Your Legal Obligations

The documents you are required to keep vary by state.   In California, you are required to keep:

  1. Copy of your Private School Affidavit, then renew it each year October 1-15.
  2. Up-to-date attendance record for each student
  3. Course of study for each child each school year
  4. Document listing your faculty (your home address) and your qualifications to teach (your education)
  5. Health immunization records or waiver (before student’s sixth birthday)
  6. Report of Health Examination for School Entry or waiver of Health Check-Up for School Entry (within 90 days of entering first grade)
  7. Tdap documentation (new law as of 2011)

For more detail instructions on taking your child out of public school and setting up a homeschool, visit http://californiahomeschool.net/howTo/pdf/CHNJTF2010.pdf.

SCHOOL PORTFOLIO

This is not required, but it is highly recommended that you keep samples of your child’s work.  This is your child’s portfolio.  It illustrates your child’s progress.  It is great for encouraging your child.  Keeping a high school portfolio is very useful when preparing for college admissions and job interviews.   If you never use the portfolio for anything else, it is still a wonderful reminder of the school years.

My child’s portfolio consists of:

  1. His science journals
  2. A hard copy and photo of a few handwritten tests and work samples
  3. A hard copy and photo of a log that contains a list of titles of books, audios and videos his mind consumed
  4. A hard copy and photo of a log that contains classes and field trips attended
  5. A hard copy and photo of all paper awards and a photograph of pins, metals and statues

In order not to have too much paper clutter my child’s digital portfolio consists of:

  1. Photos of important papers I plan to keep
  2. Photos of worksheets and art papers that will be tossed
  3. Photos of the results/score page of the many classes my child takes online taken at the beginning, middle and end of each school year such as Khan Academy, speed typing test, Java Script programs, etc.
  4. At least one photo of my child at a field trip, class, workshop or volunteer effort.
  5. Photos of nearly every step my son took in preparing for science fair.  I also videotaped all experiments.  (I can capture photos from video with the “Snip it tool”.)  The science fair photos and videos are in a separate folder to make it easier for him to review them.
  6. Videos of oral quizzes such as Awana memory verses or spelling quizzes.

RECORDKEEPING

GETTING STARTED

If you would like to homeschool and need help getting started here is my advice.  You should begin by reading “You Can Homeschool” by Home School Legal Defense.

HSLDA has been defending homeschoolers since 1983.  Along with legal defense they also have a massive amount of information on their website that will guide you through your homeschooling journey from grades K-12.   This includes support for homeschoolers with struggling learners.

CPS AT YOUR DOOR

I don’t know how often this happens, but as a former foster parent I am very aware of how easy it is to be under the scrutiny of CPS.  I also have friends that have had this happen to them.   In all cases, the child’s school portfolio was invaluable.   It offered tangible evidence that the child’s education was not being neglected.

If I were ever to have a CPS worker at my door, I would NOT invite them in.    HSLDA strongly recommends NOT inviting a CPS worker inside your home.   Please visit HSLDA’s site if you want to understand why this is important.

My plan is to step outside with my laptop and let my son narrate as they are invited to watch a slideshow of my son’s digital portfolio.   This wonderful visual aid will help the official be able to see at a glance that my child’s education is progressing.

If they don’t have time for that slideshow, my son will be more than happy to discuss his science fair project with them!

If you suspect that you are going to have an issue with CPS related to homeschooling, then contact HSLDA immediately at https://www.hslda.org.   If you suspect you are going to have an issue with CPS that is not related to homeschooling, then contact Pacific Justice immediately at http://pacificjustice.org/how-we-can-help-you.

They both specialize in legal defense of parental rights.   They can help you most BEFORE your children are taken out of your home.    Knowing that you have a lawyer frequently causes an over zealous worker to pause and reflect upon the situation.   The process after your child is taken can drag out because that CPS worker needs to justify his or her action.   In general, you are allowed only a one hour, once a week visit with your child.   You DO NOT want the situation to ever come to that.

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