State Law: California

California compulsory school attendance age

In California, each child must attend school or comply with the homeschool laws starting with the school year in which he or she turns 6 by September 1 and ending on the child’s 18th birthday.

HSLDA believes that a parent-issued diploma and transcript should be sufficient to demonstrate that a child has completed a secondary education. However, even if your child is beyond compulsory school attendance age, there may be situations where you would want to continue to follow the requirements of a home education option recognized under California law until your child graduates from high school (filing a home education notice, keeping attendance and other records, etc.). These records may be requested in some situations, such as obtaining a driver’s license if your child is a minor, enlisting in the military, applying to colleges, or demonstrating eligibility for Social Security benefits. If you are a member of HSLDA and would like additional details, please contact us.

Withdrawing your child from his or her current school

If you want to start homeschooling during the school year and your child is currently enrolled in a public or private school, HSLDA recommends that you formally withdraw your child from that school. If you are going to start homeschooling after the school year is over, and your child is considered enrolled for the following year, we recommend that you withdraw your child before the next school year begins, so that the school does not mark your child as absent or truant.

We invite you to become a member of HSLDA to receive specific advice about withdrawing your child from school and starting to homeschool. Local schools may have specific forms or withdrawal procedures. HSLDA members are eligible to receive individualized advice about whether complying with those procedures is advisable or required. HSLDA members can also use the sample letter of withdrawal for California available in Member Resources to correspond with school officials.

We generally recommend that any correspondence with authorities be sent by “Certified Mail—Return Receipt Requested.” Keep copies of the withdrawal letter and any other paperwork or correspondence, and any green postal receipts, for your personal records.

Note: If your child has never attended a public or private school, this section does not apply.

Complying with California’s homeschool law

In California there are three legal options under which you may homeschool privately. You are free to choose the option that best meets your family’s needs.

Homeschooling as a home-based private school:
In order to operate your homeschool program as a private school, you should follow these requirements:

1. File an annual private school affidavit. 

This form must be filed with the California Superintendent of Public Instruction between October 1 and October 15 of each school year. New private schools that start up after October 15 should file an affidavit as soon as possible.

The private school affidavit may be accessed on the California Department of Education’s website. For detailed information about the form, HSLDA members may click here.

2. Maintain an attendance register. 

3. Instruction must be in English. 

4. Instructors must be capable of teaching. 

5. Provide instruction in the courses commonly taught in the public schools (e.g., language arts, math, science, social studies, health, and driver training). 

6. Maintain immunization records or personal beliefs exemption. 

7. Maintain a list of courses of study. 

8. Maintain a list of instructors with their addresses and qualifications. 

Homeschooling with a private school satellite program (PSP):
A private school satellite program is one in which the majority of the instruction is provided at home. The PSP must meet all the requirements for operating a private school, which are listed under “Homeschooling as a home-based private school” above.

Homeschooling via instruction by a private tutor:
A child who is being instructed by someone with a California teaching credential for the grade level taught is considered exempt from public school attendance. The child must be taught for at least three hours a day, between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., for 175 days each school year in the several branches of study required to be taught by the public schools and in the English language. The instructor may be the parent, as long as he or she has the required California teaching credential. Families homeschooling under this option are not required to file private school affidavits or report any other information to the state.

The importance of recordkeeping

You can find California’s specific recordkeeping requirements, if any, above. Regardless of what state you live in, HSLDA recommends that you keep detailed records of your homeschool program. These records may be helpful if you face an investigation regarding your homeschooling or your student needs to furnish proof of education.

These records should include attendance records, information on the textbooks and workbooks your student used, samples of your student’s schoolwork, correspondence with school officials, portfolios and test results, and any other documents showing that your child is receiving an appropriate education in compliance with the law. You should maintain these records for at least two years. You should keep your student’s high school records and proof of compliance with the home education laws during the high school years (including any type of home education notice that you file with state or local officials) on file forever. HSLDA’s high school webpage has additional information about homeschool recordkeeping.