Today is October 1 and while the rest of the country is celebrating all things pumpkin, for the California homeschool community, this marks the first day of the Private School Affidavit (PSA) filing period. This form from the California Department of Education (CDE), is required of all families who are privately homeschooling their children in order to comply with the state’s compulsory education laws. It must be filed annually between October 1 and October 15.
As a new homeschooler, or someone who is considering homeschooling, you may be wondering what your homeschool options are in California and if you’re required to complete a PSA this year.
According to California law, every child between the age of six and 18 must attend public school. In this state, kindergarten is not compulsory. Students are exempt from compulsory attendance at public school by one of the options listed below.
Before we get to the private homeschooling options, I do want to address “homeschool” charter schools and public school independent study programs, both of which have the student learning at home. While many consider these to be homeschooling options in California, from a legal standpoint, these are “public-school-at-home” programs as the child is enrolled in a public school. If your child is enrolled in one of these schools, you do not file a PSA.
OPTION #1 – Private Instructor
What is it? A child is instructed by a California credentialed teacher for that grade level (can be a parent), for at least three hours per day between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. for at least 175 days every school year, covering subjects and topics specified by the state.
Perks: There is no reporting required to the state. It can provide the school-at-home structure that some families may desire.
Potential Challenges: One reason many choose to homeschool is the freedom to school when they want and for how long they want and teaching what they want. This option does not allow for those freedoms. If the parent is not the credentialed teacher, hiring one can be costly. If desired, families would need to seek out social opportunities with other homeschooling families.
File PSA? No.
OPTION #2 – Private School Satellite Program (PSP)
What is it? A PSP in the simplest sense, is a private school program comprised of homeschooling families. There is an administrator who keeps your records and files. Many PSPs offer weekly classes , coordinate field trips and activities, and other school services for their students. A PSP is sometimes associated with a brick and mortar private school.
Perks: New homeschoolers may find the support and accountability helpful, especially in the early years. Families have a built-in community for co-op, field trips, park days, and other social activities. The PSP keeps all of your required paperwork.
Potential Challenges: Some programs may have certain attendance, record keeping, or curriculum requirements. Most PSPs charge tuition and/or administrative fees.
File PSA? No. The PSP administrator files one for all students enrolled in the PSP.
OPTION #3 – Private School Affidavit (PSA)
What is it? This type of homeschooling option provides the most freedom and was the way many California homeschooling pioneers schooled their children. As the parent-teacher, you select the curriculum and any classes or activities and keep all records and paperwork related to your children’s schooling.
Perks: There is no oversight or requirements except those mandated by law. You are free to school however and whenever you please.
Potential Challenges: Those that feel they need support or accountability may find homeschooling as an independent filer overwhelming at first. If desired, families must seek out a homeschooling support group (not a PSP) or co-op group for activities outside the home.
File PSA? Yes!
If you need to file a PSA between October 1 and October 15 and have questions or need guidance, you can call the CHEA office at 562-864-CHEA (2432). CHEA is also hosting a PSA Virtual Filing Party on October 9 via Zoom. During the session, you will be able to ask questions and by the end, you will have completed your online form! Advance registration is required and space is limited (if this event fills, we will add additional options). If you would like to participate, please email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and email address.