Homeschooling is a practice in which parents are responsible for educating their own children. Prior to the passage of compulsory education laws, which were fully in effect in the United States after 1918, homeschooling was the primary educational option. Homeschooling experienced a resurgence in the 1960s and has grown substantially since then. California allows four legal options for homeschooling programs.

Independent Study Programs

Many of California’s public schools and public charter schools offer independent study programs (ISPs) to assist homeschooling families. All of these provide credentialed teachers to work with homeschoolers, but each ISP establishes its own methods and requirements. Some schools, for example, require independent study students to follow a set curriculum, while others leave curriculum decisions to the family. The advantages of this option include the possibility of inclusion in social opportunities or field trips, funding to supplement the homeschooling effort and, in general, a structure for conducting the homeschool. You can find out about the specific options available in your school district by contacting the county office of education or a homeschool support group in your area.

Private School Affidavit

Parents may establish their own homeschooling program by filing a private school affidavit (PSA) with the California Department of Education. By filing a PSA, you become the teacher and administrator of an independent private school. The name and address of your school is on the public record, and you are required to keep specified records. The state requires you to cover subjects like reading, math, science and social studies, but you set your own curriculum and make the decisions about when to teach about particular topics. You are not required to have a teaching credential to file a PSA.

Private Satellite Program

A private satellite program (PSP) is a business that provides services to homeschool families. PSPs are established as private schools using the affidavit process, so families that use their services are not required to file an affidavit. Essentially, the parent becomes a teacher in the PSP’s school. PSPs offer a wide range of services, from selling complete or partial curricula for homeschools to implement on their own to providing teachers, administrative services or group activities. PSP advertising materials are widely available in homeschooling literature and at fairs and conferences.

Credentialed Teacher

California’s private tutoring exemption allows a parent who has a valid California teaching credential to provide homeschooling for his children. The exemption applies only to the grades covered by the credential. Alternatively, a parent may hire someone with a valid credential to tutor his children. In either case, this program option requires that children receive instruction for 175 days each year. Instruction must occur between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. and last at least three hours.