Virginia Law FAQs

Homeschooling is legal, but how exactly do you comply with the law?
Although the legalese can sound complicated, the Virginia homeschool law is very precise in most areas and help is available through our website, our e-newsletter, and our Facebook pages. Our friendly office personnel will also be glad to answer your questions, or you may e-mail your questions to us at office@heav.org.
Here are answers to some of the questions that are asked most often.

If your child will be five years old on or before September 30, and has not passed his eighteenth birthday, he must attend school §22.1-254 (A).

However, there is an important exemption to this statute. If, in your opinion as a parent, your child is not mentally, physically, or emotionally prepared to attend school, you may delay your child’s attendance for one year §22.1-254 (H) (5). Your child may be exempted from compulsory school attendance if he is not six on or before September 30, and you notify the school board that you don’t want him to attend school until the following year. If you elect to keep your five-year-old at home, you may still teach your child in a manner suitable for his age and maturity. With this exemption, it’s not necessary to submit a “Notice of Intent to Homeschool” form until he is six by September 30.

If you plan to homeschool the following year, you may register your six-year-old child as a kindergartner or first-grader depending on his level of achievement and maturity. Regardless, end-of-the-year testing is not required for students who are five years old on September 30 of the school year. The deadline for filing the “Notice of Intent to Homeschool” is August 15 of the year in which you plan to formally teach at home.


According to §22.1-254 (A) a parent may (1) send his child to public school; (2) send his child to private, denominational, or parochial school; (3) have his child taught by a tutor or teacher of qualifications approved by the division superintendent; or (4) provide for home education as described in §22.1-254.1. A child may also be excused from compulsory education because of a religious exemption §22.1-254 (B)(1).

The first and second options for education listed above are self-explanatory. The third option referenced in §22.1-254 (A), also known as the “certified or approved tutor statute,” allows a child to be taught in or out of his home by a Virginia certified teacher (either his parent or another teacher) whose qualifications are approved by the superintendent. None of the requirements of the homeschool statute apply (i.e. testing). Any parent who meets the qualification of a certified teacher or approved tutor may teach under this option rather than the homeschool statute (see “Certified-Tutor Provision Clarified” in the Virginia Homeschool Manual).

To qualify under the certified-tutor option, a parent should submit his credentials to the Division of Teacher Education, Certification, and Professional Development of the Department of Education to secure a certificate or letter of eligibility. If the approved tutor is the parent, the parent simply sends a letter to the division superintendent with a copy of his teacher certification or letter of eligibility and indicates that he is complying with the third option of §22.1-254 (A).

If the parent who is an approved tutor teaches other children, the names of these children should also be listed in the letter. An approved tutor who is not the parent should send a letter with his certification verification and a list of the children being taught.

The fourth option in §22.1-254 (A) is home instruction. This is defined as the instruction of a child by his parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of the child. It is not considered a private, denominational, or parochial school §22.1-254 (A).



If you decide to homeschool, you must notify your local division superintendent or his designee §22.1-254.1 (B). This can be done by a personal letter, which includes evidence of meeting one of the requirements, or by using the “Notice of Intent to Homeschool” form. This form is included in the Virginia Homeschool Manual. It may also be downloaded from the HEAV website at www.heav.org or obtained from the HEAV office.

Remember to keep copies of all correspondence. You may want to send your “Notice of Intent” form by registered mail. It’s not necessary to deliver it in person.


The division superintendent must be notified by August 15 of each school year. Parents who move into the school division after August 15 or who begin home instruction after the school year has begun, must notify the superintendent of their intent to homeschool as soon as practical and comply with the statute within thirty days of notification §22.1-254.1 (B).

If you decide to homeschool after the deadline, please refer to “Beginning Home Education after the Deadline” in the Virginia Homeschool Manual. This article addresses special situations and what you might expect.


If you disagree with a division superintendent’s decision, you may make an appeal to an independent hearing officer within thirty days. Inform your superintendent that you want to request an appeal. (This process is less intimidating for those who have retained experienced legal counsel.) An independent hearing officer will be chosen from a list maintained by the Executive Secretary of the Supreme Court. After the appeal, the cost of the hearing will be apportioned by the hearing officer according to his findings §22.1-254.1(E).

Most homeschoolers who have religious beliefs are fully accommodated by the homeschool statute, §22.1-254.1. However, according to §22.1-254.1 (D), nothing in the homeschool statute shall prohibit a student and his parents from obtaining an exemption from school attendance because of bona fide religious training or belief as referenced in §22.1-254 (B) (1). This statute—known as “the religious exemption statute”—states, “A school board shall excuse from attendance at school any pupil who, together with his parents, by reason of bona fide religious training or belief, is conscientiously opposed to attendance at school,” §22.1-254 (B) (1). (For a more complete explanation of the terms used in this statute, please refer to the articles entitled “Virginia Religious Exemption” and “Religious Exemption—Demystified” in the Virginia Homeschool Manual.)

Both parents must have personal religious convictions against school attendance. While you may have philosophical, political, or sociological objections, or a personal moral code in opposition to school attendance, this cannot be the basis for a religious exemption. You must be conscientiously opposed to attendance at school because of bona fide religious training or belief in order to homeschool under §22.1-254 (B) (1). This statute cannot be used for any other reason.

Parents homeschooling under religious exemption should be prepared, if called upon, to testify before their local school board concerning their genuine religious beliefs. It is mandatory that parents have strong religious convictions, not just preferences. Because school boards differ in their understanding of the requirements for religious exemption, adequate legal representation is important. Homeschool Legal Defense Association provides legal services for homeschooling families, but you must be a member before a problem arises.
How you comply with the homeschool law is foundational to all other decisions concerning home instruction. Review your legal options carefully. Understand your choices. Then decide what is right for your family.


Many additional questions may be found on our Legislative Q&A.

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