State Laws: Missouri

by Orilla Crider

Read the text of the actual statute HERE and HERE.

In the state of Missouri, a family is considered to have a homeschool if:
  • its main purpose is to provide private or religious-based instruction;
  • its students are between the ages of 7 and 16, of which no more than four are unrelated to each other;
  • the instructor does not charge or receive tuition, fees or other remuneration (i.e., you cannot pay someone else to homeschool your child).
There are no requirements for the parent as far as his/her educational background is concerned. No matter how much or how little education you have, whether you have a high school diploma or not, it does not matter. Any parent or legal guardian may make the decision to homeschool.

Missouri law states that parents may (not must) provide to the recorder of deeds where a student lives a signed written declaration of enrollment stating their intent to homeschool. If you choose to do this, it must be done within 30 days after beginning to homeschool and then on September 1 each year thereafter. If you sign the intent, you must also pay a nominal fee and you must sign it and pay the fee every year by September 1.

The Missouri Association of Teaching Christian Homes (MATCH) highly recommends that you not sign this intent. Why not? First, it is not required by law. Second, it can compromise a family's privacy, because information on the notice of intent will be a matter of public record and and can looked up by anyone. Occasionally, signing an intent has caused a family to be unnecessarily investigated.

The only required paperwork parents must do is if they are withdrawing a child from another school in order to homeschool; in that case, they need to send a withdrawal letter (using this template from MATCH if desired) to the principal or superintendent of the school/district from which they are withdrawing. MATCH highly recommends that parents send this letter via certified mail so they have proof that the office received it.

Homeschool students in Missouri have to be homeschooled between the ages of 7 and 17. You may start earlier, but you do not have to begin until the school year in which a child turns 7. And, if a student has completed the required statutory credits toward high school graduation (see below), s/he may graduate early (i.e., before Age 17).

If a child is enrolled in another school prior to Age 7, s/he will be subject to compulsory attendance at that school until a withdrawal letter is sent to the principal. On a student's sixteenth birthday, you no longer have to record his/her learning hours. You must continue to homeschool until the student is 17, but after Age 16 you may stop recording the hours s/he spends homeschooling.

A homeschooling parent assumes the role of administrator of his/her school. You are the head of your school, and you make decisions about choice of curriculum, class schedule, giving achievement tests, etc. You are not required to name your school, but many do.

Missouri requires homeschoolers to keep – but not submit to anyone else – the following records:
  1. A plan book, diary, daily log, or other record that tells about each subject that is covered each day;
  2. A portfolio. This consists of samples of a student's work throughout the year to show his/her progress; for example, you can show what a child’s work was like at the beginning of the year, in the middle of the year, and at the end of the year. MATCH has a nice, downloadable Memory eBook to help you compile a portfolio;
  3. A record of evaluations. Missouri doesn’t require standardized achievement testing, so a record of evaluations could consist of quizzes or tests given at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of a year to show a student’s progress. 
Your records are yours! You are not required to submit them to anyone. The only time you might be required to show your records would be in the unlikely event that someone chooses to bring charges against you for truancy or educational neglect. In that case, the person making the accusation must go to the local prosecuting attorney to request access to your daily log showing courses and hours, not grades. If that happens, make sure you know who is requesting the records.

Some people think they have to school their children in the same ways that public schools do, but that is not true. homeschoolers are not required to follow the laws that the public school system has to follow. Homeschoolers have their own law and are not held to anything related to public school law.

Missouri requires that homeschooled students study five core subjects each year:
  • Reading
  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts
  • Science
You must do something in each area each year, but it is up to you to decide the specific content in each area at any given time. The content in each subject must be consonant with a student’s age and ability.

Missouri requires that homeschooled students receive 1,000 hours of instruction during each school year, which is defined as a 12-month period between July 1 of one calendar year and June 30 of the next. That does not mean a parent has to homeschool year-round, just that she has 12 months in which to meet the mandated hours requirement. You get to decide the days and hours of operation for your homeschool; this is your school and you are the administrator.

Of that 1,000 hours, you must provide at least 600 hours between the five core subjects: Reading, Math, Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science. Nothing in the homeschool law declares how much time you must spend on each subject. Thus, as the administrator and instructor, you have authority to make that decision for each child. You know your student; if s/he struggles in one subject, you can spend extra time on it and not as much in other subjects.

The other 400 hours can be accrued in a wide variety of ways: by spending more time in the core subjects, studying/learning in other subject areas, and/or participating in community-based extracurricular activities (i.e., sports, drama, dance, music, 4-H, church-related programs, etc.).

At least 400 of the 1,000 hours must be delivered in the main homeschool location, wherever that is. If your students are at home for most of their schoolwork, your home is the main homeschool location. If they go to work with you during the time they do most of their schoolwork, your work location is the main homeschool location.

Upon a student's sixteenth birthday, you may stop recording his/her hours.

Missouri does not require a certain amount of credits for homeschool students to graduate or mandate what is required for graduation in each subject area. As the administrator of your homeschool, you will determine what that is. However, for those planning to attend college, MATCH highly recommends starting to look at different colleges of interest during a child’s eighth or ninth grade year and making sure to know what each college requires for admission in order to create an appropriate high school scope and sequence.

In most cases, a student is required to go to school until his/her seventeenth birthday. However, Missouri does make one exception to this rule for those wanting to graduate before Age 17. Parents of high schoolers must keep a record of “statutory credits” (i.e., completion of at least 100 hours of instruction in each class a student takes towards graduation), and a student may graduate earlier than Age 17 if s/he has completed 16 statutory credits before then. Note that homeschooled students are only required to keep track of statutory credit hours if they plan to graduate before Age 17, and statutory credits are not used for preparing a transcript for submission to colleges, employers, etc.

Though MATCH suggests that parents may want to administer a standardized test every three years, Missouri homeschool law does not require it. The state does require that parents keep an annual “record of evaluations” of each student’s progress, as described above.

Missouri does not require that homeschoolers take vaccinations.


Religious Freedom Act:
Missouri homeschoolers do not have to include any concept, topic, or practice in their curriculum that goes against their religious doctrines.

Virtual School:
Virtual schools, stay-at-home schools, accredited online schools, Pandemic PODs, etc., are governed under public school law. Those who use any of these types of schooling are not considered to be homeschoolers under Missouri law. 

Homeschooling Unrelated Children:
Though Missouri law places no limits on the number of related children who may be homeschooled together, it does state that no more than four unrelated children can be included in a family’s homeschool program. And, as stated above, a person homeschooling another parent’s child(ren) cannot be paid for doing so.

Most of Missouri's homeschool law resulted from a federal court decision in 1985, which ruled that the previous law was unconstitutionally vague. We are thankful for the many state legislators who support homeschooling, many of whom are homeschoolers themselves. We also appreciate the lobbyists who keep us informed when bills that are not homeschool-friendly are introduced. It takes all of us working together to keep the great environment for homeschooling we enjoy in Missouri today.


Orilla Crider homeschooled in Missouri for over 23 years and has graduated all three of her children. She has a heart for homeschoolers and understands not only the struggle parents can go through with “normal” children but also what parents raising children with special needs face, because two of her children have special needs. Orilla and her husband took over MATCH in 1998. She takes care of most of the day-to-day MATCH operations and loves to share what homeschooling can do for families and how God will help them through each day. She can be found online on the MATCH Facebook Page and in the MATCH Discussion Group.