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Frequently Asked Questions

This page was last updated on September 18, 2009

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.

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. 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 their children.

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 children.


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?

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.


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 1995, EDO-EA-95-3.
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 national events.

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 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 learn 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

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.


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