Homeschooling in California

Homeschooling in California is relatively easy...or at least as easy as some things in parenting are, remember, I did use the word "relatively". It is a lifestyle, and as easy or as hard as parenting 1 child or 3 children...(which actually left me in tears for a week, it was such a shock, I found parenting 2 children easy..but I am off the subject now..) Homeschooling is a lifestyle choice, it's going to be as easy or as hard as we live it, but my post is going to be more about the legal aspects of homeschooling in California, so, clear my throat..we will start again...

Homeschooling in California is relatively easy - what I mean by 'easy' is that you have no homeschool inspections, no approval, no coursework to turn in, no portfolios.

see, easy.

Now the technical stuff;

In California you have a few options for homeschooling...homeschooling by the name 'homeschooling' is not actually recognized in school law - your options to school your children at home will fall under these options:

1. register your homeschool as a private school based in the home. You will register your private school yearly with the state, go to California Homeschool Network's website for a really clear, legal explanation of this along with step by step instructions on how to register online. This used to be called (and is still in homeschool circles,) the R-4 option -since the form we used to fill out was called the R-4.

As a private school, there are a few regulations to follow, but no inspections, approval of your materials, no credentials needed. There are a few things you should do to keep your ducks in a row, California Homeschool network outlines these things-

California private school requirements

Education Code sections §48222, §48415, §33190, §51210 and §51220 set the criteria for a private school. The following legal requirements apply to all private schools regardless of size:

  1. The administrator of every private school must file an affidavit with the Superintendent of Public Instruction between October 1st and October 15th of each year.
  2. Private school instructors must be "capable of teaching." There is, however, no requirement in the CA Education Code that mandates that teachers in a private school setting hold a state teaching credential or have the equivalent training.
  3. The names and addresses, including city and street, of the faculty must be kept on file, as must a record of the educational qualifications of each instructor.
  4. Instruction must be in English.
  5. Instruction must be offered "in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools." The materials and methods you use to teach these areas are up to you. Subjects required are as follows:
    • Grades 1-6: English, math, social sciences, science, fine arts, health and phys ed.
    • Grades 7-12: All that is included in the above plus: foreign language, applied arts, vocational ed and drivers ed.

-California Homeschool Network website

go to California Homeschool Network for more great information and help*

(I tried to get all the correct information here for the R-4 option...but I'm afraid it looks more complicated then it really is...let me say, you file the R-4 once a year- electronically, it is a short document, asks things like the School name, site address, school administrator, number of students. -that is pretty much it, short and sweet. There is nothing else to file, not even attendance or proof of classes taught. Ca homeschool network walks you through making a file for those extra things like attendance or teacher capability because legally you would need them if challenged, but you do not ever turn things like that in, or get any kind of approval. The R-4 is registering your school, not asking for approval. I hoped that helped, a little.)

2. Join a private "umbrella" group, called PSP's (private school satellite program). These are private schools that for a fee will keep records for you and they- not you, file the R-4 with the state. Your kids will be attending this private school (which happens to have mostly home instruction). Some PSP's are bare bones, keep the grades and transcripts that you turn in, attendance and other records. Many PSP's offer this and more, such as help preparing your course of study for the year, recommending books, offering classes your kids can attend 1 or 2 days a week, playgroups, field trips and p.e. Some offer graduating ceramonies and social events such as prom. PSP's are all unique, ask around to find one that might fit your family.

3. Homeschool under the "tutor" requirement. Under this option, the teacher must be credentialed for the ages and courses of study for the child/children. There are also special rules about hours of instruction. I've heard that most credentialed teacher-parents find the R-4 option simpler, even if they hold a credential.

4. Enroll in a public charter school that is set up for instruction in the home. These charter schools usually offer support by supplying materials, paying for special classes and having a credentialed teacher meet with the students at specific times. Charter schools vary in how much freedom they let the parent have in choice of course of study and use of materials, some may give 4 math options to choose from while some may let you choose how you want to teach math. Some charters offer classes on-site, some do not. If you are looking at a charter school, it can be helpful to ask on a homeschool message board about others experiences with them. Some new homeschoolers are more comfortable with a more "school at home" approach of some charter schools, while some, such as myself- prefer a more hands off approach. All charter schools require that the students participate in yearly state testing.

one other option, some school districts will offer a study at home option...but frankly, this looks to me like a kill-joy. Usually the student will have to meet with a teacher once a week and turn in assignments and get new ones. Homeschooling can be so rich and horizon broaden-ing - there is a world of books out there, this option just sounds dead to me.

see, it was pretty easy! No portfolios, no approval, no testing. It is common for homeschool parents to have their students tested periodically to see how they are doing and where they may need help, most PSP's will do this, and there are also a few educational businesses that you can purchase these from.

We have been homeschooling for 10 years now, and have used the Charter School route and the PSP route.

Enjoy your journey!!