Advice about Homeschooling

Questions & Responses:
Homeschool Co-op Elementary?(4 responses)
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Homeschooling younger children


More Advice about Homeschooling

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Homeschooling younger children



Resources for NEW homeschoolers?

Sept 2014


We are homeschooling our two sons, ages 8 and 10, after many years in public school. We don't have any friends who homeschool, and find park days where everyone already knows each other a little intimidating. I'm also aware of various events at Chabot, LHS, etc.... What would be ideal would be to meet up with homeschoolers who are also public school vets. Any advice greatly appreciated. Amy

While your post indicated that park days feel intimidating, I want to let you know that there are a wide variety of families who go to park days. There are always families coming for the 1st time & others who've come for years & everything in between. You will also find lots of public school vets; also families where one child is being homeschooled while another is going to public school, or families where they've gone back & forth with schooling choices.

On Monday afternoons, Homegrown Kids meets from roughly 1-5 at the following parks: Orinda, Codornices, Kennedy Grove near El Sobrante, Shorebird, and, on 5th Mondays, Arlington Park. The schedule is posted on line, no membership needed.

On Tuesday afternoons, the SF Bay Area Unschoolers (SFBunnies) meet at Berkeley & sometimes Oakland or Emeryville parks. SFBUN (Unschoolers) They do not post a public schedule for the park days. You need to ask for get into the group.

On Thursday afternoon, the Alameda-Oakland Home learners get together, alternating between Oakland & Alameda at wide variety of parks (much more variation in parks than the Mon or Tue groups). (AOHL)

All 3 groups do additional activities: field trips, getting together to go to plays, camping trips. The parents of AOHL also offer quite a lot of classes for kids in writing, science, debate, book club, etc. To get all the info about classes, etc for aohl, you need to become a member ($15/Sept-Aug 'year').

I wish you all the best in your homeschooling journey and all the support and resources you are hoping to find. happy homeschooling


One-day school options for homeschoolers?

Aug 2014


Looking for a one day per week program for my homeschooled kids (elementary age) which will allow them to socialize and have some group-learning experience. So far I know about Hickman and Quantum Campus. Anything else out there? Any private schools or afterschool programs offering hybrid homeschool programs? HomeschoolMom

Lawrence Hall of Science used to have classes for homeschoolers I think held during the school day. Maybe they still do. anon


Homeschooling programs to recommend for 7-year-old?

May 2012


We are moving to Berkeley in the fall, and signed up to homeschool through Hickman's Charter school. We are looking for a few homeschooling classes for our seven year old, anything from science groups to game groups to theater... Any recommendations? Julia

We are new to homeschooling ourselves but would like to pass along a few suggestions:

1. There are several homeschool charter options: Hickman, Connecting Waters, Visions, Fame. Hickman offers classes one day a week and has a local resource center. The others, from what I have heard, offer more money for classes and curriculum materials. You should check to see which organizations are vendors for the different charters schools if that is what you are interested.

2. Quantum Camp is an organization that has excellent science and math classes for homeschoolers (math is for Middle and Hight Schoolers). They are located in Berkeley - google them

3. Kids 'N Dance 'N Theaters Arts offers lots of musical theater for homeschoolers [Full disclosure: I work for the Kids 'N Dance program]

-just getting the hang of what is out there


Homeschooling a kindergartener in Contra Costa County

Feb 2012


We have decided to homeschool our kindergartener in the fall and had hoped to enroll him in Connecting Waters Charter, though we have just learned that they do not serve our county, nor does Hickman Charter. I am in need of advice and direction. Most importantly, is there another Charter school option that does offer enrollment to Contra Costa County residents? Given that Kindergarten is not mandatory in CA, is it even worth the trouble to complete the necessary steps and paperwork to homeschool? (we are not sure about whether or not we will do the same after Kindergarten) I would love any advice and direction! Thank you, Kristin

I don't homeschool in CCC, I'm in Alameda, but I know many who do and I can put you in touch with a few of them. You could also contact the HSC (Homeschooling Association of California) county contact, who would have most of the answers you need: The short answer, however, is that Kindergarten is not required in California- you do not have to enroll your child or file a Private School Affidavit until your child is 6. Info found here: Hope that helps! Samantha


Homeschooling Community w/African-American Boys

Oct 2011


Greetings, we are a black family in the east bay who are seriously considering removing our son from public school. He is bored to tears and is not being nurtured or valued for who he is and what he can bring to the classroom. It is an overcrowded school in an urban area and the teachers seem too stressed to pay attention to the individual needs of their students. The student body is nearly 100% of color and the staff does not reflect his diversity. What's more we are seeing some disturbing subtle behavior/dynamics with staff and the punitive, often antagonistic way they ''deal'' with these children.

So, we are reaching out to this community in hopes of finding an alternative vision for schooling or unschooling our boy. I know there is a vibrant homeschooling and unschooling movement in the bay area and I have been inspired by many of the groups I have met. I am wondering if there are any homeschooling networks that have a representation of children of color. Specifically african american boys/families within ages of 6-10? Additionally for all homeschooling families, how did you transition from public to home?

For private school families, does your school really practice experiential learning, really engage your child, really nurture their innate curiosity--beyond catchy slogans in glossy brochures? I thank you so much for reading this and for your reply. BTW transfering to a new public school is not an option. It is the institution of public schooling that we are trying to escape. We are not looking for a ''better'' public school. Thanks again! There must be a better way...

Congratulations to you for looking for the best option for your child's education. You're right, the bay area offers lots of options for homeschool families. NCAAHA (Northern CA African-American Homeschool Association) may be a good match for you: fan of homeschooling

Hi, Sorry your son is having this experience. We too had a similar experience with both of our children (multi-ethnic- Af. American and Latino) at two different public schools and chose to withdraw them for similar reasons. We transferred to the Mills College Children's School (pre-K-5 grade), where our children had attended pre-school and I have to say that it was definitely the right choice in both cases. Mills is wonderfully diverse- truly amazing for a private school. There are many families of color (it actually feels like the majority) and good socio-economic diversity as well. It is really a gift to see our children thrive in a diverse community.It is also just a progressive, more student centered/project based environment, and the staff (leadership, teachers, and after school staff) are gifted educators. The curriculum is really designed to build on student interests and based on an assessment of individual strengths and needs. Unlike many public schools, Mills is a school where parents really do have a voice- if there is an issue, there is really an open door policy. The school is always looking for opportunities to be responsive. I strongly recommend that you check out Mills. The number is 430-2053.

If you are planning on going the homeschooling route, I do know that many homeschooling Af. American families are enrolled in the Hickman Charter School. That might be a way to link up with other families. Best of Luck to You Happy Mills Family of Color


Homeschooling support thru Oakland Charter Schools

Sept 2011


I am leaning towards homeschool, or at the least small class size for my future kindergartener. I was appalled to see that even the Montclair Elementary schools have class sizes of ~30 kindergarteners. Wow! So I'm looking at the charter schools. It seems that BPN reviews don't include 2 of the charter schools I've heard about. So I'm wondering if there are any current thoughts about some of the charter schools that folks like. Or if anyone has experience with Connecting Waters and/or Hinkman? Thanks, Ruby

Hi- I'm not sure where you got your info, but Montclair Elementary School has about 20-22 children in their kindergarten classes. It's an amazing school, and has just out-performed ALL the Lafayette and Piedmont schools on the State API scores (if you care about that sort of thing). I really like all of the fabulous enrichment the kids gets in class, in addition to the strong academics and strong sense of community. Come check it out before writing it off. Also, smaller class size doesn't always translate to a better education... Happy Montclair Parent

HI I homeschooled at Hickman Charter School - I liked having the homebase office to visit, the staff it upbeat and energetic,like them alot. They offer more socialization for mom and child with classes and fieldtrips. I loved the parents and weds kids classes. My daughter had a blast doing carpentry and sewing classes ( better for older kids) the other homeschool programs are not as social and you have to find groups to affiliate with. renee

Ruby, I suggest you visit an AOHL park day or a Home Grown Kids parkday. There are plenty of folks to talk to and many have experience with Hickman or Connecting Waters and other options. Also you'll get to meet lots of people with soon to be kindergarteners. Homeschool groups welcome people who are considering homeschooling and those with preschool age children who plan to homeschool. Call Marianne (see page below because the schedule has changed and it is good to let people know you are coming) We're a longtime Oakland (formerly Fremont) homeschooling family and new to Hickman. You can contact me if you'd like to talk about the options and tradeoffs. Susan

Both of my children have gone K-8 with Hickman Charter School. The resource center is in Oakland, but it is not actually through the Oakland schools. Here is my advice, and obviously, I am a happy customer. Call them up, come to an open house or arrange to visit, and see what you think. The first time I went to visit, I was able to ask many questions and talk with teachers, and meet other parents, and it was a great fit for my child instead of traditional K. There are many resources in the area for homeschooling. You can find lots of kids to play with, so the common concern about being lonely is not real. My daughter who is still with Hickman spends time with other kids at least 6 days per week. Hickman parent


Homeschooling a first grader in Berkeley

August 2011


I am thinking of homeschooling my son next year (for first grade) and am wondering what experience Berkeley families have had with homeschooling. We are interested in developing our own, Montessori based curriculum as we really love the method. We are currently in an incredible Montessori program for kindergarden (program is pre-school to 6 years) and are considering homeschooling in addition to our public and private school options. I am planning to attend some Homegrown Kids park-days and am devouring resources on-line but am curious to hear from experienced homeschoolers in the BPN community. Thanks! Homeschooling Curious

A public school homeschooling option is with BUSD's Berkeley Independent Study's (BIS) Home School Program. In the K-8 Home School program, parents/guardians accompany students to weekly 90-minute meetings with teachers. Assignments adhere to state curriculum standards while accommodating students' interests and abilities. BIS provides instructional materials, and tutoring is available. Parents/guardians act as home teachers for all of the K-8 lessons. They need to be available to supervise their child's studies at home for 20-25 hours per week. For some students, this program is an excellent alternative to the regular classroom and home teachers can engage in a collaborative approach to learning for their children. Please contact me if you'd like more information. KamalaAsher [at] 644-4500 ext 14301 Kamala Asher, K-8 Home School Facilitator


Homeschooling an only child

Feb 2011


Are there any homeschooling families with one child out there? I would love some advice as we begin are journey. I am starting to doubt my decision because my picture of homeschooling usually involves a big family. How do you handle the challenges of having just one child at home. Anon

please check this out (from a teacher) about things to think about before you homeschool: anon

I would be happy to discuss our homeschool journey with you. Please feel free to contact me. Kim

I homeschool my 3 kids, but we have plenty of friends who are homeschooling only children, very successfully I might add. Feel free to contact me and I will put you in touch. Or let me know if you would like to come to any one of a myriad of homeschool park days that happen all over the Bay Area, where you could chat with all kinds of families on this journey, and I will pass along the times/locations. Sam


Understanding Homeschooling

March 2010


As we ponder preschool options for our daughter, my husband and I have started to have conversations about schools in general. One thing that keeps coming up for us is the possibility of homeschooling. We have some deep concerns about institutional learning, not to mention the Oakland public schools, and many other reasons. Homeschooling seems like a real option. But...

I have to admit that on some level I just don't seem to grasp what homeschooling would really be like. I'd love to hear from those of you who homeschool. How structured is your day? What does a typical day look like? Are there things that in hindsight you wished you'd known/thought about? Regrets? When you total in classes and activities, supplies, etc. what does it really cost? I know there are homeschooling groups out there, but are there any co-ops out there (shared teaching days, shared curriculum)?

I'm not looking for advice on whether we should homeschool or not. I'm more looking for a glimpse into what it would actually be like for us. Of course I know that each family is very different, but hoping that any homeschoolers out there could at least give me an idea. Questioning Mama

You are right that homeschooling is different for every family. Most families take a while to find out what works best for them.

Homeschooling exists on a continuum from ''School at Home'' where parent and child sit down for several hours a day with a premade curriculum to Unschooling where parents provide an enriched environment and plenty of trips and allow the children to pursue their own interests at their own pace.

In my experience most people exist somewhere in the middle of this range, using a mixture of curricula, classes, co-ops, clubs, groups, field trips and free time.

In our family we have used online math 3 days/week for several months and then not used it for a while. We have a math tutor who does math challenges and math circle type problems once per week. We used Saxon math for a few months and Harcourt math for a few months several years ago.

We had a Latin club for half a year that turned into a co-op that lasted a year and now Latin continues as a class for the small group of kids who are still interested. We have gone in and out of co-ops over our 7 years of homeschooling.

We try to travel for 2-8 weeks every year and we don't try to do any ''school'' work during our travel.

My kids spend 1 day/week at Trackers outdoor nature clases. There is a terrific preschool class, by the way.

We've done Kids N Clay, writing classes with Ivy Sandz, acting classes with the Berkeley Rep and Cal Shakes.

The kids all have music lessons one day/week and some of them ice skate and have Lawrence Hall of Science classes.

Many of these classes are paid for by Charter Schools like Connecting Waters and Hickman.

One way to see what it is like is by following some local homeschool blogs:

These 3 are all Oakland homeschool blogs: Wonder Farm Tricia has written a great article on homeschooling that was published in Mothering My own blog:

Of course, you can always come to park days and chat with moms about what it is really like. Alameda Oakland Home Learners Home Grown Kids SF Bay Area Unschoolers

I guess the bottom line is that homeschooling can look like whatever you want it to!

There is an email link on my blog if you want to talk further. Susan@Homeschoolinginthekitchen

We are HSing our 5DD so do not have years of experience to share. I would recommend you join some of the online HSing groups as you'll get a good sense of the breadth of ways families 'school.' I easily spent a year lurking and learning on some of the groups before we decided to be 'official.' In answer to your specific questions, our day is not very structured at all. We occasionally to math worksheets, and are always reading, but most learning happens throughout the day. We joined Ocean Grove Charter which provides us with state funds for some expenses. We have monthly meetings with a teacher to confirm DD is learning; when she's older we'll be required to do state testing (or opt out same as public schoolers). We joined local groups for classes, seminars, friendships, and other resources. We do know other HS families with more structure to their day - there are many ways to build YOUR school. Some kids thrive on set plans, others learn readily in a more freeform fashion. happy homeschooler


Homeschooling in the Oakland Unified School District

Feb 2010


I would like to know more about homeschooling elementary school aged children in Oakland. Was it hard to get started? What other activities do you do with your kid(s) beyond the fundamentals? Was OUSD accommodating? The OUSD website states that parents and children must meet with a teacher several times a week, and I'm wondering how that works in practice. If you try it and it doesn't work out, how difficult is it to get back into a school mid year? I am considering homeschooling because I am very disappointed in our ''excellent'' public elementary school and therefore discouraged about OUSD schools in general. I'm also wondering how it works out if you have children of different ages. There is some general information about homeschooling in the archives, but it seems to relate to BUSD and/or older kids. Is Hickman an option for Oakland kids? If not, is there something similar? Thanks! anon

The homeschool teacher (K-8) in Oakland Unified School District is a wonderful amd experienced educator and homeschooled her own daughter through middle school. Services for homeschooled children come through Sojourner Truth Independent Study School. I would make an appointment to speak with her if you are interested in enrolling your child. You will not get a lot of information if you ask anyone beyond the school (central office, etc) because they just don't know. It's kind of a secret although that is not the intention. Good luck. love homeschooling

It sounds like what you were looking at on the OUSD site is an independent Study program. This is the least common homeschooling choice. Oakland residents can use hickman charter which offers classes or connecting waters charter which offers more money for materials and classes. The option which offers the most academic freedom is filing a PSA private school affidavit. You file a short, simple form declaring your home school a private school. The only requirement is that you take attendance. I use a google calendar and once a year I mark my three pupils present every weekday for the preceding year.

For more info contact alameda oakland home learners (AOHL) or Homegrown Kids and come to a park day. Susan Http://

i found the part you're at, with all of the questions, the hardest thing about getting started homeschooling *grin*

there are several options for homeschooling in oakland (& only going through ousd itself would require the amount of meetings you mentioned)

hickman charter school is an option (they have several ''activity days''/open houses throughout the year, always on wednesdays from about 10am-1pm at live oak park in north berkeley ~ that's the best way to get a feel for them & you can meet lots of other families)

in the state of california, you have to reside either in the county a charter school is located in or a neighboring county, other charter schools available are listed here

there are several different homeschool groups that offer various activities & support, most are listed here

*lots* of families homeschool with children of different ages, visiting some of the groups listed above will likely really help

wildcat community freeschool is a homeschool-friendly program with intimate, mixed age classes offered 3, 4 & 5 days a week ~ many families carpool from oakland. they're having an open house sunday march 21st from 10am - 2pm & also offering a summer program if you want to check it out. from a single homeschoolin mom who's been there before *grin*


Homeschooling a BUSD 4th grader

Oct 2009


Hi there, I'm thinking about homeschooling my elementary aged kids, who are currently 2nd grade and kindergarten. Does anyone have any experience with the BUSD Independent Study program at the elementary level? All the archive comments are about the high school program. Thanks!

I homeschool my son, 11 years old. He was in 4th grade in Berkeley last year, until he developed high anxiety around having to attend school, that and a germ phobia. He has Aspergers. I'm not aware that Berkeley has a IS program for elementary students, I remember being told it's just for the upper grades. There is information about homeschooling through: The HomeSchool Association of California at and Einsteins Clubhouse at John

I am a former math teacher at BUSD IS. Please call the school to see if they are currently accepting 4th - 8th grade students at: (510) 644-8592. The Coordinator of the elementary program, Kamala Asher, is caring, creative, organized, thorough and an excellent teacher and all around nice person. However, she can only support parents to be involved in their childrens education. You must commit yourselves to teach in order for your children to benefit. If you can, I highly recommend the program! It has some of the most dedicated teachers I have ever worked with.


Home Schooling Info: Free and Not Christian?

Sept 2009


Hi, does anyone know an internet resource for home schooling curriculum ideas that are free and not Christian Bible study focused? Currently have a preschooler, but I am looking into possible future home schooling too. Thanks so much!
Cheap Heathen Needs Curriculum

Have you heard of Hickman Charter school in Berkeley? Free and Public! Stephanie

Hello fellow heathen,

There are lots of choices out there for you. A great place to start is the HomeSchool Association of California:

It gives an outline on how to homeschool legally in CA, as well as offer advice for new folks starting out on their homeschooling journey.

Another thing to do is to join a homeschool group. Two large ones in the area are HomeGrown Kids and Alameda-Oakland Home Learners (AOHL). Both groups offer ''park days,'' where we all congregate at a park for socializing and for idea-swapping. This is a great opportunity to talk with other parents who have homeschooled for years and find out how to connect with other parents of preschool-aged kids. AOHL is primarily focused in Oakland-Alameda area (duh) and HGK goes to parks in Orinda, Berkeley, and El Cerrito. My advice to you is to come to both groups' parkdays and try to hook up with other parents. It can take a while so be patient. If you are specific in your goal (i.e connecting with other parents of preschool-aged kids), you'll probably find it easier to send an e-mail through the yahoogroups of both groups. See which group you like best, or hang out with both!

Googling ''free preschool homeschool curriculum'' will get many, many hits. You will get lots of ideas.

Have fun! Feel free to e-mail if you have any questions.

Fellow Heathen laurel

Most local public school districts have an independent study option. Sign up your child for this when it comes time for kindergarten. Your public school district should provide all the resources you will need, including a supervising credentialed teacher that you and your child will check in with a couple of times a month. public school mom

I can highly recommend the book ''The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home'' by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise - see here:

The authors - a home-schooling mom and her adult daughter - provide a very detailed outline to an academically rigorous home schooling curriculum. The curriculum is based on a pretty good understanding on a child's intellectual development, and focuses on the core subjects of Language (writing, reading, spelling, grammar, literature), math, science and history. The authors provide detailed advice on materials to use in each subject (book lists, teacher guides) as well as instructions on how to approach the teaching and specific schedule suggestions.

I likely won't homeschool - but I found this book very helpful in understanding what a good academic program should look like, and may well use it to supplement my kid's school education at home.

There is also a good magazine, called 'Secular Homeschooling' that you can subscribe to online - just google it. Inspired to Homeschool


Thinking about Homeschooling; how to network?

June 2009


I am thinking about home schooling. I am interested in finding families who are also home schooling to begin building a network of support. Any suggestions? ms

Yay! We're embarking on homeschooling with 4-year-old twins and it's always wonderful to hear about others who are considering this option. We're in Alameda and are gradually building a network of wonderful homeschooling families. Feel free to email me and I would be delighted to share the resources I have. Kathryn

I wanted to let you know about the Bay Area Learning Alliance. We are a California K-12 Private School Satellite Program that helps families homeschool. Our director, Amalia Darling, is an experienced parent educator who has successfully homeschooled her three children who are now grown. Please visit our website at: and contact us for a free introductory interview: info [at], 510-620-0939 -Amalia


Homeschooling vs. Unschooling

Jan 2009


What's the difference between homeschooling and unschooling? anon parent

Homeschooling has a set curriculum, and unschooling is strictly led by a child's passionate interest.

This is from a mom I know who unschools her kids:

''The purpose of unschooling is to have children who grow up happy. Most unschooled kids find their path in life a lot sooner then schooled kids. Once they find what it is they would like to do they pursue it with a lot of passion and are willing to learn and do what ever it is to follow their dream.''

Unschooling is a system that doesn't force unwanted facts on children at a set rate, nor does it put them in a box. It is very free-flowing and loose. There is no pressure to learn to read, for instance. But when a child decides on her own that she is interested in a subject, it is the parents' responsibility to provide her all she needs to learn all about her interest. Also, parents are supposed to keep the materials around, but never push the subjects, as the children will show an interest when they're ready.

Homeschooling is the same thing as public school, but the parent is the teacher in all subject and there is much less peer interaction.

Unschooling is a branch of homeschooling. Homeschoolers use different methods. Some are traditional and use regular textbooks or take community college classes. Unschooling is less traditional, usually interest-driven by the children, who tend to immerse themselves in a topic and explore it thoroughly. I have known many unschoolers who are bright, creative, talented, and socially adept. Homeschooling, any kind, is a wonderful choice.

As a parent exploring learning options for my toddlers, I have read extensively about homeschooling and have been intrigued by unschooling. For a thorough explanation of unschooling, I highly recommend Joyce Fetteroll's website at Whether or not you choose to unschool or even homeschool, the ideas of unschooling can be useful for healthy and happy relationships between parents and children. Kathryn


Switching to homeschooling for 7, 4, 2 year olds

Aug 2008


Hello, I have three daughters, 7, 4, and 2. We tried two years of public school for our oldest, and all my fears came true. So, finally I have convinced my husband to give homeschooling a try. I'm wondering, does anyone know if we can get gov't help to pay for things like music classes, art classes, etc? I know about a homeschooling group here in Alameda, but what about field trips, clubs, etc. for girls? Also, perhaps my biggest ??, are there any families out there where the father had been hesitant, and is now happy with the idea? Preferably younger (30), and of not great economic status? This is not my problem, just an insecurity of his, and he tends to be more open to people more like him. Anyway, thanks for any info or advice, and looking forward to meeting some of you homeschoolers!!! alison

Think VERY carefully about homeschooling before taking it on, especailly since you have 3 children. It can be stressful and while sometimes the best option for the parents, not always the best option for the kids. My mom recently homeschooled 2 of her kids (my younger siblings) for a couple of years with the assistance of the Berkeley homeschooling group (a great group of teachers and parents). The kids totally resent it now. They are upset that they were kept out of ''regular school''. Also it was not the best thing for my their relationship. It's a challenge to be mommy AND teacher. Also, it can be very difficult for some kids to go from homeschooling back into the normal school environment so make sure that it's really the best option for you, your family, and most importantly your daughter. It might save money but is it worth it? Also if your husband isn't a full supporter, it could make it even more stressful for you--that more of the responsibility will be on you. Good luck with your decision. think about it carefully

Hi, There is a wonderful independent study charter school called California Virtual Academies that provides curriculum and credentialed teacher support to each enrolled student. It has been open since 2002 and has a large number of students in the bay area. You might want to consider it as you look into homeschooling options. Here is the website: Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it. Nancy

I know that you can avail yourself of these offerings through your local public schools even if you home-school. My father was a school superintendent and worked with local homeschoolers to 'fill in the gaps' in the parents' curriculums (lab sciences, advanced mathematics, team sports, band/orchestra, theater) Granted, this was earlier in the homeschool 'movement.' I am talking '90s.

Poke around your public schools. They may not work overall for you and your family, but you may find aspects complement your efforts. Many in the public school system may be hostile or think that you are nuts, but there are plenty who will respect and support your efforts.

Finally, before you make the switch, you need to ask yourself if the all of your fears were realized, because you were looking for them to be realized (are you blowing stuff out of proportion...) or are the problems with the public schools really that big. Maybe your husband isn't jumping on your bandwagon because he thinks that you are making a mountain out of a molehill. Just a thought... -anon

You have to be careful about the advice you recieve on this topic. I just decided to homeschool my children, and I have found that many people who are against it tend to be people who don't know all the facts and/or don't have any personal experience with it.

Since I don't know your personal situation, I can't tell you if it's a good decision. I have decided it will be best for my family, and many others have too. My best advice to you is to seek support from a nearby homeschool-support group. You can probably find one using google. They can offer so much information, advice, homeschool oppurtunities, and fellowship. You'd probably meet veteran homeschoolers in your area who've been through very similar situations as you have. Good luck-and remember, the right path is not always the easy path.

P.S. There is a deadline to file as a homeschooler, it's in October, just so you know. offers information on this. d


Part-time homeschooling for kindergartener?

March 2006


I'm wondering if anyone has any experience or advice about home- schooling just one day a week. I have a son in Kindergarten who is pretty bored. We could skip him, he has a Fall birthday and is on the older end of the age spectrum, but I think that might be more stressful for him than the boredom. Neither my husband nor I have the temperament or inclination to homeschool full-time, but a friend of ours has been homeschooling her daughter one day a week in Southern California which sounds intriguing. I'd be particularly interested to hear from Albany parents about working with that school system, but any thoughts would be helpful!

I too, am very interested in homeschooling my 2 children parttime. I feel that 5 days of school 8:00 - 3:00 is just too long for these little ones to stay focused and productive. Then it's the hectic pace of after school programs, having a family dinner, homework and getting ready for bed. With one day in the middle of the week for homeschooling I feel that it will benefit my children tremendously. First, it will give them a chance to relax a bit in the middle ot the week (my 1st grader asks me every day,''Mommy, how many more days until I am off?''). It will give them a chance to catch up on studies from school that they don't quite understand (and are afraid to ask in front of their peers). And it will give them a chance to learn about things that they are interested in and not just what the school thinks that they should learn. The other day my 6 yr. old daughter asked me to teach her how to sew. Well, that's something we could do on a homeschooling day. I am not so sure if any school would support this way of thinking and I am not sure why not. (Besides the fact that public schools get paid per child attending classes each day.) If they truly have our children's best interest at heart then I think the schools should look at each child individually. If anyone has any advice on selling this idea to their school please respond. Or if anyone has any other advice about this topic please respond. Thank you. Homeschooling Mom

My children attend Wildcat Community Freeschool in Richmond (at the end of Arlington) across the street from Wildcat Canyon and it offers a 3, 4 or 5 school day option. Many of us were homeschooling our children until Wildcat opened and it has been an ideal middle ground between homeschooling and school. When we started we sent our son 3 days a week but quickly increased it to 4 becuase he loved being there so much. We still like to keep Mondays open though to go to the zoo or the exploratorium or other outings without the crowds. Check out our website and feel free to e-mail me directly with any questions. Molly

In response to the point about keeping a child home from kindergarten one day a week, in my daughter's kindergarten I think this would be a problem. The kids are doing projects that last over multiple days, plus they have special things they do on particular days of the week (e.g., music, library). Fact of the matter, kindergarten is largely a group thing. I think a child who regularly missed school would be somewhat disconnected from the classroom community and the need to bring the child back up to speed every week would be disruptive for the other children. kindergarten parent

Thats what I hope to do - either a day at home or taking days as needed to do stuff we love or if he is just overwhelmed and needing to be at home, just like we do now in preschool. So glad you posted this idea...I hadn't thought of it as homeschooling so it is nice to give it a name. A friend of mine is planning on doing the same thing in the fall (K). Seems a 'civilized' way to raise our children - spend time with them...share our values and interests and let them 'be' just kids some times! Wish more parents who feel and think this way would share their thoughts on this. I feel energized and would love this to be doable for those that want to especially in the public school system. inspired mom

As someone who volunteers in my child's classroom one-day a week, I would see that pulling your child out of school part-time would be very disruptive. The school days and weeks are carefully planned out by the teachers and the curriculum is integrated through all subjects. Days are not compartmentalized. It would also be socially awkward for your child because they would not be able to be a stable part of a group of friends. Miss a day, miss a lot

I have been thinking about this question a lot over the past week. I am not sure I know what the original poster is looking for. Is she looking for ways to supplement her child's education, and thinks that spending a day at home doing academics would help? Is she looking to spend time with her child? I guess I am wondering why she thinks ''homeschooling'' one day/week would give her what she is looking for. My definition of homeschooling is not merely supplementation; it is a full-time, enriching, educational program involving the whole family.

As some poeple have responded, consistently taking a child out of school one day per week, for whatever reason, is a bad idea. The school and classroom is designed to build community, and constant absences would be detrimental in that regard. I don't believe the school would agree to do that anyway, because the school's funding depends on the child's presence in school. Not only that, but your child would be considered truant the days that he or she was absent under CA law, which states that ''[A]ll children between the ages of 6 and 18 must attend a public full-time day school unless otherwise exempted.''

It also states that ''Any child who will be six on or before December 2 of the school year is subject to the compulsory school requirements.'' If your child will turn 6 after the December 2 deadline, you don't even need to send your child to school. Kindergarten is not compulsory; 1st grade is. So you may have another year to decide what it is you're looking for. homeschooling parent

My oldest daughter doesn't attend Albany schools, but we live in El Cerrito and she attends a small school in the Richmond hills -- Wildcat FreeSchool. All of the kids who attend there are part-time homeschoolers. It's a wonderful school and a wonderful system for the kids. Families get to choose how many and which days they attend or stay home. Our daughter goes four days per week. We, too, lack the inclination to homeschool full-time, but we also feel strongly about having our choices and about spending more time together as a family. No stress, no boredom, the best of all worlds. If you'd like to know more about it, you're welcome to email me. You could also attend an open house at the school; there's one last one coming up at the end of this month, March 25th from 2:00-4:00 p.m. Anne


Homeschool versus preschool for almost 5-year-old??

March 2006


We are moving from the UK to Berkeley in April. My son is 5 next dec and will just miss the cut-off for K. I'm actually relieved about that as I think an extra yr will do him good, socially and emotionally, and I'd also like to have more time with him. However he's a bright kid who seeks out intellectual stimulation and also loves music, dance, arts etc. He has been in a Waldorf program for the last year and a half and has loved it. I'm really battling with deciding between finding a (part time) pre-K program for him for sept or keeping him home and following something like the Oak Meadow homeschool program for a year. I'll be home with my toddler anyway and we could certainly use not spending $ on preschool. My biggest concern is that he really thrives in having independent time away from home and connecting strongly with other adults. I'm not sure how I could provide this without school. I also am concerned about not finding friends for him of his own age or older who are not busy in school. And lastly, I'm wondering how he would adjust socially, and academically, to a BUSD K after being in Waldorf and at home. Has anyone been in a similar situation? What did you decide, and how did it work for you? Thanks for any thoughts and experiences. maya

I am a homeschooling mom of two (7 years and 5 years). You are welcome to join our homeschool group, Homegrown Kids ( There are a lot of kids your child's age (both boys and girls) who participate in the group. Our group has parkdays every Monday at different parks throughout the East Bay. We also have weekly co-op day at various members' homes, field trips, potlucks, and other fun activities. A good way to meet other kids and families is to participate in afternoon sports, art classes, music classes, etc. Many children do these activities after school. My children have friends who are private, public, and homeschooled. One way to maintain these friendships is through afterschool classes. We do a lot of activities at the Berkeley YMCA (swimming, yoga, martial arts, dance, etc. for both adults and kids) and that is also a good way to find connections outside of a school environment. My children often participate in the classes at the Lawrence Hall of Science ( and enjoy them. The East Bay Waldorf School may have information for you on waldorf-inspired preschools ( or playgroups. You're welcome to contact me directly for more information. Good luck and welcome to Berkeley! Laurel

Hi, I can totally relate to what you're feeling right now, my daughter will be in kindergarten for 2 years at East Bay Waldorf School. She did the pre-kindergarten program this year and absolutely LOVED it. Even though I go back and forth between homeschooling and Waldorf, she is the driving force that tells me that staying in Waldorf is the best, even though it will strap our finances in ways I don't care to think about. BUT, there are so many resources for homeschooling around here, this is the place I would do it if any. For my daughter, she gets so much from being exposed to Waldorf...the atmosphere, thoughtfulness of the curriculum, the nurturing of her individual character, and for me the community of parents and teachers is beyond what I think I could provide her, at least in these early years. Maybe I'll change my mind later, or maybe she will show me what she wants if/when the time comes to change. I would say if your son is used to Waldorf, and you're moving from far away, it would be good for him to experience something familiar, to sing a familiar song, or to partake in a familiar activity he enjoyed back home. If the choice is between homeschooling and public, I think the best would be homeschooling. Good luck in your decision! Melissa

You may be unpleasantly surprised when your son enters K in a year, especially if he has a great year homeschooling (which usually advances their academics quickly). I'm not sure what we're going to do with our 4, nearly 5 yo, for this next school year (his K year). He already has 3rd g math skills, reads relatively well, and has phenominal reasoning skills. I've found the Berkeley schools to be extremely ''relaxed'' in their academics, ie they teach skills at a later age than they need to. I'm deeply disappointed that this university town which could be & should be a model for other towns (in the Bay no less!) is so slow to help kids reach their potential. Good luck. Mother of three, wishing & working for better


Thinking about homeschooling my child

Sept 2005


I have an almost 4 year old and am just stepping into the murky waters of school options - public, private, montessori - and am curious about homeschooling in this area. Any people out there doing it and loving it? Tried it but hated it? I'm trying to gather information and am curious about how this would really impact our lives. Any personal stories or contact information would be appreciated. anon

After two years of a private school and one disasterous year in a Berkeley Public School, we just weren't sure what to do for our kids who were bored in the classroom. Another private? Move? We went for homeschooling. It certainly was never in my plans as an older mother with a career to devote this kind of time and energy to my kids, who were in K and 3rd. What a glorious suprise to find that it is easy, joyful, rewarding, successful, fun, and the best education I could offer my kids. There is homeschooling, and then there is homeschooling. Lots of flavors. Check out for our local public charter school, and and ! for general info. There are thousands homeschooling in the Bay Area, so the educational and social resources are enormous. Good for you for thinking outside the box. Sold on Homeschooling

We are a homeschooling family. I have a 5 year old girl and 7 year old boy. We originally started homeschooling our son because of his temperament combined with and fluency in reading by age 5. (By fluency I mean, reading intermediate chapter books). We were really concerned that his reading fluency combined with his temperament would result in his disrupting the class, over discipline by the teacher, and resulting low self esteem. (OK, I probably was thinking too much about it, but whatever) A major part of kindergarten these days is all about teaching the kids how to read. As he already knew how to do that, we felt it would be a big! waste of time for everyone concerned. So we homeschooled. There were other reasons, but that was a big one. And it was an easy one for non-homeschoolers to understand. People homeschool for different reasons. Last year was our first year homeschooling and this year our 5 year old is staying home with us as well (instead of going to kindergarten). We discovered over the past year that homeschooling has brought us closer as a family. It is really hard to articulate how wonderful homeschooling has been for our family. It used to be that I could explain our reasons from a typically academic standpoint; now it's becoming more emotionally charged and hard to pin down. Now it's about honoring our family rhythym, having a more relaxed lifestyle. I feel lucky that I am a SAHM and we can spend time together as a family. We don't have to rush out the door every day at 8am; we don't do afterschool activites, then homework, then dinner, then fall into bed exhausted. We can sleep in if we want, stay up late if we want, etc. We do lots of activites, but since my kids don't spend 6 hours a day at school, thei! r days are less crazy.

A homeschooler's dirty little secret is that we can go to parks without sharing it with a mob of kids. Museums, pools, parks, libraries, zoos, etc. are quiet and open. Being able to go midweek makes a much more relaxing outing compared to the weekend, for sure. Good websites to check out are: 

Every Monday my homeschool group, Homegrown Kids, meets at different parks in the East Bay. There are lots of 4-5 year olds for your child to play with. Come and check it out! Laurel

Homeschooling is a viable and popular choice in the Bay Area. Almost anyone can homeschool and be successful at it. There are many different styles of homeschooling, and a lot of curriculum to choose from, since homeschooling has become so widespread, especially in this area. You will find a lot of support!

  Pros of homeschooling: - You can tailor the education to your child's needs - It takes less time to get through a day's lessons - Kids have more time to pursue other interests or just play - No rush in the morning, no homework at night - You set your own schedule, which includes the ability to travel mid-week and off-season - No lost time driving, volunteering, or fundraising - I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with helping my kids grow  Cons of homeschooling: - You may not have as much personal time - Substantial loss of my income - Sometimes it's hard to get errands done with kids in tow 

My kids are 10 and 7 and have never been to regular school. They have friends who are homeschoolers and friends who go to regular school. They are very active in community groups, sports, music, and other activities. We take a lot of terrific field trips and classes. You would be welcome at any of the support groups to meet some homeschoolers and ask them questions. Most have weekly park days. If you live in Oakland or Alameda, check out There are also groups in Berkeley, Lamorinda, Hayward, and everywhere else. You can also find books (even at the library) which can give you a basic overview. Feel free to contact me if you have more questions! Jennifer

I'd like to give some downside-input about homeschooling, as I saw only upside-input in the recent posts. I'm a fellow mom, educator, & ex-social worker. While I can certainly see some advantages to homeschooling (protecting kids from bad influences, the options of many educational fieldtrips, more individual attention), and the testimonials given by homeschoolers here were interesting & cogent, there are some real drawbacks that should be considered. At the end I will suggest ways homeschoolers can solve the problems I raise.

Children need to learn how to relate with many adults, not almost exclusively their mother. The mother relationship is so important, and so loaded, but it should never take the place of most relationships to adults. Parents are naturally not objective about their kids, and kids usual! ly behave worst (at least part of the time) for their primary caregivers. A comment I once heard from a child-development lecturer really struck me as true: ''Your child is not the child you see, she's the child other people see when you are not there. You are there to allow her to fall apart, work feelings out, and let it all hang out.'' So what if you are never not there? And how can you judge how she is doing?

Every parent comes from a limited background and education (no matter how brilliant), because she/he is only one person with one perspective. Exposure to many other adults - even a few not- so-great ones - broadens kids' understanding of personalities and cultures immeasurably, and teaches trust of the outside world, confidence in negotiating it, flexibility and resiliency. And the bonds between teachers and children are wonderful and special, and would be such a loss to miss. Think of teachers you loved or emulated. Some fine teachers really saved my bacon, when my parents could not.

The mother should help her child learn to go out into safe, nurturing places in the world, and let her go. When a parent holds on so tightly to her kids, is she doing it for them, or for her own needs? Does she have enough outside relationships of her own? (Does she just want an excuse not to have an outside job?) If the kids stay at home for so many years, won't it make it harder for them to separate when they need to? Will Mom let them go when they need to go? I can't help thinking of the psychological concepts of enmeshment and the rubber-fence family. Fresh air, fresh people and ideas are good for families.

Yes, the world is a scary place, but there ARE excellent schools, and superb teachers out there, who will only enhance your child's understanding of life and relationships and the world. The experience of being part of a group of children is wonderful for kids, so much fun and so instructive about people and life. Kids are naturally social beings, especially before they hit puberty. (As an aside, I could see where homeschooling AFTER puberty might really be beneficial to certain kids.) It seems detrimental to restrict their interactions to just mom or siblings, or occasional play with other kids at the park. They may fear or avoid large group interaction in future if they never have a chance to learn what it's like. Their social skills may not develop, and they may be shy or easy to bully. So, some ideas on how to make sure homeschoolers avoid these problems - and I know many smart, community-building homeschoolers already do these type of things: develop a big network of fellow-homeschoolers, and coordinate large-group classes or playdates. Trade kids with a mom or two several days a week, so that they get experience of other moms. Team-teach with other moms & kids. And really do these things a lot, not just one day a week or something.

You might also want to check out the alternative of enrolling your kids in parent co-operative school settings, where you can work in the classroom and contribute in other ways. My son is in a school like this (Crestmont), and I get to be in the class one day a week, and see the amazing teachers in action, and watch him making relationships and growing. I'm good, but I could never teach him all this. And I have plenty of time to have a strong relationship and have a strong positive impact at home. Remember, school does not run year-round. Anyway, some points to consider. Blessings on all parents & kids. C. D

I missed the original question posted about homeschooling, but I saw the most recent response. My son homeschooled for four years and has just returned to school for 8th grade. We've had a very good experience, both with our homeschooling years, and with the transition back into school, but homeschooling is not for everyone. I would urge strongly that anyone making a decision about it speak directly to people who have done it. Otherwise, you are just weighing people's fantasies, both positive and negative. The most prevalent anxiety is that taking a child out of the institutional setting is damaging for social development. Another common one is that the mother-child relationship is inimical to development. Both these anxieties are misplaced. Weigh pros and cons based on real information. I'd be happy to provide contacts. Best wishes. LS


Logistics of starting to homeschool

Nov 2003

How do you decide if homeschooling is the best for your family? Do you need a special room in your house? How do you also care for younger siblings? Do people who are homeschooling feel their children are missing out on learning how to make friends, socialize? Linda

You definitely don't need a special room in your house! I don't know a single homeschooling family that has a schoolroom. That is because homeschooling, no matter what your approach is, rarely looks like school. I just read a storybook to my two daughters 3 and 5 on counting money sitting on the couch. Now my 5-year-old is reading to her sister. Yesterday the kids did outlines of their bodies on butcher paper out on the driveway and we drew and talked about internal organs while I cleaned out the car! When you are homeschooling everything you do turns into an educational opportunity. When the kids got tired of drawing their organs they helped me sort the contents of the car: books, garbage, recycling. How many old water bottles did we have in our car? I am embarrassed t! o say we had to group them and count by fives. We do fractions at breakfast. The kids now ask to have their french toast cut into twentieths. We do workbook activities, particularly math and handwriting, but we do them at the kitchen table. I bought window chalk and we often practice math or spelling words on the sliding glass doors (everything is more fun when written on a door).

Homeschooling groups abound and you need not worry about a lack of social opportunities for your child. We live in Fremont and have found a wonderful group in the Tri-City area. The group has park days, field trips, social events for parents as well as children. We also joined a homeschool charter school which hosts activities, occasional classes, and provides curriculum help and materials. Most homeschoolers avail themselves of a variety of classes to round out the education. Art, music, science classes at regional parks or Lawrence Hall of Science. A few moms of K-aged children in our homeschool group have formed a coop. Every Friday we gather the kids at one house, two moms have the morning off and two moms run a day centered on a theme such as dinosaurs, or apples, space, whatever. We read stories and do activities for 3 hours.

As for what to do with younger children, somehow you find a way. We have a sand and water table that I put warm soapy water in for my 3-year-old to play with. Sometimes she likes to do workbooks or color or paint while I work with my older daughter. I try to alternate between them so that the little one gets attention, too.

How do you decide if it is right for your family? That is a hard one. One thing to remember is that you can always change your mind. Give it a try! Many people worry that it will be too demanding and hard on the family. I believe that it actually removes a lot of stresses. School puts a lot of stress on families. Nightly homework, behavior issues, social concerns, negative behaviors the kids pick up at school, negative attitudes towards learning, trying to get an education that fits a kid who has learning disabilities, who is gifted, or both, or otherwise special. Also kids at school are very peer-oriented, while homeschooled kids are family-oriented.

I suggest you check out a homeschool group (or several) in your area and see if you like what you see. Here is a list of bay area homeschool groups. All the best to you, susan

Looking for homeschooling communities

Feb 2000

I looking to make contact with the homeschooling community(ies?) in Berkeley. Can someone help me? Thanks,

Search the Berkeley Information Network under homeschooling or home schooling and you will find two main homeschooling groups in Berkeley. They both have helpful contact people you can call. Both groups are pretty active.

We aren't very hooked in but for getting started you can call the Independent study program through Berkeley Unified School District and ask for Susie Bailey (I think she is the director). She is the GREATEST!!! Although she is under the confines of the school district and therefore the State, we would have had a hard time getting started without her. We got curriculum from them for the first year and then had some idea of how to proceed from there. Also Family Village Homeschoolers was a reference we got but haven't had time to try out. A good beginning trial might be their park days on the first, third and fifth Mondays at 12:30 at North Field Live Oak Park (that is if this rain ever stops). Good Luck.

There are many resources on the Internet. Just type in Home Schooling. Its a little overwhelmong but you decide how to navigate once you see the choices. I don't have the particular sites that I found especially helpful and interesting with me but I'll find them and send them in later. I think you can get all the questions you mentioned in your posting answered that way. (June 1999)

I work at the Lawrence Hall of Science here on campus where we have a lot of wonderful math and science teacher's guides which can also be used by parents. Please check out our website at You can also come up in person and check out our store, where we have even more useful, educational and fun stuff.

Editor note: see also: Homeschooling groups