Once you have made the decision to homeschool your child, it is important to make sure that you know the homeschooling requirements in your state, and how to legally homeschool your child. 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.
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.
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 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.
In the state of California, 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, below are four options to choose from if you want to legally 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. 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.
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 group events, field trips, activities etc.
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.
California Homeschooling Resources
You can visit the following websites for additional homeschooling resources in California:
- California Homeschool Network
- Homeschool Association of California
- Home School Legal Defense Association
- Time 4 Learning
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:
- Home School Legal Defense Association
- Coalition for Responsible Home Education
- Homeschooling Regulations by State
- US Legal
Finding And Choosing A Charter Homeschool Program
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.
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.
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.