Did you know…
In California,* in addition to joining a public charter Independent Study Program (ISP), another way to homeschool involves becoming a private school or joining a Private Satellite Program (PSP). With these two options, it’s important to note your family will not receive any public school curriculum or class dollars.
Becoming your own Private School
This option affords the most freedom. Each October 1st, you must file an Private School Affidavit with the California Department of Education stating that you are operating a private school; families choosing this option have 15 days to file the affidavit. Follow this link for more information. You must also list the number of students. YOU DO NOT NEED TO REVEAL NAMES OF YOUR STUDENTS. As a private school, you need to maintain student files: You must take attendance, keep shot records, copies of birth certificates. You also need to keep academic records for your students, as you are the school of record.
If your family has religious convictions that you would like to bring into your coursework–this option will work best. You are free do do what you want. If you go with a public ISP, all materials and coursework MUST be secular.
Joining a Private Satellite Program
This option is a good one if one of 2 situations are happening: A) You have students in middle school or above, or— B) You would like input and advice about what to do, when. With a PSP, you will pay another entity to be your “school of record.” Which means that party will keep track of attendance, vaccinations, and other files. They may also have community events, field trips, and host park days. If your student is in middle school, this can be a good option as you might not want grades to come from “Mom.” Grades from an accredited “source” might be desirable, especially if your student might be facing a competitive public or private high school entrance environment.
A big advantage to going with a PSP is you have more support in helping navigate (middle and) high school requirements. They have up-to-date information which becomes more important as your student gets closer to college. This support is not without cost, and costs can vary quite a lot. Some can be as low as $100 per year, but many are above $250.
For my family, our first two years of homeschooling, we filed the affidavit. My students were in grades 1-4. I appreciated the freedom in being able to study whatever we wanted—when we wanted. If you have definite ideas about what you would like to cover, I recommend filing the affidavit.
However, when my eldest hit 6th grade, I went wilh a PSP; I wanted grades from an accredited private school. My PSP only asked me to submit a proposed course of study, grades, and attendance, so we still had a lot of freedom. In 2016, I paid $50 to sign-up with my PSP.
Our family is now working with a public Independent Study Program. I really enjoy working with my HST (Home School Teacher), and I always benefit from her input. See this post for some ISPs I’ve heard good feedback from and that I’ve worked with as a product vendor. (Families that go with a public ISP may need to more closely track with public school standards and take standardized tests. More on that in this article.)
If I had a high school student, I would either chose a PSP or an Independent Study Program that was clear on all grade-level and graduation requirements. A PSP for high school may cost more than $250.
Adding Other Classes
With both of these private school options, it’s still possible to take classes at other public and private schools or homeschool co-ops. It’s important to know that you would just need to pay for them out of pocket. (Except for community college classes which are free for high school students.)
*Note: This post applies to California homeschooling. Look at the laws for your state, as the requirements differ.