Home schooling for expats

In Education, Home education, School options, Special Educational Needs (SEN) by Carole Hallett Mobbs18 Comments

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Consider home education for your expat kid

Increasing numbers of parents consider home education as an option for their children. This is especially true for expatriates who may take this route for a variety of reasons.

Reasons for home schooling

Some of the reasons parents might choose home schooling over a more traditional school-based education are a lack of suitable schools in your new home overseas, the high cost of International School fees or personal preference. Perhaps the learning needs of your child can’t be met through a traditional school, or maybe your child has special needs which cannot be catered for by the schools near you. Many valid justifications exist for home schooling your child.

Is home schooling legal?

Beware! Not all countries are as open to home education as you may expect. In fact, in many places, such as Germany, home schooling is actually illegal. Do your research and consider your options carefully before committing to anything.

“Home schooling is legal in many countries. Countries with the most prevalent home education movements include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Some countries have highly regulated home education programs as an extension of the compulsory school system; others, such as Germany, have outlawed it entirely. In other countries, while not restricted by law, homeschooling is not socially acceptable or considered undesirable and is virtually non-existent.” [Source – Wikipedia]

Home education is illegal in some countries

As mentioned above, home schooling is not illegal in some surprising countries. Here is a short list of places that may affect you:

  • Brazil: Illegal, public or private education is mandatory without known exceptions.
  • Costa Rica: Illegal, public or private education is mandatory without known exceptions.
  • Germany: Illegal, public or approved private education is mandatory with the only exception being where continued school attendance would create undue hardship for an individual child.
  • Malta: Illegal, public education is mandatory without known exceptions.
  • The Netherlands: Illegal, public or private education is mandatory, with some exceptions.
  • Sweden: Illegal, as of June 2010; supposedly allowed under special circumstances such as student health reasons or family travel, but virtually never approved.

Here is a fairly complete list of countries and their home-schooling status, but it would be wise to check the finer details yourself as the education systems change rapidly.



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  1. Warning! This appears to be based on a Wikipedia article that does NOT define the legal requirements for expats, but rather citizens of these respective countries.

    As an example (though not referenced in the Wikipedia article), it is illegal to homeschool in China. BUT it is not illegal for foreign nationals to homeschool in China, nor are there any laws governing their education. We homeschooled (legally) our children in China, and many others do so, as well.

    In other words, although it may be illegal for citizens of a given country to homeschool, it would be wrong to assume that it is illegal for expats to homeschool in that country.

    1. Author

      Firstly, I quite clearly quote the source as Wikipedia, so there’s no ‘appears to be based on‘ at all.
      Secondly, China isn’t mentioned, so thank you for your input.
      And in my last sentence of this very short article, I recommend people do their own research.

      1. Thank you for the reply. I’m ok with you removing my comment, if desired. I wasn’t trying to discredit your article, but I was trying to point out that, in many cases, expats are not under the compulsory education or schooling laws of their new country, unless they are citizens, permanent residents, or some such situation. I agree with you that research is needed, especially regarding the country in question.

        In other words, I would like more people to be aware, as they prepare to move overseas, that they may have more schooling options than the citizens of that country.

        By the way, in researching and reading this and a few other articles online, including the “main source of information” on this subject, I was surprised to find little to no mention that many countries’ educational laws do not attempt to define the rules for expats. (“main source of information”: https://hslda.org/legal/international,
        referenced by the US Department of State, https://www.state.gov/resources-office-of-overseas-schools/homeschooling-information/, among others)

        Thank you for your time! Have a great day!

      2. Author

        It’s a valid comment, Joseph, so I won’t remove it 🙂
        Of course, my site is read by expats/immigrants/global nomads/ and more, from all nationalities, who don’t necessarily come under the ‘expat dispensation’ ideal.
        Thank you for your added links which will prove useful.

  2. Hello every one!

    We are moving this December from Florida to Merida in Mexico, my son is 14 and can not start the year after the winterbreak since Highschool students by some geverment rule canot enroll mid year, we are thinking to home school him until the school year is over, so he can just start 11 grade without loosing time. Can you guys recomend acredited sites with good support and structure.

    Thank you so much!

    1. Author

      Hi Javier,
      Thank you for reading and commenting. I don’t actually have any home education resources for the US curriculum for older kids – I’ve added it to my list of things to find out about! Here are a couple of sites that may help:
      Also, please join and ask in ExpatChat where others in your situation may have more information.

  3. Hello Carol,
    We are leaving the UK to move back to the U.S. this spring, so my 3 children, 6, 8, and 10 will not attend the final summer term of their school year (private school) here. I’m thinking of homeschooling them to finish out the school year, not sure if I should follow US or UK curricula or resources for finding out how to do so- any guidance.?
    Thanks! Rachael

    1. Author

      Hi Rachael, I think the main thing would be to consider their future schooling – ie will you move again, or will you be staying in the States? At the age your kids are now, I would bring them up to speed on the US curriculum and teaching methods as it differs a lot from the UK. Am actually now experiencing the full difference and the two don’t merge well!
      Unfortunately I am unable to recommend resources.
      Good luck with your move!

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  5. Hi Carole, I’m trying to find data about the number of homeschooling expats or bibliography about this. Do you have any hints? I’m also wondering about where homeschooling is legal and where it is (still) illigal.

    1. Hi Ute,
      Afraid I haven’t been able to find statistics about homeschooling. Wiki was, to my limited knowledge, fairly up to date regarding the legality and otherwise in various countries.

      1. Thank you, Carole. I’ll check there and maybe in some fb groups. Will let you know.

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  7. i have a question. My son finishes his mandatory education this summer and we are moving to France. He will be 16 but french children go on till 18, is he legally obliged to do 2 more years there?

    1. Hi Niki,
      I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that, so I’ve posted your comment onto my Facebook page to gather in more people who may be able to answer you. http://www.facebook.com/ExpatChild
      But a quick google indicates that schooling in France seems to mandatory only until 16 years old. Happy to be corrected though!

      1. Hi Carole
        Thanks for that, please let me know if you find anything different .

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