Learning can happen anywhere. The trick is finding the ideal learning environment. To make it even trickier, that ideal may change at different ages and life stages. Some people learn best in a group and a classroom is a great learning environment for them. Some people need more one-on-one, smaller groups, more time to process learning, or have health concerns, and so independent study or home-based learning is a better fit. Some families travel and need distance learning that can travel with them or ways to integrate their travel experiences and their academic development. There is no 1 right answer, just the right answer for YOU!
If you are exploring home-based, distance, or independent study learning, get more details below.
In California all children ages 6 (by Sept 1) through 18 are required to be enrolled in public or private full-time school (ED 48010)
At 16 years old, students are eligible to take the CHSPE or GED and be excused from compulsory education laws. Students who complete high school graduation requirements before age 18 are also excused from compulsory education laws. The CHSPE (unlike the GED or formal high school graduation) exempts 16-17 year olds from work permit restrictions, while still enabling them to remain enrolled in high school.
Community College in California waives tuition for concurrently enrolled high school students. Once a student takes the GED or formally graduates high school, they must pay regular tuition at community colleges.
Kindergarten is not legally required in California. When a child turns 6 by Sept 1, parents may elect to enroll them in Kindergarten or 1st grade. It is much more difficult to hold a student back a grade than to accelerate a grade, so choose carefully, considering not only the child at 6 but the educational environments of middle and high school.
Here are your legal options for homeschooling in California:
Charter school that supports home-based or independent study learning.
In CA, charter schools are public schools, receiving funding from state & federal agencies. Students who are age 5 by Sept 1 have a legal right to enroll in public-funded Kindergarten.
PROS: Many charter schools offer a variety of curriculum options from textbook-based to online classes, and learning centers that meet 1-5 days/week. These schools provide access to public educational funds to pay for curriculum, materials, and/or classes, guidance from credentialed teachers for all grade levels, and access to some online resources only available to public schools. This option is the least expensive, as the charter school pays for curriculum and materials,
REQUIREMENTS: Most independent study charter school programs require you to meet with a credentialed teacher once per month (they provide the teacher), submit work samples to demonstrate student learning & progress, and participation in standardized testing
Depending on the charter, vaccines may or may not be required. Check with each school.
Note: CA State Legislature has capped enrollment for independent study charter schools for 20-21 school year, so appeal to your CA state representatives to return equal educationally funding to all forms of public education! Support parent choice in education!
Private School Affidavit (PSA)
You can file a PSA, declaring yourself a "private school".
PROS: You can enroll just 1 student. Student name and personal info are not required. Grade level is not required (check ungraded school). No samples required. No standardized testing required. Freedom to choose your own curriculum, including faith-based options.
CONS: No funding support or other public educational support.
REQUIREMENTS: Create & maintain very simple paperwork on each student. HSLDA has free resources that clearly list what forms to keep on file. No vaccines required.
File between Oct 1 and 15 of each school year. Link: https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/affidavit.asp
Private School Satellite Program (PSP)
This is similar to a PSA, but an organization or individual other than you as a single family has filed as a private school and has at least 6 students enrolled.
PROS: This provides an additional level of privacy between the state and your family/children. These schools are listed on CDE's Private School (private PSA families with fewer than 6 students are not listed). Most PSPs do not require vaccines.
CONS: PSP programs charge tuition, which varies greatly depending on the services they offer.
Hire a Teacher
A CA credentialed teacher can teach your student(s) for at least 3 hours per day, at least 175 days of a school year. The teacher must be credentialed in the grade level of your student(s). Many teachers are credentialed to teach K-8, but once your student enters high school, this would mean hiring 2-3 different teachers.
PROS: Offers high level of educational support and curriculum and instruction methods can be individualized.
CONS: This can be an expensive option.
To learn about the homeschool options in your state, check out HSLDA by clicking below.