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How to Homeschool in California: Your Ultimate Guide to Get Started Now

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How to homeschool in california

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

Right now you may be wondering how to homeschool in California? Luckily, California gives you a few choices on how to homeschool.

You can create an education that is perfect for your child to homeschool in Los Angeles or anywhere in California.

By the way, if you are not from California, and want a general guide to getting started to homeschool, then go to my  Roadmap to Homeschooling article here.

How to Start Homeschooling in California: The Road Less Traveled

Before I was a homeschooling mom, I was a special education teacher. After that, I was a stay-at-home mom.

Then after a few years of being a stay-at-home mom, we decided to homeschool.

I had experience as a teacher — which was useful — but unfortunately, I had no homeschooling knowledge.

I could count the number of people I knew who have homeschooled on one hand—actually, just one person.

Homeschooling is different than teaching students in a school setting.

Luckily for me, some of my best ideas come from the road less traveled.

Back in 2008, a friend suggested Eharmony. Seemed a little crazy, but guess what? I tried it and married the love of my life.

Next, on the road less traveled — trying to find solutions for pregnancy exhaustion.

I decided to shave my head. Not only did this save me time, but I also got compliments. A win-win.

You want to give your child an outstanding education full of experiences and not be limited by an 8 am – 3 pm school day.

Your child can understand that math problem but just needs extra support.

In other words, homeschooling is some of that out-of-the-box thinking that will allow your children to have educational freedom and more!

Any Family Can Learn How to Homeschool in California

You are thinking of homeschooling your child in California, but how do you begin?

What do you fill out to start? How are you going to socialize your child?! How in the world are you going to pay for homeschool?

You make one choice at a time and do your best. Remember you can always change your mind too.

Without a doubt, there are options to homeschool in California that will fit your family. Your family can create the education that works best. 

First, to start homeschooling in California you need to pick which type of homeschooling you are interested in.

Secondly, think about how to pay for it.

Finally, the question always comes up, how your kids can make friends.

What Type of Homeschooling in California is Right For Me? 

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Overall there are some flexible options to choose from in California, which puts you at an advantage over most states. Yay, California!

To begin with select the option that looks best to you based on your gut instinct. Next, do more research.

By all means, ask yourself questions that may narrow down your choices. For example, think about whether or not your family travels a lot.

Also, does your child need more time to understand the material?

Do you want to take your time teaching your child versus finishing work on a deadline?

Does it sound like paradise having someone else make all the decisions for you? Are you creative and need complete freedom?

1. How to Homeschool in California Using an Independent Study Program (Public School at Home) 

Maybe you want your child’s homeschool experience to be similar to classroom education, but at home.

An independent study program is schooling your children at home with a similar curriculum as your local school district using the California educational standards.  The California educational content standards are guidelines for what to teach.

In addition, there are books to give you ideas for what to teach like What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know.

The upside to an independent study program is there’s no need to worry about how to buy curricula.

The independent study program will provide curricula, but they are the property of the school.

You meet with a credentialed teacher once a week to discuss your child’s progress.

A certain number of hours per day of work completed will be required. If you are interested in this type of homeschool, then contact your local school district. 

Something to think about:

If you are looking to frequently travel, unschool, or teach your child at her own pace, then an independent study program may not be for you.

Above all, make sure your homeschool choice aligns with what you want your homeschool to be like. 

2. Homeschooling with an Online School in California (Public School at Home) 

Next, an option is homeschooling in California with an online public school. Schooling online is a way for your child to receive instruction online and with physical materials.

Expect to complete a specific number of hours each day at the computer. However, you can create your own daily schedule.

The materials are free, and you may receive a laptop to use during the school year. As a bonus, social activities may also be available.

There are websites that will recommend virtual online schools in your area. A couple of examples include K12 and Connections Academy

Something to think about:

You may be uncomfortable with your child receiving instruction at a computer for hours at a time and the amount of work expected. Also, your child may get sick of it too.

Before you sign up, don’t forget to read the small print at the bottom! Once again, research the requirements and make a choice that fits your family. 

3. California Homeschool Charter Schools (Public School at Home)

Another option is the non-classroom-based charter school. It’s a mouthful, but basically, you homeschool with a curriculum of your choosing aligned with the California Education Standards.

California funds non-classroom-based charters. You find one and enroll.

About every three weeks, you are required to meet with a credentialed teacher that your school assigns to your family.

You plan which curricula you use, and you get assistance from the teacher assigned to your family. 

Also, each child receives money — around $2,500 per school year — to spend on curriculum, materials, and extracurricular activities. Once you are registered with a school you can process orders through your school.

As a result, charters are pretty popular right now.

Each charter has different rules and requirements about what can be purchased with funds and how many work samples must be turned in per subject.

For example, a couple of non-classroom charter schools include iLead and Sage Oak Charter. In addition, there are dozens to choose from throughout California.

Something to think about:

Be sure to lean on the homeschooling community. Visit websites, talk to or email a representative, and ask parents about charter schools that look interesting.

Homeschooling in California Facebook groups will answer your questions or you can search the group for more information.  

4. Private School Satellite Programs (Private Homeschooling)

You like the idea of homeschooling with complete freedom, but you want someone else to do the filing, record keeping, and arranging social activities.

Basically, a private school satellite program (PSP) is a company in charge of record-keeping, keeping track of grades, attendance, and activities for a fee. A PSP does not teach your child.

A private school satellite program files a private school affidavit on behalf of the families enrolled. You are responsible for the cost of curricula or activities.

For instance, one example is Cedar Life Academy

Something to think about:

Once again, do your research to select a PSP that is right for your family. One advantage of schooling with a Private School Satellite Program is social activities for your children. 

5. Private School Affidavit (Private School at Home)

Private School Affidavit homeschooling (PSA) is another way to homeschool your child in California. A PSP is what most people think of when they hear the word homeschooling. A family independently teaches their children, decides and pays for curriculum and activities.

You need to file a private school affidavit during the filing period of October 1 to October 15 or whenever you choose to homeschool privately.

To homeschool in California, you must file your PSA by the time your child is 6. 

Something to think about:

This option offers the most freedom. If you want to road school or unschool, then you can do so without being told what to do. 

In essence, no matter which option you select, you can always change your mind as your family grows and changes.

Consider writing out a pro and cons list to make a decision or put a comment below.

How Much Does it Cost to Homeschool in California?

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Living in California is expensive. Homeschooling does not have to be.

How much does it cost to homeschool in California? Whatever works for you.

There are many ways to get curriculum at a range of prices.

If you need some ideas on homeschooling for free, then look at my homeschooling for free article.

Somewhere in America, a mom wants to get rid of a curriculum that did not work. Be there for that mom. Buy used. It’s a win-win.

1. Free Curriculum for homeschooling

Believe it or not, there are free K-12 curricula online in many subjects. Easy Peasy is an example. Also, the library and the internet offer ways to learn for free.

In addition, you can add to your curriculum with free worksheets from education.com and teacherspayteachers.com.

Additionally, Facebook groups may even have members giving a curriculum away.

Make it a priority to become part of a community for support. Another benefit to a homeschooling community is to give away what you no longer need and receive what you do need. 

2. Homeschooling Resources at a Discount

You can make homeschooling affordable. You can buy discounted curriculum on eBay and Homeschool Classifieds.

Before you purchase a full-priced curriculum, you can take a look at a sample online. Sign up for curriculum newsletters to be the first to know when there is a sale.

Also there are lots of outstanding resources available at every price point that will fit your child’s needs.

Most companies sell pdf versions of the curriculum. If you have at least two children, then you can use the curriculum multiple times and save money.

Can I Homeschool if My Child Has An IEP?

Yes! If you homeschool in California, then you can receive support and therapies for your child, whether you choose a public homeschooling or private homeschooling option.

Your child’s IEP can specify homeschooling. If you are interested in getting your child evaluated for special education, then contact your local school district or charter school for more information.

Once you propose to have your child evaluated for services, there is a legal deadline for the school district to begin the process. Remember, there are legally mandated timelines for receiving responses, assessments and conducting meetings.

If you haven’t already, then you may also want to contact your local Regional Center to find out more about parent support groups or an advocate to help you during IEP meetings. 

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IEP’s are legal documents with rules school districts must follow.

How Do I Socialize My Homeschool Child?

How is my child going to make friends? Socialization is a significant concern for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers too.

Good news.

If your child has interacted with anyone at all, then he is socializing. Often parents are really concerned about their child making friends.

Time in a classroom is not the only way for your child to make friends.

A child in a classroom with peers of the same age is not the only way to make friends and learn social skills. Homeschooling is an opportunity to socialize with people of all ages.

With creative thinking and a change in how you view socialization, your child can create high-quality friendships. Here are some suggestions. 

Hopefully, the pandemic will ease up soon and all of these suggestions will be relevant

Siblings are a Gift

Siblings are your first friends. If your child has siblings, then homeschooling can allow those relationships to flourish. Older children can teach younger siblings, practice conflict resolution and play games. 

Younger children can look to older siblings for love, support, and mentorship.

Because younger siblings want to be like their older siblings, they are enthusiastic learners in an attempt to “catch up” with their brother or sisters. 

Distant Relatives like Cousins

One day we will have family get-togethers! Cousins and relatives can provide opportunities for socialization.

Birthdays, monthly dinners, impromptu play dates can allow your family to get closer. Leaning on your family for friendships is investing in life-long relationships.

One downside in only relying on school for friends is that friends from school may move away or decide to have different friends. When school is over, your family will be there. 

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood

Taking your kids to the local park is a great place to find social opportunities for your children. If you notice that your children are playing well with a kid, then you might strike up a conversation with the parents and exchange information.

You never know! Don’t be discouraged if there are only a few homeschoolers in your neighborhood.

Even though that child at the park goes to public school, maybe she has few friends and needs even more friends!

Don’t worry, fellow introverts; there are other suggestions. Keep reading.

And the Church Said Amen

On the fence about finding a church home? Some churches have Sunday school for kids.

It’s another opportunity for your kids to meet and socialize with kids that share similar values and are local. Churches often serve in the community, which is awesome for building values and social skills. 

Local Recreation Classes

Your local recreation center will offer a variety of classes after 3 pm or on the weekend. Not only does learning a new skill build confidence a friendship might develop too. 

Class Sessions Just for Homeschoolers

One complaint from parents of homeschoolers is the lack of opportunities for making friends during the day because everyone is in school. That is true.

Public school kids are in school from 8 am-3 pm. However, some places provide classes designed to fit homeschoolers’ schedules — typically from 10 am-3 pm.

If a school offers classes, then it may be willing to create a class just for homeschoolers if enough people fill the course.

You may have to round up some other parents, but word travels fast, and another opportunity for friendships is worth it. 

Homeschool Classes

Type in “homeschool classes” in a search engine, and you will be able to find places that offer homeschool classes. One sports class company has classes available specifically for homeschoolers: Energy Health Motion (EMH).

There are locations throughout California and a few in Nevada. EMH meets at a park so the whole family can enjoy some sun and exercise.

As a bonus, I have met some lovely moms to chat with while our children play sports. 

Co-ops are another way to meet other families. Co-ops are groups of homeschoolers that meet together and share responsibilities like teaching subjects. 

Youth Development Organizations in California

There are nationwide and local youth development organizations that gladly accept homeschoolers and are opportunities to learn new skills, volunteer, and make life-long friends.

There are Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, 4-H and Heritage Girls, and other development organizations. Visit their website to see which one is a good match. 

Online Classes

Most educational centers have moved to the online space. Some were already there. Online you can find classes for all interests and subjects.

Outschool is a popular classroom site that hosts dozens of classes throughout the year. Depending on the class, your child may see the same kids for several weeks.

As a parent, you have access to email the other parents in the class. It doesn’t hurt to put it out there that your child is looking for some new friends.

Make an Announcement to California Homeschool Groups

Another way to create social opportunity is to create opportunities. You can post an announcement in a Facebook group for local homeschoolers to let other parents know your children would like more friends.

Be on the lookout for other parents looking for social connections for their kids. A quick search in the group might work too.

Create the Ideal School at Home

In California, there is a homeschool option just right for your family. Take some time to think about what homeschool looks like to you.

Remember that homeschool does not have to look like a public school with a classroom and teacher. 

Homeschooling means a range of experiences and changing what doesn’t work, and doing more of what does work!

Don’t be afraid to find a curriculum and change it to fit each child. Pick something and take it from there.

You can always change your mind. 

The cost of homeschool is flexible. You can buy curriculum new, used or get it for free.

There are several opportunities for socialization that will give your children rich experiences. When you homeschool, sometimes it takes more effort to create to be in the right place at the right time for possible friendships to blossom. 

How to Homeschool in California Summary:

1.Pick a type of homeschool

2. Select curriculum

3. Budget for your curricula and activities

4. Pick social opportunities for your children

What type of homeschooling interests you?

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