An overview of the homeschool laws and regulations of California, along with links to legislative source information, additional reference materials and government resources on homeschooling.
Official California Legislative Information
Compulsory attendance – Between 6 and 18 years of age.
Teacher certification required – No, if the home school registers as a private school or enrolls in an independent study program with a private school. Certification is necessary only if the home school parent chooses to qualify as a private tutor.
California Education Code: Sections Relevant to Homeschoolers
33190. Every person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation offering or conducting private school instruction on the elementary or high school level shall between the first and 15th day of October of each year, commencing on October 1, 1967, file with the Superintendent of Public Instruction an affidavit or statement, under penalty of perjury, by the owner or other head setting forth the following information for the current year:
(a) All names, whether real or fictitious, of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation under which it has done and is doing business.
(b) The address, including city and street, of every place of doing business of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation within the State of California.
(c) The address, including city and street, of the location of the records of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation, and the name and address, including city and street, of the custodian of such records.
(d) The names and addresses, including city and street, of the directors, if any, and principal officers of the person, firm, association, partnership, or corporation.
(e) The school enrollment, by grades, number of teachers, coeducational or enrollment limited to boys or girls and boarding facilities.
(f) That the following records are maintained at the address stated, and are true and accurate:
(1) The records required to be kept by Section 48222.
(2) The courses of study offered by the institution.
(3) The names and addresses, including city and street, of its faculty, together with a record of the educational qualifications of each.
(g) Criminal record summary information has been obtained pursuant to Section 44237.
Whenever two or more private schools are under the effective control or supervision of a single administrative unit, such administrative unit may comply with the provisions of this section on behalf of each of the school under its control or supervision by submitting one report.
Filing pursuant to this section shall not be interpreted to mean, and it shall be unlawful for any school to expressly or impliedly represent by any means whatsoever, that the State of California, or any division or bureau of the department, or any accrediting agency has made any evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of the school or course unless this is an actual fact.
The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall prepare and publish a list of private elementary and high schools to include the name and address of the school and the name of the school owner or administrator.
48200. Each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years not exempted under the provisions of this chapter or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 48400) is subject to compulsory full-time education. Each person subject to compulsory full-time education and each person subject to compulsory continuation education not exempted under the provisions of Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 48400) shall attend the public full-time day school or continuation school or classes and for the full time designated as the length of the school day by the governing board of the school district in which the residency of either the parent or legal guardian is located and each parent, guardian, or other person having control or charge of the pupil shall send the pupil to the public full-time day school or continuation school or classes and for the full time designated as the length of the school day by the governing board of the school district in which the residence of either the parent or legal guardian is located.
48220. The classes of children described in this article, shall be exempted by the proper school authorities from the requirements of attendance upon a public full-time day school.
48222. Children who are being instructed in a private full-time day school by persons capable of teaching shall by exempted. Such school shall, except under the circumstances described in Section 30, be taught in the English language and shall offer instruction in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of the state. The attendance of the pupils shall by 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.
Exemptions under this section shall be valid only after verification by the attendance supervisor of the district, or other person designated by the board of education, that the private school has complied with the provisions of Section 33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit or statement of prescribed information with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The verification required by this section shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.
48224. Children not attending a private, full-time day school and who are being instructed in study and recitation for at least threes hours a day for 175 days each calendar year by a private tutor or other person in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this state and in the English language shall be exempted. The tutor or other person shall hold a valid state credential for the grade taught. The instruction shall be offered between the hours of 8 o’clock a.m. and 4 o’clock p.m.
48415. In the case of attendance upon private school, exemption from the requirements of attendance upon compulsory continuation education shall be valid only after verification by the attendance supervisor of the district, or other person designated by the board of education, that the private school has complied with the provisions of Section 33190 requiring the annual filing by the owner or other head of a private school of an affidavit or statement of prescribed information with the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The verification required by this section shall not be construed as an evaluation, recognition, approval, or endorsement of any private school or course.
51210. The adopted course of study for grades 1 through 6 shall include instruction, beginning in grade 1 and continuing through grade 6, in the following areas of study:
(a) English, including knowledge of, and appreciation for literature and the language, as well as the skills of speaking, reading, listening, spelling, handwriting, and composition.
(b) Mathematics, including concepts, operational skills, and problem solving.
(c) Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instruction shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; the development of the American economic system including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; man’s relations to his human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; contemporary issues; and the wise use of natural resources.
(d) Science, including the biological and physical aspects, with emphasis on the processes of experimental inquiry and on man’s place in ecological systems.
(e) Fine arts, including instruction in the subjects of art and music, aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
(f) Health, including instruction in the principles and practices of individual, family, and community health.
(g) Physical education, with emphasis upon the physical activities for the pupils that may be conducive to health and vigor of body and mind, for a total period of time of not less than 200 minutes each 10 school days, exclusive of recesses and the lunch period.
51220. The adopted course of study for grades 7 to 12, inclusive, shall offer courses in the following areas of study:
(a) English, including knowledge of and appreciation for literature, language, and composition, and the skills of reading, listening, and speaking.
(b) Social sciences, drawing upon the disciplines of anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, psychology, and sociology, designed to fit the maturity of the pupils. Instructions shall provide a foundation for understanding the history, resources, development, and government of California and the United States of America; instruction in our American legal system, the operation of the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems, and the rights and duties of citizens under the criminal and civil law and the State and Federal Constitutions; the development of the American economic system, including the role of the entrepreneur and labor; the relations of persons to their human and natural environment; eastern and western cultures and civilizations; human rights issues, with particular attention to the study of the inhumanity of genocide, slavery, and the Holocaust, and contemporary issues.
(c) Foreign language or languages, beginning not later than grade 7, designed to develop a facility for understanding, speaking, reading, and writing the particular language.
(d) Physical education, with emphasis given to physical activities that are conducive to health and to vigor of body and mind.
(e) Science, including the physical and biological aspects, with emphasis on basic concepts, theories, and processes of scientific investigation and on the place of humans in ecological systems, and with appropriate applications of the interrelation and interdependence of the sciences.
(f) Mathematics, including instruction designed to develop mathematical understandings, operational skills, and insight into problem-solving procedures.
(g) Fine arts, including art, music, or drama, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression.
(h) Applied arts, including instruction in the areas of consumer and homemaking education, industrial arts, general business education, or general agriculture.
(i) Vocational-technical education designed and conducted for the purpose of preparing youth for gainful employment in the occupations and in the numbers that are appropriate to the personnel needs of the state and the community served and relevant to the career desires and needs of the pupils.
(j) Automobile driver education, designed to develop a knowledge of the provisions of the Vehicle Code and other laws of this state relating to the operation of motor vehicles, a proper acceptance of personal responsibility in traffic, a true appreciation of the causes, seriousness and consequences of traffic accidents, and to develop the knowledge and attitudes necessary for the safe operation of motor vehicles. A course in automobile driver education shall include education in the safe operation of motorcycles.
(k) Other studies as may be prescribed by the governing board.
51220.5. (a) The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(1) The family is our most fundamental social institution and the means by which we care for, prepare, and train our children to be productive members of society.
(2) Social research shows increasingly that the disintegration of the family is a major cause of increased welfare enrollment, child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, and criminal activity.
(3) The lack of knowledge of parenting skills and the lack of adequate preparation to assume parental responsibilities are not only major causes of family disintegration, but also contribute substantially to the disastrous consequences of teen pregnancy.
(4) Because the state government bears much of the economic and social burden associated with the disintegration of the family in California, the state has a legitimate and vital interest in adequately preparing its residents for parenthood.
(b) The Legislature recognizes that the public education system is the most efficient and effective means to educate the populace on a large-scale basis,, and intends, therefore, to use the public education system to ensure that each California resident has an opportunity to acquire knowledge of parenting skills prior to becoming a parent. That knowledge should include, at a bare minimum, all of the following:
- Child development and growth.
- Effective parenting.
- Prevention of child abuse.
- Household finances and budgeting.
- Personal and family interaction and relations.
- Methods to promote self-esteem.
- Effective decision making skills.
- Family and individual health.
(c) Commencing with the 1995-96 fiscal year, the adopted course of study for grade 7 or 8 shall include the equivalent content of a one-semester course in parenting skills and education. All pupils entering grade 7 on or after July 1, 1995, shall be offered that course or its equivalent content during grade7 or 8, or both. On or before January 1, 1995, the State Department of Education shall supply, to each school district that includes a grade 7 or 8, a sample curriculum suitable either for implementation as a stand-alone one-semester course or for incorporation within identified existing required or optional courses, with content designed to develop a knowledge of topics including, but not limited to, all of the following:
- Child growth and development.
- Parental responsibilities.
- Household budgeting.
- Child abuse and neglect issues.
- Personal hygiene.
- Maintaining healthy relationships.
- Teen parenting issues.
A district that implements the curriculum set forth in this subdivision in a stand-alone required course may exempt a pupil from the course if the pupil requests the exemption and satisfactorily demonstrates mastery of the course content. The district shall determine the method by which a pupil may demonstrate this mastery.
(d) Commencing with the 1993-94 fiscal year, community college districts may offer, to interested, individuals, noncredit fee-supported courses in parenting skills and education as described in subdivision (c).
(e) This section is not intended to replace existing courses that accomplish the intent of this section. School districts may meet the requirements of this section with existing courses of study offered in any of grades 6 to 9, inclusive, that includes the course contents identified in subdivision (c). When the parenting skills and education curriculum is incorporated within courses other than consumer and home economics courses, these courses are not subject to the curricular standards specified in Section 2 of Chapter 775 of the Statutes of 1989 or in the consumer and home economics education model performance standards and framework. Teachers of courses other than consumer and home economics that incorporate parenting skills and education are not required to meet the qualifications specified for teachers of consumer and home economics.
(f) This section shall become operative only if a funding source is identified by the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the purposes of this section on or before January 1, 1995.
(g) The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall identify the funding source for this section from existing resources or private resources, or both, that may be available for the purposes of this section. The superintendent shall notify school districts when sufficient funds have been identified and are allocated to cover all costs relating to the operation of this section.
51221. Instruction required by subdivision (b) of Section 51220 in the area of study of social sciences shall also provide a foundation for understanding the wise use of natural resources.
51745. (a) Commencing with the 1990-91 school year, the governing board of a school district or a county office of education may offer independent study to meet the educational needs of pupils in accordance with the requirements of this article. Educational opportunities offered through independent study may include, but shall not be limited to, the following:
- Special assignments extending the content of regular courses of instruction.
- Individualized study in a particular area of interest or in a subject not currently available in the regular school curriculum.
- Individualized alternative education designed to teach the knowledge and skills of the core curriculum. Independent study shall not be provided as an alternative curriculum.
- Continuing and special study during travel.
- Volunteer community service activities that support and strengthen pupil achievement.
(b)Not more than 10 percent of the pupils participating in an opportunity school or program, or a continuation high school, calculated as specified by the State Department of Education, shall be eligible for apportionment credit for independent study pursuant to this article.
(c)No individual with exceptional needs, as defined in Section 56026, may participate in independent study, unless his or her individualized education program developed pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 56340) of Chapter 4 of part 30 specifically provides for that participation.
(d) No temporarily disabled pupil may receive individual instruction pursuant to Section 48206.3 through independent study.
(e) No course included among the courses required for high school graduation under Section 51225.3 shall be offered exclusively through independent study.
51747.3. (a) No local education agency may claim state funding for the independent study of a pupil, whether characterized as home study or otherwise, if the agency has provided any funds or other thing of value to the pupil or his or her parent or guardian that the agency does not provide to students who attend regular classes or to their parents or guardians.