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Parents who want to retain or regain the responsibility to educate their children through homeschooling sometimes look out upon the sea of choices before them and feel overwhelmed.

Being able to tailor-make your school might at times seem like a glorious challenge, and at other times, more like a daunting task. If you have an occasional crisis of confidence during this time, rest assured that you are normal.

The good news is that the decisions you make are provisional. Homeschooling is a dynamic process, not a static institution. Homeschooling allows for change and growth over time. The decisions you face right now are yours to modify as your understanding or your family’s needs change. If you will consider the decisions you make in launching your homeschool as temporary, the weight you are feeling will be lifted considerably.

Use the questions in this section to stimulate your thinking so that you can make the decisions that will meet your family’s unique needs, different interests, and distinct ways of relating to one another.

Thousands Are Homeschooling

Thousands of families are homeschooling by enrolling in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP) or by establishing private schools in their homes (by filing a PSA). They have done so for decades, with the knowledge of the Department of Education and legislators.

There is no history of case law decisions to substantiate claims that private homeschooling is illegal. The last time California public officials successfully prosecuted private homeschoolers was fifty years ago in a case called In re Shinn (1961) which relied on an earlier decision, People v. Turner (1953). These two cases are now widely regarded as muddled decisions that have been rendered invalid by changes in statutory law and by the “strict scrutiny test” of constitutionality that emerged from the Supreme Court case Sherbert v. Verner (1963). Sporadic attempts to prosecute California homeschoolers in the last four decades (most recently in 2008) have failed. In effect, the courts have ruled that homeschooling by private school arrangements is legal.

Do Homeschool parents need state teacher certification?

No, when parents establish a private school in their home, teaching certification is not required. Likewise, if parents are homeschooling through a PSP, certification is not required. In §48222, the precise wording is: “Children who are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching shall be exempted.” Teacher certification is not mandated and, most private schools do not require teacher certification for their faculty members.

Can I really do this?

Thousands of other parents of all educational backgrounds are successfully homeschooling. You have the necessary ability.

Are you still wondering, “What if I make the wrong decision about..?” Fortunately, whatever decision you make is yours to change. You can modify your program to meet your family’s current needs at any time. Homeschooler BJ Darr once wrote,

“It takes time to ‘get acquainted’ with all the curricula, resources, and options available. Eventually, though, it will start to look familiar. While you are trying to make sense of it all it helps to realize that there is a lot of support out there and many homeschooling families who are willing to spend time helping you. Find these people. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.”

What are the legal concerns I should be aware of and what protections are available for my family?

Every year a few homeschooling families are contacted by officials who tell them it’s illegal to homeschool. The best defense is knowing the law and your homeschooling rights. As a parent, you have the right to choose the best education for your child.

Don’t be nervous just because someone who isn’t aware of this tries to tell you otherwise. Parents have schooled their children at home for many decades, with the knowledge of both legislators, and the California Department of Education. On August 8, 2008, the Court of Appeal of the State of California Second Appellate District Division Three, case B192878 wrote: “California statutes permit home schooling as a species of private school education.”

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Daytime Curfew

There is no statewide curfew law in California. Sometimes you’ll hear people say that California Ed. Code 48200 is where the statewide curfew exists. This section of the code talks about truancy from public school, and private schools are exempt:

48220. The classes of children described in this article, shall be exempted by the proper school authorities from the requirements of attendance upon a public full-time day school.

Many cities in California do have daytime curfew laws. Most include a statement saying that the curfew applies on days and/or times when the student’s school is in session. If the student’s school is not in session during that day or time, the curfew doesn’t apply to them.

Sometimes teens who may be out in the community without their parent may be stopped in daytime curfew communities. Whether you live in a curfew community or not, it’s a good idea for the older kids who are out during public school hours to carry a school ID card with them, and to know how to reach you by phone. They should be instructed to politely explain that their private school is not in session and that they have permission from their parent to be out. If there is a problem, contact CHN at 1 (800) 327-5339.

If you are unsure about curfew laws in your community, you can check to see if your city has their municipal code online here or you can call the police department or your city councilman and ask for a copy of the code. Ask for it in print so you can read it yourself.

Help is Available

The California Homeschool Network was founded to aid you in having a successful homeschool experience. CHN’s Local Contacts are willing to provide information and discuss your concerns. If you are in an area without a Local Contact, call our toll-free Homeschool Hotline, 1 (800) 327-5339. If CHN is helping someone else, please leave your name, phone number, and question, and we will return your call as soon as possible.

Through our people and our publications, the California Homeschool Network is ready to help you get off to a great start in homeschooling. Best wishes!

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