Delaware reports detailed information on the state's homeschooled population. For example, it is the only state reporting student race.

History

In the northeastern United States, Delaware legalized homeschooling in 1997, with a recent update in 2021. Further, this state classifies homeschooling as a form of nonpublic school. While Delaware may have legalized homeschooling relatively late compared to other states, they are the leader in various publicly reported homeschool data.

Regulation

Delaware parents homeschooling their children, ages 5-16, can access the state Department of Education’s homeschool page to learn more about their state’s requirements. Homeschooling in Delaware is considered a “nonpublic school.” Homeschools are classified as single-family homeschools, where only parents educate their children, or as multi-family homeschools. This second option opens the door for learning pods or microschools where several families combine to educate their children together. Families choosing to homeschool must register with the DOE and report their homeschooling attendance and enrollment. This requirement is the same for any nonpublic (i.e., private) school.

Parents do not need certification or a high school diploma. Students are not required to use any prescribed curriculum, and there is no minimum required number of instructional days.

While Delaware has few homeschooling regulations, it does not provide any access to offerings at local public schools for nonpublic students, including homeschooled students. This means that nonpublic students cannot access sports, extracurriculars, or courses offered at public schools. This restricted access includes special education services.

State Data

Delaware experienced substantial homeschool participation growth around the time of the pandemic. For example, the reported participation increased from approximately 3,000 students in 2019 to almost 5,000 students at the height of the pandemic. By the 2022-23 school year, participation dropped to almost 3,500. These numbers do not reflect the U.S. Census estimates from the same period. Delaware was reported as having 8.9% of families participating in homeschooling, increasing to only 9.1% by the fall of 2020. More recent U.S. Census estimates, during the 2022 and 2023 school years, found that an average of 3.4% of all K-12 students in Delaware were homeschooling. A possible source for the mismatch could be that Delaware calls homeschools “nonpublic” schools and counts them as private schools. As such, homeschoolers in Delaware may have reported differently on the census than in other states.

A bar chart showing homeschool rates in Delaware from 1999 to 2023, with rates slightly increasing from 1999 to 2019, spiking in 2020, and then dropping again in 2022.

Delaware provides rich data on homeschool participation. For example, they report the number of homeschool families (both single and multi-family “schools”) and the number of students. This gives us important information on how to interpret other data, like that from the U.S. Census, that reports the percentage of households or families participating in homeschooling as opposed to a student estimate. Delaware is the only state that also reports on homeschool student race. This information is important to understanding recent growth in Black and Brown homeschool participation.

Download Homeschool Hub State Data

Cross-Sector Comparison

During the 2019-20 academic year, 2% of Delaware’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Homeschool participation in the state was much lower than the 12% of private school students. Similarly, about 10.03% of Delaware students attended a charter school. In 2021-22, 3% of Delaware’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Homeschool participation in the state was much lower than the 12% of private school students. Similarly, about 10.5% of Delaware students attended a charter school.

A pie chart showing home, charter, private, and traditional public school percentages in Delaware in 2021-22

School Choice Context

Delaware parents have several educational choices available. These options include traditional public schools with inter- and intra-district choice, charter schools, magnet schools, and virtual learning programs. However, Delaware parents do not have access to publicly funded private school choice options, and no funding is available to homeschool families.

Commentary

Delaware provides excellent information on homeschoolers and is the only state where we have information by race. However, the state could improve its access to public school offerings for all of its students, like other states.