Congratulations – you’ve made the decision to homeschool your child – now what do you do? Where do you go?!
The next step is to determine which legal option best fits your family’s needs. The information contained within this website is specifically for those who reside in California; each state has its own guidelines and standards, so be sure to research your home state laws thoroughly.
The easiest transition for those moving from a traditional school setting (public or private) to homeschooling is through enrollment in a public school independent study program (ISP) or homeschooling charter program.
Public School ISP is homeschooling under the auspices of the public school system. Children enrolled in these programs become public school students, subject to the rules and regulations of both the district and the state.
Charter Programs are a newer option available for homeschoolers. These programs can be operated by school districts or corporations with all funding coming from the public school system. Enrolled children are public school students. Requirements vary, but tend to be similar to those found in public school independent study programs. Charter programs are currently under scrutiny by the CA state legislature, as some have had questionable business practices. Thoroughly investigate any program – public or private – before enrolling! To search for charter programs in your area, visit the California Charter Schools Association. Homefires also has a county listing of homeschooling charter schools.
Want more flexibility to choose your own learning plan and materials? Then, a more independent approach for you can be implemented by either filing your own private school affidavit, or enrolling in a private school independent study program.
The Private School (R4) Affidavit may be filed which establishes a homeschool as a private school (E.C. 48222 & 33190). The affidavit is filed with the California Department of Education (CDE). The affidavit is generally filed between October 1 and October 15, although it can be filed at anytime during the year after October 1. However, the CDE stops accepting online submissions of the R-4 and removes the online form on December 30. After that time, they will only accept them through the mail (if you already have the form) or statements/letters-in-lieu from new schools. This option is the one that provides the most individual freedom, and is the most cost-effective.
Submit written requests to:
Private Schools Affidavit
California Department of Education
1430 N Street, Fourth Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
Requests will not be taken by phone, although email and fax (916/319.0135) requests will be accepted. Regardless of how you submit your request for the R-4 private school affidavit, the CDE requires the following information: name of school (CDS code if applicable), street address of the school and phone number.
Private ISP is a satellite program of a private school who has filed the R4. These programs are also referred to as PSP’s (Private School Satellite Programs), umbrella programs, and cover schools – they all serve the same purpose. Next to filing one’s own R-4, this option affords the homeschool family a maximum amount of privacy from public school officials. Many families removing their children from public school may opt for these programs because they will handle the transfer of student records and many will offer some guidance counseling. Others choose the private ISP option simply because it provides them with a sense of security so that they can focus on the actual homeschooling of their children. Private programs can be found on the A to Z Home’s Cool website.
Cautionary Note on Correspondence Schools: There are many programs offering prepackaged curriculum for home educators. However, you will still be required to file an R-4 affidavit or enroll in a private school independent study program (ISP) should the correspondence school be out of state.
Finally, if one parent is a credentialed teacher (or you wish to hire one), you can legally be homeschooling under the tutoring provision (E.C.§ 48224). Your credential must be valid and current in the state of California (out-of-state credentials are not sufficient); cover the grades/subjects you are going to teach (you cannot use a single subject credential to teach anything other than that subject); and emergency substitute or administrative credentials do not count.
Helpful Online Articles to Get Started
- Help! I Need to Take My Child Out of School by Lenore Colacion Hayes, M.S.
- A Homeschool Curriculum for Preschool and Kindergarten by Lillian Jones
- Homeschooling the Older Child/Teen
- Homeschooling Through a Private ISP by Lenore Colacion Hayes, M.S.
Other Helpful Nonsectarian Resources
California State Organizations (nonprofit)