To pursue home education familiarize yourself with the state requirements. The sections of the California Education Code that are of significant importance include: 33190, 48222, 48224, 51210, 51220, and 51745. You can locate the text of these codes in public libraries. The codes detail the following methods for home education:

1. Private Instruction by a Teacher or Tutor (E.C. 48224). Children can be instructed at home by a private tutor or teacher with a valid CA credential for the grades being taught. Instruction must occur for 3 hours a day.

Grades 1-6: English, Math, Social Sciences, Science, Visual & Performing Arts, Health, Physical Education, and other studies that may be prescribed by the governing board.

Grades 7-12: English, Social Sciences, Foreign Language, Physical Education, Science, Math, Visual & Performing Arts, Health, Applied Arts, Vocational-Technical Education, Automobile Driver Education, and other studies that may be prescribed by the governing board.

2. Independent Study Program (ISP) a.k.a. Home Study Program (HSP) through the Public School (E.C. 51745). Parents can teach their children at home by enrolling in the public school district’s ISP or HSP. Parents act as teacher’s aides, supervised by the program teacher. The areas of study are determined by the teacher, school, district and state. Call your local school district for further information.

Note: Public School Charter Schools now offer Home Study Programs as well. The Charter’s do not have to be in your district to service you. They assign a facilitator in your area who visits your home and works with you to establish a course of study for your child. They meet with you once-a-month to discuss progress and collect attendance sheets and samples of the students work. They may provide as much as $1,000 per student ($100/month for 10 months) in educational credits to be used toward the purchase of consumable educational curricula (workbooks, textbooks, science kits, etc.) as well as music, art, science lessons, etc. They also provide state-certified high school diplomas. To contact a Charter HSP with a facilitator in your area call: one2one California Learning Foundation: 1-800-696-8008

3. Private ISPs. You may enroll your child in an extension program of a private school. Occasional campus visits and teacher counseling is often required to aid you in following the prescribed curriculum. You can find the names of these private schools in libraries & in some homeschool publications.

Additionally, paragraph 2 of Education Code 33190 provides that “whenever two or more private schools are under the effective control or supervision of a single administrative unit, such administrative unit may comply with the provisions of this section on behalf of each of the schools under its control or supervision by submitting one report (R4)”. As a member “family-sized” private school, you take responsibility for your child’s education, select curriculum, and comply with all of the California Education Code requirements, but you do not file an individual R4.

4. Filing an R-4 Affidavit for exemption as a Private School. (E.C. 33190 & 48222) To home educate your children without being involved with a school district, file an R-4 affidavit with the County or State Office of Education establishing your home as a private school. As a private school, you are required to maintain certain records (see list below) and must comply with the CA Education Codes that pertain to private schools. R-4 affidavits must be filed annually by October 15th. To request an R-4 form contact your county Office of Education or write:

California State Department of Education, Attn: Ron Reid, 721 Capital Mall, Sacramento, CA 95814. For further information call (916) 657-2451.

Record Requirements – if you file an R4 affidavit:

  1. Maintain a copy of the R4 affidavit.
  2. Faculty record. List faculty members and teaching qualifications. (Teachers do not have to be certified to teach in private schools in CA.)
  3. Keep attendance records for each child.
  4. Health immunization records, and the report of Health Examination for School Entry or Waiver of Health Check-up for School Entry.
  5. Outline your child’s curriculum each year. In addition, it is recommended that you maintain:

l. Records that provide proof of instruction. For example, a teaching agenda or plan book; a journal indicating accomplishments in areas of study each day; a photo album of activities, classes/field trips in which the student participated; the results of tests administered.

2. Keep samples of your student’s work each year. Some families just put everything their child does in a big box including artwork, poems, copies of written thank you notes, workbook pages, art projects, science projects, etc. Other families create yearly detailed albums with photos of each field trip, coop class, art project, science experiment, etc. They also include samples of written work, math worksheets, and a bibliography of books read throughout the year. These become keepsakes (like yearbooks) that record the child’s studies and interests year after year.

Note: The legality of filing an R-4 Affidavit as well as membership in a private ISP or Administrative Unit in order to homeschool have been repeatedly challenged . There is an organization called the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) which provides legal representation by attorneys to its’ member families if they are legally challenged because they are homeschooling. Lawyer’s fees are paid by HSLDA. Membership is $100./year. TORCH Members can receive a discount on the annual HSLDA dues. Call (540) 338-5600 or write to HSLDA, Paeonian Springs, VA 22129 or visit the website at: www.hslda.org