How to Homeschool

Legally Homeschooling

We use the term ‘homeschool’ to mean that you have chosen a path other than traditional school to educate your child. Choosing to homeschool does not imply that all ‘schooling’ will be done at home. On the contrary, we see homeschooling as the ability to use the world as your classroom, helping our kids to seek out learning opportunities in every corner and under every rock!

In California, all children aged 6-18 are required to be enrolled in a public school UNLESS they are attending a full-time private day school or are being taught by a private tutor that holds a CA teaching certificate. Luckily for all of us, there are many options to home school in California, and every day there seem to be more! The following is a primer on the basics – the options are listed in order of most parent-controlled to least parent-controlled.

Download our Homeschool 101 packet – it contains tons of great information and resources to help you get started on your homeschooling adventure!


The Private School Affidavit (PSA)

Parents can file their own Private School Affidavit to basically create your own private school for your family. As the head of your school, you must maintain all of the state required records and you are in control of how subjects are taught. You must file a PSA agreement every year between October 1-15. Just because you don’t file until October doesn’t mean that the school isn’t “legal”. It is legal when you open it up, and you may withdraw your child from public school and put them into your private school at any time. If you decide to open your private school after October 15, you must file the PSA at that time. If you decide to open your school in August for the coming year, enroll your child into your school, and make sure you file the PSA between Oct 1-15.

The PSA provides you with great freedom to design your child’s education, but you must pay attention to any state laws governing education, and to help with this you can join a couple of organizations that watch and report changes. We recommend joining CHN and HSLDA.

There are no state tests that you must take, and there is no financial help from the state for this education.


The Private Tutor

According to state law, children in California may be tutored at home by a private tutor that holds a CA teaching certificate. Check with current state law on the minimum number of hours / day and days / year that are required. Note that the tutor can be anyone that has an up to date, valid teaching certificate, but it can only be used to teach grades that are on the certificate.

There are no state tests that you must take, and there is no financial help from the state for this education.


The Independent Study Program (ISP)

There is no one-size-fits-all within the world of ISPs! There are MANY options to consider in Independent Study Programs, and your unique situation will be the determining factor if this option will work for you.

Los Angeles County has a number of charter schools that support home schooling through an Independent Study Program. In these programs, students receive Instructional Funding for classes along with an assigned teacher that will help them navigate the educational requirements in California. The ISP may also provide onsite classes, boxed curriculum, borrowed curriculum or a combination of these benefits. Each charter school works a little bit differently, and each will suit different types of families. Most of the charter schools are now WASC accredited (Western Association of Schools and Colleges). This is a difficult accreditation to achieve, and is monitored yearly. It indicates that the school is maintaining all of their files correctly, a credentialed teacher has approved the level of difficulty for classes that a student receives credit for, the educational plan contains the state mandated content, yearly testing is done, learning samples are collected, and more. What to look for in a charter school ISP:

      • What level of funding is made available, and what can it be used for? (what percentage must be “core” and what percentage can be “non core”)
      • Is the learning plan parent-directed or state-directed?
      • How much of the plan can you control, and how much is controlled by state requirements or this charter school’s requirements?
      • Are you required to use common core certified curriculum?
      • Are you allowed to use curriculum that you create, or that you prefer?
      • What records do you have to maintain / create, and what records does the charter school maintain / create?
      • How available is your assigned teacher?
      • How does grading work, and are grades even required?
      • What is required by the school in terms of hours or days of work?
      • What tests are required to take?