How Do I Homeschool Legally in CA?

There are four legal options for homeschooling legally in California. These options are detailed completely:

However, from my experience, families in the Central Valley tend to homeschool in one of 2 ways:

  • By filing a private school affidavit (formerly called the R-4), declaring their home a private school (parents educating their own children don’t need to go through the background checks and fingerprinting hoops which regular private school teachers must jump through to educate at a private school. And private schools can legally have just 1 or 2 students.)
    If you’re just looking for the online form to file, here it is.
  • By signing up with a program: Either a local homeschool charter (ISP), private school satellite program (PSP) or virtual (online) school.


Here’s a link to the page I have on what’s available for homeschoolers in our area.

NOTE: Many people want to join a homeschool program because they worry less that they will get taken to court on truancy charges. They also like to have somebody tell then what the kids should be learning when. Many people join a program their first couple years to “get their feet wet” and then go off on their own when they feel more confident.

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26 Replies to “How Do I Homeschool Legally in CA?”

  1. I am concerned about a mentally ill relative insisting that she will homeschool her children, despite the fact she can barely get out of bed (one ailment excuse after another). I/we are concerned that this is a recipe for disaster. What happens if she doesn’t do any paperwork or tells her school district the kids even live there? Children are 5-1/2 & 3 and have never been to preschool or any setting with other children. Does a school district know the kids are there and how to confirm they are getting an education by her? So troubling. Homeschooling is a great option (perfect for cousin in rural area w/dyslexic kid) but I don’t see it being great here. Thank you.

    1. Legally in California, you DO have to fill out paperwork. You either have to be signed up with a homeschool charter or independent study program, or you have to be registered as a private school. As a private school, there is no oversight. In a charter, there is. (There’s a couple other options, but no one ever uses them…Like paying for a tutor…most people cannot afford that.)

      Many times concerned family members are seeing things very different than the reality. I don’t know you, I don’t know your relative, so I have NO idea what the reality is in this situation. So I am just sharing multiple perspectives. Many times family members that have no experience or misinformation on homeschooling truly think that it’s something impossible when it really isn’t. There are MANY MANY homeschoolers that are homeschooling quite well from their beds, with a variety of long term illnesses. Listen to this podcast: (scroll to the bottom of the page for the media player.)

      I know of some that have had stints of their own “bedschooling” because they were passionate about homeschooling but were physically unable to leave their beds. Their kids did just fine…thrived even. There is a very large, very active community here locally that can make it very doable. There are families that can help to set up play dates and pick up kids to get them out when a sick parent cannot…there are things that can be done to compensate within a home when a parent is ill. And we’ve all worked through days when we’ve been ill, and still have children to care for. Some for days or weeks on end. I do realize that’s not the same as someone with chronic illness, but you deal with what life gives you. It’s not ideal, but it can be done, if there is a loving supportive team of family and friends to help.

      That said, if this is truly a situation where this person is at a very real risk of harm to her children, that’s a different matter. Not everyone can or should homeschool. I have no idea what the situation is here. You are close to this situation and what I would encourage you to do is first, educate yourself on homeschooling in a big way. Check out and, which are the 2 main homeschool organizations in California to get all the scoop. Listen to our podcast, to learn the ins and outs, and day in the life of homeschoolers. Read my article “Why I Believe in Homeschooling”: to get an idea of why it can be such a big deal to some of us. And offer to help. Once you’ve educated yourself, you will be in a position to be able to better understand where your relative is coming from. Also join some local homeschooling groups and get to know local homeschoolers. Talk to them, ask questions, it might make you feel better. Get them connected with your family member, if she’s not already. Make sure she has a support group. And if she’s having mental health issues, make sure you do what you can to get her help with that as well. If the issue is depression, she absolutely can get help for that and still homeschool. Tons of us are able to homeschool through depression, myself included. You didn’t mention the issue, so I don’t know what it is, but that’s a common one that would leave a person often bed ridden.

      The key here is instead of jumping straight to judgement and deciding she can’t do it….educate yourself as much as you can on what can be done to help her. And maybe YOU can actually help her. Or if it doesn’t work out, maybe you can help her see that too. But do it kindly.

      Definitely all newbie homeschoolers should start out by surrounding themselves with other homeschoolers, so if she hasn’t yet connected…it’s not too soon. Many of us start connecting with our local homeschool community while our kiddos are preK. So help her get connected now and they can be a tremendous help.

      One last thing. If there isn’t actual criminal negligence involved here (again, I have NO IDEA)…this isn’t your choice to make. This is a choice for the parents of those children.

  2. Hi,
    I’m a little confused on when to file the PSA… He turned 6 in April this year. So I have been teaching him “kinder” things the past year and planning on filing the PSA for 1st grade. What I’ve read it says you file the affidavit between October 1st and the 15th. Is that when I sign him up and send in the affidavit or do I send it in at the beginning of the “school” year which is usually sometime in September? Thanks! Or is it October that the homeschool school year starts? This has confused me for the past year! Lol

    1. You file the affidavit between Oct 1 and 15th. It’s all online, takes less than 5 minutes. Maybe a little longer your first time simply because you’ll be learning and reading more. After the first time you just duplicate and up the grade, unless something else changes, like you add a younger sibling or move. But it’s super easy. Don’t forget to print a copy for your files and I keep one in my purse to use as proof of homeschooling for places that give teacher discounts, like Barnes and Noble and GW School Supply.

      You start your school year whenever you want. That’s up to you. Most people start the school year in August or September and file the affidavit in October. It’s just a formality. You are in charge of your child’s education, so you do what you want. The government just needs to know that you’re doing it, and promise to cover the basics. How you do that, the details of those topics, and time span are all up to you. As it is for every private school out there.

  3. Where do you get the curriculum for your child here in California when home schooling? In Alaska we had a place called Idea that we went to for curriculum and all our resources and testing.

    1. Anywhere you want. If you use curriculum, you can find all sorts of things all over the internet. But you don’t have to use curriculum at all. Or pick and choose. Use a curriculum for just the subjects you want, and pull together stuff from the library and from Amazon and from other online stores and resources for other subjects. The possibilities are totally endless.

      If you are talking about things you don’t have to pay for, you can sign up for a homeschool charter that will pay for your curriculum or provide you with curriculum. It really just depends on what you want.

  4. Hi,

    my son is 6 years old & he is now a first grader but hes having such a difficult time at school. He has ADHD which also causes him to be highly distracted during school. At home, when I teach him sight words/alphabets/math etc. he surprises me by how much he knows. When I test him at home he passes with no problem but at school he will recieve the same test and he would fail it. I have come to the conclusion that homeschooling may be what is best for my child but I am so stressed out because I am so unsure if its the right thing to do for him or even where to begin the process in homeschooling him. We are CA residents (Stockton, CA to be exact). Please share any information you may have in where I should start in regards to get the ball rolling of getting my child homeschooled.

    Thank you!

    1. Check out and to learn all you need to know about getting started homeschooling in California. Those are the 2 main California associations for homeschooling. Memberships to either or both of those are worth it as well, and come with excellent magazine subscriptions…and both do annual homeschool conventions that are worth checking out. You can also check out the podcast I do with a friend: for info and resources to help you get started. I recommend this page to see all our episodes at a glance:

    2. Have you tried looking at K12 homeschooling ? it’s absolutely one of the best decisions I’ve ever done 😊.. teachers are really nice .. representatives are beyond helpful will go above and beyond and there with you along the whole process.

  5. Iam wanting to homeschool my 8th grader who currently has an IEP. Im wanting some information on how to get started. I am in Pittsburg,Ca. Thank you

    1. That’s a pretty big question…I suggest doing a lot of research on the web and reading some homeschool books on the subject. There’s a ton out there. Also listening to podcasts. Also find homeschool groups on Facebook to join and talk to people, especially if you can find some that are local to you. And definitely hook up in real life with local homeschoolers to get to know people doing this in your area and pick their brains. Good luck!

  6. Hi i’m a little bit confused of what needs to be filed. I currently have a 5 year old enrolled in Kindergarten but I have decided to homeschool him instead. He turns 6 on June 19 will I need to file for a PSA since he does turn 6 before Sep. 1st and can I pull him out of school now or until I file for the PSA

    1. You are in a different situation, I think, because he’s already enrolled. If he doesn’t actually turn 6 until June of 2017, then he did not actually need to be enrolled this year because kindergarten is not mandatory. But he WOULD have to be enrolled next year, and you would get to decide if you’d put him in K or 1st…as I understand it.

      But since he’s already enrolled…I’m not sure exactly how it works…I do know that you are always within your rights to unenroll your child and homeschool him. I am not positive, but I think since he is already enrolled in public school that will mean you will need to file a private school affidavit….technically because he’s not of legal school age yet, if he hadn’t been enrolled, you wouldn’t have had to…but from what I’ve heard other moms talk about, I believe because he’s been in the system now he does. But I’m not entirely certain on that so I would consult HSC or CHN to find out the full details. or

  7. I want to start homeschooling my five year old if PSA will i get in trouble with the local school board for not sending my child to the school shes inrolled in now

  8. Do I still need to file a PSA for my Kindergartner? I will be homeschooling (for the first time) my 5 year old this new school year. I came across that Kindergarten is not even required, and school is mandatory when the child is 6 years of age.

      1. Thank you! I have another question. My child is not enrolled into her local school district for Kindergarten. Will I still need to send a Notice of Intent to Homeschool to her local school?

  9. I am wanting to begin homeschooling my child this year it will be her first year kindergarten. I am a little confused about how to begin. Do i have to have a computer based program or can i teach her myself?

  10. Hello, i just got my son approved for Summit Academy Charter online school. I was wondering, am i going to need to fill out an affidavit as well? This is a virtual online school and it is available for Fresno. Just wondering if i had to do anything else before he gets started.

    1. No, Summit is a charter, and as such your son is enrolled with a school and you will not need to declare yourself a private school (which is what the affidavit is for.)

  11. I realky want to start my children in homeschool due to bullying and such but I am lost on how to start any help is great

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