How to Start Homeschooling in California

Aren’t you tired of your kids coming home with outrageous ideas? Tired of having to do everything according to the public school’s schedule? Well, you have options.

First, this is a how-to for someone who is going to do it alone in the State of California. Meaning no “homeschooling” group, you are responsible for everything. This is not legal advice but a gleaning of all the information I have. 

So you need to get a file folder and put the following information in it.

  • An attendance record that has your child’s absences only.
  • Have a resume for yourself and/or your spouse that includes any schooling or training you have. (There is not an educational requirement, you just need to have some background proof of some) You also could put in a copy of your transcripts or diploma of your highest level of education.
  • You also need to have 2 state forms completed regarding health and immunization issues. They can be found here. You can also exempt out of the immunizations (on the first form) and fill out an exemption for the exam.

Then you will need to file a PSA (Private School Affidavit), which some of us still refer to by the outdated R4 name. You can go over to my walkthrough of the form if you have any questions. Everything is done and submitted on the computer. You need to print off a copy and keep your confirmation code (just in case).

So what else is expected of you? You will also have to instruct in English (unless your student is currently learning English, in which case it needs to be at least 50%). You will also have to make sure you teach at least the “accepted” subjects. You can go to the Content Standards on the Education Department’s site to get grade-level goals (though not required). You also need to keep a basic course list. Mine is basically a book list.

The subjects for 1st to 6th (there aren’t rules for kindergarten):

  • English
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Health
  • PE

That is it! Remember, we have all seen the current school system so it can’t be that hard! Good Luck!

81 Comments on “How to Start Homeschooling in California”

  • Anonymous August 26th, 2010 9:55 pm

    Twitter Trackbacks…

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    […] And if you are new to the game, here is how to start homeschooling in California! […]

  • Anne Gregor September 8th, 2014 4:12 am

    Great article. Just to add, another exciting part of homeschooling is that you get to see the best parts of your kids as they grow and learn. We get to see the great art works as they are produced, we have the thrill of hearing them read new words for the first time and we are there when the penny drops and they grasp a new concept or are able to solve a difficult problem.

    Anne
    http://HomeschoolingOption.com/

  • Angela January 27th, 2015 11:13 am

    This sounds great! I have a couple of questions though… If I want to begin homeschooling now, what do I do about the affidavit if I can only file it in October? Or is that just for the online form? Can I pull my kid out of school anytime and legally begin homeschooling her? Thanks!

  • NerdMom January 28th, 2015 11:04 am

    I believe that you can print out the form and mail it in. The only time to submit it online is those 15 days. You can pull your child out any time during the school year.

  • Jen February 23rd, 2015 12:07 pm

    THANK YOU for making it short, sweet, and to the point! I just needed the basics and this was perfect.

  • Jen February 24th, 2015 12:26 am

    I wonder how often people fill out the exemption for the exam? My kid is poked and prodded and seen regularly by specialists. Now I have to make a special trip to the germ-depot to get a guy who barely knows my kid (he’s seen the pediatrician TWICE in his life). He is incredibly difficult to get blood from – I’m not doing bloodwork just for bureaucracy. We wait until he has one of his scoped under anesthesia he gets a couple or three times a year and frankly, there may be other tests we deem more important than what is on some list so maybe they’ll wait. This really bothers me that I have even have to worry about any of this. I am wondering if it sends up a red flag that you don’t want to submit that silly medical evaluation form?

  • NerdMom February 24th, 2015 3:33 pm

    Now the exemption has to be signed by the doctor saying you have been counseled about vaccinations. But there is no blood draws or anything like that either way.

  • Lori March 27th, 2015 7:09 pm

    I live in California also and I enrolled my daughter in a private school program who technically will take care of everything but it is in Washington. According to the law, I need to file the affidavit, but will I need to keep a physical copy of the records the program will maintain with me?

  • NerdMom March 27th, 2015 9:20 pm

    You need to ask the school if they are filing for you in California. If not, I would just keep on the safe side. But that is a guess. I don’t know for sure.

  • Cecil Jack October 7th, 2015 12:28 pm

    Hi, Thank you for the insightful article. It helped us register for our daughter to be home schooled. I do have a question for you? What happens after you receive your affidavit confirmation? Do we wait to hear back from the CDE on approval of our School. Will the CDE give us a guideline or set of course modules that will help guide us through the school year?
    Thank you, Cecil

  • NerdMom October 7th, 2015 1:02 pm

    You only submit it, you get nothing back. You are all on your own!

  • Kim January 7th, 2016 8:35 pm

    Just wanted to say a thanks for the great article!!! We’ve decided to take our daughter out of Kinder half way through the year and appreciate the guidance! It definitely is a little overwhelming and I love how you broke it down! Thanks Momma!

  • Jennifer February 27th, 2016 10:23 pm

    Nice article, just the information I was seeking. I’m looking into homeschooling my children. I have a question, so after I sign up for the PSA, Affidavit, and get their health forms what happens next? And will there be someone I will need to report to monthly to check in and see what they’ve learned so far and learning according to age? Will I ever need to actually “turn in” paper work of their learnings material to someone?

  • NerdMom February 28th, 2016 9:25 am

    If you are independent, you are independent. You do keep some records in case children’s services show up or in case you put your child back in school. If you want to use state requirements as your guideline (many don’t), you just need to look online. California has all their basic educational guidelines on line and public.

  • Melissa April 5th, 2016 2:12 pm

    I am looking into homeschool for my 5 year old in CA. I was considering enrolling him in a independent homeschool program run by a charter school, I feel way under qualified as a teacher. I’ve been searching for helpful information and I appreciate your website. So if I’m understanding correctly, by setting up my own private school, I don’t have to follow the common core curriculum and can use the workbooks I’ve seen online and from from schoalstic etc to teach him? My son seems really frustrated when I try to teach him, he’s spent a lot of time learning on the ipad, so when I get out paper and books, he acts tired and thus worries me for his education. I’ve seen some other websites that provide curriculum and you supplement along the way, it’s all just so much information, I don’t know what to pick. Any thoughts?

  • NerdMom April 5th, 2016 9:41 pm

    First and foremost, relax! You don’t even legally have to have your child in school until they are 6. I focus on reading and basic math skills until they are reading. I love Get Ready, Get Set, Go For the Code workbooks and Bob reading books.

  • Maria Cruz August 10th, 2016 4:21 pm

    Thank you for the useful information! I am however a bit confused with the PSA, I went to the A to Z link and clicked on there sample and got overwhelmed with the questions. One that I was really confused with was with the school information oh and the administrative information. Im sure I am making a bigger deal than it is but M daughter starts school next Tuesday and I will leave her in public school until October when the PSA is filed. I am assuming that is how it works…. Sorry i just think its a lot of information at once.

  • NerdMom August 10th, 2016 11:20 pm

    You don’t start her in public at all this year. You will just file in October. Here is a walk through video I did last year! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AN2gpqZvxug

  • Nia October 5th, 2016 1:02 am

    Hello, due to the new immunization laws in ca. Can we still sign waive form?

  • NerdMom October 5th, 2016 9:43 am

    I believe that you can do a waiver but your doctor has to sign it saying that they counseled you.

  • Nicolette October 10th, 2016 9:27 am

    Hi, I was just curious how quickly I can withdraw my child from the current public school she is attending after submitting the affidavit? Thanks!

  • NerdMom October 10th, 2016 3:43 pm

    You don’t have to file the affidavit before you withdraw your student at all.

  • Natasha October 12th, 2016 9:39 pm

    Hi! I’m completely lost when it comes to homeschooling! It all seems so overwhelming but I really want to take the leap with my 9 year old and hopefully we become a pro by the time I have to include my 3 smaller children. Do you use your own curriculum? Can you recommend a good source for curriculum?

  • NerdMom October 13th, 2016 10:47 am

    I use a little of everything. For kids that age I used Story of the World and Singapore. Here is a collection of my big homeschool posts. http://www.nerdfamily.com/homeschool-omnibus/

  • Joe Fabeetz February 19th, 2017 10:05 am

    I am concerned about my nephew. For the sake of his privacy, I will refer to my nephew as Jake. Jake is being taken out of school by his mother’s mother. The grandmother is caring for him because Jake’s parents are derelict. The grandma has been awarded guardianship by the courts in CA.. However, Jake’s grandmother is not a highly motivated individual. She “home-schooled” Jake’s mother years ago and Jake’s mother is a mess. She clearly does not have education in mind when taking Jake from school. Grandma claims that she does not trust the public schools to educate Jake. IMO she does not want to get up in the morning and take him to school. She does not like to help Jake do his homework, this I have seen first hand when I was in CA. visiting. It is all a huge inconvenience for her. I want to ask of the bloggers here, what can I ask grandma in regards to school requirements in CA.? Can she legally just take him out of school mid-year like she did without having a structured curriculum in place? I have asked Jake how he likes his new “school” and he says they do not do anything during the school day. Most days my nephew is left home with a 22 yr. old male figure who smokes pot and plays video games all day. Grandma is home ‘occasionally’ but nothing structured. Jake talks about playing Hot Wheels and counting all his cars as math work. I am sick with dread. My brother thinks he cannot stand up for his son because he is on probation. He thinks the courts will not listen to him. My brother has had trouble with drugs and jail but he has a right to say his son Jake needs to be in a real school. What can Uncle Joe do for Jake?

  • NerdMom February 24th, 2017 4:04 pm

    There isn’t a lot you can ask grandma to make sure she is doing what you think is right for school. If she is his legal guardian she can pull him out of school as long as she either filed an affidavit with the state or added him to someone else’s.

    Speaking to the concerns of unfitness. Public school doesn’t fix that. There are many kids in public school who are neglected and the school doesn’t notice or fix it. If you think she is unfit or neglecting him, act. This isn’t a homeschool issue at all. If you just don’t like the fact he is being homeschooled (or isn’t been educated as you would) just let it go. Consider carefully if you should get the government involved and I would urge you to not over react but also don’t throw your hands up in inaction.

    And call over there and talk to your nephew. Maybe you could offer to help with his homework or teach him something.

  • Holly Dickerson September 30th, 2017 7:21 pm

    I just wanted to drop in and say THANK YOU! This page right here made me so much less intimidated. WE DID IT! Filed the PSA today. We are in our 2nd month on our homeschool journey.

  • Desiree November 2nd, 2017 12:29 am

    I want to start homeschooling my 6 year old son. I was so intimidated by the process but you made it sound so easy. I just want to be sure on how to start. So all I need is a resume for myself, my diploma, my sons immunizations and the private school affidavit form filled out? Where do I send these? And after I’ve sent them in am I correct that I don’t need to wait for a response or report to anyone about his school or curriculum other than keeping my own records?

  • NerdMom November 2nd, 2017 6:27 am

    The only thing that gets submitted is the affidavit. Everything else goes in a file that you keep!

  • Desiree November 2nd, 2017 8:03 am

    Where do I send it? I’ve been looking online and have found the affidavit form from what I can tell I can’t print it out and handwrite the answers. Do you know how I get this form?

  • Dawn Pulido December 20th, 2017 11:39 am

    Hi, thank you for your videos. I am looking into homeschooling my 11-year-old daughter with special needs. If I do not go through a charter school, will she still be able to receive Speech, OT, PT services like she does in public school now? Will it all be out of pocket for us?

  • NerdMom December 20th, 2017 2:15 pm

    I have been told that in California she would be entitled but that it is really hard to get the services. That sometimes the state says they are only available in the school. But supposedly, you should be able to get them for free.

  • Malia April 18th, 2018 1:22 am

    My daughter was doing a non accreditive home school program since March but I had no idea, I just today filed an affidavit. Can she be considered truant if the district comes back with “She was technically absent for a month”? Thank you!!

  • NerdMom April 18th, 2018 2:22 pm

    I wouldn’t worry about it at all! Just make sure your attendance record includes those dates.

  • Joe G April 25th, 2018 11:46 pm

    Found you on YouTube and thank you for the information.
    My question is
    Tomorrow I am pulling my son out traditional school and start home schooling.
    Do I need to give the school the psa or mail it in
    to the state?
    Thank you.

  • NerdMom April 27th, 2018 10:22 pm

    I believe you can now submit it online all year. You do not need to give the school a copy.

  • Cristina May 9th, 2018 2:45 pm

    Hi, I’m new on this whole homeschooling process andI just finished watching one of your youtube videos on how to start homeschooling and you stated that we don’t need to file a PSA if the child is under 6. My daughter turns 5 in a few months so i thought it was time for her to start school already. I spoke to a rep from our local school district and they did not mention about not filling one out until she turns 6. Can you please clarify for me? Thank you so much! Your videos are very helpful since i have zero knowledge about all this. Thanks again!

  • NerdMom May 18th, 2018 2:08 pm

    School at the age of 5 is optional in the State of California. You don’t have to start filing until the school year that they are 6. But remember, kinder is also optional so don’t hesitate to start her education without filing;).

  • Davna Films May 18th, 2018 1:16 am

    thank you so much for the youtube video and this article. They are EXACTLY what I needed! You calmed down my nerves so much and helped me feel like everything will be ok. ONE QUESTION are we also expected to have our kids take Standardized testing, STAAR, CAT those kinds of tests?

  • NerdMom May 18th, 2018 2:06 pm

    We are not expected to do any of the standardized state tests!

  • Ivy May 27th, 2018 11:41 pm

    I’m going to start homeschooling my 5 year old. What curriculums do you guys recommend for a kindergarten? I was looking at those package kits like Book Sharks level K all subject packages or the TimberDoodle kindergarten curriculum kit? What do you guys suggest I do? I’m new to all this homeschooling.

  • Mommyof4 October 2nd, 2018 4:13 pm

    I love and appreciate your helpful fun YouTube videos! We joined the HSLDA membership thanks for the awareness! I sent a notification letter to withdrawal my children from K12. My children’s teachers emailed me requesting a reason and name of school my children are transferring to in order to complete withdraw. Today I received an email that my children were absent.I have also filed a PSA online and received confirmation. What do you advise?

  • NerdMom October 5th, 2018 12:50 pm

    As a response to the absence email, I would just send them another copy of the initial letter you sent them. I would also contact the district and let them know that you had notified the school and they refuse to take them off the roll.

    And you don’t owe them a reason. Just give them the name and “address” of your school and ask them to send their records please.

  • Amaya Vazquez October 12th, 2018 9:44 pm

    First of thank you so much for the step by step video on how to fill out your PSA i really was so confused about it but your help was all i was looking for. Now that i have my comfirmation number what do i tell the office when i take my son out of school ? What happens with my sons IEP ?

  • Amaya Vazquez October 12th, 2018 9:53 pm

    Do you by any chance no of any group of people that do homeschooling that meet every week or so often or a group support od some sort for homeschool beginners
    ??

  • Robert A. December 19th, 2018 12:47 pm

    Thank you for all the help you have provided for so many people. I just wanted to know if we are legally required in California to teach our curriculum using common core? Are we allowed to teach without using common core? Thank you very much!

  • NerdMom December 19th, 2018 5:48 pm

    You are not required to use Common Core! You just agree to teach on the main subjects.

  • Sheree C February 13th, 2019 7:14 am

    Hello, what an amazing site you have! I have a 3rd grader that has been in 2 schools this year. The school she initially was in then we the new school she just transferred to last month. We just moved from long beach to Los Angeles and I’ve noticed the teacher sends homework sheets randomly from the book and there’s no structure. I’m concerned about my daughters education, half the time she does understand. I would like to start homeschooling her asap. Could I withdraw her out first then start the process?

  • NerdMom February 13th, 2019 5:26 pm

    Yes, you can. But for the record, the paperwork takes like 10 minutes. I would do it the same day.

  • Becca Gumm February 15th, 2019 9:58 am

    Thank you so much! We are moving from Wisconsin to Los Angeles,California in 2 weeks. We are going to be homeschooling when we arrive. Daughter is currently in 3rd grade and Montessori educated since preschool. We are definitely excited to be inserting faith based learning into our curriculum! Do you know how quickly I would have to enroll her when we arrive and how long it takes? Should I do it today before we even move or is it something I need to wait to do until we get there? I am still deciding about charter schools. I was going to enroll with Inspire Charter School, but it looks like they have stopped enrolling new students for the year and now I am at a loss of what to do. Would love your thoughts!

  • Lupita S March 18th, 2019 12:26 pm

    Hi your videos are so helpful! Thanks for taking the time to do them, I am new to the homeschool approach of education. My daughter will be entering 7th grade this fall and I really want to homeschool her but am kind of lost and dont know where to start. What is the difference between a charter school and just homeschooling by yourself? Also any advice on curriculum for 7th graders, since she will be graduating from elementary this year how do I notify the school or district that she will be homeschooled next year? Thanks so much in advance 🙂 God Bless

  • Juan August 20th, 2019 6:56 am

    Your videos are freakin’ awesome. Glad I ran into them. I am thinkgin of homeschooling our kindergartener but need some help on going about that… I’m lost

  • NerdMom August 27th, 2019 9:26 pm

    You’ve got this!

  • Tricia August 27th, 2019 6:31 pm

    My daughter is currently enrolled in school but I want to start homeschooling her now. From what I can gather I can’t submit a new PSA until Oct. 1st. Do you think I can unenroll her now or should I wait until closer to Oct? I read somewhere that they don’t accept PSA’s in August and September.

  • NerdMom August 27th, 2019 9:24 pm

    Unenroll her immediately;)! It is just that the new PSA for 2019-2020 isn’t out. Don’t worry about it. Your school exists because you say it does!

  • Teagan Brown August 27th, 2019 8:13 pm

    My question is that my son is starting kindergarten this week. He does not turn six until December 7th. Do I still need to file the affidavit or do I file it next year for 1st grade? Also, if I don’t have to file it now can I still take him out of school and home school him for kindergarten?

  • NerdMom August 27th, 2019 9:25 pm

    You can totally take him out now. You don’t need to file until the student is 6 by September 1st.

  • Stephanie sparks September 23rd, 2019 9:47 am

    Hi!! I have a question for withdrawing my kid from our current charter school, which was done on Friday and having to wait till oct1st to file the affidavit here in California.. I’m worried about the time between and if there’s gonna be a problem till I can file the affidavit…

  • NerdMom September 23rd, 2019 8:14 pm

    Don’t worry about not filing the affidavit. That doesn’t make you a school perse. You saying you are a school does;). You can email me any questions at mom@nerdfamily.com

  • Stephanie sparks September 23rd, 2019 11:32 am

    Hi! It’s me again! I’m kinda panicking and my husband and I are not on the same page with certain things.. I’m sure your busy with your life but I was hoping we could talk on the phone so I could clarify some things and feel more comfortable with everything. If you could email me I can give you my number… if not I understand. Thanks for your time!!!

  • Jan October 10th, 2019 10:16 am

    Can homeschool expenses be deducted in IRS 1040 filing? If “no” could I open business under the Affidavit’s school name and deduct expenses in that way?

  • Jessie October 11th, 2019 6:40 am

    I want to do a private charter homeschool but haven’t heard back from the charter school. I really want to start homeschooling my 10yr old son ASAP but I don’t want to wait for the charter school. Can I temporarily go into private homeschooling & file a PSA and then when a homeschool charter accepts my enrollment form, can I just start private homeschooling then? When I do file a PSA & get confirmation, what do I tell my sons current public school? Do I just tell his teacher, principal etc? Or I don’t have to say anything to his school & just take him out of school? Please help me. Thank you!

  • Gabriela December 25th, 2019 6:41 pm

    Do you have advice for parents intending to travel during a school year? It doesn’t appear that traveling students would fulfill the full time portion as it won’t be typically full time. Do I assume the education would be done entirely as independent study? Thank you for your advice in advance.

  • NerdMom December 29th, 2019 2:37 pm

    Full time isn’t in reference to the number of hours, just that this is the only school they attend. That you will oversee their entire education.

  • Jessica January 5th, 2020 10:59 pm

    Hi I just found you on YouTube i am extremely grateful for the knowledge shared just had a couple questions my son is turning 5 in march and i wanted to home school him due to him not being current on his vaccines which is why I am planning on home schooling I have a exempt form that was file for religious beliefs would that still be valid for his medical information I dont believe my partner and I agreed on having him vaccinated for schooling purposes help plz

  • NerdMom January 6th, 2020 3:34 pm

    You should be fine without exemptions. You never have to give that paperwork to anyone unless the government specifically comes and asks for it. Just pop it into your file cabinet.

  • Cindy Clayton January 22nd, 2020 6:36 pm

    Hi! Thank you so much for all the clear info on how to get started. I just found you on YouTube. So I enrolled my daughter in a home based charter school in November thinking it would be better than school but it’s basically school at home , which isn’t working out for us because I find myself pushing and enforcing the very boring ways they want me to teach my child . Not to mention all the standardized tests and evaluations required every 20 days. Now that I know what actual homeschool is we’d like to file affidavit as soon as possible. Now my problem is that I feel really guilty about all the curriculum and material the charter school has provided my daughter . They sent us about $1000 worth of curriculum. This the only thing holding me back and making me want to wait until the school year ends.

  • NerdMom January 23rd, 2020 9:02 pm

    I think about it like a normal public school buying supplies for a student. They may take it all back if you leave. You need to do what is right for your student.

  • Craig Williams February 3rd, 2020 3:41 pm

    Hello, thank you so much for this and the YouTube videos. Super helpful! I was curious, I have unenrolled my son from a private school and I filled out the affidavit, is that it? We want to start homeschooling our son immediately. It’s the middle of the school year. Do we need to submit attendance records? Testing results?

  • NerdMom February 4th, 2020 2:25 pm

    Thank you so much for watching and reading my stuff! You are starting a great adventure! You are good to go! You keep an attendance record for you alone. No submitting anything else to anyone.

  • Ashley March 7th, 2020 3:06 pm

    Thank you for everything you do! I’m new to the homeschooling journey and really appreciate seasoned veterans posting information for us newbies! Hoping you can give me some insight. My daughter’s current school sent out next year enrollment forms, on which I indicated she will not be attending. I planned to begin homeschooling in August, but the affidavit isn’t available until October. I’m concerned that her local public school may cause a problem because I won’t technically have the home private school set up via the affidavit before the school year begins. Should I create the school now even though it technically won’t be “open,” or is there something else I can do to avoid any drama with the public school/district when the next school year begins? I almost feel like it would be easier to start now and send a withdrawal letter, but I’m concerned the school will see my signature on the letter from her “new school” requesting her cumulative record and cause problems as some of my friends in other districts have experienced.

  • NerdMom March 8th, 2020 7:31 pm

    Don’t worry about filing until October. But I would go ahead and give them the name of your new school (and address) to request the cumulative record at the end of the semester but before fall.

  • Crystal Cabrera May 17th, 2020 7:21 pm

    Hi, I am wanting to homeschool my children and I feel a bit overwhelmed, is there anyway I can speak with you over the phone? If not I completely understand. Thank you.

  • NerdMom May 29th, 2020 3:33 pm

    I sell coaching calls for $25 an hour. If you are interested please let me know!

  • Mark Boolen May 28th, 2020 10:32 am

    Would like to know if there’s funding if you opt out on charter schools and do homeschooling privately

  • NerdMom May 29th, 2020 3:32 pm

    You are the funding;). But seriously, there are a variety of price ranged materials out there from free to pricey. If you are doing it on the cheap, expect to put in a little more planning and gathering work.

  • Emily July 17th, 2020 4:47 pm

    Is there a particular curriculum for homeschool that you recommend? I will have a 2nd and 4th grader this upcoming school year. Thank you!

  • NerdMom July 25th, 2020 11:00 am

    We liked Story of the World and Singapore math at those ages. But remember, there is no magical or perfect curriculum. Just use what works for you. Even if it is just workbooks from Costco and reading books from the library!

  • Manny July 24th, 2020 9:08 am

    hello Nerdfamily, Great work you sounds so easy on home schooling if anyone decided to do so. so we have been thinking to same for our daughter hope we are not late. I just started to do my homework for year 20-21.

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