Keep Calm and Homeschool On

by Katie Julius

Take a deep breath in. Hold it. Now, exhale.

As we sit in our homes this summer watching the news and social media for word of what school will look like this fall (with a seemingly different answer each week), it can be frustrating, daunting, and exhausting all at the same time. This is true even for those veteran homeschoolers who are so used to participating in co-ops and extracurricular activities that are open one day and closed the next.

We’ve been stressed and on edge since mid-March and if you’re like me, you just want answers and to have something that’s certain this fall.

So, before the panic continues, take a deep breath and let’s dive into this homeschool thing, step-by-step.

Contrary to what society has taught us about who is capable of teaching (hint: you don’t need a degree), as the parent of your child, you ARE capable. That is the only qualification you need. God gave you your children and with that comes the biblical mandate that you are responsible for the education and upbringing of your children (Prov. 22:6, Deut. 11:19). God is not going to give you a responsibility that you are not capable of handling! He will equip you. Parents have been educating their children for centuries; it’s only within the last century and a half that government schools have taken over that role. I expanded more on this topic in a blog post in Spring 2019 that you can read here. You can also talk to almost anyone who has homeschooled their kids – you’ve got this!

Before you begin homeschooling, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of the laws in California that allow private home education to happen. To start, all children ages 6-18 (as of September 1) are required to attend public school. This is called compulsory education. You may have noticed that 5-year-olds are not required to attend school. So that means, if you have a child who is not in that 6-18 age range, you do not have to enroll them in school. You can still do educational activities with them and read to them, but you do not have to enroll them in school. Now, if you DO have a child in the 6-18 age range and you don’t want them in public school, there are exemptions to compulsory education.

Secondly, it’s important to note that “homeschool” is not a legal term or option in the state of California. The way the laws are set up, all students are either enrolled in a public school or a private school. Under each of those categories, there are classroom based, hybrid, and non-classroom based options. Most private homeschooling families use either the PSA or PSP option.

Filing a Private School Affidavit (PSA)
Using this option, you are establishing your own single-family private school in your home with your children as its only students. As a private school, you determine the course of study (what they’re learning), your school calendar (you can school on the weekends, at 7:00 at night, on Christmas Day!), and all other educational decisions – and you do not have to “answer” to anyone in the form of submitting work or meeting with a teacher.

You DO need to file the affidavit form with the California Department of Education annually between October 1-15. If you are starting a new school this year, that does not mean you need to wait until then to start school. The form does not establish your school. YOU establish your school when you start instruction. The form is only notifying the state that your school exists.

If the form seems overwhelming at first glance, don’t worry! It’s not as daunting as it looks. It takes about 10 or 15 minutes to complete. If you’re worried about giving the wrong information, CHEA has several resources to help: a step-by-step guide on our website (it will be updated for the 2020-2021 school year when the filing period opens on October 1) and a virtual PSA Filing Party where we walk you through step-by-step and answer your questions along the way. At the end of the “party,” you will have completed and submitted your PSA!

Enroll in a Private School Satellite Program (PSP)
If you aren’t comfortable going it on your own, want a built-in community, or seek some anonymity, enrolling in a PSP may be a good choice for your family. A PSP can be part of a campus-based private school or it can be a stand-alone non-campus based private school. What each of these schools offers varies greatly as does the cost to enroll. Some have very nominal fees in exchange for keeping your records and offering parent-led activities while others can charge hundreds of dollars and in addition to keeping your records, offer classes, field trips, activities, and more. The level of oversight and requirements will vary with each school. It’s important to find out exactly what is expected of you as the parent-teacher before enrolling your children. CHEA has a resource to help you in selecting the right homeschool group.

Credentialed Tutor
There is a third option for exemption from compulsory education, and that is to hire a credentialed teacher to teach your student. This is typically seen in the entertainment industry or elite athletics. There are very specific requirements about when school can occur, how many hours must be complete, the subjects taught, etc. CHEA typically recommends that parents who hold a teaching credential file a PSA for more freedom than this option offers.

A Word About Non-Classroom Based Public School Options
There are Independent Study Programs available through both traditional public school districts and public charter schools. Since they are public school options, they are required to follow state standards, provide non-sectarian instruction, and you do check in with a teacher periodically. The level of accountability and responsibility for the student/parent varies greatly. We invite you to read more in depth information about Public School at Home programs in this blog post. These may or may not be an option this fall due to education budget cuts.

For more information about the Options in Homeschooling in California, check out this publication.

So, once you have determined which option you are going to use for the fall, it’s time to withdraw your student from their public school. If you have enrolled your child at a public school, you will need to submit a letter from you, as the parent, notifying the school that you are withdrawing them. This is true even for kindergarteners who haven’t attended a day of school yet. If you completed the paperwork to enroll them, you need to unenroll them or you will begin receiving calls from the school wondering where your child is.

CHEA recommends that you compose a letter and sign it before sending it certified mail to your school. This will provide a paper trail for you and give you proof that the school received the notice. A sample letter to withdraw your student is available here. No matter which alternate option you choose for the fall, you will need to send this letter to your school if your student will no longer “attend” your current school (whether public or private). As mentioned above, “homeschooling” is not a legal educational term in California. For this reason, CHEA strongly suggests that you do not use this term in your letter.

If you are establishing your own private school and plan to file a PSA in October, you will need to request your student records AS THE SCHOOL. You should pick a name for your new school (for some tips and ideas on that, read this article), create a simple letterhead, and sign the letter as the administrator or principal of your school. CHEA also recommends that this letter be sent via certified mail for proof of receipt. A sample letter is available here.

If you are enrolling in a PSP or public school at home option, the school will handle the records request from your previous school.

Once you have your child’s old records, you will need to be sure to maintain new ones as required by law. I won’t go into great detail here as we have a blog post that’s part of our Homeschooling 101 series that covers it well. We also have an upcoming webinar. You do need to keep a copy of your PSA, a record of attendance, a course of study, and a list of faculty and their qualifications (your education is enough qualification.)

Now that you have your legal “ducks in a row,” you can relax a little and start planning the amazing year you are going to have learning with your kids! If you have young children (Preschool/Kindergarten), I can’t recommend this article enough. I didn’t follow these suggestions myself with my kindergartener several years ago and I wish I had! I think we would have had a more enjoyable year.

For older kids, choosing curriculum can be overwhelming. The options that are available to homeschooling families today are varied and plentiful. You will want to consider how your children learn, your approach to learning, your budget, your schedule, etc. What is best for one family is not necessarily best for another. We encourage you to read through some of our articles about curriculum and also view our “Choosing Your Curriculum” webinar for more information about how to select the curriculum you are going to use for your kids.

Likewise, what a typical day looks like in each homeschool is different for each family. If you have activities or classes during the week or parents who work, those will all factor into what your weekly schedule will look like. Some families school during traditional “school” hours and days while others will do their learning in the evenings or partly on the weekend. That’s one of the benefits of being your own private school; you can set your schedule to whatever works best for your unique family situation. For some tips and ideas on how to plan your year, CHEA has a “Planning Your Year” webinar as well as some downloadable forms on our website to aid you in this process.

Homeschooling is not easy. It takes work. It can be difficult. There will be challenging days. There will be great days. This is all completely normal! Find veteran homeschoolers in your area to encourage you and walk alongside you. Use the many resources CHEA has developed just for you (we have more than 35 years of experience helping homeschoolers in California). Remember to take a deep breath when you feel overwhelmed. You CAN do this. Just keep calm and homeschool on!

Here is a list of other resources from CHEA that new homeschoolers may find helpful as they plan, prepare, and start their school year:

New to Homeschool Digital Content Pass
Virtual Homeschooling High School Mini-Con
Special Needs Solutions for Homeschool Families
CHEA’s YouTube Channel
Facebook Live Videos on CHEA’s Facebook Page
CHEA’s Facebook Communities: Homeschool California and Working Homeschool Moms

Be Fools for Christ

by John McGowan, Esq., CHEA Board of Directors

On June 15, the Supreme Court announced its decision in the R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes case, holding that the word “sex” in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes protections for “gender identity” and “sexual orientation”. Since the Harris Funeral Homes case ruling, we have heard from many in the Christian homeschool community who have questions about possible implications for their PSPs or similarly situated organizations. The purpose of this article is to address some of those questions and offer some guidance on maximizing religious freedom protections. It should be noted from the start, however, that this discussion is general in nature and not intended to be legal advice or specific to any particular organization or set of facts. In addition, while perhaps informative, the topics addressed here are not necessarily applicable to the single-family private school affidavit filer. This discussion is of special importance, however, to the PSP or organization that services numerous families, has volunteers and/or employees, and handles financial transactions.

First, some context. Tom Rost is the current owner of R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes, a family business in operation for more than 100 years. In 2013, Tom was informed that one of his employees, a male funeral director who had agreed to, and followed, the company’s sex-specific dress code for years, intended to start dressing and presenting as a woman while working with grieving families. After considering the needs of all involved, including other employees and the grieving families the funeral home serves, Tom felt he had no choice but to part ways with the employee. This led to a lawsuit and the eventual landmark Supreme Court decision.

In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that 56 years ago, when Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and used the term “sex” to offer women certain protections from workplace discrimination, the unintended, but now realized consequence, was that those protections necessarily extend to gay and transgender individuals as well. The majority opinion of the court went out of its way to indicate that it was not addressing any potential religious liberty or first amendment argument, but the court did recognize that there would be such future conflict (“[H]ow these doctrines protecting religious liberty interact with Title VII are questions for future cases….”).

Justice Samuel Alito, offering a dissenting opinion, underscored the deep concern among religious organizations with the majority’s view and worry about what the decision could mean for those future religious liberty cases. Justice Alito recognized that,

“’Religious organizations need employees who actually live the faith’, and that compelling a religious organization to employ individuals whose conduct flouts the tenets of the organization’s faith forces the group to communicate an objectionable message. This problem is perhaps most acute when it comes to the employment of teachers. A school’s standards for its faculty communicate a particular way of life to its students, and a violation by the faculty of those precepts may undermine the school’s moral teaching.”

It was not by accident that Justice Alito highlighted liberty concerns of religious schools and teachers in his Harris Funeral Homes’ dissent. At the time of Alito’s dissent, there was pending before the court a separate case of particular importance to religious schools. On July 8, the Supreme Court rendered its decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey, dealing with discrimination claims brought by Catholic elementary teachers. Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion in the Our Lady of Guadalupe School case which held, on first amendment grounds, that “when a school with a religious mission entrusts a teacher with the responsibility of educating and forming students in the faith, judicial intervention into disputes between the school and the teacher threatens the school’s independence in a way that the First Amendment does not allow.” Justice Alito reasoned,

“The religious education and formation of students is the very reason for the existence of most private religious schools, and there-fore the selection and supervision of the teachers upon whom the schools rely to do this work lie at the core of their mission. Judicial review of the way in which religious schools discharge those responsibilities would undermine the independence of religious institutions in a way that the First Amendment does not tolerate.”

The Our Lady of Guadalupe School decision was an important follow-up to the Harris Funeral Home case and made clear that in certain settings, such as with religious school teachers, the First Amendment prevents the government from tampering with a religious group’s employment decisions about who furthers its faith based mission.

Even though the Our Lady of Guadalupe School decision was welcome news, there are many potential fact patterns that lie somewhere between Harris Funeral Home (traditional employee/employer situation) and Our Lady of Guadalupe School (religious school teachers). The law is hardly settled beyond the specific facts before the court in these cases. There are also several federal (and state) statutes relating to rights of a religious organization, including religious protections found in Title VII itself and the separate Religious Freedom Restoration Act, along with countless cases interpreting those provisions, none of which are addressed here.

With that said, as a general matter, here are several steps that a religious organization, and a Christian homeschool PSP in particular, should consider taking to bolster its religious freedom protections.

Whether a PSP, or any other Christian organization, operates for profit or as a non-profit organization may be considered by courts in determining whether the organization is a “religious organization” worthy of certain protections. While this may not be a determining factor on its own, organizations should consider organizing or re-organizing as a non-profit. Even if non-profit status is decided against, organizations should consider a formal business structure other than operating as a sole proprietor.

All Christian organizations should have a robust statement of faith. Generally, courts will not question an organization’s self-proclaimed religious beliefs, particularly if they appear in a statement of faith or other governing document. The statement of faith should cover a broad range of religious beliefs. Consider requiring agreement to the statement of faith by all participants and employees.

Whether incorporated into the statement of faith or a stand alone proclamation, Christian ministries/organizations should articulate the distinctly religious purpose for their existence through a mission statement. The mission statement should be grounded in the organization’s religious beliefs and statement of faith.

Your organization should highlight, rather than conceal its religious character. A Christian ministry/organization can highlight its religious nature by regularly including prayer, Bible studies, and worship in its activities; emphasizing any affiliation with a church or religious denomination; noting the organization’s religious nature through any website, brochure, logo or tagline.

Liability insurance, including officers/directors insurance should be considered. Don’t assume it is cost-prohibitive until talking to a broker.


Ultimately, as we consider the changing legal and cultural landscape, take courage. We know and trust that Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. The Gospel message is worth any cost. Consider the words of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. “Have the courage to have your wisdom regarded as stupidity. Be fools for Christ. And have the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.”

CTCMath Review

CTCMath Review Homeschool Curriculum – Grade K-12 How will I ever teach math? That is the number one question about curriculum I get from moms who are thinking about homeschooling. Unless you love math, it can seem so overwhelming. Usually, parents aren’t concerned about the early years, but the thought of teaching higher math sends […]

The post CTCMath Review appeared first on A MOTHER'S RANDOM THOUGHTS.

Teaching High School Science Biology

Does Teaching High School Science Scare You? As a veteran homeschool mom, who has graduated 3 children who took high school biology, I can assure you that teaching High School Science doesn’t have to be scary. I used the best available curriculum at that time, but today when faced with biology choices I wanted something […]

The post Teaching High School Science: Biology appeared first on A MOTHER'S RANDOM THOUGHTS.

Vertical addition online game

Codelover has finished another game for Math Mammoth practice!

This one is for vertical or column addition. (Subtraction is coming soon.)

Simple practice overall, but we spiced it up with colors, and Mathy my mascot is giving children feedback about their progress. 😁 And in the end there’s a surprise animation.

For grades 2-4.

Fruit of the Spirit Joy

Fruit of the Spirit - Joy

Fruit of the Spirit


Is wanting joy in our life selfish?  I’ve heard this many times and always thought it was strange.  Why do we question the fact that God wants us to find joy and hold it in our hearts?

Maybe because so many people are finding “joy” in ungodly things.  Things of this world, not of God.  There are a ton of ways we can “find joy” or think we have that goes against every thing God wants for our lives.  This is not everlasting and that’s why people are constantly searching.

I’m talking about real joy.  The kind that actually grows in your heart.  The kind that can only come from the one who created you and this entire universe.  True joy can only come from God.  His Holy Spirit is who takes God’s hope and fills it in you.  But to receive it you first need to find out how.

In these 5 verses we will take a look at what God is saying when we tells you “you will be filled with joy”.  He’s going to show us that He has it waiting for His children all we need to do is ask.

Simply click on the image below and download your Fruit of the Spirit Study: Joy to join in.  I’d love to know your notes and take-away’s from today’s study – comment below or on the posts on Facebook and Instagram!

Click the image below for your Fruit of the Spirit Study: Joy


You can find the entire Fruit of the Spirit Bibles Study on it’s dedicated page.  You’ll find links to each of the blog posts with the free downloads for you there.

Love Life, Love God, Live For HIM…

The post Fruit of the Spirit: Joy appeared first on Homeschoolin' Mama.

The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry

The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry - Book ReviewThe Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry Learning about the periodic table of elements can be difficult! And if your kids are like mine, they learn much faster when they can actually see something happen, instead of just reading about it. That’s why the book, The Book of Ingeniously Daring Chemistry: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists, by […]

Apps Preparing Teens for the Real World

Apps Preparing Teens for the Real WorldApps Preparing Teens for the Real World Summer is an ideal time for teens to learn important adult skills, like organization, financial literacy, independence and setting personal goals. Whether it’s being on time for their first summer job or keeping up with their summer reading list, these apps can help your teen stay focused this […]