Life After Leaving Our Lake

MMIlifeleavinglakeOh how our lives have changed over the past few months.

You see, we’ve left our precious lake. As much as we loved it and the city and people surrounding it, we needed to move onto greener and warmer pastures.

Briefly, I needed sunshine to help control my Rheumatoid Arthritis (and, if I’m being honest, my moods). The kids needed more outdoor opportunities and the cold was not allowing for that. We all needed some familial connections (none of which were in Chicago). And I wanted to begin the process of returning to work (in the region where I most worked prior to children).

With that, in December, we hitched up the wagon and headed west to Southern California.

We are, if you are wondering, no longer on a lake. I hope you’ll forgive me for not altering the blog name on this technicality.

Now then — to the real meat of the matter: homeschooling in California. Oh, I’d heard so many conflicting reports prior to moving: “California is a horrible place to homeschool, replete with shackles and mini-prisons for those who stray”; “California is the best place to homeschool, fecund with huge stipends and bursting at the seams with free classes, curricula, and consultations.”

Coming from Illinois, where one is not even required to declare TO ANYONE that one is homeschooling, this was a scary new frontier for us.

After being here a month, here is what I have learned about California homeschooling, and a little about the choices we have made:

1. You have to tell somebody you are homeschooling. You can either sign an affidavit stating that you are going to be your child’s teacher and leave it at that; join a public homeschool charter, the likes of which run the spectrum from high parental involvement and optional enrichment to much less parental involvement and high amounts of on-site classes; or join a private homeschool charter where you follow its procedures (and pay). Please, Californians, correct me if I am wrong.

We have decided to go with a public charter that provides a consultant, with whom we meet once a month, allows us to use our own curricula and also provides any curricula we might need free of charge, and offers optional on-site enrichment classes for free or, in lieu of their classes, a monthly stipend for outside classes. They will also provide transcripts, a diploma, and a graduation ceremony.

2. California offers several programs for team sports, ranging from non-competitive to competitive.

3. California allows more access to local schools for extra-curricular activities (this might be charter/local school specific).

4. A public charter student will take all standardized testing required of public school students, will submit attendance forms, and will require all the usual vaccinations.

5. In order to join a charter school, you will have to submit birth certificates. They will not accept the excuse that you grabbed what you thought was the file box and diligently moved it across country only to discover that it was actually a box of baskets and artwork. You will have to wait until the rest of your belongings arrive to become official.

6. There are scads and scads of homeschoolers in California.

While it might seem more complicated (and it feels that way in the beginning), it really does offer a bit of the best from both the homeschooling and public schooling worlds. While we can still focus on my kids’ passions, we will also have a consultant to help us through the areas where we might struggle a bit more. This feels especially helpful to me as my eldest enters high school next year.

There now. That’s the update and the big change from Adventures in Lakeschooling (Can we call the Pacific Ocean a trumped up lake?”). I hope you’ll stay with us as we venture through this second half of our homeschooling experience.

If you’re from California, I hope you’ll correct any of my errors here and feel free to offer any advice that might be helpful for California homeschoolers.

If you remain on our beloved lake, please come visit anytime! We miss you!