Four legal options allow parents to homeschool their children in California. Each option has its requirements that must be met for families to stay compliant.
Californians can homeschool using one of four options: home-based private school, private school satellite program, Independent Study Program, or private tutors. Annual notification is required to be on file with the local superintendent, there are state-mandated subjects to be taught, private tutors must be certified teachers, and record-keeping is vital.
Homeschooling can be both rewarding and beneficial for students who struggle with public school and crowded classrooms.
Homeschool Requirements in California
Children must attend either their zoned public school or one of the four homeschool options between 6 and 18. If a child’s 6th birthday is after the 1st of September, they can wait until the next school year before beginning. Withdrawal from public school is essential before homeschooling to avoid any truancies reported to the local school board.
Homeschooling as a home-based private school requires a private school affidavit to be on file with the California superintendent of public instruction. An affidavit must be submitted each school year between the 1st of October and the 15th of October. When starting a homeschool mid-year, the affidavit needs to be turned in as soon as possible. Affidavits can be accessed here. The parent’s responsibility is to maintain attendance records, immunization records, and other school appropriate records that may be requested in the future. Mandatory classes are language arts, math, science, and social studies. Course lists and instructor lists, including addresses and qualifications, must be kept on file. Parents are not obligated to have teacher qualifications when teaching from home.
Private schools that offer satellite programs must meet all the same requirements as a home-based private school. The majority of classes will be done in the student’s home, but an occasional course or subject may occur elsewhere as deemed appropriate by the instructor.
Private tutors are available to serve as an instructional teacher. Tutors must be certified teachers in California and credentialed for the grade level being taught. Parents who are California certified teachers can be a student’s private tutor. Schedules can be flexible on days the student is to learn, but each instructional day is to be no less than three hours of instruction time with a total of 175 days each homeschooled year. State mandatory subjects must still be part of the curriculum and taught using the English language. A private school affidavit and other informational forms do not need to be submitted to the superintendent for tutoring.
The fourth option to homeschooling in California is an Independent Study Program or ISP. An ISP works well for families with one child or a specified planned time of homeschooling before returning to public school. The student remains enrolled in either a public or charter school. The student’s parent then becomes a teacher’s aide with a credentialed teacher assigned to monitor the child’s progress. Learning materials can be borrowed through the child’s school. Testing must follow school policy, religious material can not be part of the daily lesson, and the curriculum will vary by school site. Contact the school district the student is zoned for to obtain more information on approved Independent Study Programs available.
California Homeschoolers and Public School Activities
Rule 305 of the California Interscholastic Federation does not allow homeschoolers to play on a public school team. However, public schools and school districts do have the authority to decide on allowing homeschooled students to join a school team or not. It is crucial to keep in mind that even if a public school allows a homeschool student to join the team, the homeschooled student may not participate on game days against other schools if it disqualifies the team from playing or ranking in the divisional sport.
Special Education for Homeschoolers of California
There are no additional requirements that need to be met before homeschooling a child with special needs. By following the state regulations, county, and homeschool method requirements, you will be following local laws. Since homeschools are classified as private schools, state funding may help support the student’s needs. Contact the local school district or visit the California Department of Education website to determine eligibility.
Finding a Homeschool Curriculum
Researching homeschool curriculums can be overwhelming and stressful at times. Before taking on choosing which company or curriculum to use, it will be beneficial to review the California Content Standards and the California Curriculum Framework to get an idea of what is expected of each student to study for each grade level, Kindergarten through twelfth. Once there is a good understanding of the educational expectations, it will be easier to identify a homeschooling company or curriculum that favors the student and the student’s learning style.
There are numerous resources for homeschool families that are either free or with a paid membership. The local library is a great location to find materials available for borrow, community events, study groups, and additional help with tutoring when available. K12 is a tuition-free public school program done at home using school schedules and course lists to stay on track. Connections Academy is another tuition-free online public school that offers elementary through high school classes and career and technical education courses. Duolingo is free and great for learning multiple languages. Visit Freedom Homeschooling to get a comprehensive list of other free resources to help students enjoy learning.
ABC Mouse and Adventure Academy are part of the same parent company that offers interactive learning lessons for a monthly membership fee. ABC Mouse focuses on ages 2 to 8, while Adventure Academy is 8 to 13 years old. Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Art related courses are taught using an interactive platform that engages students.
School House Teachers offers hundreds of lessons suitable for elementary through high school. With a yearly membership, parents can access general lesson plans based on grade level, create an individualized lesson plan, and have the information readily available to print or view online for group learning. Applecore makes attendance recording and transcript creating an easy chore to accomplish with student profiles and schedules.
There are other programs available for homeschooling, lesson planning, and record-keeping. The ones listed are a great starting place to compare the differences in curriculums and add-ons used to maximize learning potential.
Graduation Requirements in Homeschool
Students attending public school in California have a graduation requirement of 13 credits: 2 for P.E., 2 for Science, 2 for Math, 3 for Language Arts, 3 for Social Studies, and 1 for Foreign Language or Performing Arts. With all the resources available to the student, meeting standard graduation requirements should be a simple task. Alternative high school graduation and diploma options include the GED test and the California High School Proficiency Exam.
California Homeschool Groups, Co-Ops, and Field Trips
California has a variety of homeschool groups available to students and parents. The California Homeschool Network is run by volunteers to help homeschool families remain informed of local legislation affecting homeschool laws and freedoms and build a strong homeschool community, and empower educators. The Homeschool Association of California is another organization aimed to protect and work with homeschool families. Both organizations host events for families to socialize and discuss homeschooling topics.
Smaller, local homeschool groups and co-ops are run by local members of counties, towns, and neighborhoods. These smaller groups offer each family a way to network, share, socialize, group teaching, and plan activities for field trips or P.E. related opportunities. Most co-ops have members familiarized with state regulations, laws, and general information. New homeschool families can have questions and concerns answered and addressed to make the homeschooling transition smooth and easy for parents and students.