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.

Then you will need to file a PSA (Private School Affidavit), which some of us still refer to by the outdated R4 name.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!

102 thoughts on “How to Start Homeschooling in California”

  1. Pingback: Anonymous
  2. 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.


  3. 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!

    1. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

    1. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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!

  9. 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?

    1. 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.

  10. 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?

    1. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

  13. 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?

  14. 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?

    1. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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?

  18. 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?

    1. 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.

  19. 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!!

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

    1. 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;).

  22. 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?

  23. 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.

  24. 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?

    1. 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.

  25. 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 ?

  26. 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

  27. 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!

  28. 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?

  29. 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!

  30. 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

  31. 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

  32. 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.

    1. 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!

  33. 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?

  34. 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…

  35. 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!!!

  36. 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?

  37. 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!

  38. 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.

    1. 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.

  39. 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

    1. 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.

  40. 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.

    1. 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.

  41. 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?

    1. 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.

  42. 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.

    1. 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.

  43. 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.

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

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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!

  46. 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.

  47. Hi! I’m having a lot of fight back with my child’s school as far as getting him unenrolled. They demand I name a school/ district he is being moved to to “send his file” but I keep telling them the school won’t be official until October 1st and they tell me he must be enrolled until then. I let them know that I do not wish for him to be marked truent until the matter is resolved. But they tell me they cannot do that…it’s hard because he technically needs to be present online for credit. I’m very frustrated, can they do this?

  48. I submitted a PSA online and received an auto generated email. Is there an additional approval process or can I start teaching now? The children have been doing the district online academy for three weeks but, with all of the new laws, it doesn’t fit in with our work schedules. Plus having the children in from of a computer for four hours a day Mon-Fri with no human interaction doesn’t align with our vision of education and development.

    1. There is no approval process. You are legit because you submitted the PSA. But the new one is out for 20-21 so you need to refile. Then notify your school that you are transferring them and you are good.

  49. Hello, I am just starting the homeschooling process for my 3 siblings ages 15, 11, and 6. I’m trying to get an idea of what I need to do once I file the affidavit. So do I just jump right into schooling them after I file the affidavit? Also I have read about funding for the children’s learning. How does that work?

  50. My sister has three kids and she is thinking of homeschooling but I would like to help her. Not sure if she has to file the Affidavit’s with her name or mine? If I am the only one that would help them learn. Also do I have to hire a tutor or can I teach them? Do I have to follow a certain curriculum?

  51. My 2 children are doing Inspire homeschool public Charter. I’m watching my friends kid (also a 4th grader) in misery doing distance learning – he is enrolled in a brick and mortar public school. His Mom wants him to do homeschool but the charters are closed to enrollment. Question – since he is at my house should I fill out the homeschool affidavit (leaving my kids off since they are enrolled in another school) or should she fill out the homeschool affidavit using her contact information. Even though he will be doing his schoolwork under my supervision and using same online curriculum as my daughter – she will just be paying for it out of pocket. Thanks

  52. Hi NerdFamily,
    I sent letter of withdrawal today. The registrar for my child’s elementary school is requesting I tell her which specific school as I only gave her the name on my PSA. She would like the school website or contact information , “just to note” as she stated. Do I have to provide my schools address and phone number?

    1. You can give her your address if you want. If you asked for records that would be how they would get them to you unless you are picking them up.

  53. I want to homeschool my kids but they start public school in august and I can’t file the affidavit intel October what are my options. help thank you

    1. Don’t worry about it. Just say that you are transferring them. If the school questions it just tell them that the PSA’s are closed until 10/1. Don’t send your children back!

  54. I don’t see an area in the Waiver of Health Exam form where a doctor needs to sign. Does my child’s doctor need to sign this form?

  55. Hi,

    My child who is 6 years old will be starting school this year. We haven’t enrolled him anywhere as we prefer to home-school him from age 6 and on. Based on what I read, i should start the PSA on 10/1 as this school year (2021-22) will be his first ever. Please advise if this is true. Thank you!

  56. I wrote the letter of withdrawal a couple of days ago. My daughter is 14 and special needs. Do you know if the CA curriculum standards apply for special needs kids? I’ve enrolled her in an online platform that has general ed coursework that we can tailor to her level, but I haven’t even begun thinking about the rest of the schedule. Thank you for this article. Very helpful. This is stressing me out!!! 🙂

  57. If I were to pull my kids out now and submit the PSA via mail but later in the school year move to a different city, would I have to resubmit a new PSA with our new address?

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