The MOM Trotter

How To Homeschool Your Child In California

homeschooling in california

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Once you have made the decision to homeschool your child, it is important to make sure that you know the legal homeschooling requirements and how to homeschool in California. By legal, I mean following your state laws and regulations. As a first time homeschooling parent, I know this can be a tough task. It was a tough task for me, and it took several weeks of research to fully understand how homeschooling in California works and what path I wanted to take.

Let’s take a deep dive into the past, way back to when Aiden was just starting out. This blog will guide you through the process I went through, and hopefully make it much easier for you!


How To Homeschool Your Child In California

There are four different ways to legally homeschool your child in California, and they are listed below. Please remember that none are better than the other, you just have to choose what works best for you and your child.

How To Legally Homeschool Your Child In California

[ Is Homeschooling Right For Your Family ]

Homeschooling In California

Legal Ways To Homeschool Your Child In California

When choosing an option for homeschooling your child, remember that the compulsory school age varies by state. Most states require children to attend public charter school by age 5 (8 states), age 6 (26 states), age 7 (14 states) or age 8 (2 states). You can read more on each specific state and the requirements at Education Commission of The States.

The requirements in California state that the required age to start school is 6, which means that Kindergarten is not mandatory. However, 1st Grade up to 12th Grade is mandatory. Children are required to be enrolled in 1st Grade when they are 6 years of age, or as long as they turn 6 before the cutoff date of September 1st. Aiden and Ethan are both 5 years old and will be required to start 1st Grade next school year 2019-2020 which means that they are not required to be enrolled in school this year.

When your child reaches the required age of enrollment in school and you have made up your mind to homeschool, you must learn the entire process of how to homeschool in California. Below are four options to choose from, if you want to legally homeschool your child in California in a private home based school.

How To Homeschool Your Child In California

OPTION 1: File A Private School Affidavit (PSA)

A Private School Affidavit is often referred to as a PSA. This simply indicates that you are informing the state as required by law that your child will be exempt from compulsory public-school enrollment and attendance. Filing this PSA means that you plan to homeschool your child privately. You can read more about filing a PSA in California here; California Homeschool Network. Remember that this will vary by state so make sure to research what it takes to file a PSA in your state.

OPTION 2: Enroll In A Charter Homeschool Program / Public School Independent Study Program (ISP)

This gives you the freedom to homeschool however you want to. You will technically be your child’s teacher’s aide and you will have a credentialed teacher to guide and support you through schooling at home. This option also offers instructional funds to pay for curriculum, materials, classes, lessons, field trips and more. Because this is technically public school and run by the state, you may be subject to a lot more requirements. There are plenty of charter schools that offer a homeschool option. A few of these homeschools are Valiant Preparatory, Inspire Charter Schools, iLead Exploration etc.

OPTION 3: Teach Your Child As A Credentialed Teacher or Hire A Tutor

If you have a valid California teacher’s credential, you can teach your child under the private tutorial exemption. However, you will only be able to teach the grades that your credential covers. With this option you can also hire a credentialed teacher. Your child must be taught for at least three hours a day between the hours of 8am and 4pm, and 175 days of the year. In case, you have no time to train your children, you must hire an experienced and certified teacher for homeschooling your child. But before that, understand the complete procedure of how to homeschool in California legally.

OPTION 4: Private School Satellite Program (PSP)

A Private School Satellite Program is run by a private school that has filed a Private School Affidavit or PSA. Choosing this option allows you to become your child’s teacher at that private school which can be. The requirements will vary depending on the private school director. Some Private School Satellite Programs offer things such as homeschool group events, field trips, activities etc.

kids reading upside down

[ Homeschool Resources ]

Because kindergarten isn’t mandatory in the state of California, I am not required to choose any of the options above. However, after much research I chose “Option 2: Enroll In A Charter Homeschool Program.” Both boys are currently enrolled in a charter homeschool program as of this Summer 2018.

In the beginning, I was leaning more towards, “Option 1: Filing a Private School Affidavit” simply because I did not want the state involved in how I choose to educate my kids. However, when I found out that that going with “Option 2: Enroll In A Charter Homeschool Program” will allow the kids to have educational funds / a stipend to use towards curriculum, field trips and more, as well as allow me to choose the way I want to educate them, I decided to go that route. Homeschool organizations like this are my top choice.

California Homeschooling Resources

You can visit the following websites for additional information regarding homeschooling in California:

Homeschooling Guidelines In Other States

If you don’t live in California, please visit these websites listed below for information on how to homeschool your child in your state of residency:

Black kids doing art at home

Finding And Choosing A Charter Homeschool Program In California

I did plenty of research and was undecided between Valiant Preparatory and Inspire Charter Schools. They are both very similar and have a lot to offer such as; educational funds which can be used towards educational games, curriculum, art supplies, activity kits, subscription boxes and so much more. Both schools also offer a credentialed teacher to check in with and enrichment classes. Valiant & Inspire also have very similar requirements when it comes to how much say they have in how you choose to homeschool your kids.

Valiant Preparatory Homeschool Program

After much back and forth, I chose Valiant Preparatory because they have a summer program, and Inspire doesn’t. Valiant Preparatory offers $500 in educational funds to each child during the summer. The boys absolutely do not need to be enrolled in school this summer or even the 2018/2019 school year, but with Valiant offering $500 in educational funds, I was excited to be able to use those funds to purchase educational toys for them, writing materials, books for their library and even take them on a field trip to Disneyland or any Museum they want to visit (Yes educational funds cover Disneyland & fun field trips as well). Our philosophy for the summer is “Play, Play, Play” so we are going to use their funds to do just that!! Click here to see the educational items I purchased for the kids.

Valiant also offers $2800 in educational funds during the school year which we plan to spend on field trips as well. Keep in mind that not all charter schools offer funds, and the amount each child receives will vary by charter school and grade level.

Valiant Preparatory Homeschool Program

Enrolling In Valiant Preparatory

The enrollment process for Valiant Preparatory was online, quick and easy. All I needed to do was complete the required information as well upload a birth certificate and proof of residency. Immunization records were requested but not required; meaning it doesn’t matter if you choose to or choose not to immunize your child. Within a week or two, the enrollment process was complete and they were enrolled.

How To Homeschool Your Child In California

All the homeschool options listed above are great options, meaning none is better than the other. Always remember to think of what is best for your child as well as what will work for family when choosing a homeschool option. Doing that will ensure that everything else runs smoothly. No decision is set in stone, so if you decide to change your mind mid school year, you can always do that too.

Now you must have got a clear idea about how to home school in California. You can start working on the process from today only. Don’t forget that you don’t have to do this all on your own. Seek out local homeschool groups in your area for extra input!

I’ll leave you with one last notion. Keep in mind that no matter where or how you homeschool your child in California, the California Department of Education will require that your child pass the California High School Proficiency exam to receive their High School Diploma. So, ensure your child is staying on track by choosing programs wisely…starting now.

Homeschooling – Tips & TricksThinking About Homeschooling – Where To Start

Where To Shop For Homeschooling Supplies

Homeschool Resources

Visit my Homeschool Resources page to see all the reliable and trustworthy brands that we use for our homeschooling journey.

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  1. Mary Guzman
    June 26, 2019 / 8:00 am

    Hello, I absolutely loved your article. It helped me understand so much. I had a question do we have any guidelines on what to teach our kids? Or can we follow a homeschool curriculum someone already came up with? Would you mind sharing yours at all? My daughter is 2 1/2 and I already feel I need to start preparing lol

  2. Carly
    July 27, 2019 / 4:24 pm

    Since you’re saying valiant is now closed are there any other programs that offer a summer program similar to it?!

    • August 1, 2019 / 2:07 am

      Unfortunately, There is no summer program offered through any school.

  3. Joan
    August 10, 2019 / 4:53 am

    HI! Thanks for the article. I’ve been doing som research into homeschooling and you definitely explained the difference between PSP and PSA the best. Thank you. I was wondering where you decided to go if you had to leave Valiant. I was in the process of joining this summer but that fell through… So now Im stuck trying to figure out the between Inspire, iLead or a PSP.

    • August 11, 2019 / 6:22 am

      Hi Joan, I am happy that it was helpful. We left Valiant and we are with Inspire this year 🙂

      • Nelly Avalos
        August 8, 2020 / 5:30 pm

        @TheMonTrotter, are the ISP school choices based on what county u live in or can u choose anyone or them ?

  4. Rachel
    November 18, 2019 / 12:37 am

    Nice job, well written. Thanks for taking the time to write instead of expecting everyone to sit through a video. Best wishes to your family.

  5. Teena Jain
    July 9, 2020 / 10:13 pm

    I have a diploma in the early childhood education. It is valid from babies to 8 year old. Does these 15 credentials fulfil the requirements to privately homeschool my son. Where can I confirm that I have the right degree and diploma to homeschool my child as required by the state of California

    • July 13, 2020 / 1:00 pm

      Hi Teena, No credentials except being a parent. 🙂 If you sign up with a charter they’ll assign a teacher to you who can guide you along the way.

      • Kimberly
        August 15, 2020 / 9:05 pm

        Just wanted to say thank you SO much for your helpful posting. It helped guide me where I needed to go!

  6. KB
    June 2, 2021 / 10:03 pm

    Hi there! Thank you explaining the options available. I am a credentialed teacher and wondered about option 2 “ Teach Your Child As A Credentialed Teacher or Hire A Tutor”
    Do you have any recommended websites that speak more on this option? As a teacher and parent, do you know what about this option would be more beneficial than choosing a PSA or being connected to a charter? Thank you so much

    • July 13, 2021 / 6:54 pm

      That option is for parents who want their children to have a structured education. For you, I think a PSA will be better.

  7. Emily A Lima
    August 9, 2021 / 1:20 pm

    This article is great! Do you have any advice on what to do if your children are already in Public school and you want to pull them out to homeschool with a Program like Abeka? Would I need to do anything or contact anyone telling them that they will be homeschooled using a PSP? Thank You for all the information.

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