required pursuant to § 13-27-1 to cause any child to attend any public or nonpublic school or alternative instruction program pursuant to § 13-27-3 in this state shall, either at the time of enrollment in any school in this state or upon being excused from school attendance pursuant to § 13-27-3 or within thirty days of initial enrollment or excuse, provide the public or nonpublic school or the alternative instruction program with a certified copy of the child's birth certifica...
13-27-3.4. Certified copy of birth certificate to be provided to certain persons at no cost.
Notwithstanding § 34-25-52, the department of health or the local registrar of vital records shall provide a certified copy of any child's birth certificate at no cost if the person requesting the certificate pursuant to § 13-27-3.1 is eligible to receive temporary assistance for needy families under chapter 28-7, food stamps under chapter 28-12, or county poor relief under chapter 28-13. Source: SL 1988, ch 142, § 4.
13-27-2. Child excused from school.
Upon filing of an application with a school official from the parent or guardian of the child for the reasons set forth in § 13-27-3, the child shall be excused, without the necessity of school board action, subject to revocation thereafter as provided in this chapter. School boards of all school districts may excuse a child from public school attendance for the reasons set forth in §§ 13-27-6 and 13-27-6.1.
13-27-9. Record of certificates of excuse from attendance--Copies to secretary and place of instruction.
A permanent record of all certificates of excuse shall be kept in some safe place as determined by the school board. Any certificate of excuse of a pupil receiving alternative instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3 shall be kept confidential after approval of the school board pursuant to § 13- 27-2. Copies of any certificate of excuse shall be forwarded to the secretary of the Department of Education. Copies of any certificates of excuse shall also be forwarded to the place where the child is instruc...
South Dakota Department of Education
This is the official internet presence for the South Dakota Department of Education. Discover resources and services designed to assist families with children.
Application for Public School Exemption Certificate SDCL
This form is provided by the South Dakota Department of Education. Parents/guardians who currently provide alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL 13-27-3 are required to file an Application for Public School Exemption Certificate annually. Beginning with the 2005-2006 school year, the exemption applications will no longer be mailed out to parents/guardians. Therefore, the application must be obtained here, from the local school district, or directly from the Department of Education. The comple...
Department of Education Responsibilities
An interpretation of the homeschooling laws by the South Dakota Department of Education.
School District Responsibilities
An interpretation of the homeschooling laws by the South Dakota Department of Education.
13-27-1.1. Religious exemption after eighth grade.
A child of compulsory school age who has successfully completed the first eight grades is excused from compulsory school attendance under § 13-27-1 if: (1) The child or the parents of the child are members of a recognized church or religious denomination that objects to the regular public high school education; and (2) The recognized church or religious denomination either individually or in cooperation with another recognized church or religious denomin...
Participation of Home School/Alternative Instruction Students in Interscholastic Activities
An interpretation of the homeschooling laws by the South Dakota Department of Education.
13-27-3.2. Maintenance of birth certificate by school as permanent record.
Any copy of any certified birth certificate provided pursuant to § 13-27-3.1 shall be maintained by the public or nonpublic school or alternative instruction program and shall be a part of the child's permanent cumulative school record.
13-27-1. Responsibility of person controlling child--Ages of compulsory attendance--Entire school term--Waiver.
Responsibility of person controlling child for school attendance--General education development test preparation program--Kindergarten--Transfer from another state. Any person having control of a child, who is not younger than five or older than six years old by the first day of September, or any child who, by the first day of September, is at least six years old, but who has not exceeded the age of eighteen, shall cause the child to regularly attend some public or nonpublic school for the entir...
13-27-29. Placement of child who has attended unaccredited school or alternative program-- Appeal.
If a child of compulsory school age has been attending an unaccredited school in another state or country or has been receiving alternative instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3 enrolls in a public school in this state, the child shall be placed at the child's demonstrated level of proficiency as established by one or more standardized tests. However, a child's placement may not be in a grade level higher than warranted by the child's chronological age assuming entry into the first grade at age six ...
13-27-7. Applications for excuse from attendance--Certificate issued by board president-- Revocation--Grounds.
All applications for excuse from school attendance shall be on a standard form acknowledged before a notary or two witnesses. The form shall be provided by the secretary of the Department of Education. If the application is granted, a certificate of excuse also provided by the secretary of the Department of Education shall be issued by the president of the school board having jurisdiction over the district in which the child has school residence. The certificate of excuse shall be for a period n...
13-27-3. Child excused if provided alternative instruction--Application--Investigation-- Revocation--Restrictions--Testing.
A child shall be excused from school attendance, pursuant to § 13-27-2, because the child is otherwise provided with alternative instruction for an equivalent period of time, as in the public schools, in the basic skills of language arts and mathematics. The parent or guardian of the child shall identify in the application the place where the child will be instructed and any individual who will instruct the child. The individuals are not required to be certified. The secretary of the Department ...
Resources
The Homeschooling Revolution
A readable, scholarly overview of the modern day homeschooling movement. Includes vignettes from homeschooling families, war stories, research information, media reaction, footnotes, and statistics.
They're Your Kids: An Inspirational Journey from Self-Doubter to Home School Advocate

For many people, their schooling was uncomfortable, tedious, and sometimes a waste of time and energy. This book offers the idea that the public school system is tragically flawed and that we are able to do better for our own children. Sam Sorbo, mom of three and wife of actor Kevin Sorbo, took the leap into homeschooling and found the joy and success she was seeking. Included are strategies for working parents, those who are scared to take the leap, and anyone who wants the best for their children. 

Homeschoolers' Success Stories : 15 Adults and 12 Young People Share the Impact That Homeschooling Has Made on Their Lives
Despite their growing numbers, many homeschoolers still find their experience somewhat isolating. This collection of short biographies aims to alleviate some of that loneliness. While the stories profile modern-day homeschool grads and students, famous homeschooled personalities from the past are offered up early in the book for historical inspiration. John Adams, Abraham Lincoln, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, photographer Ansel Adams, poet Robert Frost, and songwriter Irving Berlin join the long list dug up by author Linda Dobson. And just in case there were any doubts that fame has eluded today's homeschooled, Dobson throws in actresses Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Love Hewitt, the Hanson singer siblings, and conservative commentator William F. Buckley Jr. The people whose stories are told here are successful entrepreneurs, Ivy League students, and athletes, such as Miami Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor and U.S. ski team member Todd Lodwick. But to Dobson's credit, she unearths a healthy array of "regular folk" as well. Their stories are no less interesting and, most importantly, they dispel the notion that homeschooled children are over-the-top achievers and freaks of nature. Among the subjects here are an Arkansas state trooper, a private chef, an art gallery owner, and a Cost Guard Reserve seaman.

Each chapter begins with a photo and yearbook-style sketch of the personality, complete with favorite areas of study and a memorable quote. The biographies are short and insightful, with the author often injecting her own thoughts. Dobson, the mother of three homeschooled children, has written numerous books on the topic (The Homeschooling Book of Answers and Homeschooling: The Early Years, among them) and is a news editor and columnist for Home Education Magazine. In her casual, succinct writing style, she brings to life personalities that have little in common beyond their method of education. Some were taught at home completely; others for only a few years. They offer advice, warnings, and fond memories. And their overriding message is that homeschooled people are just as diverse and interesting as the students found in traditional schools. "We are not alone," is the cry heard from these pages. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

Kingdom of Children : Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement (Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology)

More than one million American children are schooled by their parents. As their ranks grow, home schoolers are making headlines by winning national spelling bees and excelling at elite universities. The few studies conducted suggest that homeschooled children are academically successful and remarkably well socialized. Yet we still know little about this alternative to one of society's most fundamental institutions. Beyond a vague notion of children reading around the kitchen table, we don't know what home schooling looks like from the inside.

Sociologist Mitchell Stevens goes behind the scenes of the homeschool movement and into the homes and meetings of home schoolers. What he finds are two very different kinds of home education--one rooted in the liberal alternative school movement of the 1960s and 1970s and one stemming from the Christian day school movement of the same era. Stevens explains how this dual history shapes the meaning and practice of home schooling today. In the process, he introduces us to an unlikely mix of parents (including fundamentalist Protestants, pagans, naturalists, and educational radicals) and notes the core values on which they agree: the sanctity of childhood and the primacy of family in the face of a highly competitive, bureaucratized society.

Kingdom of Children aptly places home schoolers within longer traditions of American social activism. It reveals that home schooling is not a random collection of individuals but an elaborate social movement with its own celebrities, networks, and characteristic lifeways. Stevens shows how home schoolers have built their philosophical and religious convictions into the practical structure of the cause, and documents the political consequences of their success at doing so.

Ultimately, the history of home schooling serves as a parable about the organizational strategies of the progressive left and the religious right since the 1960s.Kingdom of Children shows what happens when progressive ideals meet conventional politics, demonstrates the extraordinary political capacity of conservative Protestantism, and explains the subtle ways in which cultural sensibility shapes social movement outcomes more generally.

Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families
From a bedroom community in Nebraska to a farm in Vermont, from families who rely on workbooks to those who have sworn them off, this in-depth examination of the lives of homeschoolers covers a wide range of people and methods. When author Nancy Lande started homeschooling more than 10 years ago, this is the book she wanted that didn't exist. What better way to create your homeschool than reading about others and picking and choosing the styles that appeal to you? Lande has corralled a variety of homeschoolers and, with some deft editing, allowed them to speak for themselves. Every chapter features a different household on any given day. Many of the writers are mothers, but a stay-at-home dad and several children tell their tales as well. Their detailed descriptions start in the waking hours of morning and get down to the nitty-gritty information of everyday life in a homeschool: how moms fit in showers, how chores are divvied up, how reading and research are gently initiated, how parents set aside time for themselves.

These writers invite the reader into their homes and advise, "Don't mind the mess." Their passages are often funny and unflinchingly honest. They aren't embarrassed to tell you they whipped out SpaghettiOs for a hurried lunch or stole a peek at CNN while ignoring the chaos in the playroom. Some of the families have created highly structured school environments within their homes, with desks and sharpened pencils. Others promote freestyle learning, with their children sprawled across the house working on projects or reading in between walking the dog, playing games, and riding bikes. The majority of families here live in Pennsylvania, the author's home state, but one writes from as far away as Scotland, another lives on a mountain in Alaska, and yet another checks in from a college town in Texas. Their learning logs, reading lists, and journal entries, along with family photos, help illustrate the book. The quilt they piece together is a great service to those wondering how to approach homeschooling. --Jodi Mailander Farrell

Homeschool Open House
Personal insights from 55 families worldwide about a real day of homeschooling. Includes homeschool illusions, family culture, learning and family style, parenting strategies, chores and organization, family management, personal empowerment, decision making, change flexibility, resources, and questions to consider before deciding to homeschool. A private tour of homeschooling homes and reflective thoughts from families. Also includes five year follow-ups from families in HOMESCHOOLING: A PATCHWORK OF DAYS.
Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
This radical treatise on public education has been a New Society Publishers' bestseller for 10 years! Thirty years of award-winning teaching in New York City's public schools led John Gatto to the sad conclusion that compulsory governmental schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders as cogs in the industrial machine. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of Dumbing Us Down and to keep this classic current, we are renewing the cover art, adding new material about John and the impact of the book, and a new Foreword.
A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
In 1991, shortly after receiving both the New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year Awards, John Gatto resigned to begin a new career as an education reform advocate. In this collection of 16 essays, Gatto analyzes the problems of American education and suggests solutions for revitalizing the system — prescriptions that run counter to current trends.
The Exhausted School: Bending the Bars of Traditional Education
These 13 essays, presented at the 1993 National Grassroots Speakout on the Right to School Choice, illustrate how education reform actually works. Written by award-winning teachers and their students, these essays present successful teaching methods that work in both traditional and nontraditional classroom settings. “Gatto’s voice is strong and unique.” — Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul
So You're Thinking About Homeschooling: Fifteen Families Show How You Can Do It
Confused and intimidated by the complexities of homeschooling, many sincere parents never get past the "thinking about it" stage. Now Lisa Whelchel - herself a homeschooling mother of three - introduces fifteen real families and shows how they overcome the challenges of their unique homeschooling situations. This nuts-and-bolts approach deals with common questions of time management, teaching weaknesses, and outside responsibilities, as well as children's age variations, social and sports involvement, learning disabilities, and boredom. Seeing a wide variety of successfully homeschooling families in action will give parents the confidence to make their own dream of home-based education a reality.
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Featured Resources

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Montessori Life
Designed to provoke thought, professional growth and provide a forum for discussion of major issues & ideas in education.
The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to Getting Off to the Right Start
An increasing number of parents are turning to homeschooling. This guide helps those parents to determine what are the best first steps to take, how to define your educational philosophy, and the best approach for your children. Included is a discuss...
A History of Science
A History of Science is not a textbook, but is a guide to help parents and children study science through literature. It is intended for children in elementary grades.
Noah Webster's Reading Handbook
This is the historic text (originally called the Blue-Backed Speller) that has been updated to teach phonics/beginning reading. The blends and words in this reader are arranged to correlate with the sequence in which the special phonics sounds are ta...
When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today
Children want to learn and one of the best approaches to homeschooling is to meet their natural curiosity with support and understanding. Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy does just that. This book offers explanations of how to incorporate Mas...