If you’re living in the Golden State and are looking for an alternative to public or private school education, you’re in luck. California not only allows you to homeschool, but it offers you a few different options. Many families are taking advantage of those options as well. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, California estimated approximately 200,000 homeschooling families in the state. By summer of 2021, that number grew to nearly 400,000 who were homeschooling for at least part of the 2020-21 school year.
Of course, homeschooling exploded everywhere over the past couple of years as a result of COVID-related school closures and distance learning, and the number of homeschoolers in California was projected to recede a bit for the 2021-22 school year, but the statistics clearly illustrate the growing popularity of homeschooling in California.
If you’re looking to join the fast-growing ranks of homeschoolers in California, read on for some important rules and information you need to get started!
Homeschooling Options in California
- Homeschooling as a private-based school.
- Homeschooling with a private school satellite program (PSP).
- Private tutor.
California State Homeschool Law Summary
Private-based school. If you are homeschooling in the state of California as a private-based school, you will need to follow the steps below:
- File an annual private school affidavit with the California Superintendent of Public Instruction between October 1 and October 15 of each school year. You can find the affidavit here.
- Maintain attendance records.
- Instruction must be in English.
- Instructors must be capable of teaching.
- Provide instruction in courses commonly taught in public schools, including language arts, math, science, social studies, health, and driver’s ed.
- Maintain immunization records or personal beliefs exemption.
- Maintain a list of studies and courses.
- Maintain a list of instructors as well as their addresses and qualifications.
Private school satellite program. If you’re homeschooling with a private school satellite program, you must comply with all requirements of operating a private school as well as all the requirements for homeschooling as a private-based school (see above).
Private tutor. According to California law, a child who is being instructed by someone with a California teaching credential for the grade level taught is considered exempt from public school attendance. This requires the student being taught for at least three hours a day for 175 days each school year, using the curriculum requirements taught by public schools. A parent may teach, as long as he or she has the required California teaching credentials. Families homeschooling under this option are not required to file private school affidavits or report any other information to the state.
Can You Still Access Public School Facilities and Activities?
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), California does not have a law that grants homeschooled students the right to participate in public school classes and activities; thus, individual schools and districts have the authority to decide whether to allow homeschooler participation. Unfortunately, these policies tend to vary from district to district.
There is one hard-and-fast rule (not a law though…there is a difference) in California, however: Rule 305 of the California Interscholastic Federation prohibits homeschooled students from participating in public school sports. Families who wish for their students to participate in public school activities should contact their local school district for information about their policy.
Is It Necessary to Keep Records?
If you are homeschooling as a private-based school or with a private satellite program, there are some records you will need to maintain (see above for specific information). Regardless of which option you choose, however, it’s always wise to keep school records and to save them for a couple of years. Why? Because these records serve as proof of their education when it’s time to apply for college, pass a background check for a new job, or enter the military. What types of records should you keep?
- Textbook and workbook titles and information
- Attendance records
- Any correspondence with schools
- Portfolios and test results
- Schoolwork samples
- Any other documentation illustrating that your child is receiving a legitimate education (especially during the high school years)
And that’s all there is to it! Homeschooling in California is legal, growing, and welcomed, and if you’re planning on homeschooling in the Golden State, now is as good a time as any to start! As you continue to research homeschooling, call the experts at Bridgeway Academy at (800) 863-1474 to discuss your options, learn about our award-winning programs and curriculum, and enroll!