page was last updated on September 18, 2009
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.
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.
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. Institutionalized
schooling, while what is familiar to most of us today, 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. Homeschooling allows
each child to receive individual attention, taking into consideration
his 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?
Estimates of homeschooling children vary. Patricia Lines,
a federal Department of Education official, in a working paper
for the U.S. Department of Education, "Homeschoolers:
Estimating Numbers and Growth" concluded that "around
700,000 to 750,000" children were homeschooled in the 1995-96
school year. Another study done by the National
Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) concluded that
there were 1.23 million homeschooled children in the United
States in the fall of 1996, with an estimated error of measurement
of ten percent. Whatever the exact figures, all studies conclude
that homeschooling has had a sustained growth rate of 15 to
20% for the last three decades.
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 history, language arts 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
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 and everyday
activities like cooking, gardening or a home business as the
foundation of instruction, especially in the elementary years.
A decade ago everyone homeschooled for less because there
were very few publications, curricula or conferences for homeschoolers.
Now there are more products and services.
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?
A call to the California Homeschool Network's (800) 327-5339 number
can start the ball rolling. A parent's basic questions will
be answered and they'll 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
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 influenced from 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?
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
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
How does a homeschool education compare to a traditional education?
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. One significant achievement
of homeschooled children is that the National Merit Scholarship Corporation has chosen significant
numbers of homeschooled high school seniors as semifinalists.
Patricia M. Lines, "Home Schooling," ERIC Digest, no. 95, April
Ray, Brian "Home Education across the United States," p. 6.
"Semifinalists in the 1998 Merit Scholarship Competition," National Merit Scholarship
Corp., Evanston, Ill., 1997, pp. 14-92.
Then, of course, there is the anecdotal evidence. Homeschoolers
have frequently been the winners in spelling bees and other
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. They 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
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
resourcespeople, programs, and places. You can always
jump in alongside your children and learn with them. What
a great life lesson for kids if they learn that learning is
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
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!
Is it legal?
Families are homeschooling legally in all fifty states.
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.