Is homeschooling legal in California?

Yes, homeschooling is legal in California.  Although the term “homeschooling” is not a legal term within the California Education Code, residents may legally homeschool their children using one of five different methods:  (1) Tutor or credentialed teacher; (2) Public Independent Study Program (Public ISP); (3) Private School Satellite Program (PSSP); (4) Public Charter School; or (5) Private School Affidavit (PSA).

Are you ready to send your children to school?

Do you feel they are too young?

Are you happy with your local school system?

There are many reasons people choose to homeschool.

  • Parents aren’t ready to send their young children out into the world, away from parents.  They enjoy being with their children and want to spend more time with them.
  • Children aren’t developmentally ready for the academics that the school system requires and are at risk of falling behind if they stay in school.
  • Parents want to teach their children their family’s morals and values and take the opportunity to do this while teaching them at home.
  • No one knows a child better than their parents.  Mom and Dad know when their Susie doesn’t understand a concept and can help her learn it in her own way.  Even in a large family, the ratio of teacher/parent to student is much lower than in any public or private school classroom.

Whatever the reason, many families find homeschooling meets their needs.

We encourage anyone considering homeschooling to join a homeschool support group and learn more about it from those who have experience.

Tri-Valley Explorers offers informational seminars to help answer questions about homeschooling:

  • New to Homeschooling seminar discusses how to legally homeschool in California and answers general homeschooling questions.
  • Choosing Curriculum Wisely seminar introduces various learning methods and approaches to homeschooling, helping you determine the best curriculum approach for you and your child.
  • Homeschool Success Using a Charter School seminar discusses how to work with the charter school to achieve your homeschooling goals and meet the charter school's requirements.
What are the benefits?

First and foremost, you can meet your child’s needs wherever they are.  If your child is doing 4th grade spelling and 8th grade math, you can teach your child at the level she is working without respect to her age or grade level.  It is a very freeing sensation to be free of the notion that “she is 9 years old so she must be in 3rd grade and do 3rd grade work.”

Homeschooling frees your family life from a school schedule.  You can choose to take a trip at any time of the year without concern about attending school and enjoy the fact that learning is happening every day, wherever you are.

Homeschooling your children gives you more control of the influences over them.  They will be more influenced by your family’s values and morals as well as your family schedule.

You will have more freedom to choose how your child is educated.

There are many benefits to homeschooling.  The best way to learn about them is to join a homeschool support group and talk to parents who are currently homeschooling.

What about socialization?

This question isn’t about whether your child is kept at home and never gets out into the world.  The question of socialization is really asking:  “How will your child fit into society if he doesn’t go to school?”

The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that our children ARE out in the real world.  They accompany Mom or Dad to the grocery store, the doctor’s office, the library, the bookstore, etc.; they meet people of all ages and learn to interact with them – using eye-to-eye contact and learning to shake hands with a firm grip.

When comparing public school children to homeschooled children, it has been clearly shown that homeschooled children display more self-confidence and maturity and display fewer behavioral problems.

Here are several articles that discuss and compare homeschool vs. public school socialization:

Social Skills and Homeschooling:  Myths and Facts

Socialization:  A Great Reason Not to Go to School

Socialization:  Homeschoolers Are in the Real World

Researchers Say Socialization No Longer an “Issue”

Addressing Homeschool Socialization

What About Socialization?

Are parents really qualified to teach their own children?

We believe parents are qualified to teach their children because they know their children best.  When you see your child while you are teaching him math or reading or spelling, you can tell from his eyes, from his reaction whether he understands the concept.  A teacher doesn’t know your child well and has 29 other children to attend to.  She is not going to stop to make sure your child understands the concept; nor is she going to stop and present the information in a different way to help your child understand the concept.

You don’t need to be an expert in a subject to be able to teach it.  During the elementary school years, most of the subjects taught are basic.  We usually remember those subjects and can help our child to understand them.  When you begin to deal with more advanced subjects such as science or math, then you may need to find classes to teach these to your child.

Here is an excellent article, The Myth of Teacher Qualifications

Is homeschooling expensive?

Homeschooling can be inexpensive or very expensive, depending on your choices.  The costs will definitely be cheaper than a private school tuition, and probably more expensive than public school.  You can purchase a ‘boxed’ curriculum that provides everything you need for a particular grade.  Or you can pick and choose from the many different resources available.  Here are several books that offer ideas and resources to help reduce costs.  You may be able to find these in your local library.

Homeschool Your Child for Free: More Than 1,400 Smart, Effective, and Practical Resources for Educating Your Family at Home by LauraMaery Gold and Joan M. Zielinski, ISBN 978-0307451637

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12 by Linda Dobson, ISBN 978-0761563600

Homeschooling on a Shoestring: A Jam-packed Guide by Melissa L. Morgan, Judith Waite Allee and Jonni McCoy, ISBN 978-0877885467

Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School by Rebecca Rupp, ISBN 978-0609805855

Here are several articles that discuss the costs of homeschooling:

The Homeschool Diaries :

How Much Does It Cost to Homeschool from Penelope Trunk’s blog: ttp://

The Costs of Homeschooling from the website of Virginia Homeschoolers:

What It Costs to Homeschool from Homefires:  The Journal of Homeschooling Online:

How do I know what materials and resources to use?

The materials you will choose to use will depend on the homeschooling style that you choose to follow.  Whether it is classical, Waldorf, Montessori, structured/school-at-home – whatever your choice – your materials will be determined by the selections that fit your family’s needs and interests.

You will find guides for each homeschool method that will suggest materials and resources.  But the best resource will likely be your local homeschool support group.  Ask your fellow homeschoolers what materials they use.  Ask them to bring their materials to park day so you can see them, thumb through the books and look at the manipulatives.

Where do I get materials and resources?

One of our favorite places to get materials is at homeschool conferences.  There is always an exhibit hall and it is always interesting to see what is new.  There are 3 conferences within close proximity of the Bay Area:  two in Santa Clara and one in Modesto.  Two are Christian conferences and one is secular.

There are also many curriculum vendors who sell curriculum to homeschoolers, either by subject or a package for the entire grade level.

Again, our best advice is to ask your fellow homeschoolers where they like to purchase their resources.

Are there different approaches to homeschooling?

Absolutely!  There is a whole continuum of homeschooling approaches from something that resembles the structured school classroom to supporting children in pursuing their own interests.  It is most typical for parents to combine homeschooling approaches.  You might use a textbook for math, a unit study approach combining history, language arts and the social sciences, and a very hands-on approach to science.  In the homeschooling community we call that the eclectic approach.

Other ‘flavors’ of homeschooling include Charlotte Mason, Classical, Montessori, Waldorf, traditional/ structured, and unschooling, to name a few.  You can learn more about these styles of homeschooling by talking to other homeschoolers, read books about these homeschooling approaches, or you could attend a TVE Meeting called The Many Flavors of Homeschooling which we hold periodically.  Email <> for details.

What if my child wants to learn something I can’t teach him?

It would be a rare teacher who could teach every subject, and parents are no different.  Parents often serve as facilitators, helping the child to find the resources necessary for learning.  There are many creative ways to tackle unfamiliar or difficult subjects.  There are companies specializing in outstanding learning materials for homeschoolers.  Some homeschoolers collaborate with other families.  Another parent might have the strength you lack or you can jointly hire a tutor.  Some use community resources – people, programs, and places.  You can always jump in alongside your children and learn with them.  What a great life lesson for kids if they learn that learning is lifelong.

How can homeschoolers get a high school diploma?

The high school diploma is awarded by the high school.  If your child is ‘enrolled’ in your private school (because you filed a Private School Affidavit – PSA), then you will create the high school diploma and award it.

If your child is enrolled in a public charter school or public independent study program, that public school will award the diploma.

If your child is enrolled in a private school satellite program (PSSP) then that private school will award the diploma.

The diploma from the PSSP and PSA will not be from an accredited school, but usually that is not of concern.

Can homeschoolers attend community college classes?

Yes, homeschoolers can attend community college classes.  They can use the concurrent enrollment program to take classes.  Check with your local community college to see what their requirements are for participation.