The state of California offers me, a homeschooling parent, $2600/year in educational funds for each of my kids. I, along with so many other homeschooling families in California, have crafted a customized and well-rounded education that reflects our family’s interests, priorities, learning styles, and values.
Thanks in large part to our educational funds, I believe homeschoolers in Southern California are at the forefront of 21st-century learning. We are empowered with financial resources to truly customize our children’s education. The network of homeschool vendors is huge because homeschoolers have those financial resources to pay for their educational offerings. Most families would only be able to afford a fraction of these learning opportunities without the funds.
The ecosystem of classes, programs and enrichment opportunities for homeschool families in Southern California is enormous, and I credit much of that to the educational funds. With such tremendous infrastructure in place, it makes for a thriving and dynamic place to receive a 21st-century education and explore one’s passions. Personalized learning is all the rage amongst education circles these days. Homeschoolers have been doing this for years. With educational funds, it makes it even easier to facilitate a top-of-the-line education for our kids.
California demonstrates its progressive vision by valuing the diversity of children and the innovation of homeschool families.
I’d like to share with you how educational funds work in California for homeschool families:
Educational Funds–Charter schools for homeschoolers offer educational funds. There are multiple charter schools and each competes to attract and retain students. The charter school I selected spends, on each student’s behalf, $2600/year to use with vendors to provide for a well-rounded education. The parents direct what they want to spend their funds on and the choices are colossal. Funds can’t be spent on religious curriculum or classes. I don’t know any two families who spend their funds in the same way. Our options are vast. Here is how we are spending our funds this year:
- Math, science, history and writing classes
- Guitar classes
- Jiu-jitsu lessons
- Technology classes
- School and office supplies
- Curriculum–Amazon and Rainbow Resources are two examples of curriculum vendors. The options and combinations seem almost endless allowing for a wonderfully customized curriculum.
- One-hundred Percent Personalized Curriculum–We can use any method or program of our family’s choosing.
- I select the mix of curriculum that fits each of my kids’ needs and am free to change it up as needed. Here is what we do for math.
- If a child or family is fascinated by a subject, then it is our option to linger in it and dive deep without making sure we are hitting all the quick and shallow standards of public school. This creates passion and love of learning.
- Faith-based materials can’t be purchased with state funds.
- One of the benefits of homeschooling is instruction is individualized. If a child learns quickly then s/he can jump ahead. For example, my oldest two kids are above grade level in virtually every academic subject freeing them up to move at an accelerated pace. This is not usually an option in conventional school. Additionally, kids that do not learn as quickly are able to slow down until they understand it without being made to feel dumb. One nice thing about homeschooling is most of the kids have no idea at which rate their friends learn math, read books, etc. Instead, they are learning together joyfully on hikes, field trips, in science classes, etc.
- We are also part of a weekly homeschool co-op with about 60 families. Parents volunteer their gifts and passions to teach classes so we only pay for supplies. We do not use funds. I teach Blogging and 21st-Century Skills. My kids take art, science and other classes here with other wonderful homeschool families.
Thanks to educational funds for homeschoolers, a tremendous infrastructure of classes, programs, and opportunities have emerged allowing kids to learn and thrive in such diverse ways that best fit their needs and passions. The funds have created a competitive market that has dramatically amplified opportunities.
- Standardized Testing–Since we accept funds, homeschool charters prefer that we take the same standardized test in the spring that public school kids take beginning in third grade. I have no problem with that. So far, my kids have been in the top tier of each standardized test we have taken. Many of my homeschool friends also score much higher than their district school counterparts. I find this interesting considering how much time public schools spend teaching to the test, and we spent none. Rather, we focus on a well-rounded, quality education and the joy of learning.
- I tell my kids to do the best they can on the tests and advise them they will probably see some unfamiliar language and terminology. We do not follow a Common Core curriculum or use classroom lingo. If they don’t know an answer, they can use process of elimination.
- Last year’s standardized tests only took about 3 hours total and was divided into two days. Our wonderful teacher surprised them with homemade lollipops with encouraging notes attached for their hard work after test completion. We also went to her house a few days later to watch her ducklings hatching. We witnessed a duckling peck its way out of its shell. She is an example of the many caring teachers who support homeschool families.
- Most people will need to take tests throughout their lives. I see this as good preparation and a partial barometer of how we are doing. However, I don’t believe those tests account for many important successful life skills or for the uniqueness in each of our children. Many brilliant kids don’t test well.
- Meeting With Your Assigned Credentialed Teacher–We are required to meet with our assigned teacher approximately once every 3 weeks. However, some families who prefer additional support may be in contact with their teacher more often.
- Samples are required. Each student is required to provide several samples per month. All samples must be secular.
- I have always worked with supportive teachers who have trusted me with my children’s education. They are there as a facilitator and to offer guidance for those families who need it. If I was assigned a teacher who was not a good fit for our family, I would switch teachers or change to another charter school. It is the free market in action.
- Educational Vendors–We have thousands of products and vendors from which we can choose from to use our homeschool funds. One thing I love about homeschooling is that my kids are out experiencing the world in a variety of settings and learning from different instructors who are so passionate about their field. Families are empowered to ask their favorite provider of services or products to become a vendor. Here are just a few of the vendors in Southern California offering programs for homeschool kids:
Amazon and Rainbow Resources are my two favorite vendors for curriculum. The prices and selection are great, and shipping with Amazon is fast. We can create thousands of combinations customized to our children’s learning styles and abilities.
- Charter School Options–Charter schools compete to attract and retain students. Each year, the choices, funding and options seem to get better. Here are just a few examples:
I know some people vehemently opposed to accepting educational funds from the government. In California, you have the option to stay independent instead of receiving charter school funds. However, sometimes they give out false information and say you can’t teach what you want if you accept funds. This simply is NOT TRUE. I customize my kids’ education every bit as much as a family who does not join a charter school. I find their misinformation confuses new homeschool families. If I ever felt dissatisfied with the charter school, I have the freedom and choice to file independently again.
- Commitment to Progressive Values of Respecting Diversity and Innovation–Additionally, California demonstrates its progressive vision for education by valuing the diversity of children and the innovation of homeschool families. Brick-and-mortar schools are not a good fit for everyone. Children are homeschooled for a wide variety of reasons. Both gifted children and those with learning disabilities often don’t have their needs met in public school and are deprived of opportunities to thrive and share their gifts with the world. Some parents remove their kids from the system as a result of bullying or discrimination that was never adequately addressed by school administrators. Others are concerned about school safety and the rapidly declining mental health among young people. Many homeschool families have at least one parent who is a credentialed, public school teacher and know homeschooling provides a superior educational opportunity for their kids. These are just a few of the many reasons a diverse homeschool community makes this educational choice.
In summary, the educational funds have played a tremendous role in creating a huge infrastructure for homeschool families. I am in charge of what and how my kids learn. I am so excited and hopeful that families across America will also have the opportunity to receive educational funds, if they desire, and see an even greater expansion of the homeschool infrastructure and learning opportunities. This is what the future of education can look like!
This is what the future of education can look like! California is on the cutting edge of progress and innovation yet again!
I would love for educational leaders around the world to come to Southern California to see what has been built for homeschool families–in part due to educational funds. It is learning for the 21st-century at its finest!
Note: I have made a few minor updates to this popular blog post to reflect some of the things we have been doing over the past year.
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Note: I have updated this post to answer readers’ questions and provide deeper explanations for you.