Homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular among caring parents who want to provide their own children with a personalized learning experience. With the right resources and information, parents in California can confidently homeschool as a viable alternative to public school.
The first step to homeschooling anywhere is to read up on the local homeschooling laws to be sure you remain compliant. Homeschooling in California has different than homeschooling in Florida or any other state!
In California, homeschooling is considered a "private school setting" under state law and has particular guidelines and requirements. This was made clear in a letter to County and District Superintendents from the California Department of Education on August 16, 2021, as they prepared for public school classes to return in person as the pandemic waned.
The DoE wanted to remind them that parents in California had the right to homeschool their children if they so wished. While school district employees may need the occasional reminder, most parents are well aware of their right to homeschool their children.
To get started, however, parents should familiarize themselves with the legal aspects of homeschooling in California and prepare to meet those requirements.
Overview of Homeschooling Laws in California*
*Source: Homeschool Legal Defense Association
California homeschool laws are clear and reasonable. Parents in California who decide to homeschool their children have three options.
Homeschool as a home-based private school
Homeschool with a private school satellite program (PSP)
Homeschool via instruction by a private tutor
Let's take a closer look at each option.
Homeschool as a Home-based Private School
To set your home up as your own private school, there are eight rules parents must follow each year to remain compliant.
File an annual private school affidavit. This is available online through the California Department of Education.
Maintain attendance records.
Instruction must be in English.
Instructors must be capable of teaching.
Provide instruction in the courses commonly taught in public schools (e.g., language arts, math, science, social studies, health, and driver training).
Maintain immunization records or personal beliefs exemption.
Maintain a list of courses of study.
Maintain a list of instructors with their addresses and qualifications.
Homeschool With a Private School Satellite Program (PSP)
A PSP is a private school for which the majority of the instruction occurs in the home. The requirements for the school are the same as for Option 1 above.
Homeschool via Instruction by a Private Tutor
The instructor must have a California teaching credential for the grade level being taught. The child must be taught for at least three hours per day, between the hours of 8 am and 4 pm for 175 days each school year. Studies must encompass subjects taught in public schools and teaching must be done in English.
Families choosing to homeschool using this option are not required to file private school affidavits or report any other information to the state.
Benefits and Challenges of Homeschooling in California
Homeschooling in California, like anywhere else, comes with a range of benefits and challenges for families.
Benefits include the ability to customize learning plans for each child, more time for connection between parents and children, and the opportunity to foster individual interests. Homeschooling also gives parents the freedom to choose their child's curriculum as well as teaching methods, allowing them to tailor the learning experience to their child's strengths and needs.
Financially, homeschooling is a considerably smaller investment than private schools and is on par or less expensive even than charter school or public school attendance. This makes it very attractive to many families looking for a way to offer their children a top-tier education on a budget.
There's also evidence that homeschooling benefits the mental health and development of children. Dealing with less peer pressure and social anxiety, and feeling more secure and confident, helps homeschooled students in their social, emotional, and psychological growth and development.
As with anything, there are challenges that come along with homeschooling in California. Parents must be mindful of local regulations while remaining in compliance, as well as remaining organized and dedicated to ensuring their children receive a quality education.
Homeschooling parents in California also have to be prepared to teach their children a variety of subjects, from math and language arts to science and social studies, which means they must have some knowledge of the subject matter. Of course, you'll learn with your children as you teach them, but you should have at least a working knowledge of the topics before introducing them to your kids.
How to Get Started with Homeschooling in California
Getting started with homeschooling in California can be daunting, but if you are well-prepared and organized, it can be a rewarding experience for both parent and child.
You must first choose one of the three options to comply with the state's homeschool requirements: Option 1 (private school), Option 2 (private school satellite program), or Option 3 (instruction by a private tutor).
If your child is enrolled in the local school district or in a private school, you'll need to formally withdraw them. You'll use a different letter depending on what option you choose for your homeschooling. Both are available to download on HSLDA.
Next, you'll need to find a homeschool curriculum that meets the needs of your child and aligns with California law. You'll also need to make sure you have the resources and materials necessary to teach your child. This will include textbooks, worksheets, supplemental activities, and any other materials you may need.
Finally, it's essential to create a daily routine and schedule for your homeschooling experience. This will help you stay organized and on track throughout the school year. Additionally, you should set aside time for enrichment activities, such as educational field trips or clubs.
Homeschooling in California may seem overwhelming at first, but it can be a rewarding and enriching experience if you're prepared and organized. With the right resources and support, families in California can get started with homeschooling successfully.
Resources for Parents Who Want to Homeschool in California
Parents who are interested in homeschooling their children in California have access to a range of resources to help them get started. From legal guidance and curriculum suggestions to community networks and support, parents can find the information they need to ensure their child's homeschool experience is successful and rewarding.
The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a great resource for homeschooling parents in California. They provide legal guidance and support on everything from local regulations to establishing a private school, as well as access to their online learning center.
Parents can also find an array of curriculum and teaching materials through websites like Khan Academy, Abeka, and Calvert Homeschool. Additionally, there are a variety of homeschooling co-ops and support groups throughout the state that can provide community support and resources to help parents navigate homeschooling in California.
Homeschooling in California is a unique experience that requires dedication and organization, but with the right resources and support, it can be an enriching and rewarding opportunity for parents and their children.
By understanding the laws, preparing materials, and taking advantage of available resources, homeschooling families in California can ensure that their children receive a quality education while also giving them the opportunity to learn in an environment tailored to their individual needs.