The Coronavirus pandemic kickstarted a movement to homeschool, with families pulling out of traditional schooling at never before seen rates. And as schools pushed back start dates for the school year, keeping their doors closed to in-person instruction, many parents were forced to re-evaluate how their children will be educated.
Reviews of virtual learning varied dramatically – some classes received excellent instruction and students continued to be engaged, others felt their children lacked support from teachers, instruction was minimal, and assignments felt like busy work. And while everyone was suddenly “homeschooling” their children, this pandemic-induced format was far from what actual homeschool looks like.
The most common question among parents for those suddenly locked out of schools is “How do I homeschool my child?” With 5 years of homeschool under my belt, hopefully I can help answer a few of your questions here.
A lot of people considered transferring to charter schools. These are essentially public schools that offer oversight and record keeping, while the parent is primarily responsible for educating their children at home. Many charter schools offer funding for families to purchase curriculum, supplies, and other education-related items. However, charter schools have become inundated with enrollment applications, and state legislation recently capped charter school funding at the previous years’ enrollment so that funding can’t be dramatically funneled from one institution to another. What this means is that charter schools won’t have the funding to accommodate the startling influx of students.
The California Department of Education published this list of Orange County Charter Schools.
Other popular homeschool charter options include:
Private School Affidavit
One of the most common alternatives is to file a PSA. The Private School Affidavit is your statement that you are establishing your own private school to educate your child within your home. Private School Affidavits are filed online between October 1st and 15th of the current school year. If you were previously enrolled in a public school or another private school, you’ll need to write a letter informing your school that you will be withdrawing your student and enrolling them in a private school. The letter should be sent to the superintendent of your school district and directly to your school. It’s always a good idea to request a copy of your student’s records to keep on file.
Families who file a PSA are not entitled to any funding and you can not write off the expenses on your taxes. You’ll have to pay out of pocket for your own curriculum and materials, but you also have the freedom to choose what you and your student want to study, and personalize the learning based on your child’s needs and interests.
You can learn more about Private School Affidavits at the California Department of Education Website.
Additional information for parents planning on homeschooling their children can be found in the Schooling At Home section.
The link to the Private School Affidavit form can be found here.
Complete instructions for filling out the PSA can be found here.
Private School Satellite Program
Another alternative, is PSP, or Private School Satellite Program. A PSP is an organization who already has an affidavit and you enroll as a teacher to teach your own child. The most common PSP option in Orange County was via Biola University, but that program has recently come to an end. A PSP program provides record keeping and oversight while allowing you to retain control of the curriculum you use.
Formerly of Biola, Robin Slagle has opened Star Homeschool Academy. Another option from former Biola-affiliated tutors is Emmaus Classical Academy. The California Homeschool Network also offers a list of PSP options.
Whatever option you choose to pursue for educating your children, rest assured there is a multitude of resources available to you to help you along your homeschool journey. You may be at home, but you are not alone!
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Heidi Deal is the author of the Newcomers Handbook to Living In Los Angeles & Orange County, and a children’s book author specializing in history and human rights.