South Dakota Homeschool Laws

Homeschooling in South Dakota

How do I start homeschooling?

To homeschool in South Dakota, parents must complete the following steps:

Every year, complete and file a notification for Public School Exemption

Return the completed exemption form to the public school district office, where you reside

Choose the best homeschool curriculum that includes required subjects of language arts and math

Participate in standardized tests in grades 4, 8 and 11.

Keep good records.

Modify™ can help you with your tracking, portfolio and record keeping. Download the app today.  

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Homeschool Laws

According to South Dakota Codified Law (SDCL § 13-27-1, “Any person having control of a child, who is not younger than five or older than six years old by the first day of September, or any child who, by the first day of September, is at least six years old, but who has not exceeded the age of eighteen, shall cause the child to regularly attend school, either public, nonpublic, or alternative instruction as set forth in SDCL § 13-27-3, until the child reaches the age of eighteen years, unless the child has graduated or is excused as provided in this chapter. However, the requirements of this section are met if a child who is at least sixteen years of age enrolls in a high school equivalency test preparation program and the child successfully completes the test or reaches the age of eighteen years.”

SDCL § 13-27-3 clarifies the meaning of “alternative instruction”: “Upon a filing of a notification with either the Department of Education or the local district from the parent, or guardian, or other person having control of a child, the Department of Education or the local district has been notified that the child is being provided with alternative instruction in the basic skills of language arts and mathematics. The person providing instruction is not required to be certified. No person may instruct more than twenty-two children. All instructions shall be given so as to lead to a mastery of the English language.”

Note that “during the 2021 legislative session, South Dakota’s statutes related to alternative instruction (home school and non-accredited school enrollment) were updated through Senate Bill 177. The legislation:

  • made changes to families’ notifications for their plans to provide alternative instruction,
  • removed the requirement for alternative instruction families to report assessment results,
  • clarified truancy statutes, and
  • allowed for consistent participation in school activities, including those sponsored by the local school district and those sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association.

The legislation became law on July 1, 2021” (South Dakota Department of Education).

What do I need to be eligible to be a homeschool parent?

According to SDCL § 13-27-3, “The person providing instruction is not required to be certified.” However, the parent/guardian/alternative instructor may not instruct more than twenty-two students per that same statute.

Do I need to notify the school district of my intent to homeschool my child?

“Parents/guardians who choose to provide alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL § 13-27-3 are required to file an Alternative Instruction Notification. The notification must be submitted on a form provided by the Department of Education. For individuals who choose, a paper copy (pdf) (word doc) of the notification may be downloaded and submitted per the instructions on the form.” A parent tutorial is available to help you navigate the online reporting system for alternative instruction notification.

Notification is only required at the onset of homeschooling (not annually); however, according to the South Dakota Department of Education, “an updated notification indicating a change in status for a child must be submitted within 30 days of any of the following:

  • The child is moving to or open enrolling in another district but will still be homeschooling.
  • The child has decided to participate in dual credit, and it was not previously indicated in the DOE Alternative Instruction Notification system.
  • The child will no longer be homeschooling.”

Notification is also necessary within 30 days of enrolling the child in public or nonpublic school (South Dakota Department of Education). “To ensure clarity for the family and school, families are encouraged to communicate with the district about other relevant transitions such as participation in activities, an open enrollment change, or special education evaluations” (South Dakota Department of Education).

What educational options are available to my homeschooler?

As a homeschooler, you do have some options. For example, according to the South Dakota Department of Education, school districts are required to “loan textbooks without charge to all persons ages five to nineteen (SDCL § 13-34-23) who are enrolled in school (including alternative instruction), so long as the students reside in the district but are not enrolled in the public school. The textbooks must be nonsectarian and be those normally used in the public school. Textbooks include any instructional materials that are the principle source of teaching and learning for a given course of study and approved by the school board, including print and digital materials, but not including computer hardware.” Also, “alternative instruction students can enroll for one or more classes on a part-time basis while receiving alternative instruction for the balance of their education” (South Dakota Department of Education).

“Alternative instruction students may participate in Career and Technical Student Organizations so long as they meet the eligibility requirements established by the organization. Each organization has co-curricular (classroom) requirements set at the national and/or state level. Alternative instruction students must meet those requirements for eligibility and follow deadlines set by the student organizations. Like in athletics or fine arts, students are not guaranteed a seat on competitive teams. All competitive roster seats must be earned through local qualifications” (South Dakota Department of Education).

Your homeschooler may also participate in the state’s reduced tuition dual credit program, “an opportunity for 11th and 12th graders who meet admissions standards to enroll in public technical colleges and universities in South Dakota and simultaneously earn credits for both their high school diploma and postsecondary degree or certificate.” To enroll, you “must have a notification on file with the SD Department of Education and work directly with the department to start the enrollment process for the reduced-cost courses.”

Finally, home instruction families have options related to open enrollment: “The parent or guardian should complete the open enrollment process with the nonresident district prior to indicating an ‘Open Enrolled District’ on the alternative instruction notification. This field can be updated on the notification form following initial submission” (South Dakota Department of Education). See the South Dakota Alternative Instruction FAQs on the Alternative Instruction page for more information on open enrollment.

Homeschool Requirements

Even though South Dakota does not highly regulate homeschooling, there are some South Dakota homeschool requirements you must satisfy when you homeschool:

  • Begin homeschooling by age 6.
  • File the required alternative instruction notification 30 days prior to beginning homeschooling (SDCL § 13-27-3).
  • Teach at least the “basic skills of language arts and mathematics,” leading “to a mastery of the English language” (SDCL § 13-27-3).
  • File an additional notification if your child is moving or open enrolling in another district but still homeschooling, if your child is transferring to a public or nonpublic school, or if your child will no longer be homeschooling.
  • Stay current with homeschooling laws and requirements.

Do I need to administer testing to my homeschooler?

No. “Alternative instruction students are no longer required to take and submit the results of nationally standardized achievement tests in fourth, eighth, or eleventh grades. Students receiving alternative instruction may take nationally standardized tests as the person providing alternative instruction deems appropriate for the child’s educational progress. These assessments are at the expense of the child’s parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child” (South Dakota Department of Education).

What records do I need to keep when I homeschool my child?

The South Dakota Department of Education recommends “that the parent, guardian, or other person having control of a child keep a detailed academic record of student learning, including attendance and grades earned. Transcripts issued by the parents/guardians are required for participation in activities, acceptance into public education at a later date, enrollment in the state’s dual credit program, acceptance into postsecondary education, and for scholarship applications.”

In addition to the recommended recordkeeping, we also suggest you do some personal recordkeeping to provide verification of education in the event you would need to show some form of educational proof to the state or other legal entities or to prepare for re-entry into public school or postsecondary pathways. This includes the following:

  • Attendance
  • Immunization records
  • Lists of texts and workbooks used
  • Student schoolwork samples and/or portfolios
  • Test and evaluation results
  • Correspondence with school officials

You may also be able to find more information on South Dakota homeschool requirements through your local school district.

Graduation requirements

Homeschool graduation requirements in South Dakota are not strict. Parents looking to have their child graduate as a homeschooler have no requirements to follow because South Dakota does not monitor high school graduation for homeschoolers. 

Modify™ helps homeschoolers to keep all necessary records and transcripts. 


South Dakota Codified Law SDCL § 13-27-1
SDCL § 13-27-3
SDCL § 13-34-23
Senate Bill 177
Alternative Instruction Notification Form
Dual Credit Program

Note: All information on this site is provided with no guarantee of accuracy. Modify™ is not responsible for any errors, omissions, or outdated information, or for the results yielded through use of this information.

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