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.

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

    1. What are you wanting to know exactly? Links to more info are right here on this page. If you are looking for more info, I would need to know what you are looking for specifically.

  1. Great article, thank you! Do you happen to know how to pull a child from public school if it is not within the time period to file the affidavit yet? I must wait until October 4th to fill it out, but want to pull my child now. Thank you in advance !

  2. I am a certificated teacher in CA. I have taught middle school English for 18?years. My 6th grade daughter is currently enrolled in and attending a parochial school. I am contemplating homeschooling but after reading so much online and in this thread I just need come clarification.
    1. Do I need to file a PSA in Oct. to homeschool just my daughter?
    2. Where can I find condensed information about quality online programs/charters with links?
    3. If I enroll her in an online program I don’t need to file a PSA, correct?
    4. Since I am a certificated teacher do I need to file a PSA at all?

    Thank you in advance for your assistance.

    1. 1. If you want to homeschool your daughter legally in the state of CA, that is one of your options. If you choose the PSA option, then yes, you would file between Oct 1 and 15 for the current school year.
      2. I’m not really sure. There is a lot of info out there, but I don’t really know much about where to find info on the online programs because I rarely hear a lot of good things about them, so I don’t usually gather a lot of info on them. They tend to be very rigidly structured and very much school at home, from what I’ve heard. For some families, this seems to work well, but for the vast majority of the families I’ve heard feedback from, it was a very negative experience.
      3. It would depend upon the program. If the program is a charter school then no, you would not have to file a PSA. However, there are some online programs that do not fall under this category and do require you to register as a private school still. You would have to check with the program for specifics.
      4. You could qualify as a homeschool tutor as a certified teacher, but only if you have a multisubject credential. Also, I’ve heard the rules for a tutor are very different than those for a private school, so I’ve never heard of any credentialed teacher going that route. They usually opt for the private school option because of the freedom they get with that option. More details are found here: http://www.hsc.org/tutoring.html

      1. I guess it would be whether you want to teach rogue style or not. I will tell you about our personal experience.

        I homeschool through a charter school. We meet with a teacher once a month and show her a few pages of schoolwork on each subject. I was given an amount I could use for the school year on books, field trips, tutors, activities, etc. We only use a few hundred on books and materials. Most of our funds are spent on tutors and field trips. Since we are in Southern California, we can do Disneyland once a year but pretty much whatever they have as an option for field trips so due to our location, we have a good amount of choices. My child has taken math at a local homeschool facility where homeschool kids can get together in a class setting to learn. It was an option for us and not forced by the charter school. At the time, my kid needed more help with math. We have also used Kumon and private tutors paid with the funds from the charter school. With books, we just can’t use religious themes and authors. We’ve gotten quite a bit of books from Rainbow Reading. My child is taking one class online and the rest are books. In another year, we are going to adventure out and do the dual enrollment which means my child can take a class or two at a local community college. We will have to pay the health fee and for parking on the campus. There is testing twice a year but it’s not going to determine what books you can order and you don’t have to teach your child to pass the test. It’s not treated the same as public and private schools treat standardized testing. We came from private so we remember that time of year being stressful. We went into the test without the stress. Regarding the curriculum and the teachers, everyone has their own opinion. If you do your homework and research what a child the grade level as your kid would be learning, it should help gauge how you choose books. We decided to pick books similar to my child’s grade level. Now, when it comes to what is taught. We are not going page by page of every book. I chose two different books for some subjects and I pick out what I view as the most relevant topics and topics where my child will need to build on going into high school and college. This has kept the teachers away from bugging us about the books and lessons. Some lessons we spend more time on and others we go through quickly. Since switching to homeschool from private, my child is enjoying learning a lot more.

        Google homeschools in your area. Literally, Google “Homeschools _______ County in _________ State.” See what comes up. See if that school is rated on Great Schools or type the school name with the word “Review” into an online search and see what comes up. Research the school if you decide to use a charter school versus doing the PSA. I think the process moves faster if you do the charter school route and have researched the vendors before you enroll your child, but that’s just my opinion.

  3. Hi! I want to start home schooling my kids for this 2018/2019 School year
    Should I file/establish a private school affidavit right now? Or should I wait until October? I dont want to get in trouble because my kids are not enrolled anywhere yet.

  4. I filed the private affidavit form and received a confirmation number via email . What is the next step to take to legally start homeschooling my 7 year old boy? Where can I find more resources ?

  5. Hi, I’m planning to homeschool my son who will be six in July. Our plan is to start him in kindergarten, after reading about the psa on several sites it says not to put that you have a child in kindergarten however his age being six make it so I need to file for the psa . Any suggestions for going forward with filing the Psa?

    Thank you!

    1. Because of his age, you do need to start. The kindergarten thing is if the child is of age that is younger than the legal requirement, because kindergarten is not compulsory. But by age 6, they do need to start being formally educated, either at home or attending a school. So either kindergarten or 1st grade, it’s up to you to decide what grade to start him at.

      So go ahead and move forward and file your PSA this coming October, with the new school year. That is when PSAs are filed, if you are not starting mid-year.

      1. Hi, wondering if you have an email I can have to get in touch with you about homeschooling. I am currently filling out the form and it’s adking for a 14 digit number?

  6. You are amazing!! Loved the response to “bedschooling.” People do get sick or are in domestic violence situations and still want to spend every last minute educating their children and protecting them themselves. I absolutely agree!! “You deal with what life gives you.” Very well said!!

  7. 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: http://savvyhomeschoolmoms.com/homeschooling-with-chronic-illness/ (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 http://www.hsc.org and http://www.californiahomeschool.net, which are the 2 main homeschool organizations in California to get all the scoop. Listen to our podcast, http://www.savvyhomeschoolmoms.com to learn the ins and outs, and day in the life of homeschoolers. Read my article “Why I Believe in Homeschooling”: http://homeschoolrealm.com/about/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.

      1. The above information is very helpful. We are concerned for my husbands teenaged daughter. His ex wife decided to homeschool for several reasons. Most importantly is his daughter has dyslexia.

        Our concern is when visting in CA, his daughter told us she has not started her high school classes yet. She will be be 18 very soon (summer of 2018). Her mother stated that she had been too ill to teach; a total of 3 years. She told my husband and the two youngest girls that she had only 3 years to live at the time.
        This woman is a narcissist with 6 other children from different relationships. My husband’s daughter is the youngest. Her second youngest daughter has been ostracized by her mother and sister. She is in therapy and is taking classes to help her take her GED. She is also gathering information to file a child abuse claim against her mother as she was told she had graduated HS.

        Where can we go to gather information on whether or not she is complying with all of the CA homeschooling regulations?

        Thank you in advance for any assistance.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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 http://hsc.org/home-page.html and http://www.californiahomeschool.net/ 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: http://www.savvyhomeschoolmoms.com for info and resources to help you get started. I recommend this page to see all our episodes at a glance: https://savvyhomeschoolmoms.com/episodes/

    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.

      1. I homeschooled my daughter last year (she was in 8th grade then) through k12 California Virtual Academy (CAVA) it was amazing! Everything 100% FREE! Tutoring, curriculum and even a desktop computer and color printer/scanner/fax that was mine to keep after (only the printer) each morning she logged into her live session with her teacher and 11 other classmates. That was usually around 30-60min then she was free to do her work independently. If she needed help beyond what I could provide she just needed to text or email her teacher for live help. There is also online instructional videos if your child is a visual learner. You work at your own pace. Say she wanted to do 5 math lessons in one day she could. All your weekely/moknthly lessons are online on your calendar so you can do as much or as little as you’d like. The best part is it’s free! I highly suggest using them as your “base” school for homeschooling. If you have any questions feel free to email me Uwannangel1980@gmail.com

      2. Let me give a warning to those reading these comments about K12…this is the exact opposite of what I usually hear about this company. I have been homeschooling since 2006, and deep in the community since even before that and have heard about K12, which is CAVA and Connections here in California. many many MANY times over the years from parents that have experienced it. Rarely have I heard glowing reports like this. Almost everyone gives it a very negative report, and talks about how it is very much school at home and extremely stressful in the rigor.

        If you want to read actual reviews of parents that have talked about their experiences, check this out:

        https://www.consumeraffairs.com/education/k12-inc.html

        You’ll see a few glowing reviews, as is usually the case with anything, there’s always some people that like it…but notice how MANY and how bad most of the reviews are. And you may want to read through them all to see what their complaints are.

        I’ve even talked to former employees that had very little good to say about what the experience is like for families.

        So please do your research. There are much better options out there.

  11. 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!

    2. I know CAVA (California Virtual Academy) has homeschooling programs that are tailored to students with an IEP. Go to their website and check it out

  12. 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. http://hsc.org/home-page.html or http://www.californiahomeschool.net/

  13. 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

  14. 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?

  15. 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?

  16. 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.)

  17. 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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