California Homeschool Choices - Eva Varga

August 19, 20111

In Oregon, if a family chooses to homeschool, they simply need to complete a short form and submit it to their school district.  If a student has been enrolled in the schools, the parents must complete this form within 10 days of removing them from school and beginning their instruction at home.  Thereafter, they are expected to test their children at the end of 3rd, 5th, 8th and 10th grades just as they do in the public school.  The district, however, has never asked anyone that I know of for these results.

In California, the options to homeschool are more varied and the state seems to be far more involved.  Essentially, there are four ways to homeschool legally in California.  They are as follows:

Establishing a Private School

“Many homeschooling families find that the independence of operating within their own private school brings an exhilarating freedom that can open up a special way of thinking about education. They can expand and experiment in a variety of ways they might not have otherwise realized were possibilities.”

This is the option that most strongly compares to how I was doing things in Oregon.  While I enjoy the freedom, I have also come to discover that I was predominately the one organizing outings and extracurricular activities for my children and other homeschool families.  My children even began to ask, “Mom, why don’t other moms teach any classes or anything?  Why is it always you?”


“Parents with a valid teaching credential can act as tutors for their children, or parents may employ a credentialed teacher. However, tutors and parents who choose to tutor their own children must fulfill certain legal requirements, including the teacher must have a valid and current California state credential appropriate to the grade level of the child or children being taught.”

This option also appealed to me.  I do have a valid teaching credential in Oregon but would need to jump a few hoops to get a California credential.  However, this option is only valid to the grade level to which I am certified … essentially 8th grade.

Using a Private Satellite Program (PSP)

“In addition to the private schools operated by one family for its own children, there are a number of other types of private schools that offer homeschooling programs.”

Using a Public ISP or Charter School

“Enrolling your child in an public independent study program is the legal equivalent to enrolling him in public school. These are the “home study” programs offered by many school districts, and charter schools. A good ISP can offer support and guidance on your homeschooling adventure.”

The PSP and ISP options are very similar.  The children would legally be enrolled and would be required to meet all the same standards as other students in the district (or private school).  Textbooks (those adopted by the district) and access to other resources (online curriculum, music lessons, etc.) would be made available at no cost.  Some ISPs even provide a small budget (monthly or quarterly) that families can use to purchase curriculum or pay for lessons.  The most intriguing component of an ISP, however, is the opportunity to take part in enrichment days … one day a week of art, hands-on science, foreign language, music, field trips, etc. … classes taught by certified teachers.

~ ~ ~

Before we arrived in California, I was not sure which direction I wanted to go.  Many of my most trusted homeschool colleagues in Central Oregon said … “File an R4 and declare yourself a private school”.  I was honestly leaning in this direction until we arrived and we met with a small group of homeschoolers.  At this informal playdate, I learned that since the ISP/PSP option is so prevalent here, others feel disjointed and have difficulty connecting with other families. One mom has been here 5 years and has attended planned “Park Days” to discover no one shows up.

Additionally, on that same day, we had met with the coordinator for one ISP program and the kids absolutely loved her. She assured me I could do my own thing in regards to curriculum but that she would provide texts if I desired. She would give us projects and assignments but that she would work with me to assure what she expected of us was aligned with my own goals for the kids.  We’d meet only 2x a month to chat.

Yes, we would have to enroll the kids and essentially sign a contract.  However, it is on a trimester basis so I can opt out if I don’t like it. The kids WANT to do the “Enrichment Tuesday” and I could have the day to myself OR potentially take on a paid position and teach a rotation or two myself.

So … since we don’t know anyone and because I am intrigued by the possibilities for both my munchkins and myself (professionally), we went with the ISP option. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

What are your thoughts regarding these choices?  Chime in and take part in an ongoing debate on Squidoo – California Homeschooling.

One comment

  • April O.

    August 25, 2011 at 6:56 am

    I am glad to see that you are getting your ducks in a row. Those are some hard choices, but you seem to be headed in the right direction for your little gang. I look forward to seeing how your year goes.
    Keep in touch! 🙂

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