In 2017 we sat in a restaurant with our child who was struggling with bullying and the lack of support he was receiving for his ADHD at school in third grade.
He was understandably done, frustrated, and defeated. The bullying had taken it’s toll and the learning difficulties he’d been dealing with were discouraging.
It was on this day that we decided to homeschool. But, first we made sure he understood what homeschooling meant.
- Homeschooling is a complete departure from public school
- There will still be social interactions with other kids, but we can choose what those will be
- Mom & Dad will be the teachers now and that might be an adjustment from your public school teachers
- You will still have learning time daily and will have to follow new homeschool rules
At this point we didn’t know much about homeschooling. I had just finished my degree and student teaching in Special Education, so I felt equipped to teach (FYI I strongly feel any parent can homeschool). But, I wasn’t sure my son, who had been in public school his whole life would accept me as his teacher and put in the work.
But, we made it work and here we are today homeschooling our daughter too!
So, I really wanted to share with other parents how to get started. Because I was totally lost when I started, but in reality it is very easy to get started in homeschooling.
What are my homeschooling options?
If you are pretty serious about homechooling your kids the first thing you need to do is get familiar with your states homeschooling laws.
Every state has different laws regarding homeschooling. Some are more lenient and some more strict.
The HSLDA has a really great resource that tells you these laws by state.
Homeschooling options in California
Since we are located in California I’ll go over the 3 options we have here.
Also important to note, California doesn’t require kids to go to school until age 6. So, if you want you can homeschool on your own until this age.
Before you start homeschooling you are required to let your child’s school know, if they were previously enrolled, that you will be withdrawing and what your homeschooling option is.
So you should have an option picked out before withdrawing. For us this was as simple as going to our schools office and signing a paper. I would call or email your school district to see what their procedure is.
In California you can pull your kids from public school to start homeschooling at any time during the school year. Just make sure to follow the correct procedures, letting their school know and choosing your homeschooling option.
California homeschool options:
- File a PSA– Filing a private school affidavit is the first option. This option gives you the most freedom and the least support. If you are comfortable and confident in homeschooling on your own this might be for you.
The PSA filing process is not difficult. However, you do have to follow a few guidelines, such as keeping attendence. Just visit the California Department of Education‘s website to find the guidelines and information you need to get started and file.
- Charter Schools– Your next option is to send your child to a public charter school, which is free. With this option you are still teaching your kids at home, but have more support from your charter.
Generally you have to contact local charter schools in your community and check what their enrollment process is. Some may have a waiting list to get in.
This is the option we ultimately chose and I really love the extra support since I do work from home. We get to meet with our resource teacher monthly who offers us guidance and ideas.
The school provides us with curriculum and even special curriculum to meet the needs of our kids. They also have traditional clubs and activities at the school campus, so our kids have more opportunities to learn and interact with other kids.
- Hiring a Private Tutor– This is probably the most expensive option. You are basically hiring a teacher to teach your kids for at least 3 hours per day during the school year.
The positive benefit to this is that it will free up your time from teaching. Teaching your kids will take a considerable amount of time and dedication. You are also hiring someone with teaching credentials that is knowledgeable and prepared to teach your child.
What is the best way to homeschool your child?
Homeschooling is not a one size fits all. Each family has different needs and what works for one may very well not work for another.
Before you decide what’s best for you do these things.
- Search homeschooling groups in Facebook. Join and ask other moms their opinion based on your unique situation. Most homeschooling families are so supportive and willing to help.
- Research the different options in your state and write out the pros and cons of each.
- Ask yourself, are you willing to commit your time to your child’s learning? Are you willing to wake up each morning and teach, help when they are having trouble, learn things you may have forgotten to help your kids?
- Ask yourself how much support you will need for your kids to be successful. If you need assistance buying curriculum and teacher support for things your kids are struggling with, then charter might be for you. If you want to be completely hands on in every aspect then a PSA might be for you.
- Remember that there are tons of successful homeschooling moms that are successful at teaching their kids without a teaching degree.
Is it free to be homeschooled?
Homeschooling isn’t free because you are purchasing some or all of the materials you need to teach.
If you choose a charter school to homeschool you should receive curriculum and may even get some supplies and additional resources to help teach your child.
In my experience homeschooling through a charter school we’ve gotten our curriculum, extracurricular activities, and some field trips provided by the school. We put money towards extra field trips, classes (dance), school supplies, crafts, and other activities.
How many hours per day is required for homeschooling?
There isn’t a set number of hours required for homeschooling. Your child will be spending less time on schooling than they would at a traditional public school because…
- There is no homework required. You complete all your work during your homeschooling hours.
- They have one on one instruction. Rather than waiting for a traditional teacher to work with each student in 25+ child classroom, your child has immediate access to one on one help.
- Less students give
One thing I love about homeschooling is that it’s very flexible. In fact I think I could still accomplish it working outside the home.
Our charter recommends we spend at least 4 hours per day on homeschooling.
We spend 3-4 hours per day schooling our older 6th grader and 1-2 hours per day teaching our kindergartener.
Younger grades generally should have shorter hours than older grades.
- Work with yourself and your kids to make a schedule
- Adjust the schedule on days the kids are sick or days they are having a hard time. Better to adjust than to push your kids over the edge
- Come up with a general age appropriate time to work on schoolwork each day
- Also make adjustments for kids who may have learning disabilities or are struggling. One of my kids has ADHD and has to have a modified schedule for good days and bad days
How much do you get paid to homeschool your child in California?
Generally homeschooling parents don’t get paid to teach their children. There is no financial aid available to homeschooling parenting.
However, charter schools may offer funds that allow you to use towards school supplies, enrichment classes, and extra curriculum you may need.
Are you thinking about starting your homeschooling journey? Tell me about what you’re excited and worried about in the comments below!