How to Homeschool in California: 2024 Unbiased Guide

Looking for an unbiased homeschool resource that doesn’t have a hidden agenda? You’ve come to the right place to learn how to homeschool in California.

To homeschool in California, a parent or guardian should become familiar with California homeschooling laws and regulations. Families must decide on a curriculum that fits their needs and be prepared for the self-discipline required to maintain a robust academic schedule.

Home helping homeschooled daughter

How to Homeschool in California

In California, homeschooling is considered private school education and is governed by the California Private Postsecondary Education Administration Act (CPPEAA) of 2009 and the California Education Code.

Here are the steps to homeschooling in California:

  1. Notify the local school district in writing that you intend to homeschool your child. You can use the California Department of Education’s Private School Affidavit (PSA) form for this purpose.
  2. Provide your child with a full-time, regular education in the subject areas required by California law. These include reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and health. You can use a variety of methods to teach these subjects, such as textbooks, online courses, or hands-on activities.
  3. Keep records of your child’s academic progress. This can include samples of their work, grades, and attendance records.
  4. If your child is over the age of 6 and under the age of 18, administer a standardized test or assessment once every three years to measure their progress. You can use a test from a list of approved assessments provided by the California Department of Education.
  5. File an annual Private School Affidavit (PSA) form with the California Department of Education. This form verifies that you are operating a private school and providing your child with a full-time, regular education. The PSA must be filed between October 1st and October 15th each year.

Educational and Interactive Word Search Puzzles

It’s important to note that homeschooling laws can vary by state, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements in California. You may also want to consider joining a homeschooling group or association to connect with other homeschooling families and access resources and support.

As of February 2020, at least 9 million Americans had been homeschooled at least once.

Homeschool Options in California

Homeschooling has become increasingly popular in California, and parents have a variety of options to choose from. According to California law, parents can choose from three main methods for homeschooling.

Option 1: Homeschooling as a Home-Based Private School

The most traditional way is to create a home-based private school.

  • Submit a private school affidavit every year.
  • Maintain records of academics, attendance, immunizations, and any related personal belief exemptions.
  • School instruction must be in English, and instructors must be capable of teaching.
  • Give lessons in subjects including language arts, math, science, social studies, health, and driver education that are frequently taught in public schools.

Option 2: Homeschooling with a Private School Satellite Program (PSP)

Parents can also look into enrolling in a home study program that is run by an accredited private school; this will usually involve both the school providing curriculum and organizing testing and assessments.

  • A program where the majority of the education is given at home is referred to as a private school satellite program.
  • The PSP must adhere to all specifications for running a private school.
Homeschooling with a private tutor

Option 3: Homeschooling by a Private Tutor

Alternatively, parents may opt for tutor-provided instruction; however, this may require additional certification.

  • The tutor must have credentials for the grade level being taught.
  • As long as the teacher possesses the necessary California teaching credential, the instructor may be a parent.

Ultimately, the best option for each family depends on their individual needs and preferences, as each approach centers on different levels of guidance, creativity, and responsibility.

Between 2019 to 2020, the percentage of homeschooled students changed from 3.4% to 9%.

Free California Homeschool Programs

In the past few years, homeschooling has become increasingly popular in California, with a variety of free homeschool programs available to accommodate every family’s specific needs.

Homeschooling programs offer resources, educator assistance, regulations, and opportunities to connect with others to ensure the success of students being taught at home.

Each program offers an excellent education and the option for parents to tailor their child’s curriculum to their individual needs, guaranteeing children get the best learning experience.

Moreover, a range of free services are available that aim to facilitate access to educational material, as well as other enriching experiences such as mentoring and extracurricular activities.

In general, California’s free homeschool programs enable parents to make informed choices about their children’s schooling that serve their best interests.

The California Department of Education offers extra help for parents who are homeschooling their children in California.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is an invaluable resource, offering parents in California guidance on homeschooling laws through webinars and articles.

Does Homeschool Have to be Accredited in California?

In California, homeschooling has become a viable substitute for traditional schooling, and one of the inquiries parents make is whether they need to get their program certified. However, accreditation might be advantageous in some instances, but the average California homeschooler does not primarily require it.

To be eligible for public funding from the state, parents must still record their curriculum, exams, and evaluations annually.

Thus, as long as a parent adheres to state guidelines, there is no need for accreditation or additional documentation.

Therefore, many households in California decided not to pursue official accreditation for their homeschooling programs as they found it too expensive compared to the benefits.

67% of the homeschooled students successfully graduate from college.

California Accredited Homeschool Programs

Accredited homeschools must provide evidence of enrollment, have detailed grading reports, take state-approved yearly standardized tests, have a teaching supervisor with a high school diploma or higher qualification, and remain updated on any dictated curriculum changes.

Private school programs that are accredited must demonstrate compliance with relevant laws and regulations in their admission policies in order to adhere to the state’s compulsory attendance laws.

Accredited homeschooling offers parents the opportunity to provide their children with a high-quality education in the comfort of their own homes.

Boy at home studying

Create a Designated Learning Place

Homeschoolers should have a specific area set aside for learning, to help establish a daily routine and provide an environment where their child can concentrate on schoolwork.

A dining table is an ideal spot for studying. It’s easily cleared off at the end of each day which allows it to be used for eating as well.

You can also provide your child with their own desk in their bedroom for added privacy and the opportunity to decorate it. Whatever you decide, be sure to create an environment that helps them focus on learning.

Over 300 million students were homeschooled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stay On Track with a Daily Schedule

Sticking to a daily schedule for homeschooling has many advantages; here are some of them:

  • Establishing a daily routine can help homeschoolers prioritize tasks, complete more in less time, and improve productivity. Families with multiple students or other outside commitments may particularly benefit from this strategy.
  • Effective time management begins with planning. A daily schedule makes it easier to keep track of what needs to be done and when, and prevents feeling rushed or overwhelmed. Allocating specific blocks of time to tasks can help your family stay organized.
  • Homeschooling can provide a sense of structure and regularity, especially beneficial for kids accustomed to attending a traditional school. This can make them feel safer and more prepared to learn.
  • Families can benefit from daily schedules to stay accountable and meet their homeschooling objectives. This is important for those who tend to be easily distracted or delay their tasks.
  • Having a daily schedule in place can facilitate better communication among family members, helping to avoid misunderstandings and building a stronger bond between them.
Homeschool Calendar

Ease Into It

Homeschooling for new parents can be a big shift, so it’s crucial to not apply excessive pressure from the start. It is best to ease into this transition and move forward at a steady pace.

Homeschooling parents can begin with just a few basic supplies and then build on their resources as they get more confident with the homeschooling process.

When it comes to homeschooling, there are numerous options, so you should find one that works best for your family. Don’t be afraid to venture out and experiment with different techniques; the less stressed you feel, the more successful your learning experience is likely to be.

Regardless of the educational level of their parents, homeschooled students score between 80% and 90%.

Involve Your Child in Setting Learning Goals

Involving your child in homeschool assignment planning and curriculum scheduling is important for several reasons:

  • Offering students a sense of importance and ownership in their education will provide them with motivation and boost engagement.
  • Involving them in the homeschool process will help them feel that they are part of it, rather than it being done to them.
  • Getting your child involved in the homeschooling decision-making will give you a better understanding of their likes, talents, and shortcomings; allowing you to modify the learning environment to better accommodate them.

Generally, having your kid involved in homeschooling planning is key to a successful experience for everyone.

Mom and children looking at a globe.

Explore Other Ways of Learning Outside the Classroom

Homeschool kids have an advantage as they can explore many educational possibilities not found in a regular school. This helps them gain a diverse range of knowledge and experience, resulting in a more comprehensive education.

In many cases, homeschoolers benefit from strong connections in the community. These relationships can open doors to new learning opportunities, such as classes and workshops taught by experts or members of the community.

Parents who homeschool their children should seize these chances to broaden their kids’ education.

Homeschooling families can give their children a very enriching education by exploring different learning techniques.

Children learning at a museum

Reach Out to Other Homeschool Families

Homeschooling can be difficult, especially for families without a support system. Luckily, there are various ways to make connections with other homeschoolers and build a community. One way is by connecting with local homeschooling organizations.

Homeschool groups can provide emotional support, practical advice from experienced homeschoolers, and opportunities for field trips and social interactions.

Joining an online forum or Facebook group is an excellent way to network with other homeschool parents.

Joining a parenting group can be helpful for exchanging resources, asking questions, and obtaining advice from parents who have the same experiences.

Making connections with other homeschooling families can help parents lessen the feeling of isolation and build a supportive environment for their kids.

When educated at home rather than in public schools, boys do 44% better on reading examinations.

Can Homeschooled Students Play Sports in California?

In California, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) regulates home-schooled students’ ability to play sports. The CIF oversees all schools that are linked to it, which includes public schools.

The CIF states that homeschooled individuals may only compete in athletics if they are enrolled in a public independent study program.

The ruling has been upheld over the years, thus, homeschooled students in California can participate in sports if they meet specific standards.

Homeschooled boys playing soccer

How to Homeschool When Both Parents Work

California parents who opt to homeschool their children have to be creative with balancing work and school, as it is a difficult task.

With some ingenuity, it’s possible to work and homeschool at the same time. Let’s examine some pointers to help you achieve it.

Prior to February 2020, just 68% of parents who had homeschooled their children said it had been a success.

Get Your Childcare Involved

Some parents are lucky enough to have assistance in homeschooling while they’re away at work due to childcare.

When it’s not achievable or budget-friendly for all households, one should think outside the box to devise a plan that fits everyone’s needs.

Delegate Chores

Involving your children in household tasks is an effective method to reduce the strain you may be facing between work and homeschooling. It also provides them with an opportunity to learn about responsibility.

It’s prudent to be mindful of your child’s abilities. A five-year-old probably won’t be able to do the laundry, but they can lend a hand with things like dusting or laying the table.

As they age, give your children more chores. By involving them in household tasks, you can reduce your work while teaching them essential life skills.

Before the epidemic, 69% of homeschooled children expressed a desire to continue their studies in this manner for the upcoming school year.

You and Your Spouse Work Alternate Shifts

Balancing homeschooling with both parents working can be difficult, especially if you and your partner have alternating shifts. Here are some strategies to help make it work:

  • It’s important to organize your week in advance by creating a schedule that includes all of your work hours and other responsibilities. This will help you plan effectively for homeschooling.
  • Make use of online materials: Utilizing online components like lesson plans, videos, and virtual excursions can be a great way to supplement your kid’s schooling when you are not able to be with them in person.
  • Be flexible with your homeschooling: If your daytime commitments don’t make 9 to 3 schooling feasible, think outside the box. For instance, you can do lessons at night or at the weekend. Or, break up the day into shorter chunks of time for educational activities.
  • Ask for assistance: Don’t be scared to look for support when you need it. This could involve employing a tutor or nanny to aid with home-based instruction while you are busy, or requesting the aid of relatives and friends.
  • Homeschoolers should be aware that it’s okay to take breaks. Finding a balance between work and homeschooling will help ensure that commitments are met on both fronts.

Homeschooling can be a tricky task if both parents are working. But it can be done with the right amount of planning and creativity, making it an enriching experience for the whole family.

Girl doing schoolwork on the computer

Take Advantage of Online Curriculums

Homeschooling is a great option to personalize your child’s education, yet it can be difficult to fit work and school into one schedule. To make it easier, why not opt for an online curriculum?

Structured learning programs can assist your child in their development and ensure concentration while you are away.

Furthermore, online learning can be tailored to your child’s individual requirements, making it convenient to discover a course that suits their distinctive learning approach.

In their children’s upcoming academic year, 54% of parents who were homeschooling before February 2020 were likely to do so full-time.

Assign the Child Solo Activities to Do While You’re at Work

Parents in California who teach their kids at home must find ways to keep their children entertained while they are working. One way is to assign independent curriculum projects.

Tasks such as reading assignments, research projects, and math and writing exercises may be included.

It’s essential to select activities that are suitable for your child’s age and skill level.

If your child attends childcare, ask your provider to remind them to complete their homeschooling tasks daily.

Proper planning can help your child become independent and accomplish tough tasks during the workday.

Homeschooled girl doing school work

Allow Yourself Flexibility and Grace

Balancing a job and homeschooling can be difficult for parents, so it’s vital to give yourself some leniency and kindness while managing these duties.

Striving for perfection is an unattainable goal that can lead to disappointment. Focus on the successes, no matter how small, and congratulate yourself on your achievements.

Keep in mind that your kids are observing you, and will take after you. By displaying a positive outlook and openness to change, they’ll be more likely to do the same.

Balancing work and homeschooling can be difficult, but it also presents an excellent opportunity to impart valuable lessons to your children. Show them how to be adaptable and graceful in any situation, setting them up for victory down the line.

The typical cost of homeschooling is between $350-$750 per year for the parent(s).

California Homeschool Curriculum Requirements 

In California, homeschooling is allowed as long as parents or guardians meet the minimum educational standards outlined for the curriculum. These standards are:

  • Keeping up with a child’s studies of reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.
  • The child must be instructed for a minimum of 3 hours each day, for a total of 180 days annually.

As long as they fulfill the criteria mandated by the state, guardians can devise their own home study programs.

If a parent or guardian wants to homeschool their child, they must submit an Affidavit of Intent to the local school district within the first 30 days of classes.

The California Department of Education website provides more details about homeschooling in the state.

Parent writing a letter of intent to homeschool

Letter of Intent to Homeschool in California

A “Letter of Intent” must be submitted to the superintendent of the local school district in California for those parents who want to educate their children at home.

A letter of intent for homeschooling must include information about the children, such as their names, addresses, and birth dates, along with the name and address of the parent or guardian responsible for instruction.

Along with providing information about themselves, parents must also express their educational philosophies and describe the program they plan to use.

Upon receipt of a letter of intent, the school district will provide instructions on how to get a homeschooling permit.

While no permit is mandatory, parents who plan to homeschool in the long term should obtain one.

Furthermore, those who have committed specific felonies may need permission to homeschool their children.

The federal government saves $24 billion in taxpayer money thanks to homeschooling.

Is the California Homeschool Curriculum Free?

California provides many free resources for families looking for an affordable and complete homeschool curriculum. These resources are also available for purchase or download, and they include everything you need to homeschool in California.

The curriculum covers all core subjects, such as math, science, English, and history, as well as electives like art and music.

Best of all, the curriculum is approved by the California Department of Education, so you can be confident that you’re providing your child with a high-quality education.

It’s an affordable and complete solution for your homeschooling needs.

Older girl sitting holding a jar of money

How Much Does It Cost to Homeschool in California?

Homeschooling in California comes with a price tag, depending on the family’s budget and needs. They may buy textbooks, curriculum, and other materials, or they can access free online resources and those in the library.

Furthermore, families may need to cover the cost of joining a homeschooling organization and the cost of testing services.

The cost of homeschooling in California is lower than the tuition fees for private schools.

Thus, homeschooling can be an ideal choice for families who desire cost-effective and adaptable education for their kids.

A safe environment was cited as the main motivation by 50% of parents who homeschool their children.

How Many Days Are Required for Homeschool in California?

In the state of California, there is no set number of days that homeschoolers must provide instruction. But the law does require that homeschool programs include “study in the basic instructional areas,” which are reading, math, science, social studies, and history.

According to the California Department of Education, private school authorities are required to keep track of each student’s attendance in a register.

The register must include a clear note for each student who misses school for a half-day or more on any given day throughout the school year.

Ideally, however, it’s recommended to retain the same amount of attendance days as children in public school who are required to attend 180 days per year.

Attendance for homeschooling can be done on a traditional school schedule or spread out over a longer period of time.

Homeschoolers also have the flexibility to design their own curriculum, as long as it meets the state’s basic requirements.

As a result, homeschooling families in California enjoy a great deal of freedom when it comes to choosing how and when to provide instruction.

Homeschooling months of the year

California Homeschool Record Keeping 

Record keeping is an important part of any homeschool program. Parents who homeschool in California are required by law to keep certain records and submit an annual declaration of intent to homeschool.

These records can be used to show compliance with the law, track student progress, and provide a record of the student’s educational journey.

There are many different ways to keep homeschool records. Some parents choose to keep a simple notebook with the dates and topics covered each day.

Others opt for more detailed records, including lesson plans, assignments, and grades.

No matter what system you use, it’s important to make sure that you keep accurate and up-to-date records.

Here are some things that are important to keep a record of during the homeschooling years:

  • Test results
  • Samples of your student’s academic work
  • Documentation of the type of curriculum being provided to your child
  • Dialog with state and/or school officials
  • Attendance records

A good rule of thumb is to save these records for at least two years.

As your child progresses through their homeschool career, their records will become an important part of their academic record.

These records can be used to demonstrate compliance with the law, track progress over time, and even apply for college or financial aid.

For these reasons, it’s crucial to take the time to develop a good recordkeeping system that works for you and your family.

With a little effort, you can ensure that your homeschool records are a valuable asset for years to come.

Test results, extracurricular activities, and socialization were mentioned as reasons for homeschooling by 14% of the parents.

California Homeschool Graduation Requirements 

The state of California does not have a specific homeschooling requirement in place for a student to graduate. Graduation standards are set by the parents as the facilitators of their child’s education. Once the student accomplishes the expected milestones set forth by the parents, they will graduate.

HS diploma

California Homeschool Diploma 

For homeschooled students in California, earning a diploma can be an even greater accomplishment. Homeschooled kids don’t have the structure of a regular school schedule, so they have to be self-motivated and disciplined to do well. A high school diploma is a symbol of hard work and dedication.

Earning a diploma shows that they have what it takes to set goals and achieve them.

In addition, a diploma for California homeschoolers can open up new opportunities, such as colleges and scholarships.

For homeschooled students, a high school diploma is an important milestone on the road to success.

How Does a Homeschooled Student Get a Diploma?

Parents in California who homeschool their children have the unique opportunity to be the sole provider of their child’s high school diploma. This means that they get to decide what criteria must be met in order for their child to earn the diploma.

Of course, parents will want to ensure that their child meets all the necessary requirements for graduation, such as taking required courses and passing exams.

However, they also have the freedom to tailor the curriculum to their child’s interests and learning style.

As a result, homeschooled students often emerge with a well-rounded education that prepares them well for success in college and beyond.

Before COVID-19, 42% of parents said they wished their kids had more freedom to pursue their hobbies.

Are Homeschool Diplomas Valid?

The homeschooling movement has been growing steadily in recent years, as more parents opt to educate their children at home. While homeschooling can provide a number of benefits, there is one potential drawback: homeschool diplomas may not be as recognized by colleges or employers.

Some institutions may require additional testing or coursework for homeschooled students, so students should be prepared to take some tests to show their level of academics.

It’s not uncommon whatsoever for homeschooled kids to be more academically advanced than their peers who attended a public school, so in the long run, homeschoolers are quite capable of holding the advantage.

However, it is important to note that homeschool diplomas are becoming increasingly common and should be accepted by most colleges and employers.


Although the information in this article was researched with utmost integrity and sincerity, the information cannot be held legally liable or expected to take the place of legitimate legal advice for your specific situation.

Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC

About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those considering their educational options. Trina is a seasoned writer, content creator, and website owner with a passion for unbiased research, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.