I. IS HOMESCHOOLING LEGAL?
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, although specific regulations vary. In California, the word "homeschool" does not appear in the law. In order to be exempt from public school, a child must be enrolled in one of the alternatives to traditional school which can be found in California Education Code section 48220. You can read about this in detail on our Homeschool Basics page.
II. WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?
This is the most asked about question, and also the one of least consequence. Because of the academic efficiency of homeschooling, there is ample time for homeschoolers to participate in recreational, educational, and volunteer activities with children of all ages. Many homeschoolers also meet up to form support groups and cooperative classes.
III. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF HOMESCHOOLING?
Family life often improves with siblings and parents spending more time together. Flexible schedules allow children to work at their optimum learning hours and at their own developmental pace. You can tailor educational instruction to a child's unique learning style. Children with a high need for physical activity or rest, privacy or socialization can move, eat and play with fewer restrictions. There is less peer pressure and more focus on learning, more time to learn subjects in depth, more time for reading. Parents can enjoy watching their kids learn, and they can revive their own joy of learning. You and your children can choose books and activities for learning that excite you. ADHD and learning disabilities often disappear. A relaxed pace means happier kids. Families can take vacations off-season. And there are many more reasons.
IV. ARE THERE DIFFERENT METHODS OF HOMESCHOOLING?
There are as many different methods as there are families. You can purchase a packaged curriculum, design your own or choose not to use a traditional curriculum. You can structure a school-like setting at home, or unschool with a free, unstructured approach.
V. IS CERTAIN CURRICULUM, COURSEWORK AND TESTING REQUIRED?
There is a set of courses all schools in California must offer to students. It is listed beginning in California Education Code section 51210. Students may opt to take any of these courses, but the law does not state that every child must take every course listed. Public schools in California have adopted the Common Core standards which are listed on the CDE web site. Private schools may opt to use the same standards or create their own curricula.
Standardized testing is required of public school students. Private schools are not required to participate, although some private schools do offer the tests.
VI. HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO HOMESCHOOL?
A great deal of traditional school time is spent in waiting for a turn and behavior management. In school, it is usually not possible to tailor lessons to each child's specific needs. With the individualized conditions that homeschooling offers, children can learn very efficiently, often in a fraction of the time it would take to cover the same material in a traditional classroom.
VII. THERE ARE SOME SUBJECTS WHERE MY OWN SKILLS ARE INADEQUATE. HOW CAN I TEACH THEM TO MY CHILD?
There are many excellent teaching aids today both online and off. Museums, community colleges, science centers and tutoring centers are often a great source for classes. There are tutors, computer programs, online education, and video and audio tapes. Ask your local support group for resources.
VIII. ARE THERE STATISTICS ON HOMESCHOOLING?
We have compiled a list of research papers, studies and statistics at sbhn.50megs.com/statistics.html.
IX. CAN A HOMESCHOOLER EARN A HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA?
Yes. Requirements for graduation vary from school to school. For public schools, a list of graduation requirements can be found on the CDE web site. Private schools set their own graduation requirements. A private school might use the CDE requirements for public schools listed above, or other resources such as The NCES comparison table or UCLA a-g requirement list to develop their own graduation requirements. Diplomas can be issued by both private schools and public school independent study programs. A student who has completed at least the first semester of 10th grade work is also eligible to take the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE) to earn the equivalent of a public high school diploma. The California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) is required of public school students only.
Graduation ceremonies and Proms are sometimes held by local and regional homeschool groups. Check with your local support group to see if there are any available to you, or offer to set one up!
X. CAN I TEACH DRIVER'S ED AT HOME?
If you are enrolled in an independent study program or private school satellite program, you will need to check with your school to see if driver's ed is offered. If you operate your own home-based private school, you may take the required instruction through driver's training schools or you may file the appropriate forms with the DMV to offer driver's ed through your school.
Driver's Ed training consists of two parts, the classroom training and the behind the wheel instruction. Once you complete the classroom training, you may go to the DMV, take the written test and obtain a learner's permit. You must be at least 15 1/2 years old to obtain a learner's permit. After you have earned your learner's permit, behind the wheel instruction for the first six hours must be done with a registered instructor. The remaining hours may be done with any licensed driver over age 25. You must log at least 50 hours of driving practice before you are eligible to return to the DMV, take a behind the wheel test and obtain a provisional driver's license. The DMV web site has all of this information and more, including forms needed for home-based private schools that wish to offer driver's ed.
XI. CAN A HOMESCHOOLER GO TO COLLEGE?
Many homeschoolers are accepted into colleges, and many colleges actively recruit homeschoolers. Some homeschoolers get a head start on college coursework by enrolling in community college classes as a concurrent student while still in high school. Contact the colleges that interest you to ask their admission requirements. Testing such as PSATs, SATs and AP exams along with the CHSPE can be accessed from the collegeboard.com web site. That same web site also offers many resources for college bound students including information on how to apply for Federal Student Aid and CalGrants and how to search for scholarships. Some colleges that have accepted homeschool students are listed on the Learning In Freedom web site.
XII. CAN A HOMESCHOOLER PARTICIPATE IN PUBLIC SCHOOL ACTIVITIES OR SPORTS?
Public schools are not required to allow homeschoolers to enroll part time or participate in extracurricular activities such as band or clubs. Public school sports are governed by the CIF, which specifically excludes homeschoolers from participating -see section 305 of their Constitution. Homeschoolers sometimes get together to create their own extracurricular activities and sometimes enroll in courses and participate in activities such as band, theater and clubs through their local community college. Sports opportunities can sometimes be found through club sports or through private school teams.
XIII. CAN A HOMESCHOOLER GET A WORK PERMIT?
There are two basic types of work permits in California, one is specific to the entertainment industry. The Entertainment Work Permit is issued through the Department of Labor Standards. For further information, visit their website. The application can be filed online.
For non-entertainment jobs, you will need a regular work permit. The CDE web site maintains an extensive list of questions and answers.
If your student is enrolled in a public school independent study program or private school satellite program, you must go through your school, your local public school or your district superintendent to get the permit.
If your student is enrolled in a home-based private school, you may obtain the permit from your local public school or district superintendent or your school may issue it. In order to issue a work permit from a home-based private school, you must have an administrator who is not the parent and who self-certifies that they have read and understand the laws governing work permits. Request a copy of the California Work Permit Handbook via email here email@example.com. A friend or relative can serve as your administrator. A copy of each of the three forms must then be submitted to the superintendent of your public school district. The form for self-certification, the request form for a work permit (B1-1) and the work permit form itself (B1-4) can all be downloaded from the CDE web site. To find them, enter "self certification", "B1-1" or "B1-4" in the search box. These forms are MS Word documents. The forms are also available in the back of the California Work Permit Handbook.