Compulsory Attendance Law in South Carolina

The age of compulsory attendance in South Carolina is a common question in variations like this:
At what age does my child need to be enrolled in school?
Should I sign a Kindergarten waiver or join a homeschool association?
And what about homeschooling preschool?

The age of compulsory attendance in South Carolina is a common question in variations like this. At what age does my child need to be enrolled in school? Should I sign a Kindergarten waiver or join a homeschool association? And what about homeschooling preschool?

Let’s take a look at the wording in the law, then jump into the questions. Anytime we have questions about the legal requirements, I recommend we go back to the code of law to read it for ourselves. The firm foundation of our rights is in knowing the law.

Compulsory Attendance SECTION 59-65-10. Responsibility of parent or guardian
(A) A parent or guardian shall require his child to attend regularly a public or private school or kindergarten of this State which has been approved by the State Board of Education, a member school of the South Carolina Independent Schools’ Association, a member school of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools, or some similar organization, or a parochial, denominational, or church-related school, or other programs which have been approved by the State Board of Education from the school year in which the child is five years of age before September first until the child attains his seventeenth birthday or graduates from high school.

A parent or guardian whose child is not six years of age on or before the first day of September of a particular school year may elect for their child or ward not to attend kindergarten. For this purpose, the parent or guardian shall sign a written document making the election with the governing body of the school district in which the parent or guardian resides. The form of this written document must be prescribed by regulation of the Department of Education. Upon the written election being executed, that child is not required to attend kindergarten. source: SC Code of Law 59-65-10

At what age does my child need to be enrolled in school? 

Compulsory attendance starts in the year when your student turns five by September 1st. That school year, your student is supposed to report to the school for Kindergarten.

If you decide that the child is not yet ready for Kindergarten or you wish to opt out of that requirement, you can either:

Locate and compare all the homeschool associations in South Carolina. Find the one that is right for you!

Which is better? A waiver or a homeschool association?

It is a matter of preference.

Some people prefer to sign a school waiver form, because they do not have to maintain homeschool records. It’s one form and it’s free. No more hoops to jump thru or fees to pay for homeschool compliance.

If you intend to enroll in school for 1st grade or for delayed Kindergarten, then this may be easier for you. Even if you decide to switch over to homeschooling the next year, you still can.

Others prefer to join a homeschool association. Some people prefer to guard their private information from the public school. It’s not difficult to maintain the minimum documentation for homeschooling requirements. Many associations offer lower fees for Kindergarten students…or have low fees for all students.

If you intend to continue homeschooling, this may be better for you. Even if you decide to switch back to public school the following year, you still can.

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And what about homeschooling preschool? 

If your child has not yet reached five years old by September 1st, then it is not necessary to join an accountability association nor sign the Kindergarten waiver. However, some families wish to enroll as a homeschooler anyway. I’ve met a few families who want to get their documentation in order for custody issue reasons. And others who turn five soon after September 1st–who are actually ready to start Kindergarten. Most are just trying to get in the habit of homeschool documentation.

Not all associations take preschool enrollments. So, you’ll have to contact the directors and let them know what your situation is, why you wish to enroll. Look for a local support group where you can meet up with other homeschoolers. Getting connected to homeschool support groups can help ease your worries.

Take it easy on yourself–and don’t rush into curriculum and regimented schedules. Play a lot–and let them be kids. You can document the play time and learning whether you officially join an association or not.

The vast majority of homeschoolers that I encounter are concerned and conscientious parents. They want the best educational opportunities for their child. Once your child reaches the age of five by September 1st, compulsory attendance law in South Carolina requires you to enroll them somewhere or sign a waiver.

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About Kim Andrysczyk

Homeschool veteran, Association Director, coffee addict, sarcasm expert, and accidental blogger. I'm here to encourage you thru the tough times and inspire you toward excellence. If I can make it, so can you!


  1. This is really good. I’m scheduling to share with my groups because I think it’s a question so many new homeschoolers ask.

  2. The law in South Carolina is different than where I live in Canada but I find it interesting to read. I’m curious, about how much are the fees to register for a homeschool association? Homeschooling can get costly with buying all the curriculum etc. I wouldn’t be a fan of having to pay more $ just to say I’m homeschooling.

    • HomeschoolingSC says

      You can homeschool thru the school district/school board for free. Or you can join an association–and their fees range depending on the services they provide. Some are very nominal fees–and minimal services. If the membership fees are ever an issue, many directors will waive the fees upon request.

      The association speaks “office to office” in a way that makes sense to the public and other officials. It’s very handy to have that layer of accountability that helps the school and government officials verify that homeschoolers aren’t just sitting at home power-watching netflix all day.

      It’s fascinating that parents who take on the entire responsibility of their child’s education are somehow considered slackers. Associations directors are chipping away at that public perception…so they’re worth the membership fees.

  3. Tanya @thejoyousfamily says

    Always always know your rights. We have struggled in public school with issues that should have been taken care of by the school. I had to hire an advocate to keep my sons IEP in place. Connect to those who know to find out what you need to know. Thanks Kim

  4. This is some great info, and even helpful for those not homeschooling. Knowing the law is always helpful! Thanks for the great food for thought.


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