Families choose to homeschool for many reasons.
Some simply love the idea of teaching their own children and having their family at home. Others find that for one reason or another, the classroom environment doesn’t work for their child. Reasons can include individual learning styles, parents with a different work schedule, or a student who is involved in outside activities like theater or competitive sports. For parents who want a different academic approach, homeschooling provides opportunity when tuition isn’t compatible with the family budget.
North County provides an abundance of homeschooling choices for interested families. The biggest hurdle isn’t actually teaching your kids, it’s sorting through the many options to find what is best for your family.
If you don’t find what you are looking for close by, it is easy to expand your search farther south. But for the purposes of this article, programs listed actually have sites in North County. This isn’t an exhaustive list but gives many options for starting your search.
Homeschooling in California: A Quick Overview
There are four ways to legally homeschool in the state of California, each provides different benefits. You can enroll in either a public or private charter school, join a private satellite program, or fill out an affidavit with the State of California, which basically declares your family to be a private school. (For a more detailed discussion, see HSLDA’s page on homeschooling in California, as well as this Homefires webpage.)
In North County, all legal options are available to you through several outlets. In this article, we are going to address charter schools and satellite programs, as well as other options for supplementing your homeschool.
Public Charter Schools
Public charter schools are a popular option for homeschoolers for several reasons:
- They are funded by state tax dollars and are tuition-free.
- Credentialed teachers supervise the student’s progress and approve the curriculum.
- The charter school generally administers standardized tests like public schools do.
- Many charter schools provide on-campus courses and other educational opportunities.
- Public charter schools often provide enrichment funds that that can be used for options like dance, art, music, or sports lessons from approved vendors.
Some schools have limited enrollment or admit new students by lottery, so be aware of their registration procedures.
North County Public Charter Schools
There are several public charter schools in the area. Here are just a few popular choices:
- The Classical Academies have campuses in Escondido and Vista. Their third campus, Coastal Academy, is in Oceanside. The Classical Academies have programs for transitional kindergarten through 12th grade, with choices that combine classroom and home study. They strongly emphasize science and the arts.
- Pacific View Charter Schools is in Oceanside and they offer homeschool options for kindergarten through 8th grade. The school emphasizes a personalized learning model and creates individual education plans that fit each student. Pacific View has several online classes and a small workshop-based program for students in 9th-12th grade.
- Springs Charter School has several campuses around San Diego but their North County campus is in Vista. Besides educational guidance and supervision, they offer workshops two days a week in subjects like Musical Theater, STEM, Drawing Fundamentals, and more.
- Inspire Charter Schools has an Enrichment Academy location in San Marcos where students attend one day every week and have classes in math, language arts, and electives. Spelling bees, community service, and project opportunities are also available at the EA. Several parents mentioned Inspire’s extensive list of approved vendors that can be paid with Inspire’s enrichment funds.
Private Charter Schools: Specializing
North County has several private charter school options. Just like public charter schools, they offer curriculum guidance, academic oversight, field trips, and classroom courses that complement the home study portion.
Private charter schools are more affordable than private schools but usually, charge tuition. Often they provide a different approach to education, such as classical, Waldorf, Montessori, or include religious instruction.
Private Satellite Programs: Convenience and Freedom
Private Satellite Programs are registered with the state as private schools but tend to be less hands-on than charter schools. They maintain records and are happy to advise parents, but the family has complete freedom to choose their own curriculum and define their own success.
PSPs also organize field trips, park days, and offer enrichment classes. Some PSPs offerings are quite extensive. There are fewer options in the North County area.
Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has a list of local organizations that include several private charter schools and PSPs in the area.
A couple of options not listed on the HSLDA site:
- Escondido Tutorial Service offers programs for older students that are academically challenging and strongly focused on the classic literature of Western civilization within their historical context. The families form a cohesive community. Students with ETS receive a diploma and participate in a formal graduation service.
- Classical Conversations is also a rigorous classical program that is run in local groups. Students follow a curriculum and address the material in weekly Socratic discussion groups. Check out the website for more information about the program and the groups that meet in the area.
Park Days and Enrichment Courses
Park days are either organized by satellite groups or more informally, by area homeschool parents. They are a great way to connect with other parents and kids of similar ages.
Enrichment courses are activities that you add that round out your child’s education. They can include dance, music, sports, robotics, or surfing — just to name a few. They don’t have to be specifically for homeschoolers, but most of these are:
- North San Diego Homeschool Mama Tribe has an active Meetup page and has park days, curriculum exchanges, moms’ nights out, beach days etc.
- Oceanside Homeschool Connection is a park day and support group that meets in area parks each Wednesday from noon to 4 pm.
- Tinkergarten is an eight-week parent/child outdoor group. It is for children ages 18 months to 8 years old. It allows them to explore and learn experientially. There are several Tinkergarten teachers offering courses around North County San Diego.
- Soaring Minds Education is a diverse enrichment program that was founded by a local homeschool family that wanted to expand San Diego’s homeschool offerings. Soaring Minds provides classes and activities either on a 1-day per week or 2-day per week schedule. They also host Homeschool 101 seminars for parents and a summer camp. Any homeschooler can attend, but Soaring Minds does participate in some charter schools vendor programs. Soaring Minds has North County classes in Oceanside and plans are in the works for an Escondido site, too.
- Mini Theatre Troupe is a homeschool theater group that seeks full-involvement from everyone. By the time the rehearsals are done, a full production is ready to be performed, and everyone performs in every number!
- San Diego Skateboarding is taught by professional skateboarder Mike Owen. Classes are taught all over San Diego, including Alga Norte Skate Park in Carlsbad.
- EMH Sports is a national organization that provides physical education courses for homeschoolers. They have five class sites in North County: Poway, Rancho Bernardo, Escondido, San Marcos, and Oceanside.
- California Athletics is another service that has been offering sports and physical fitness for homeschoolers. They have courses in soccer, track and field, and fencing classes coming up. Todd also organizes sports leagues, track meets, and watersports activities.
- Special Fishes teaches swimming to kids with sensory issues, autism, special needs, and strong fears or other challenges. They have a special method — Canine-Assisted-Swimming. Gentle service dogs help kids adjust and become comfortable in the water.
Facebook and Meetup.com are great places to find homeschool groups that are in your area. If you are searching for particular religious groups, secular groups, or groups that espouse your particular educational philosophy, branch out to all of San Diego. You still might find that they meet close by.
A few groups that connect online:
- Homeschoolers of North County San Diego
- Fallbrook Homeschool Community
- Homeschoolers of North County Homeschool Meetup
Moving Forward on Your Journey
With the resources available in North County, a homeschooler can find almost everything they would want for homeschooling support. Whatever direction you choose, you’ll find other homeschoolers following similar paths. In fact, with so many options, it can be easy to forget that one of homeschooling’s strengths is that it simply gives kids more free time, which is a valuable resource, as well.