Is school dropout legal? Educational philosophy has some rules

When I first heard of the term unschooling, I wasn’t going to lie – I definitely thought of the kids running around like tiny drunk people and living like the lost boys in Peter Pan. Even the name unschooling strikes me as quite rebellious and scary. But the more I learned about it, the more I’m digging. But how does it work in modern society with government regulations and standards? We have standardized tests, curricula, and regulations, and educational trajectories in place, so I couldn’t help but wonder if this out-of-school thing was even legal. How do these parents keep their children out of mainstream schools and furthermore how can they function as adults and have a career? Can they even go to college if they ever want to?

What is school dropout?

As I did, I think a lot of people have the wrong impression of what unschooling really is.

Domari dickinson, educator, drop-out parent, parental coach and unschooling platform advisor Mosaic, says Romper, “One of the biggest differences between unschooling and traditional education is that with unschooling, adults do not force children to follow a set curriculum or require that their learning take place. takes place in a specific place or at a specific time. ”

She says unschooling also requires adults to trust children to take the lead when it comes to their learning, “and to commit to living and learning with their child instead of seeing themselves as a teacher who must inject knowledge into an empty child. ship. ” Dickinson adds that Wikipedia defines unschooling as informal learning that promotes activities chosen by the learner as the primary means of learning, but prefers the definition proposed by Akilah S Richards, author of Raising Free People: Dropping Out as a Work of Liberation and Healing. “In her book, Akilah proposes that unschooling is a confident, anti-oppressive, liberating, and love-centered approach to parenthood and caring for children. It is a way of life based on freedom, respect and autonomy.

However, Dickinson adds that if you ask his four kids what that means, they’ll tell you it’s when kids learn what they want, when they want it. “Deschooling is for people of all ages. It’s really a way of life – a philosophy – that goes beyond school. It’s about giving people of all ages the freedom and respect to lead their own learning by pursuing their interests as they arise in a way that makes sense to them.


Is school dropout legal?

Dickinson says that since unschooling is a specific type of home schooling, it’s legal in all 50 states. However, attorney David Reischer told Romper: “Even though there are no official ‘no-schooling laws’, various state laws may exist to regulate how a person is allowed to. home schooling. ”

“Different states have different laws that define specific home schooling requirements for that state, so it’s important to know your state’s laws as you work to determine what unschooling will look like for you and your family.” , says Dickinson.

“A person who wants to legally drop out of school should always have lots of records and a portfolio of the child’s work and progress,” says Reischer, adding that there is no requirement to have a scheduled program, but a portfolio with detailed information about the child. progress must be sustained so that it can be reviewed.

Echoing Reischer, Dickinson says, “Some states require families to keep very detailed records of what / when / how learning takes place. Other states require families to submit artifact portfolios that show what students have learned, and some states have umbrella schools that allow families to have full control over determining the experience of their child’s learning.

To familiarize yourself with the home schooling laws for a specific state, visit the legal page of, and to find Unschooling-friendly local communities, visit the resource page on

Will your child be a functional adult if he is out of school?

When I ask Dickinson if she thinks kids will be ready to build careers and function in the “real world” as adults after they drop out of school, she responds enthusiastically, “Yes! If unschoolers decide college is necessary for what they want to do in life, they absolutely have that option!

“Remember that dropping out of school doesn’t mean children don’t learn. This means they are given the space and support they need to understand how to learn in a way that is meaningful to them, and this skill is a skill they can use in college and beyond. of the.

Dickinson suggests that some children who are out of school may enroll in college well ahead of their peers who were not able to attend college until after graduating from high school. “Others out of school, even those with no formal school experience, are able to prepare for and pass university entrance exams, which allows them to enroll in the University of their choice, ”she said.

Resources for early school leaving

Does it all sound crazy enough for it to work? If you’re considering doing this with your family, Dickinson says there are plenty of resources for those interested in taking their children out of school.

There is certainly no defined drop-out program for parents, “because that would mean adults choose what would work best for their children and that goes against what out-of-school is, but it does exist. classes and classes available to help parents get started on the unschooling path and to really provide support throughout the out-of-school process, ”she says.

Mosaic is a new storytelling platform and a new community for independent learners launching next week, offering real out-of-school perspectives and resources for people every step of the way, ”adds Dickinson. “Websites like and are full of resources detailing home schooling laws / requirements for individual states, as well as resources to get you started on your journey.

If you’re looking for more communities, Dickinson recommends Akilah S. Richards’ Raising Free People Network within My Reflection Matters Community and Iris Chen’s Untigering Parents FB Group. “There are also local FB groups that are supportive of Unschooling, such as Goodloe HUGS for the People of Maryland, where you can find resources, get help, and schedule local get-togethers with other Unschooling families.”

Reach out to other out-of-school people in your area to find out more about what this might mean for your family and if it’s the right choice for you and your children.


Domari dickinson, educator, drop-out parent, parental coach and unschooling platform advisor Mosaic

David Reischer, lawyer

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