Parents just coming out of public school or those who are dealing with special circumstances sometimes ask us if they can have someone else homeschool their children or hire a “homeschool teacher” for that purpose. The short answer is “maybe.”
By definition, only parents or legal guardians can homeschool their children. However, there are some options that Oregon parents can consider if this poses a challenge for them.
(Note that OCEANetwork does not offer legal advice.)
How homeschooling is defined is important in this conversation. We believe the definition provided by Homeschool Backgrounder captures it well: “Homeschooling is parent-directed, family-based education. Parent-directed means the parents have deliberately chosen to take responsibility for the education of their children, controlling both the education process and the curriculum (course of study).” More importantly, Oregon law describes independent homeschooling as “children being educated in the children’s home by a parent or legal guardian.“
Situations where parents delegate their child’s education to another and do not themselves provide instruction would not generally fall under the definition of homeschooling. This includes public school at home programs, private schools, private teachers (or “homeschool teachers”), and tutors who perform most of the child’s instruction.
However, there ARE ways that parents facing difficult situations can homeschool their children.
Getting Help With Homeschooling
Our passion at OCEANetwork is helping families to recognize and embrace the responsibility of their children’s education and discipleship and to experience the incredible blessings of independent homeschooling. However, we recognize that families may be facing particular challenges that make the transition to a complete fulfillment of parent-led instruction difficult. Single parents or families where both parents are working may need solutions, even if temporarily, where they are able to manage the logistics of full time work without sending their kids to charter schools or public/private schools.
We believe there are ways to navigate these challenging situations and still enjoy the benefits of independent homeschooling. In Oregon, homeschool parents can use whatever resources they choose to best educate their children. Legal experts like HSLDA believe that this includes having a relative or hired teacher’s aide provide some of the instruction. As long as homeschool parents continue to direct content and curriculum, and parents are spending time instructing their children in their home, they can use teacher aides and classes to supplement that education. These aides could answer questions or deliver assignments during the day while the parents are at work, or be brought in to help with specific subjects or learning challenges.
Want to learn how to start homeschooling in Oregon? This FREE 6-part video course is for you!
Can I Hire “Homeschool Teachers” to Help?
It is generally expected that the litmus test on whether you are legally homeschooling in Oregon is this: you as the parent are directing and overseeing their privately-funded education, including course of study and curriculum, and you are actively participating in academic instruction in your home. While you may be able to bring in outside resources and aides to help you homeschool, you are solely responsible for their homeschool education and following Oregon homeschool laws. So, in this case, someone else is not “homeschooling” your child. Rather, you are homeschooling them using various resources and supplementary services/tools to help you do so.
If you hire someone to help you homeschool your children, here are some important things to consider:
- Virtual charter schools are not homeschooling. They are public school at home options funded by the government and do not fall under homeschool laws. You must follow their program requirements and oversight.
- Children are exempt from compulsory public school attendance in two main ways that are important in this situation (See ORS 339.030) :
- Independent homeschooling (parent-led, privately-funded home education)
- Private schooling (private schools or instruction by a private teacher, where the course of study and teaching time is similar to public schools)
- Individual families who hire a private teacher (sometimes referred to as a “homeschool teacher”) to carry out their child’s education may not be independently homeschooling. However, the requirements for when you have a private teacher educate your child are the same as they are for homeschooling (sending a letter of intent, testing in certain grades, etc.)
- Hiring private teachers to teach multiple students may not qualify as homeschooling and may also come with additional concerns. “In these situations they should contact a local attorney to determine whether they are operating a school. Several rules/laws could impact this situation (i.e. zoning, fire safety, business laws, etc.)” Tj Schmidt, HSLDA
- What about the “homeschool pods” or “microschools” trends happening due to COVID? Some groups are forming these and hiring “homeschool teachers” to instruct. Remember to evaluate your school options against the definition of homeschooling we’ve provided above. These efforts are typically to replicate a public school situation, and another teacher is directing and instructing education for multiple children. As such, these groups may qualify as private schools rather than homeschooling. We recommend contacting local legal counsel and/or HSLDA for guidance if you decide to form something like a pod or micro school.
What other resources might help during a quick transition to independent homeschooling? Consider checking into your local support groups and homeschool co-ops. Parents often collaborate in these groups to share responsibility for enrichment events and classes. There are also online course options designed for independent homeschool use that may be a good fit during this time, such as BJU Press Homeschool, Monarch, etc. For more ideas for curriculum, check out our curriculum guide and resource shopping page.
Parent-Led Home Education
We know that many parents are facing challenging situations but would like to pursue homeschooling to educate their children. OCEANetwork is here to help! Thousands of Oregon homeschool families over the years have experienced the great blessings that independent, parent-led home education have provided for them, and we’d love to see you enjoying those same blessings!
If you have any questions about homeschooling in Oregon, you can call us at (503) 288-1285, email us, or connect with us in the Homeschooling in Oregon Facebook group. We’re looking forward to connecting with you!