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Can My K-12 Student Take A Gap Year? 

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

My husband and I went to dinner with friends, and for the most part, the point was to get away from it all. To have one last hurrah before the impending school year.

Still, we couldn’t help but talk about it a little bit. Mostly questions to each other about what our plans are for education.

Do you plan to remote learn, send your child for in-person education, homeschool? Do you think the in-person option at the public schools will remain a viable option? What’s your plan if the school goes full remote? If that happens, which parent will help educate which child and when? 

The moms and dads were all figuring it out in their own individual way. Parents are pretty gritty that way. 💪 

Nevertheless, I could tell many are still processing if they feel safe sending their kids into classrooms while the pandemic continues.  Or that parents are dreading the thought of remote learning again. 

They worry about how they will juggle education and their own career; how it affects their relationship with their child; whether technology is going to cooperate; how much more screen time they can handle. 

I shared with them that I had legit searched online whether a child in K-12 can take a gap year. Some laughed, but I was serious. What if no option sounds good or works well for you? Can your elementary, middle or high schooler take a year off without consequences?

Here is what I have learned:

Laws vary from state to state, but in many states, indeed, there would be consequences for pulling your child from public school for the year. Unless there is an excused absence, the child would be viewed as truant, which by definition means “a student who stays away from school without leave or explanation.” 

However….keep reading.👇There is an “unless” here. As well as a few alternatives. Here’s the lowdown.

Exception To The Rule

The only exception, if you will, is young children who are eligible to start kindergarten this fall. They could legally consider delaying a year and beginning at the age of 6 (though check your state board of education for age verification.) In addition, certain states legally allow for students 16 and older to take a gap year. So older students could potentially take a gap year in high school or take the GED test to finish education early. Again - state laws vary, so check your own state’s board of education for the most localized, accurate info. 

Receiving Equivalent Instruction Elsewhere

Homeschool - Of course homeschooling comes to mind first. If you do choose to pull them from public education, keep in mind there are laws and requirements that you must abide by in order to ensure that your child would reintegrate back into the public school system in the correct grade, should you so choose. 

In Illinois, for example, you must provide instruction in English in the core subject areas of Language Arts, Mathematics, Biological and Physical Science, Social Studies, Fine Arts and Physical Development & Health. In addition, you’d need to look into application and registration processes and if there is any instruction to follow to withdraw your child from school. 

Microschools  - This is a setting where families work together to hire tutors or rotate parents and teach small groups of children in a home setting. In this scenario, kids are still following the instruction and guidance from the school, but less weight is put on the parents to educate.

Roadschooling - I’m sure you’ve heard about this newest trend. Few people can do it, but it is an option that I must add here. 

Please note that I am not advocating (nor am I opposing) any of these ideas. Simply providing you with information that I have researched and found. If you have further information that you feel should be included or updated in this article, feel free to email me at

I write, speak, and coach so that you feel understood. Follow me on Instagram @kimcaifano and on Facebook @KimCaifanoWriter. My website houses my writing and ways to connect or hire me:

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LaPlata, Colleen
LaPlata, Colleen
Sep 05, 2020

Kim, the concept of "road schooling" is super interesting to me. I had never heard of it termed that way. Thank you for the link to the site that explains the details around it. I would love to be bold and adventurous enough to take that on!

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