State Laws: Colorado

by Brenda Kelly
with assistance from Amy Pentimone, Katie Ward, and Ashley Vaughan

Read the text of the actual statute HERE.

The state of Colorado provides three options under which parents may teach their children at home. While all three function as what we traditionally refer to as “homeschooling” (i.e., parents providing education for their children at home), different terminology and different laws govern each option.

One option is to obtain a Colorado teacher’s license. If you are licensed as a teacher in the state of Colorado, you are under no obligation to the state, and there are no requirements placed on you. You have the freedom to homeschool your children however you desire and – though it is wise to keep records for your own benefit – need not submit anything to the state.

The other two options require following the specifics of either the Home-Based Education Law or the Non-Public School Law. We provide more information about each of those options below, and you can also find a breakdown and table of comparison at the Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) website, here.

  • Home-Based Education Law: A parent, guardian, or designated adult relative is responsible for providing an education for the child(ren) in the family. There are no additional parental requirements;
  • Non-Public School Law: A parent enrolls a child in an independent, private, or parochial school that allows the parent to teach the child at home. The school – an “umbrella school” – sets requirements for the parent who will do the teaching.

  • Home-Based Education Law:
    • A parent must send a letter, referred to as a Notice of Intent (NOI), to any school district in the state of Colorado 14 days prior to starting a homeschool program. While the law does not indicate a filing deadline, we suggest that a homeschool family do so at the beginning of a new school year (i.e., according to when the public school begins for the year) or immediately upon moving to the state. This NOI, as the name infers, notifies a public school district of the children in the family who will be following the Home-Based Education law. The NOI should include each child’s name, age, and place of residence; the projected number of hours of attendance; and a parent’s signature. If the parent will not send the mandated bi-annual test scores to the public school district where the NOI is submitted, the form must also include the name of the independent, private, or parochial school in the state of Colorado where the scores will be filed. Subsequent NOIs must be filed annually, preferably before the start of each public school year to avoid any “red flags;”
    • A parent must also maintain “school records” for each child, including immunization, attendance, and assessment records. Though not required under law, keeping a journal tracking each child’s course of study and progress throughout each school year might prove helpful and/or necessary if questions arise regarding a child’s education.
  • Non-Public School Law: A parent does not file an NOI, but will, instead, complete enrollment paperwork for the independent school of his/her choice. Following enrollment into the non-public school, a parent should also file withdrawal paperwork with a child’s current (public) school, if applicable. Afterwards, the parent keeps and provides the paperwork required by the particular non-public school with which s/he has enrolled.

  • Home-Based Education Law: An NOI should be filed for the first time when a child turns 6 years of age by August 1, and repeated annually until he turns 16 (note that if a child is still 5 on August 1, he does not need to be addressed on the NOI until the following school year). Although an NOI is required the year a child is 6 years old by August 1, formal teaching does not need to begin until the child is 7;
  • Non-Public School Law: A child must be enrolled from Age 6 through Age 17.

  • Home-Based Education Law: A parent (or other authorized adult, as outlined above) is responsible for the education of the child(ren) under his/her care. Aside from filing an NOI and applicable records on a yearly basis, such parents are not under the direct oversight of the government or any public school district; thus, other than following the school subject, time, and assessment requirements outlined below, parents have the freedom to educate as they deem most appropriate for their children;
  • Non-Public School Law: Parents operate under the oversight of their chosen umbrella school. In many cases, independent school policies lighten the requirements for families compared to the requirements of the Home-Based Education law, but each school has the freedom to choose what oversight looks like for families using its program.

  • Home-Based Education Law: Children must be given sequential instruction in communication skills (reading, writing, and speaking), mathematics, history, literature, science, and civics (including regular courses of instruction in the Constitution of the United States as provided in section 22-1-108). Beyond these required subjects, parents are welcome to teach an expanded range of additional subjects if desired;
  • Non-Public School Law: Children must be given instruction in the same required subjects listed above. This option adds a requirement that honor and use of the flag be taught, and also stipulates that instruction in the Constitution begin no later than 7th grade and continue through high school.

  • Home-Based Education Law: Children must be educated for at least 172 days, for an average of four hours per day. Note that, since the four-hours specification is an average, families still maintain some flexibility as long as they remember to keep up with the average (e.g., two hours one day might be followed by six hours the next to maintain an average of four hours). Days and hours of attendance should be recorded and maintained in a file for each child, but need not be submitted to a school district unless subpoenaed by the courts;
  • Non-Public School Law: Each umbrella school sets its own time requirements, though education must still occur for at least 172 days.

  • Home-Based Education Law: There are no stipulated graduation requirements; parents decide for themselves what each child should complete before graduation. Of course, it’s important to consider what a child might want to do following graduation when making these decisions. If a teen will head to post-secondary education, it is imperative to follow admissions requirements for the college(s) of interest. If a teen isn’t sure of his future plans, a well-rounded high school program will provide him with the best foundation for whatever path he will eventually choose to take;
  • Non-Public School Law: Graduation requirements are set by the umbrella school.

  • Home-Based Education Law: Children’s academic progress must be evaluated by assessment in the odd-grade years beginning in 3rd grade. Assessments can be made either via a nationally-normed standardized achievement test or from a “qualified” professional, further guidelines for both of which are described at the CHEC website here. When deciding which assessment route to take, consider various factors, including cost, what works best for you as the parent, and what will work best for each child; for example, a professional evaluation might be a better option for a struggling learner. Once you obtain the results of an assessment (including a composite score for standardized tests), you must submit them to the public school district in which you filed the NOI or to the private school you indicated as holding test scores. It is also important to keep copies in your personal file at home;
  • Non-Public School Law: Children’s academic progress must be evaluated by assessment in the odd-grade years beginning in 3rd grade, according to guidelines established by each umbrella school.

During the 2020 legislative session, homeschoolers under both the Home-Based Education Law and the Non-Public School Law were granted an exemption to the requirement of obtaining official CDPHE immunization reporting forms or exemption forms. However, it’s wise for all homeschooling families to maintain immunization (or exemption) records in their personal files. It’s also important to understand that all doctors are now required to report immunization data to the state, where it is stored in an insecure state database. Parents who choose to immunize their children can opt out of portions of this database, but not all of it. 


Sports and Interscholastic Activities:
  • Home-Based Education Law: Students have a legal right to participate in any extracurricular or interscholastic activities within the school district where the family’s NOI was submitted or at a private school, subject to the private school’s discretion. In all cases, a school can require immunization or exemption information that isn’t required under the Home-Based Education Law and can also require certain insurance coverage and can charge fees;
  • Non-Public School Law: To participate in public school activities, these students must identify themselves to public school officials as private schoolers (i.e., indicating that they do not file an NOI) and ask if private schoolers can participate in the public school’s extracurricular activities. All high school sports are governed by the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSSA), whose requirements dictate that those enrolled in a private school but wanting to participate in a public school program must participate with a school in the district where the private school is located or in the student’s school district of residence. In this case as well, a public school can require immunization or exemption information that isn’t required under the umbrella school law and can also require certain insurance coverage and can charge fees.

Part-Time Public School Enrollment and Enrichment Programs:
  • Home-Based Education Law: The law clearly states that part-time public school involvement is allowed for families who have filed an NOI. But each school has the right to set participation rules and can require immunization or exemption information that isn’t required under the Home-Based Education Law;
  • Non-Public School Law: Parents should check with the umbrella school to see if it allows for part-time public school enrollment. If it does, be sure to identify yourself to a public school as a private schooler (i.e., one who will not be filing an NOI). Note that each public school has the right to set participation rules and can require immunization or exemption information that isn’t required under the umbrella school law.

Private Enrichment Programs:
Homeschoolers can participate in a variety of non-public enrichment programs; some expect parental involvement and others are fee-based, drop-off programs. These programs can be a great way to find community for your children, but be careful not to allow them to replace the one-on-one teaching that parents provide at home.

Finding community with other homeschoolers - to provide encouragement, support, and friendship – is important regardless of the legal option under which you are homeschooling. Community can come in the form of Facebook groups, local homeschool groups, or already-established activity groups (i.e., a mother/son book club). Alternately, you can always form your own group with nearby homeschooling friends.

Continuing Parental Education:
As in anything we do, continuing to learn how to improve is a key component. Homeschoolers in Colorado have access to the annual Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference live event, as well as two online Homeschool Summits each year, all of which can expand our vision, provide encouragement and training, and help homeschooling parents become even more equipped for the task of educating their children.

Please understand that our very feasible home-education options – which might seem at first glance to be overwhelming – exist in large part due to the tireless efforts of those who first fought for homeschool freedom in the state. We’re thankful for the blessing of homeschooling and look forward to welcoming you to the journey!


Brenda Kelly joined the CHEC team in 1994 as a board and conference team member. In 2008, she also began working in the office. The Kelly family’s formal homeschooling journey began in 1989, and the fruit of that decision now means working alongside their adult children in a variety of ministries and watching their grandchildren be discipled to know and love God.