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How To Homeschool

What legal option should I choose?

There are four options: establishing your own home-based private school, enrolling in a private school that offers independent study (PSP), using a public school independent study program (ISP) or charter school that caters to homeschoolers or, if you have a credential, using the tutorial option.  CHN does not recommend one option over another.  There are positives and negatives to each option and you should consider the needs of your family while evaluating the choices.

Option 1: Private School Affidavit (PSA)


  • Great scope of independence and freedom to share your child's education.
  • Financial outlays are controlled by you.
  • You bear responsibility to adhere to all private school laws and maintain records.  Click here for a guide to record keeping.
  • Support systems must be sought out or created. CHN helps by maintaining a list of support groups and local contacts.

When you file the Private School Affidavit, you withdraw your children from school and request their school records. As the administrator/teacher, you must keep the required records, but the record-keeping requirements are not burdensome. When you file an affidavit, your school name and address are a matter of public record. You will be responsible for answering inquiries regarding your school. If you would like the companionship of other homeschoolers, identify and join a homeschooling support group. Although the state mandates that certain subjects such as reading, social studies, math and science be "taught," when you file the Private School Affidavit, you have freedom in deciding what specific topics are covered and how and when to cover them. If your elementary school aged child wants to learn a topic normally covered in high school, he or she can do it!

More information on the mechanics of the Private School Affidavit.

Correspondence Schools

This is a variant of Option 1, except that one has purchased a correspondence curriculum. The child must be enrolled in a private school which files the Private School Affidavit in California. If the private school, whose curriculum you decide to purchase, does not file the Private School Affidavit, you must take care of the legal requirements on your own by filing a PSA or enrolling in a PSP.

Option 2: Private School Satellite Program (PSP)


  • Administrative matters as required by state law for private schools are handled by the private school.
  • Support systems are offered to varying degrees, depending on the school.
  • Compare services and prices, and also ask how long the school has been in existence, and how long the school owner has been homeschooling. Ask for references.
  • The parent pays for all books and learning materials.
  • Tuition fees vary widely.
  • Curriculum guidelines, administrative supervision, and/or record-keeping vary depending on the school.

A PSP is a private school which has filed an affidavit. When you sign up, you become a teacher in that school. Your name and address do not appear on the affidavit, but the PSP is required to keep a listing of each teacher and his/her qualifications. The administrator will remind you to turn in the required attendance records and course of study. Some PSPs offer a newsletter and activities like park days and field trips for their members. Some PSPs offer curriculum packages; guidance and requirements vary with each school. Some PSPs are listed here on Ann Zeise's website, A2Z Home's Cool.

Option 3: Public School Independent Study Programs (ISPs) or Public Charter Schools


  • Non-consumable materials are available on loan.
  • Most public Charter Schools offer a "budget" for a wide variety of curricula as well as extra-curricular classes such as music or dance lesson, Tai Kwon Do etc. 
  • Some ISPs will offer opportunities to take selected classes or after school sports at the local public schools.
  • Support systems are offered to varying degrees, depending on the school.
  • Parents are asked to sign a contract agreeing that they will allow their child to be tested.  If a parent does opt out of testing, the student will probably not be allowed to re-enroll the following year.
  • Subject to the dictates of state and local authorities.
  • Moderate to heavy restrictions through compliance with curriculum guidelines, administrative supervision, and/or record-keeping, depending on the school.
  • Public programs may not offer religious materials and any religious instruction must be after the recorded school hours. [see:]

If you register with a public school ISP or Charter School, your child is still in public school. You are considered a teacher's aide and will be assigned a credentialed teacher to oversee your program. You will need to keep the records required by the program you enroll in. The amount of freedom you have in choosing what to study depends on the program's policies and your assigned teacher.  In general, the curriculum options for a public school ISP are much more limited as compared to those for a public Charter School.  Parents who choose either of these options frequently do so because of the economic advantage of having the state pay for curriculum, supplies, and classes outside of the home.  Sometimes parents choose this option because they are planning to homeschool for only a year or two, or are planning to homeschool only one of their children while keeping the others registered in public school.  Some homeschooling families find that these options work well for K - 8 grades, but become increasingly difficult for both the parent and student in high school.

Option 4: Credentialed Teacher/Tutor

A parent with a valid California teacher's credential may teach his/her child under the private tutorial exemption. The parent can use this option only for the grades their credential covers. Parents may also hire a credentialed tutor for their child. Instruction must be for at least three hours a day for 175 days each year, between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:00 pm.

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