Each year in Montana more parents decide to choose to home educate their children, and the laws of the state give many freedoms to home schooling which other states do not enjoy. Today there are generational home schoolers within the state, as those who were home educated themselves pass on the tradition with their own children.
State testing was carried out in 1995 in conjunction with the Montana Coalition of Home Educators, which showed home schooled children in Montana scored higher than the national average, and the conclusion drawn was that the system produced responsible, independent thinking children with good moral values, as well as a good well rounded education.
The only state rulings which a home schooling family needs to follow are to educate the child for the same number of hours as they would receive in a public school, for the same age range. The parents must annually inform the county superintendent of schools in the county of the intent to home school within that fiscal year, which runs from July 1st to June 30th. The compulsory educational ages are between 7 and 16, and for grades 1-3 the annual hours are 720, rising to 1080 between grades 4-12.
The definition of a home school in Montana is a home in which the parent is responsible for the child’s education, and attendance and immunization records should be kept. Also the building used must comply with health and safety regulations for homes.
The laws of Montana allow that each parent is solely responsible for their own child’s education and extends to the right of the parent over a step child or ward as well. There are no stipulations over who can and can’t teach the child, only that it is the responsibility of the parent. There are no educational requirements necessary for the person teaching the child, as is often the case in other states. There is also no obligation at all for the parent to introduce standardized tests for the child.
There are four edicts within the law pertaining to home schooling in Montana, and these are the responsibility of the parent. They are to set the educational philosophy of the home school, to select the curriculum used, to be responsible for the time and place of instruction, and for the evaluation of the instruction. This means of course that the parent is solely responsible for how the home schooling is conducted within the family, with no interference from the state or local education department.
The home schooling laws of Montana are very relaxed, with the sole responsibility and emphasis being on the parent, once they have made the decision to home educate. This suits the way in which most parents who take this path choose to pursue a curriculum which works best for their child, and their lifestyle.