Way back in the long, long ago, I had little ones (who have miraculously become wonderful adults). For various reasons, I chose to home school some of them (that sounds like I had 1,000 children. No, I had three and home schooled 2 of them for a time). I would like to share my experiences and resources (there are probably better ones now, since everything has changed). It doesn’t have to be as Mad Max as it used to be.
First: if you choose to truly home school your children (not just choose distance learning through an established school or school district), you must officially become a private school. There are no exceptions. However, just because you are a private school does not mean you are free from the state of California’s control. There are basic requirements for who can participate in your school, what information must be accessible to the state if they show up at your door, what basics need to be taught, etc. However, at the time of the writing of this article, students are not required to have immunizations for entry if they attend a home-based private school or an independent study program with no classroom-based instruction. Due to the nature of executive orders, this could change any time. Be sure to check the Department of Education’s Immunization Requirements page.
I would suggest you become a member of the Home School Association of California. They were immensely helpful when I began (and the internet was young) and used to offer a fantastic CD of ready-made school forms to keep you more organized (I do not know if they still do that). Here is their quick guide to home schooling:
Second: Before you embark on this journey, decide how you are going to teach your children. The state of California’s Department of Education has some basic requirements listed on their website, per grade: Education Code for Private Schools and Schooling at Home.
As you can see, these are very general, wide-ranging areas of study. So, what is required to obtain a high school diploma? Not as much (or as many credits) as you think. Here is the breakdown of state requirements, plus UC and CSU requirements for freshman admission: Graduation Requirements.
Third: Now that you can see how minimal California’s education requirements are, it’s time for the hardest part for me: how to teach to your child. This is immensely beneficial for life: how many times have you tried to teach your child (or help them with homework) and nothing you tried worked? We all learn differently. I learn differently than my children and it made it difficult for me to connect with them. If I had the online resources there are now, I would have been a much more effective teacher and my children would have been much happier being home schooled.
Here are some wonderful articles about how to discover your (and your child’s) learning styles and how to connect with material:
Here are both parts of podcast from “Focus on the Family.” While they are a Christian foundation, these episodes are wonderfully educational.
Fourth: Now it is time to develop your curriculum. Exactly what (and how) are you going to teach your children? This is all up to you.
- If you want physical books, go to thrift stores. You cannot beat $.25 to $1 for a book!
- Do you want videos or audio books? YouTube, Vimeo, or Odysee are fantastic options along with various podcast options.
- Are you looking for projects for you children to do? What do you do around the house?
- Cooking, baking, or canning/fermenting are wonderful for not only Home Economics but Math and Chemistry.
- Geometry, basic Math AND the essential skill of reading a tape measure (it’s surprising just how many people cannot read a tape measure) can be building a dog house.
- Science is replacing a light fixture or installing a solar charged light fixture outside.
- Biology could be incubating some eggs and breaking them open once per week to compare the changes throughout the incubation cycle.
Here are some more wonderful suggestions:
Fifth: Be patient with yourself and your child. Neither one of you will ever be perfect. There will be fantastic days and there will be horrible days. If you accept this from the beginning, this will give the both of you the freedom to find your groove. I wish you and your child the best of luck, love, and success during this new phase in your lives.
And here are two resources for high school students/parents that I did not have a specific place for. I do not know if I wholeheartedly support the main organization, these are handy: