If you’re like me, initial thoughts of homeschooling sound pretty overwhelming. There is so much information out there! Curriculum, laws, charter schools vs private homeschooling…the list goes on! For those of you who have no idea where to even begin, I am going to break it down for you. Making sure you are homeschooling legally is very important! If you have a preschool or kindergarten aged child, you don’t have to legally do anything until they are 6, so keep that in mind. Alright, let’s get started!
[I live in California, so I will be stating information that is representative of my state. Please check your own state’s laws if you live outside of CA. Also, this should by no means be interpreted as legal advice. It is your responsibility to interpret and understand the laws and rules that you will be homeschooling under.]
California state law (CA Ed. Code Section 48200) requires all children between the ages of 6 and 18 to be enrolled in a public school unless they are “exempt” because they are attending a fulltime private school or being tutored by a person holding a current California credential. This is also known as California’s “compulsory education law”. There are four options for parents to help their children meet the requirements of “compulsory education” under current California law.
- To establish a home-based private school (using Private School Affidavit)
- To enroll students ages 6 through 18 in a private school that offers independent study (PSP)
- To enroll students ages 6 through 18 in a public school that offers independent study (Public ISP or Charter)
- To hire a private tutor. This person must hold a currently valid credential issued by the State of California covering the grades being taught
None of these options is “better” than any other. You just have to decide which method works best for your child and family.
So is it legal to homeschool in California? Yes! Let break it down.
To establish a home-based private school (using Private School Affidavit)
Do you have to be a credentialed teacher to homeschool your kids? NO! The only legal requirement from the state to homeschool is an affidavit. From October 1st-15th every year, the state accepts online submissions of your Private School Affidavit (PSA). If you miss this time bracket, no need to fret! You just have to print out the form and mail in all your paperwork. Filing a PSA is not difficult, and basically consists of you saying you will keep attendance, teach in English, cover all major subjects, a list of the resources you will be using, your personal resume, and a medical form. If all of this seems too overwhelming for you, you can join a PSP.
2. To enroll students ages 6 through 18 in a private school that offers independent study (PSP)
A PSP is basically where a group of homeschoolers get together and file a single affidavit on behalf of the entire group. The PSP will collect your attendance and medical records, but that’s about it! PSPs also may offer weekly classes and things like that.
3. To enroll students ages 6 through 18 in a public school that offers independent study (Public ISP or Charter)
There is an abundance of charter schools in CA, so you will have to do some research to see which ones are in your area. Not all charter schools offer homeschooling and the ones that do, vary in the services they offer (sports teams, weekly classes, ect.). The way a homeschooling charter works is basically you connect with a facilitator, who is a credentialed teacher, who meets with you to offer you support and collect work samples. Charter schools are publicly funded and privately ran, so they receive government funding for your child’s enrollment. Homeschool charter schools pass a portion of that funding to you, which you can use on curriculum, extracurricular activities, such as gymnastics or karate, and even admission for field trips to the museum! This is a great option for a lot of families because it offers funding and support. If you are interested in Bible-based curriculum, it will not be covered by the charter school, so you would have to pay out of pocket for that. Your child will still technically be enrolled in a public school, but it does give you the flexibility to choose your own curriculum and structure your day how you’d like.
4. To hire a private tutor. This person must hold a currently valid credential issued by the State of California covering the grades being taught
I don’t have a lot of knowledge on the legality of this option, but it sounds pretty straightforward. This may be a great option for children whose parents work full-time and cannot be their homeschool teacher.
I hope this information was helpful!
Want more? Check out Homeschooling 101: How to get Set Up At Home