Help! How Do I homeschool?

The Fine Print:

This booklet was prepared for your information only. It is not intended to be, and does not constitute the giving of legal advice.

Ways to Homeschool

There are dozens of different approaches to homeschooling: a prepackaged curriculum, a structured curriculum of your own design, co-op or shared learning, working with a teacher, natural learning, a non-structured curriculum, child-led learning, and many others. Each family should explore the possibilities and decide on the right approach for themselves.

Section 48200 of the California Education Code states that:

"Each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years not exempted [by the code] is subject to compulsory full-time education."

Following are ways some families homeschool in California:

1. R-4 Affidavit

Establish your home as a Private School by filing an R-4 with the County or State Department of Education. The R-4, available at the County Office of Education, can be filed any time during the year and must be renewed each year between October 1 - 15.

Although no definitive figures exist concerning the number of homeschooling families that file R-4 affidavits, an educated guess is that in the 1994-95 school year, at least 12,000 children were schooled in homes that were listed with the state as private schools. The relevant Education Codes are 33190 and 48222 (these two codes are printed on the back of the R-4 form).

Education Code 33190

Every person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation offering or conducting private school instruction on the elementary or high school level shall between the first and 15th day of October of each year, commencing on October 1, 1967, file with the Superintendent of Public Instruction an affidavit or statement, under penalty of perjury, by the owner or other head setting forth the following information for the current year: All names, whether real or fictitious, of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation under which it has done and is doing business. The address, including city and street, of every place of doing business of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation within the State of California. The address, including city and street, of the location of the records of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation, and the name and address, including city and street, of the custodian of such records The names and addresses, to include city and street, of the directors, if any, and principal officers of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation. The school enrollment, by grades, number of teachers, coeducational or enrollment limited to boys or girls and boarding facilities. That the following records are maintained at the address stated, and are true and accurate: The records required to be kept by Section 48222 The courses of study offered by the institution. The names and addresses, including city and street, of its faculty, together with a record of the educational qualifications of each. That criminal record summary information has been obtained pursuant to Section 44237. Whenever two or more private schools are under the effective control or supervision of a single administrative unit, such administrative unit may comply with the provisions of this section on behalf of each of the schools under its control or supervision by submitting one report.

Filing pursuant to this section shall not be interpreted to mean, and it shall be unlawful for any school to expressly or impliedly represent by any means whatsoever, that the State of California, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, or any division or bureau of the Department, or any accrediting agency has made any evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of the school or course unless this is an actual fact.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare and publish a list of private elementary and high schools to include the name and address of the school and the name of the school owner or administrator.

Education Code 48222

Children who are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching shall be exempted. Such school shall, except under the circumstances described in Section 30, be taught in the English language and shall offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state. The attendance of the pupils shall be kept by private school authorities in a register, and the record of attendance shall indicate clearly every absence of the pupil from school for a half day or more during each day that school is maintained during the year.

Exemptions under this section shall be valid only after verification by the attendance supervisor of the district, or other person designated by the board of education, that the private school has complied with the provisions of Section 33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit or statement of prescribed information with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The verification required by this section shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.

Useful addresses

California State Department of Education
Education Demographics Unit
PO Box 944272
Sacramento, CA 94244-2720
[Ron Reid (916) 657-3812]

To obtain the State Curriculum Standards:

California State Department of Education
PO Box 271,
Sacramento, CA 95812
(916) 445-1260

An alternative private school is available:

2. Correspondence Schools

Correspondence school programs must be recognized as being in compliance with the California Education Code. Families enrolled in out-of-state programs are required by state law to be enrolled in a California private school, with a California address.

This means you will still need to file an R-4 Affidavit, or enroll in a private Independent Study Program (ISP).

Calvert School
Dept. HE113
105 Tuscany Road
Baltimore, MD 21210
(410) 243-6030

Clonlara School
Home Based Education Program
1289 Jewett Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(313) 769-4515

Oak Meadow School
PO Box 712
Blacksburg, VA 24063
(703) 552-3263

3. Private Independent Study Program (ISP)

Your children may be enrolled in a satellite program of a private school which has filed a Private School R-4 Affidavit.

4. Public School Independent Study Program (ISP)

Children enrolled in public school ISPs become public school students, subject to the rules and regulations of both the district and state.

Information can be obtained by calling your local school district and asking about their Independent Study Program.

5. Credentialed Teacher/Tutor

A homeschooling parent with a valid California teaching credential for grades and subjects taught may be exempted under the private tutorial exemption. Relevant Education Code 48224.

Education Code 48224

Children not attending a private, full-time, day school and who are being instructed in study and recitation for at least three hours a day for 175 days each calendar year by a private tutor or other person in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state and in the English language shall be exempted. The tutor or other person shall hold a valid state credential for the grade taught. The instruction shall be offered between the hours of 8 o'clock a.m. and 4 o'clock p.m.

To locate a tutor check the yellow pages of the phone book under "Tutoring".

6. "Underground"

Lastly, some families choose to homeschool "underground". This means they don't utilize any of the above approaches. There are a variety of reasons for making this choice, differing from family to family.

How Can We Get Started?

The best approach to homeschooling is to learn as much as possible! Read books, publications, attend homeschooling conferences, curriculum fairs, support group meetings, and/or talk with individual homeschooling families. Be aware that there are many distinctly different ways to homeschool. Finding the one that best suits your family's needs may take some time.

How Do My Children "Socialize"?

Homeschooling presents an unequaled opportunity for real socialization by providing ample time for a child's participation in sports activities, musical groups, church and youth organizations, field trips, volunteer opportunities, arts and crafts workshops, neighborhood children's activities and many other activities. At the same time, homeschooling parents recognize that the family provides the principal elements for social development: love, security, discipline, interdependence and responsibility.

Driver Education

Any private school can offer Driver Instruction. All the necessary paperwork is available to schools, free of charge:

DMV, Division of Administration,
Forms Management Unit
PO Box 932382
Sacramento, CA 94232-3820
Phone Mail - 657-7836

Use school letterhead to request a DMV Requisition Form (DL 396). Materials are only obtainable from the DMV in May for the following school year. Materials can only be requested at this time, so plan ahead.

Education Codes applicable are 51220 and 51220.1. Also applicable is California Administrative Code (Title 5, 10020) which describes the areas to be included in Driver Education courses.

Teen Driver Guide is available from your local DMV office.

Alternatively, students may be able to take the required courses at a local public high school; take classes at a private driving school; ask a local private school that already offers driver education to its students if your child may enroll in their class.

Regional Occupational Program (ROP)

The ROP is a job training program jointly offered by local business, industry, school districts, and the County Office of Education. It includes classroom orientation and on-site job training. First priority in enrollment is given to high school seniors. There is no entrance exam.

California High School Proficiency Examination (CHSPE

This examination was developed to provide a means by which qualified individuals could leave high school early. Examinees who demonstrate proficiency in the basic skills (reading, writing, and mathematics) receive a Certificate of Proficiency, which is the only certificate equivalent by law, in the state of California, to a high school diploma.

The CHSPE is open to anyone meeting at least one of the following requirements:

  1. 16 years of age or older.
  2. Completion of at least one year of enrollment in the tenth grade.
  3. Student has "been enrolled in the second half-year of the tenth grade since the beginning of the semester in which that test date occurs." (This is the section used for most underage homeschoolers).

The CHSPE is normally given two times a year, around November and April. Test registration (the deadline is about one month prior to exam) and information booklets by Barron and ARCO are available from your public library or local bookstore. For further details:

CHSPE Program
PO Box 23490
Oakland, CA 94623-0490
(510) 873-8100

General Educational Development (GED)

The test measures a student's ability to comprehend, apply, and analyze information in: literature/arts, writing skills, history, math, and social studies, or as closely as possible, the outcomes associated with 4 years of high school instruction. The GED High School Equivalency Certificate is deemed by California law to be a high school diploma for purposes of employment by all state and local public agencies.

For details:

GED Program Coordinator 1-800-626-9433

The Question: College?

Most colleges and universities have entrance exams, but many of them place much more weight on an individual student's ability and aptitude. Homeschooled children have encountered little difficulty continuing their education, whether in local community colleges, Ivy League universities, vocational institutes or other avenues of higher education.

National Support Groups

Adventist Home Educator
PO Box 836
Camino, CA 95709

Alliance for Parental Involvement in Education (ALLPIE)
PO Box 59
East Chatham, NY 12060-0059
(518) 392-6900

Catholic Home School Newsletter
688 11th Ave NW
New Brighton, MN 55112

The Drinking Gourd
PO Box 2557
Redmond, WA 98073

HELP (Home Education League of Parents)
Suite 131
3208 Cahuenga Blvd. West
Los Angeles, CA 90068
(800) 582-9061

Islamic Homeschool Assn. of North America
1312 Plymouth Ct.
Raleigh, NC 27610

Jewish Home Educators' Network
Marc Emstoff
2 Webb Road
Sharon, MA 02067

Latino Homeschoolers
Lucy Salcido-Carter
1087 Moreno Avenue
Palo Alto, Ca 94303

National Association for Mormon Home Educators
2770 South 1000 West
Perry, UT 84302
(801) 723-5355

National Handicapped Homeschoolers Associated Network (NATHAN)
5383 Alpine Road SE
Oglalla, WA 98359
(206) 857-4257

National Homeschool Association
P O Box 157290
Cincinnati, OH 45215-7290
(513) 772-9580

Single Parents Network Children with Special Needs
729 N Goldenstate Blvd., Suite 210
Turlock, CA 95380
(209) 667-6219

Vegan Homeschoolers
5313 A Heritage Way NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109


Not all families choose to follow a curriculum. Families who do, find that most national homeschooling magazines contain advertisements for curriculum, as well as supplies and correspondence schools. Local teachers' stores carry lots of "school" type workbooks. Many resources can be obtained from your local library free of charge. You can homeschool on an extremely limited budget by being creative and resourceful. Garage sales, rummage sales, and secondhand bookstores are good sources for books, sometimes even textbooks.

Books About Homeschooling and Education

In Their Own Way
Awakening Your Child's Natural Genius
The Radiant Child
Seven Kinds of Smart

Bear's Guide to Non-Traditional College Degrees
BEAR, John, Ph.D.

Hard Times In Paradise
Homeschooling For Excellence
COLFAX, David & Mickie

The Art of Education

Dumbing Us Down
The Exhausted School
GATTO, John Taylor

Free At Last

The Lifelong Learner
GROSS, Ronald

Family Matters - Why Homeschooling Makes Sense

How I Became An Autodidact
HAILEY, Kendall

Alternatives In Education
The Home School Reader
HEGENER, Mark and Helen

What Your _____ Grader Needs to Know. (There is one book for each grade 1-6.)

Escape From Childhood
Freedom and Beyond
How Children Fail
How Children Learn
Learning All The Time
Teach Your Own
The Underachieving School
What Do I Do Monday?
HOLT, John

The Relaxed Homeschool
HOOD, Mary

Home Education Resource Guide

And The Children Played
JOUNDRY, Patricia

Who Does What When?
Should I Teach My Kids At Home?

The Everyday Genius
KLEIN, Peter

The Question Is College
KOHL, Herbert

Talent Education: An Analysis

I Learn Better By Teaching Myself
Still Teaching Ourselves

The Teenage Liberation Handbook
Real Lives: 11 Teenagers Who Don't Go To School

For The Children's Sake
MASON, Charlotte M.

Better Late Than Early
The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook
MOORE, Raymond & Dorothy

Schooling at Home
PEDERSON, Anne & O'MARA, Peggy, eds.

The Big Book Of Home Learning

The First Home-School Catalog
REED, Donn

The Three R's At Home
RICHMAN, Howard & Susan

Good Stuff: Learning Tools For All Ages
RUPP, Rebecca

Insult To Intelligence
SMITH, Frank

The Home School Manual
WADE, Theodore E. Jr.

Better Than School
Child's Work

Your Child Learns Naturally
WARNER, Silas L.

Children Learning At Home
WEBB, Julie

Magazines and Newsletters

Growing Without Schooling
2269 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, Ma 02140
(617) 864-3100
Sample issue, $4.50
Bi-monthly $25/yr

Home Education Magazine
PO Box 1083
Tonasket, Wa 98855
(509) 486-1351
Sample issue $4.50
Bi-monthly $21/yr

Moore Report International
The Moore Foundation
PO Box 1
Camas, WA 98607
Single Issue $2
Bi-monthly $12/yr

The Teaching Home
PO Box 20219
Portland, OR 97220
Single issue $3.75
Bi-monthly $15

Unschooling Ourselves
P.O. Box 1014
Eugene, OR 97440
Quarterly $12/yr

Educational Suppliers

Applegate's Christian Bookstore
4100 Cameron Park Drive
Cameron Park, CA 95682
(916) 672-2227

County Book Dock
4121 Power Inn Road
Sacramento, CA
(916) 381- 4172 (Call for hours, open irregularly)

The Report Card

Teachers Exchange

Teachers' World
10100 N Lower Sacramento Rd
Stockton, CA
(209) 476-0525

Toys That Teach

Companies That Sell Books, Curriculum, and Equipment

A Beka Book Publications
Box 1800
Pensacola, FL 32532
(800) 874-2352
Text books

Acorn Naturalists
17300 E 17th St.
Suite J-236
Tustin, CA 92680
(714) 838-5309
Naturalist tools, books

Alpha Omega
PO Box 3153
Tempe, AZ 85280
(800) 821-4443
Learning materials

Animal Town
PO Box 485
Healdsburg, CA 95448
(800) 445-8642
Games, books

Backyard Scientist
PO Box 16966
Irvine, CA 92713
Science books

Blue Mountain Book Peddler
15301 Grey Fox Road
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772
(301) 627-2131
Saxon math, Brown Paper book series + others

Blue Spruce Biological Supply Inc.
221 South Street
Castle Rock, CO 80104
(800) 825-8522
Science lab materials

Bluestocking Press
PO Box 1014
Placerville, CA 95667-1014
(916) 621-1123
Specializes in books consistent with the principles of America's Founders

1000 Brown Street, Unit 101
Wauconda, IL 60084
Language materials, including Latin

Brook Farm Books
PO Box 277
Lyndon, CT 05849
The First Home-School Catalog

Builder Books
PO Box 5291
Lynnwood, WA 98046-5291
(800) 548-1106
Full line of home education materials

California Kids History Catalog
PO Box 1521
Sonoma, CA 95476
(707) 996-0121
California history books

Charlotte Mason Research & Supply Co.
PO Box 172
Stanton, NJ 08885
Books and resources promoting Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy

Chinaberry Book Service
2780 Via Orange Way, #B
Spring Valley, CA 91978
(800) 776-2242
One of the best book catalogs, children's books, tapes, and adult books; with book reviews

Claudia's Caravan
PO Box 1582
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 521-7871
Foreign language materials

Cobblestone Publishing Inc.
7 School Street
Peterborough, NH 03458-1454
(800) 821-0115
Social studies, history, science magazines

Crane's Select Educational Materials
PO Box 124
Bedford, IN 47421
(812) 279-3434
Homeschooling products, science and history

Capper's Book Service
616 Jefferson
Topeka, KS 66607
(800) 777-7171
Books, mainly historical fiction

Creative Kids Learning Co.
964 Holland Road
Holland, PA 18966
(215) 355-1442
Creative/alternative learning emphasis

Creative Learning Systems, Inc.
16510 Via Esprillo
San Diego, CA 92127-1708
"Your cybersource for seeing, touching, and experiencing technology."

Cuisenaire Co. Of America
PO Box 5026
White Plains, NY 10602-5026
(800) 237-3142
Math and science

Dept. Of Education Resources
Extension Programs Section
National Gallery Of Art
4th and Constitution Ave NW
Washington, DC 20565 Films, videocassettes, slides of famous artists available for free rental

Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street
Mineola, NY 11701
Outstanding general purpose resource

Edmund Scientific
101 East Gloucester Pike
Barrington, NJ 08007-1380
(609) 547-8880
Scientific equipment

George F. Cram Company, Inc.
PO Box 426
Indianapolis, IN 46206
(317) 635-5564
Map and geography materials

Mail Processing Center
6519 N. Galena Road
PO Box 1773
Peoria, IL 61656-1773
(800) 325-2502
Toys, books

Holt Associates
2269 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 864-3100
Homeschooling books, games, instruments, tapes

Home Education Press
PO Box 1083
Tonasket, WA 98855
(509) 486-1351
Homeschooling books

Institute For Math Mania
PO Box 910
Montpelier, VT 05601
(802) 223-5871
Math books and games

Japanese American Curriculum Project
PO Box 1587
San Mateo, CA 94401-0892
(800) 874-2242
Asian American books, tapes

Key Curriculum Press
PO Box 2304
Berkeley, CA 94702
(800) 338-7638
Math books grades 4-12

Learning At Home
PO Box 270
Honaunau, HI 96726
(808) 328-9669
K-12 books, workbooks, math manipulatives, science, art supplies

Michael Olaf
PO Box 1162
Arcata, CA 95521
(707) 826-1557
An excellent all round resource

Modern Talking Picture Service
5000 Park Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33709
(800) 243-6877
Huge variety of educational films, free shipping

Moore Foundation
PO Box 1
Camas, WA 98607
Newsletter, Weaver, Konos curriculum, and Moore-McGuffey readers

Music For Little People
PO Box 1460
Redway, CA 95560
(800) 727-2233
Children's music tapes, CDs

Music In Motion
109 Spanish Village, #645
Dallas, TX 75248
(800) 455-0649
Music books

4311 Anthony Court #3700
Rocklin, CA 95677
(916) 652-9119
Huge science catalog

Pathway Publishers
Rr #4, Box 266
La Grange, IN 46761
Amish textbooks

Ray Toelke Associates
PO Box 253
Chatham, NY 12037
History games

Saxon Publishing Inc.
1300 Mcgee, #100
Norman, OK 73072
(800) 284-7019 Math textbooks, Saxon Math

Scientific Wizardry
9925 Fairview Ave
Boise, ID 83704
(208) 377-8575
Science stuff

PO Box 1411
Ann Arbor, MI 48106
(800) 248-7427
Suzuki music materials and instruments

E. 1610 Spencer Lake Road
Shelton, WA 98584
(206) 426-0672
Educational materials, Fishertechnik kits

Send mail to the HERO© designer for any questions you might have.

Back to HERO©