Homeschooling in California
Monday, 13 July 2020

  • Tags:
  • Journey
  • New Homeschoolers
  • Organization
  • Planning
  • Record Keeping

California is a very easy state to homeschool in, with few requirements. There is also an abundance of community and field trip opportunities for homeschooled families. Both of these are contributing factors to the popularity of home education in the state of California.

Legal Requirements

There are three common options when choosing to educate at home in California. Be sure to check with the HSLDA website for any updates:

Option A: Homeschooling as a home-based private school
You may homeschool independently by following these simple steps.

1. File an annual private school affidavit (PSA) here: This short form is to be filled out annually between October 1st and October 15th for any child that turns six by September 1st through their 18th birthday. Print a copy for your records.

Note: If you are pulling your student from public school, you must file the PSA prior to disenrollment no matter what day of the year it is.

Note: Filing the PSA is very straightforward. As soon as HSLDA has the current year’s form available, they always post a step-by-step tutorial should any questions arise.

2. Maintain an attendance register:
This is as simple as printing a blank school year calendar and checking off each day of school completed. California requires 180 educational days.

3. Instructional requirements:
Educational materials must include courses commonly taught in public schools (such as Language Arts, Science, Math, and Social Studies). These instructions must be provided in English by a capable instructor. *

4. Record keeping:
Record-keeping requirements vs. recommendations are fairly vague. The wording on the PSA suggests keeping records for two years. None of these records get turned in to anyone; rather, they are to be kept in case of an audit or investigation.

• A printed copy of your PSA (Required)
• Immunization records or personal beliefs exemption (Required)
• List of courses of study (Required)
• List of instructors with their addresses and qualifications* (Required)
• Samples of student work and testing (Recommended)
• Correspondences with school officials (Uncommon unless disenrolling from public school)
• There are no specifications as to what a capable instructor entails or what qualifications they must have i.e., degrees or certificates. One who can follow the requirements listed in 1-4 is considered both capable and qualified.

Option B: Homeschooling under a Private School Satellite Program (PSP)

Also known as an Umbrella School, a PSP provides the record-keeping of Option 1 for the family. Some umbrella schools offer things such as newsletters, field trips, testing, and even co-ops. Enrollment in PSPs sometimes also allows homeschooled students to join private school sports teams and activities.

Each PSP has its own fees, additional requirements, and options. It is up to the parent's discretion when choosing to homeschool under a Private School Satellite Program.

Option C: Charter Schools

A charter school is publicly funded but operated by independent groups. Each charter school has different requirements and terms. It would be prudent for families to review each rule and detail of the specific charter when considering this option, especially when intending to use biblical content in their curriculum.

In general, charter schools offer a stipend for families to use on educational materials and activities (such as field trips and extracurriculars). All charters in California specify that you may not use instructional funds to purchase religious content. All such materials must be acquired out of pocket. It is up to the individual charter schools as to what other specific requirements they have.

The charters keep and file your records for you. Charter schools receive most of their funding through state testing. Therefore, they highly encourage participation in state testing. It is always the parental right to waive the testing.

As a charter school is publicly funded, it would be wise for families to be well-informed of the requirements when choosing between independently homeschooling (filing a PSA or enrollment in a PSP) and publicly homeschooling through charter schools.

Community Opportunities

Co-ops and Other Homeschool Groups

Check locally to see what groups are offered in your area. These are a neat way to get plugged in with other families and network ideas for field trips, enrichment, and support. Where should you go to look for homeschool groups?

California Homeschool Groups:
Christian Home Educators Association of California:
Social Media: Search for homeschool groups in either your city or area.
Great Home School Convention, Ontario
CHEA Homeschool Convention, Anaheim
Central Valley Homeschool Convention, Fresno
Valley Home Educators Homeschool Convention, Modesto
Homeschool Association of California Conference, San Jose


With the rise and popularity of charter schools in California, there is a diverse spectrum of homeschoolers. In 2016 there were over 600,000 students enrolled in charter schools (that is 10% of the public school system)! A quick scroll through any charter school social media group will tell you that a significant number of those families identify as “secular homeschoolers.” This provides a tremendous opportunity to share the truth and love of God with others as we interact with them in our communities.

Free or Discounted Field Trips in California

Homeschool Days at the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach – Twice a year, the aquarium offers a discounted entrance fee for homeschool families. They also do not schedule any group field trips on those days. Parking is not included.

Homeschool Days at Descanso Gardens, La Cañada Flintridge – Free admittance, three times a year. Advanced reservations are required.

Homeschool Days at La Brea Tar Pits and Page Museum, Los Angeles – Free admittance, four times a year, with special themes each event. Parking is not included.

Legoland California Homeschool Group Discount – Groups of 10 or more may purchase discounted tickets and participate in educational workshops. Only available on weekdays September-June.

Homeschool Days at the Natural History Museum, Los Angeles – Four themed days a year where homeschoolers enjoy free admittance and special workshops. Parking is not included.

Big Fresno Fair, Fresno – On their designated “educational days,” homeschoolers can enjoy free admittance, free parking, and a place to keep their lunch cool.

Six Flags Theme Parks – Offer a “Read to Succeed” program. Log the required number of books and apply for a free ticket for both a student and a teacher.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey – Register for tickets for their free homeschool days which are offered six times a year.

Meet the Author

Rebekah Hilliard - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant