Rhode Island is the only state where the homeschooling program must be approved by the local school committee. Some states, like South Carolina, have an option where the local or state public school entity is involved, but this is the only state where approval is required by a local public school.


Rhode Island, located in the northeastern United States, legalized homeschooling in 1984. Homeschools are not considered private schools in Rhode Island and must meet other requirements, including local public school committee approval.


Rhode Island requires parents who elect to homeschool their children, ages 6 to 18, to contact their local public school district superintendent for more information. While the Rhode Island Department of Education provides some general information on homeschool policy, the local district level makes all final decisions.

The state does not have a minimum parental education requirement to homeschool. Generally, parents must present their homeschool plan to the local school committee for approval. The plan should include information about instruction methods, the subjects and curriculum, and agreement on assessments and progress evaluation. Rhode Island requires an annual evaluation but offers flexibility in its format. Assessments or other agreed-upon methods are acceptable.

The general attendance requirement is five and a half hours daily for at least 180 days a year. Rhode Island is one of only a few states that requires all instruction in English.

The public school must loan textbooks to homeschool parents in at least science, math, and foreign languages. Otherwise, homeschooled students’ access to public school resources is limited to extracurricular activities. Homeschooled students may ask for permission to participate in other activities and courses, and the State Commissioner of Education encourages districts to allow homeschooled student participation when space is available, but there are no official policies outlining access for nonpublic students. Similarly, students with special needs are advised to check with their local district for service eligibility.

State Data

The information on homeschool participation provides insight into homeschool participation in the state. For example, around 1,200 students reported homeschooling in 2010, which increased to almost 1,700 prior to the pandemic.

A bar chart showing homeschool rates in Rhode Island from 2004 to 2023, with rates fluctuating up and down from 2004 to 2019, spiking in 2020, and then decreasing in 2021 and 2022.

U.S. Census estimates indicate that around 4.4% of Rhode Island families homeschooled in the spring of 2020, increasing to 7.3% by the fall of 2020. Note that these percentages reflect family participation and are lower than the national averages of 5.4% and 11.1% during the same time. Student participation would be higher given that many families have more than one child, but overall participation is low in Rhode Island. Based on estimates for the 2022 and 2023 school years, the U.S. Census found that an average of 2.2% of all K-12 students in the state were homeschooled.

Download Homeschool Hub State Data

Cross-Sector Comparison

During the 2019-20 academic year, fewer than 1% of Rhode Island’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Homeschool participation in the state was much less than the 10% of private school students. Homeschool participation was also much lower than the 6% of Rhode Island students attending charter schools. In 2021-22, 1.3% of Rhode Island’s K-12 students were homeschooled, nearly 11% went to private schools, and 7% attended charter schools.

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

School Choice Context

In addition to homeschooling, Rhode Island parents have some educational choices available. These options include open enrollment in traditional public schools through inter- and intra-district school choice and a few magnet and charter schools. Rhode Island has one private school choice tax credit scholarship for low-income students, but homeschooled students do not appear to be eligible.


Rhode Island could increase educational opportunities for all nonpublic students by opening access to more public school offerings like sports, courses, and extracurriculars.

Last updated December 2023.