by Katie Julius

It’s hard to believe that after two separate blog posts (here and here) addressing common misconceptions about home education in California, we would still have enough content for another blog. But, here we find ourselves. While these myths are slightly less common than those in our previous posts, they’re still prevalent in many circles, including among those who may be new or unfamiliar with private homeschooling.

Let’s dive right in!

My child needs an accredited education program.

This is one very common misconception we are seeing right now as parents are leaving the public school system. Many parents are being “forced” into homeschooling because of the pandemic and are desiring their children to return to their local public schools in a year or two. For this reason, they are looking for an “accredited” program that will make the transition back a smooth one.

So, first, let’s start with accreditation. Schools are accredited. Curriculum and classes taken at learning centers, co-ops, and other similar institutions are not. There are a number of accrediting bodies (mostly regional) that visit schools, typically every three to six years to evaluate them on a variety of criteria and then give their stamp of approval based on that evaluation.

Accreditation may be important to those in the education world, but for the most part, it’s simply not necessary for a single-family private school (aka homeschool in California). This is especially true in the elementary years. If one were to re-enroll back in the local public school in any grade up to ninth, the school would place the student based on his or her age. The student does not need to have attended an accredited institution previously. The school may require testing for placement, but enrollment cannot be denied based on schools attended in the past.

There are two notable “exceptions” to this. The first is for high school students. Schools are not required to accept credits earned at other institutions to count toward graduation. This means that if you want to re-enroll your 10th-12th grader after privately homeschooling, it’s possible that the credits he or she earned during their high school years may not be accepted by the school in which you are enrolling. The student can be enrolled, but they would need to make up or retake courses at the school to earn a diploma from that institution. This is one of the main reasons we strongly encourage families that are homeschooling high school students to make the commitment to do so through graduation.

The second reason a student may need an accredited diploma is for certain career paths. One of the more notable ones is law enforcement. You can read more about that and other instances where an accredited diploma may be necessary in this blog post.

Even if you do determine that you want an accredited program, a word of caution about online programs/schools that advertise they are accredited. In California, in order to qualify as a school that exempts a student from public school compulsory attendance, the school must have a physical presence in the state. If it does not, then you, as the parent, must establish your own private school and file a PSA (private school affidavit) or enroll in a PSP. The “accredited” program you are enrolled in is now just the curriculum that is being used at your unaccredited school (since curriculum cannot be accredited). These programs can be costly, so if you are choosing this option because it is accredited, be sure to look into where they are located to determine if your student would, indeed, be attending an accredited institution.

Homeschool kids can’t go to college.

This simply is not true. Students who have been privately home educated attend colleges and universities across the country. In fact, many schools actively recruit homeschool graduates because of their independence, critical thinking, and strong work ethic. Just be aware that in some instances, it may take a little extra planning. For example, students planning to attend a UC or Cal State will need to meet the A-G approved course requirements for admission (which is possible, even while enrolled in a single-family private school).

Homeschool vs. “Covid-schooling” vs. Distance Learning

Our last “myth” of the day isn’t so much of a myth, but more of an explanation. With all students experiencing some type of learning at home in the last 18 months, we wanted to provide a bit of an explanation as to the differences between some of the terms. We’ve heard a number of parents say that they could not homeschool or that their children did not enjoy being home educated after their experiences during the pandemic.

Homeschooling is more than academics. It is a lifestyle. Typically, a parent is the primary instructor of their own children, but it goes beyond the typical classes one takes in a traditional school setting. They may or may not use a curriculum (though it’s usually not a traditional style curriculum, if they do). They usually don’t have an elaborate classroom set-up that resembles the classroom at their local school down the street. They’ve learned that learning happens anywhere – on the couch, kitchen table, living room floor, front lawn, trampoline in the backyard, etc. Homeschoolers are usually in a community with families who are similarly minded and participate in co-op classes (more than just a drop-off class), park days, field trips, moms nights, and more. It’s a true support system that not only offers “socialization” for kids, but a lifeline for moms (and dads) who may be struggling and need advice or are looking for friendships themselves.

“Covid-schooling,” as the name suggests, refers to schooling that occurred at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many families may have been forced into this situation, rather than choosing it. It may have left a bitter taste in their mouth because they did not have the time to research and plan, like many homeschoolers who make the decision to do so on their own terms. Additionally, many of the things that make homeschooling so unique and enjoyable (field trips, learning in non-traditional ways, community activities, etc.) were not available most of the school year. While many long-term homeschoolers may have been used to having their children home with them during the day, the schooling that happened during Covid was well outside their comfort zone as many of their activities were cancelled and shut down. It was a steep learning curve for everyone and certainly not indicative of the rich learning that can happen in a home school.

Lastly is distance learning. Distance learning is what many students found themselves participating in when their schools closed. They had certain times they had to be logged into a virtual learning environment that was led by their regular classroom teacher.  In short, it was a traditional classroom translated to a virtual platform (which certainly brought some of its own unique challenges). Again, if your experience of school at home through distance learning was less than positive, this is not indicative of what true home education can be. Yes, distance learning may be the best choice for your family, but we encourage you to not judge homeschooling based on a distance learning experience.

If you are interested in learning more about private home education and how to get started, we encourage you to watch our New to Homeschool Virtual Mini-Con from May 2020 and read through our Homeschool 101 blog series.

Do you have more questions or need further clarification or guidance? We encourage you to utilize our FREE Homeschool Educational Consultant. You can reach her at 562-544-7875, Monday through Thursday, 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.