by Chuck and Pam Geib
“What records am I required to keep to make my homeschool legal?”
This is a question we may wonder when we first begin to consider the homeschooling option. We wish, of course, to be sure we have all of our “i’s” dotted and our “t’s” crossed. This is a good thing. We want to know what the workload will be in keeping these records also. Will the stress of keeping records make the dream of home education out of reach?
In California there are no specific education codes that speak directly to private home education. We are actually private Christian schools at home. The Education Code (EC), which is numbered §1 through §10,060, governs how education is administered in our state. EC §48200, for instance, tells us that there is mandatory attendance for children from the age of 6 through 18 in the public schools. However, EC §48222 states that there is an exception to the mandatory attendance when a student is enrolled in a private school.
Let’s look at what the Education Code requires.
Private School Affidavit
There is a code (§33190) that speaks specifically to private schools. This code tells us we must have an R-4 Private School Affidavit on file. This form is filed between October 1 and October 15 of each school year. Private schools fill this form out online.
This is not a form requesting the state to approve our private school. Rather it is a statement of the fact that we are a private school. The form is self explanatory and easy to fill in. CHEA has step-by-step instructions, updated early each October. Once completed, it is filed on-line. Print copies for your school records.
If you do not have access to a computer at home, you may use a computer at the library or you may write a letter in lieu of the form. The required information on the form must be included in the letter to be accepted. You will need to see a sample copy of the form to make your letter accurate. There is a copy of this form in An Introduction to Home Education by Susan Beatty or you can see the required information in the step-by-step instructions on the CHEA website. (If you are enrolling in a private school satellite program (PSP), don’t file the affidavit. It will be filed by the PSP.)
Course of Study
Education Code §48222 specifically states that private schools “shall offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state.” Therefore, we should have our course of study that is offered in any school year. To be sure you are offering the same courses, you may see what the public schools are offering in any particular grade level by visiting EC §51210 for elementary school grades and §51220 for junior and senior high school grades.
You may want to print up these particular education codes and have them on file as the courses your school offers. Remember, these are the courses you are “offering,” not necessarily teaching in any given year. Perhaps you have several children close in age. You may find that it makes more sense to teach history and science at the same grade level to all the children at once. They understand it fine and you do not have to cover the same ground several years in a row. This is acceptable.
Another form specifically addressed in EC §48222 is an attendance record: “The attendance of the pupils shall be kept by private school authorities in a register, and the record of attendance shall indicate clearly every absence of the pupil from school for a half day or more during each day that school is maintained during the year.”
In the book, An Introduction to Home Education, published by Christian Home Educators Press, there is a proposed school year calendar form. This form can be used to plan out which days will be official school days and then used for keeping your student’s attendance. You will need to make a copy for each student in your private school.
The word “register” is not further defined. Therefore you can also buy an attendance register from an educational store to use. Or you could designate one of your annual calendars as your attendance record and mark on it whether you had school for more than half day.
Remember that private schools do not have a mandatory number of days required for attendance. They are not required to have school only Monday through Friday. For private schools at home we discover quickly that some of our best field trip days happen on Saturdays when Dad is available to go with us. We discover that our children learn a great deal of God’s Word on Sundays. Therefore, we may find we are filling in almost everyday as a school day. Even when teacher or student is ill, chances are we will be reading aloud or doing some math in the kitchen or watching a science or history video and we still have school for more than half a day. Home education can often be a 24/7 experience for our family.
*If you are enrolled in a private school satellite program (PSP), some of these records will be kept by the school.
The fourth record needed is a record of the school’s faculty. We need to list the complete name, address (including street and city), and qualifications of each person in our private school who will be teaching our children. That generally means mom and dad.
The education code does not require private school teachers to have state approved credentials. It is stated in EC §48222: “Children who are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching shall be exempted.”
Set aside any inadequacies you may feel as you begin to teach your own children and face the idea of how they have learned up to this moment in their history. Who taught them to walk? Who taught them to talk? Who taught them their colors and numbers and shapes and every other little thing they know up to today? It was their parents. You are “capable” of teaching. Therefore your educational background is acceptable.
This record is one that will be added to each time we have an educational experience. If you attend a convention or conference you may add it to our qualifications. If you attend a class or teach a course you have not attended or taught before you'll want to list it also. The list may be short when you begin but it will most likely be quite lengthy by the time you graduate our youngest child.
Because of the many changes in recent years to the law regarding health forms, this section has been updated as of November 2016 to Home School Legal Defense's recommended guidelines. Their five-page printable PDF can be found on our website here.
Chuck and Pam Geib have been involved in home education since 1985. First they were involved by homeschooling their two youngest sons. They also served on many home education leadership boards throughout California. They are now grandparents to six spectacular grandchildren whose parents are homeschooling them. Chuck and Pam are always honored to speak to groups and/or individuals when requested. Currently they serve on CHEA’s Regional Advisory Board.