How to Homeschool in South Dakota

This information is not legal advice and should not be used as such. You should verify all requirements with the government agency in your area before you begin homeschooling. You may find contact information in the links below.
  • In South Dakota, homeschooling is known as "alternative instruction".
  • Compulsory attendance is required for children ages 6 through 18. In South Dakota, the compulsory age limit is 16 if a child enrolls in a general education development test preparation program that is school-based or for which a school contracts, and the child successfully completes the test or reaches the age of 18.

From the United States Department of Education

A child is excused from compulsory public school attendance when the child is provided with "alternative instruction for an equivalent period of time, as in the public schools, in the basic skills of language arts and mathematics." S.D. Codified Laws §13-27-3.

The parent or guardian of the child receiving alternative instruction, such as home schooling, must file an application with a school official. S.D. Codified Laws §13-27-2.

The instruction must be given with the aim of mastery of the English language. S.D. Codified Laws §13-27-3.

In grades two, four, eight, and 11, children receiving alternative instruction must take a nationally standardized achievement test of the basic skills. The test may be the test provided by the state and used in the public school district where the child would be assigned or the parent or guardian may choose a nationally standardized achievement test. S.D. Codified Laws §13-27-3.

The resident school district of a child receiving alternative instruction must allow the student to enroll partially at the request of the parent or legal guardian. S.D. Codified Laws §13-28-51.

Contact Information

South Dakota Department of Education
800 Governors Drive
Pierre, SD 57501-2294
Phone: (605) 773-3134
Fax: (605) 773-6139

Source: United States Department of Education - South Dakota State Regulations

From the South Dakota Department of Education

A child is excused from compulsory public school attendance when the child is provided with "alternative instruction for an equivalent period of time, as in the public schools, in the basic skills of language arts and mathematics." S.D. Codified Laws §13-27-3.

Intent to Home School Notification

Parents/guardians who choose to provide alternative instruction pursuant to SDCL 13-27-3 are required to file an Alternative Instruction Notification. The notification must be submitted on the South Dakota Alternative Instruction Notification Form 2 (PDF) provided by the Department of Education.

A notification for alternative instruction must be filed within 30 days from the first time the child begins alternative instruction or within 30 days of the following transitions:
1) A child enrolls in a public or nonpublic school
2)A child moves to a different school district

All children must attend kindergarten in South Dakota prior to age seven and not before age five. Families should file a notification when instruction begins.

All notifications for alternative instruction must be kept confidential by the local school district and the Department of Education.

Attendance Requirements

Parents/Guardians shall cause the child to regularly attend school, either public, nonpublic, or alternative instruction as set forth in 13-27-1, until the child reaches the age of eighteen years.

Teacher Requirement

Parent/Guardian/Alternative Instructor may not instruct more than 22 students (13-27-3)

Parent/Guardian/Alternative Instructor is not required to be state certified (13-27-3)

Text Books

Public school boards are required to loan textbooks without charge to all persons, ages five through nineteen, who are enrolled in school (including alternative instruction), so long as the students reside in the district but are not enrolled in the public school.

The textbooks must be nonsectarian and be those normally used in the public school.

Textbooks include any instructional materials that are the principle source of teaching and learning for a given course of study and approved by the school board, including print and digital materials, but not including computer hardware.


Alternative instruction students are no longer required to take and submit the results of nationally standardized achievement tests in fourth, eighth, or eleventh grades.

Students receiving alternative instruction may take nationally standardized tests as the person providing alternative instruction deems appropriate for the child’s educational progress.

These assessments are at the expense of the child’s parent, guardian, or other person having control of the child.

Extra Curricular Activities

Each public-school district shall allow participation in athletics, fine arts, or activities for a child being provided alternative instruction pursuant to § 13-27-3 within the district in which the child resides.

This includes school-sponsored activities and those sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association. Alternative instruction students must meet the same requirements as publicly enrolled students to participate in activities. SDCL 13-36-7

The documents required by the school district for participation in activities must be completed, signed, and submitted as required before students can participate.

For many activities, parents/guardians must submit proof of age to the school (i.e., birth certificate or affidavit in lieu of a birth certificate).

Parents/guardians must provide the school district a copy of the student's transcript from the previous semester.

If applicable, complete and submit the South Dakota High School Activities Association Eligibility Checklist For Alternative Instruction Students to the school district, along with the student's athletic physical form.

Participation in activities, school-sponsored or High School Activities Association-sanctioned, is a privilege, not a right. The eligibility requirements, training rules, and reporting periods for alternative instruction students are the same as those required for students enrolled in the public school. Training rules include both academic and non-academic components such as grades and attendance at practices. No student is conferred any vested right to be selected for competition in any activity.

Students participating in High School Activities Association-sanctioned activities are held to the organization's transfer and non-academic eligibility rules. An alternative instruction student may not participate in activities in multiple districts or school systems unless school districts have a cooperative athletic agreement in place.

The parent, guardian, or other person in control of a child being provided alternative instruction shall notify the appropriate school official if the child becomes ineligible under South Dakota High School Activities Association or local school rules.

Special Education

For special education services to be provided, the student must enroll in the district. Enrollment may be part-time, depending on the required services.

Dual Credit Enrollment

Dual credit is an opportunity for 11 th and 12 th graders who meet admissions standards to enroll in public technical colleges and universities in South Dakota and simultaneously earn credits for both their high school diploma and postsecondary degree or certificate.

Dual credit courses are offered by the postsecondary institution’s faculty members, are governed by the postsecondary institution’s policies, and follow the postsecondary institution’s established processes for admissions, registration, billing, and grade reporting. Courses include college-level content and subject matter. Students choosing to participate will be held to the same expectations and standards as college students.

Dual credit coursework is available to high school students in grades 11 and 12 at a significantly reduced rate.

Alternative instruction families who are interested in enrolling students in the state's reduced tuition dual credit program must have a notification on file with the SD Department of Education and work directly with the department to start the enrollment process for the reduced-cost courses. School districts are not able to enroll alternative instruction students in dual credit courses.

A signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) and registration form must be submitted to the Department of Education to start the enrollment process. These can be accessed through the online system.

After verifying an alternative instruction notification, a dual credit registration form, and signed MOU are on file, the department will forward the students' registration to the public university or technical college for approval. Once the student meets the admission requirements at the postsecondary institution, he/she can enroll in dual credit courses.

For more information regarding Dual Credit please visit South Dakota Prepping for College.


A child who is at least sixteen years of age may enroll in a high school equivalency test preparation program in South Dakota. Find more information at South Dakota GED.

Public School Re-enrollment

The child will be placed at his/her demonstrated level of proficiency as established by one or more standardized tests. The child’s placement may be in one grade level higher than warranted by the child’s chronological age, assuming entry into the first grade at age six and annual grade advancement each year thereafter.

After initial placement, the child may be advanced according to his/her demonstrated performance.

For students in middle or high school, they must be placed in English and math courses at the level of achievement demonstrated by one or two standardized tests, and in all other subjects on a review of transcripts according to the policy formally adopted by the school board.

The student’s placement may be in one grade level higher than warranted by the child’s age. After initial placement, the child may be advanced according to demonstrated performance.

If a parent or guardian is dissatisfied with the placement of their child, they can appeal it to the secretary of the Department of Education.

For questions regarding Alternative Instruction/Home Schooling, contact:
Carol Uecker
(605) 773-4771
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

South Dakota Home Schooling Links

Source: South Dakota Department of Education

Updated 29 December 2021

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