Frequently Asked Questions

About CHN

Tell me about the California Homeschool Network.

California Homeschool Network (CHN) was founded in 1994 by a statewide group of homeschooling families. We are an inclusive group which means we serve families that choose all homeschooling styles and from all religious and ethnic affiliations. We are an organization of energetic and dedicated homeschooling families working to preserve our own educational freedom. For more information, click here.

What purpose does your organization serve?

CHN monitors and responds to legislation which may pose a threat to homeschooling. We also inform and empower homeschooling families, educate the public, and foster community among home educators in the state of California.

Are there other homeschooling organizations in California?

Yes, there are two others: The Homeschooling Association of California and the Christian Home Educators Association.

What makes CHN unique?

We are the only organization with an elected board which is reflective of the openness and inclusiveness of CHN. We are also the only group that makes it clear that while we support all homeschooling families and the options they choose, we are dedicating our resources to preserving the freedom to homeschool independent of government intervention or regulation.

About Homeschooling

What is homeschooling?

Homeschooling is an educational option in which the parents assume the responsibility for educating their children at home. It is about families loving and learning from one another.

How long has homeschooling been around?

Homeschooling or family-based education has been the primary mode of education for most of recorded history. Though familiar to most of us today, institutionalized schooling is actually relatively new. In fact, the last compulsory education laws in the United States weren’t passed until 1918. The modern homeschooling movement, which was a return to family-based education, began in the 1960’s.

Why do families choose to homeschool?

There are many reasons families choose to homeschool. Academic excellence, physical safety, and the desire to pass on the family’s governing values to the children are perhaps the most commonly voiced. Families desire the increased closeness homeschooling brings. Homeschooling maintains the enthusiasm for learning that a child is born with and allows each child to receive individual attention, taking into consideration his/her own learning style and interests. There are probably as many reasons or combinations of reasons for homeschooling as there are families.

How many homeschooling families are there?

The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that approximately 3 percent of the school-age population was homeschooled in the 2011–12 school year. A study done by the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) concluded that there were approximately 2.2 million K-12 homeschooled children in the United States in the spring of 2010.

Are there different approaches to homeschooling?

Absolutely! There is a whole continuum of homeschooling approaches from something that resembles the structured school classroom to supporting children in pursuing their own interests. It is most typical for parents to combine homeschooling approaches. They might use a textbook for math, a unit study approach combining language arts with history and the social sciences, and a very hands-on approach to science. In the homeschooling community we call that the eclectic approach.

What is a typical day like?

There is no typical day. You might be home and crack the books or play games. You might race off to a support group activity. You may take a walk, play some basketball, go grocery shopping, or just read a good book. Some parents do a little of each subject every day. Others spend one day on math, another on language arts, and so on. Some families use a planned curriculum and others utilize the library and follow the interests of their children.

Does homeschooling continue all year or do we take the summer off?

Some families like to follow a traditional “school year,” focusing on education from September through June; they might use the summer to give themselves some much-needed “down time” or spend it going on exciting field trips. Others, however, may continue homeschooling through the summer months.

How expensive is homeschooling?

It is as expensive as your family wants to make it. Some parents spend thousands of dollars a year investing in complete packaged curriculums accompanied by video instruction. Other families pay almost nothing by using the library, internet resources, and everyday activities like cooking, gardening, or a home business as the foundation of instruction, especially in the elementary years.
Decades ago everyone homeschooled for less because there were very few publications, curricula, or conferences for homeschoolers. Now there are more products and services.

Can homeschooling expenses be deducted from income taxes?

No, not really; and trying could be dangerous. Here’s the way it works:

  • You could try to run your homeschool as a for-profit business and file a Schedule C annually detailing your income and expenses. The IRS expects to see signs of profitability after a few years, or it begins to suspect that the business is just a tax-dodge. Since you would be your only tuition-paying customer, it should be soon apparent to the IRS that your business is not a “for-profit” at all. If you accept other children and receive tuition payments from them, you have essentially founded your own private school and could legitimately deduct business expenses. However, this requires you to obtain a business license and liability insurance among other expenses.
  • You could try to get your homeschool accepted by the IRS as a tax-exempt organization, which is extremely difficult as the government guards against anyone using tax-exempt status for personal or family gain.

Are there bad days?

Studies have shown that homeschooled children have fewer behavioral problems than their institutionally-schooled peers. Many families, in fact, are able to recognize and more readily remedy true behavioral situations in a much more timely and effective manner. In the long run, you’ll have fewer bad days if you homeschool.

How do people get started?

First download and read “Just the Facts,” CHN’s step-by-step guide to getting started homeschooling. If you still have questions, a call to our (800) 327-5339 number can start the ball rolling. Your basic questions will be answered and you will be referred to local homeschoolers who can provide additional support.

Does homeschooling provide the same diversity found in public schools?

Yes! Americans of different races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and religions homeschool, and they regularly meet with each other at park days throughout the state. The experience is natural and very positive. Homeschooled children also have the opportunity to be out in their community more often, where they meet and observe many different people.

What effect does homeschooling have on public schools? Are you abandoning public education?

Homeschooling creates a healthy competition between itself and public schools by giving parents another choice in educating their children. Monopolies, even in education, are bad for the consumer.

We have sufficient evidence of educational success in the homeschooling movement that we believe public schools are starting to pay attention. We invite them to look at the successful educational ideas within the homeschooling movement and implement their findings to improve the quality of education for all children. More information on statistics and research regarding homeschooling can be found here.

Socialization

What about socialization?

This is probably the most commonly voiced concern about homeschooling. There are plenty of opportunities for homeschoolers to socialize. There are homeschool support groups, community activities like sports or scouts, specialty classes in music, and after-school play with public-schooled friends. Because they have continual interaction and modeling from adults, homeschooled children are less peer-dependent and more comfortable with all age groups than their public school counterparts. The homeschool social world is generally less affected by the worrisome influences of drugs, gangs, sexual pressures, and violence.

It is true that the choice to homeschool removes the child from the intensive, ready-made social world of school, but it’s easy to supply social experiences sufficient in quantity and probably superior in quality to those at school.

How can I find other homeschoolers?

CHN Local Contacts can tell you about support groups and activities in their areas. A support group is a great place for new homeschoolers. Parents can get encouragement and information from more experienced homeschoolers. The whole family can enjoy the field trips, projects, cooperative classes, and friendships available through a local support group.

What can I say to friends and family who are concerned about homeschooling?

Are your friends and family unhappy about your decision? Try to find out why. Their defensiveness might stem from the belief that your choice to homeschool is an unspoken criticism of their decision not to do so.
Focus on your positive reasons for homeschooling, and emphasize the individuality of your choice. Consider also that their criticism might stem from loving concern. Caring friends and family want the best for your children, just as you do.
Explaining the success of homeschooling may be very helpful. CHN has a publication, When Your Grandchildren Homeschool: A Guide for Interested Relatives, designed just for this purpose. Fortunately, with so many people now homeschooling, it’s getting easier for many to accept it.

Academics

How does a homeschool education compare to a traditional education?

Studies have shown that homeschooled children test above average regardless of income, race, or parent’s level of education. For instance, the Washington Homeschool Research Project has analyzed the SAT scores of homeschooled children in Washington State since 1985[1] . One significant achievement of homeschooled children is that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation has chosen significant numbers of homeschooled high school seniors as semifinalists[2]. Then, of course, there is the anecdotal evidence. Homeschoolers have frequently been the winners in spelling bees and other national events.

[1] Patricia M. Lines, “Home Schooling,” ERIC Digest, no. 95, April 1995, EDO-EA-95-3.
Ray, Brian “Home Education across the United States,” p. 6.

[2] “Semifinalists in the 1998 Merit Scholarship Competition,” National Merit Scholarship Corp., Evanston, Ill., 1997, pp. 14-92.

What about getting into college?

A growing number of colleges and universities around the United States are admitting homeschoolers, including prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale. Some, like UC Riverside, actively recruit homeschoolers. The application process may be a bit different. Applicants may decide to submit samples of their work, letters of recommendation, and CLEP and Stanford Achievement Test scores. The bottom line is that, if a homeschooler wants to pursue post-secondary education, they can certainly do so and do so within some of the finest universities.

Are parents capable of teaching?

A half century of educational research has indicated a total lack of any significant relationship between the teacher’s certificate and the pupil’s achievement. The evidence is in. Families from all walks of life and all educational backgrounds are homeschooling successfully.

What about subjects a parent can't teach?

It would be a rare teacher who could teach every subject, and parents are no different. Parents often serve as facilitators, helping the child to find the resources necessary for learning. There are many creative ways to tackle unfamiliar or difficult subjects. There are companies specializing in outstanding learning materials for homeschoolers. Some homeschoolers collaborate with other families. Another parent might have the strength you lack or you can jointly hire a tutor. Some use community resources—people, programs, and places. You can always jump in alongside your children and learn with them. What a great life lesson for kids if they see that learning is lifelong.

What about testing?

Testing is not required of private schools in California. Testing services are available for families who desire to have their children tested. Some homeschooling parents choose to do so, while others believe that when you teach your children one-on-one, their understanding of the material is readily apparent.

If kids aren't tested, what guarantee is there that they are learning?

Public schools require testing, but enrollment in public school does not guarantee that any learning is taking place. We have compulsory attendance not compulsory education laws. In states where testing is required of homeschoolers, they usually score in the 80th percentile or above.

The validity of standardized tests has been questioned by many educators and researchers. Because they are multiple-choice, they don’t measure the ability to think or create. Many critics call for replacing standardized testing with “performance assessments.” A performance assessment requires evaluating the student’s actual work which might include writing samples, teacher observation, science experiments, etc. Performance assessments are exactly what parents naturally use in evaluating the progress of their homeschooled children.

What kinds of curricula are available?

There is a whole spectrum of curriculum resources available to homeschoolers. New products are being developed all the time. There are also resources to help you decide what to teach and when to teach it. Homeschool conferences like the CHN Family Expo have vendor halls where you can look through curriculum before making a purchase, and talk to an experienced salesperson, or perhaps even the author!

Legal Options

What homeschooling options are available in California?

There are four options: establishing your own home as a private school, enrolling in a PSP (a private school that offers independent study), using a public school independent study program or charter school that caters to homeschoolers or, if you have a credential, using the tutorial option. For more information on the legalities of homeschooling in California refer to the Legal Options page.

Why is the Private School Affidavit filing deadline Oct. 1 - 15th?

The date is set by California Educational Code §33190, and it’s for all private schools.  Years ago, homeschoolers researched the ed code and discovered that this law that was written for traditional private schools could also be used by parents who wanted to be in compliance with the law while homeschooling.  Most schools (including many homeschools) start in August or September.  It’s thought that the logic of October filing is that by then most kids will be settled for the school year and that gives the State better statistical information. The October filing date is for existing private schools, and is a notification for that school year.  If a private school is established later in the year, the PSA can be filed then.  If your home based private school is established during the summer months, get the required paperwork in order  and pick a date to begin homeschooling, but wait until October 1-15 to file the affidavit. To find out what paperwork is required, please see the Keeping Private School Records page.

Do I have to make my final decision whether or not to homeschool before Oct. 15th?

California has a compulsory education law, so you should decide one of the legal options   before your local school starts (usually in August or September).  That might also involve withdrawing your child from a school if he/she was previously enrolled there. There is never a final decision for homeschooling or enrolling in a school.  Changes can be made during the school year in order to best meet the needs of the child.  Therefore, October 15th isn’t your deadline if your child is enrolled in another school.  If you decide to homeschool independently later in the year, you can file then.

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