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.
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.”
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.
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.
*If you are enrolled in a private school satellite program (PSP), some of these records will be kept by the school.
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. These guidelines are stated in the HSLDA’s PDF. Because California requires parents to register as a private school (whether private school satellite programs [PSP] or private home-based schools), records are required to be kept for each student which are also linked to below.
Updates to California Immunizations Laws and Related Record-Keeping and Reporting Requirements
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.