Tennessee offers families three ways to homeschool their children but “independent homeschools” most closely resemble the homeschooling found in other states.


Tennessee is located in the southern United States. The state legalized homeschooling in 1985, recognizing at least three options for educating from home, and defines homeschooling as parent-directed.


Parents in Tennessee who want to educate their children, ages 6 to 17, have several options. First, they can set up an “independent home school” where the parent is the educator of record. The second option is to homeschool under the “umbrella” of another organization. In this case, the homeschool becomes a church-related school and is viewed as a “satellite” program. The third option is schooling from home but attending an online school that is accredited by the state board of education. The remainder of this section focuses on the requirements for independent home schools since those most closely reflect the mode of homeschooling regulated in other states.

Independent homeschools must file an Intent to Home School Form each year with the local school district. These forms include the names, ages, and grade levels of each child in the school. The local school district may want to know the curriculum used, but it is up to the parent to select it. Parents must have at least a high school diploma or equivalent, and a tutor may provide instruction. Students must receive a minimum of four hours of instruction daily for at least 180 days a year. Tennessee requires homeschooled students in certain grades to take the state test, and low scores on the test could cause the superintendent to request enrollment in a public or private school.

Tennessee does not provide any access for its nonpublic students to any of the offerings in public schools. Some homeschooled students may have limited access to extracurricular activities, as determined by the school principal, but other nonpublic students do not have this opportunity. (see Tenn.Code Ann. S49-6-5030.) Access for homeschooled students with special needs to services is unclear.

State Data

Homeschool participation in Tennessee increased dramatically during the pandemic. For example, more than 18,000 students were homeschooled in 2020-21. U.S. Census estimates indicate that around 5.4% of Tennessee families homeschooled in the spring of 2020 and increased to 13.2% by the fall of 2020. For the 2022 and 2023 school years, U.S. Census estimates revealed that 6.2% of Tennessee K-12 students, on average, were homeschooled.

Bar chart showing homeschool participation rates in Tennessee.

Download Homeschool Hub State Data

Cross-Sector Comparison

During the 2019-20 academic year, 1.1% of Tennessee’s K-12 students were homeschooled. Homeschool participation in the state was much less than the nearly 9% of private school students. Homeschool participation was also much lower than the nearly 4% of Tennessee students attending charter schools. In 2021-22, 1.4% of Tennessee’s K-12 students were homeschooled. While charter and private school attendance remained unchanged.

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

School Choice Context

In addition to homeschooling, parents in Tennessee have multiple school choice options. These include traditional public, private, magnet, charter, and virtual school enrollment. For some families, Tennessee launched a new education savings account in 2021, but it is unclear if independently homeschooled students qualify. Some homeschooled students may meet the requirements if they meet the income and other requirements and live in one of the eligible counties.


Tennessee could provide more educational opportunities for the students in the state by expanding access to public school offerings like courses, extracurriculars, and sports to all nonpublic students. Much of the country is moving in this direction, and while Tennessee allows some access, it is limited.

Last updated December 2023.