California Compulsory Education

Attendance Requirements
Children are required by law to attend full-time public school or continuation school unless they are exempted. Exemptions include attending a full-time private school. Homeschooling is not specifically mentioned as an exemption, but many people homeschool by establishing a private school in their own home or enrolling in a private school satellite program. Private tutoring by a credentialed teacher is another exemption. Charter schools and public school independent study programs satisfy the compulsory education requirement.

Ages of Compulsory Education
Children between the ages of 6 and 18 are required to attend school. They must enroll in school for that school year if their sixth birthday falls on or before:
(1) December 2 of the 2011-12 school year.
(2) November 1 of the 2012-13 school year.
(3) October 1 of the 2013-14 school year.
(4) September 1 of the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter.

(See Education Code 48010)

Compulsory Education Law and Exemptions
Homeschooling is legal in California. Because the California Education Code never explicitly mentions homeschooling, the right of parents to homeschool their children is open to legal interpretation. However, this is true of many rights not explicitly delineated in the law.

Brief Overview of State Law as it Applies to Homeschooling
Yes, homeschooling is legal in California. Because the California Education Code never explicitly mentions homeschooling, the right of parents to homeschool their children is open to legal interpretation. However, this is true of many rights not explicitly delineated in the law. Here is a brief overview of the state law as it applies to homeschooling.


The California Education Code provides that "each person between the ages of 6 and 18 years not exempted is subject to compulsory full-time education." (California Education Code 48200). This applies to children who turn six on or before December 2 of the 2011-12 school year; November 1 of the 2012-13 school year; October 1 of the 2013-14 school year; and September 1 of the 2014-15 school year and each school year thereafter. (California Education Code 48010).


  1. The private tutoring exemption (section 48224) for children who are instructed for at least three hours each day, 175 days a year by a teacher who holds a valid California teaching credential for the grade taught, and
  2. The private school exemption (section 48222) for children who are enrolled in a full-time private school. There are no laws that establish the minimum standards for the teachers or curricula of private schools. The only legal requirement for private schools is that they file a Private School Affidavit (section 33190) annually with the California Department of Education and that they keep specified records on file (copy of filed affidavit, attendance records, immunization, courses of study offered, faculty qualification, and criminal records summary). If there was any doubt that parents may educate their own children under the section 48222 exemption, a recent California case settled the issue. In, Jonathan L. v. Superior Court, 165 Cal. App. 4th 1074 (2008), the California Court of Appeal for the Second District found that the California legislature had expressly intended for parents to be able to form private schools under this statute and to teach their own children.

These four sections of the Education Code comprise the entirety of statutory law related to homeschooling in California. Again, homeschooling is neither explicitly forbidden nor permitted in California statutory law, but this is true of many rights we enjoy. California families can be confident in their legal right to homeschool their children.


How do homeschooling families comply with the Education Code, if it does not mention homeschooling? They comply with the compulsory school law in one of five ways:


  1. They establish a private school in their own home.
  2. They enroll their children in a private school that offers a satellite program for homeschooling (PSP).
  3. They employ a private tutor or hold a California teaching credential themselves.
  4. They send their children to a public school that offers independent study.
  5. They enroll their children in a public charter school.





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