CLA Blog Chronological Index

My New Blog and Family Update

Reading aloud to your children

Pay Attention! Are You Listening to Me?

The Dark Side of Certificates and Awards

“My Daughter Homeschools”

4 Ways to Get Your Child to Listen

Famous Homeschooler List – Because Sometimes it’s Nice to Know About Others

What Does Your Child Want to Learn?

Ready for College?

Homeschool Dads

Looking Beyond Toys

What You Need to Know if You are Struggling with Teaching

Distractible, Messy, Disorganized, and Fill-In-the-Blank Kids Often Thrive at Home Without Drugs!

Changing Public Opinion About Homeschooling

Making a Costume is a Learning Experience!

What Will Your Teen Do After Graduation?

Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Homeschoolers

Welcoming Dirt Into the Curriculum

It’s NOT Helicopter Parenting!

Yes, There’s a Reason Why You Think You Need Preschool Curriculum!

Loving Learning?

Unschooling: The Gold Standard for Young Children

Everyone Deserves a Childhood: Unschooling gifted kids

From Homeschooler to College Student: Successfully Transitioning Your Teen to College

Getting Lost and Other Games!

“Play Anywhere” Games

Unschooling and the Unspoken Worry

My Experience with Stealth Schooling

Feed Me a Story!

The Early Walking Curriculum

Help! My Child Wants to Go to School!

The Importance of Homeschooling Support

My Homeschool Lesson

It’s Never Wasted Time

Does the Thought of Homeschooling Scare You?

“We’re Homeschooling” – breaking the news to your family!

Taking it One Day at a Time: Why you may not need to know what you’ll do tomorrow.

Homeschool Advice from “Experts” and Others!

The Best Homeschooling Advice Ever!

How to Begin Homeschooling When You Don’t Know What to Do!

Working on Physical Skills Helps with Reading, Writing, and Learning!

A lightbulb moment from a homeschooler

No Regrets, It Was Worth It!

Homeschool Field Trips

Homeschooling Through a Crisis

Finding a California Park Day

What Year-Round Homeschooling Looks Like

A Step-by-Step Plan for Teaching Civics Now!

Unpreschooling Experiences

What You Need to Know about Preschool, TK, and Kindergarten

Easy Steps to Filing a Private School Affidavit (PSA) and Establishing Your Own Private School!

It’s a Stressful Year to Homeschool

When Your Homeschooling is Questioned

When Your Homeschooling is Questioned

“I’m bombarded with questions I don’t feel are appropriate to answer and I would never ask someone with a child in public school. But they feel it’s totally okay to ask me, leaving awkward conversations for myself, my family and my child.”

A homeshooling mom recently asked us this question. Her problem is one that faces virtually every homeschooler at some time or another. It’s rude, it’s none of their business, and it’s hurtful to the child. And yet they persist, because they don’t trust homeschooling and feel they must intervene. Or maybe they’ve always been this way, but we’re more sensitive when it’s about homeschooling.

Sometimes the person remembers back when the homeschool parent was a kid and was bad in math. Or they remind the parent that they don’t have a teaching credential, and declare that their homeschooling is illegal.

Family dynamics can play a big part in the level of interference, but it can also come from a total stranger. And our children are listening and perhaps believing what they say!

Every homeschooler is supporting you and understanding! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Consider a blunt and private discussion with anyone who repeatedly is criticizing your choice to homeschool and doing it in front of your child.
  • “Why do you want to know?” can be an effective way to respond to a rude question.
  • Tell them that this is what is working for your child now, and you’re taking it year by year. 
  • It’s definitely ok to tell them that this isn’t an appropriate topic to discuss in front of kids, and offer to privately respond to their concerns later.

After an unpleasant encounter, consider discussing it with your child. Our kids are listening and may need support and reassurance. It’s a lesson in learning how to deal with the unpleasant situations they’ll be facing throughout their lives. 

“Thanksgiving Survival Tips for Homeschoolers” has more information and support that applies all year long.

Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.

It’s a Stressful Year to Homeschool

  • Update: This was written during the Pandemic, during a shared, worldwide crisis. The encouragement here will continue to apply at any time when something unexpected happens in your life. Take care of your crisis. Your kids will be ok.

It’s 2020, and school has started. After six months of the pandemic, we now have terrible fires and intense smoke to worry about too – we hope you are safe! It’s impacting just about everyone in one way or another, and it may affect your homeschooling.

Homeschooling can be fun. Children often love it, but that might not be happening now. It’s not your fault. It’s not the curriculum. And maybe you and your children don’t know what it is. Our new normal is that our secure world is upside down and from one moment or day to the next, we may be out of sorts, stressed, or just not right.

Thankfully, you are homeschooling, so you can change your plans as needed, and give everyone the space they need to cope with whatever is happening, for as long as it takes. It’s compassionate and self-healing at a time when we need it. The kids who are enrolled in public school have to continue as if nothing is wrong because the teachers are required to keep up with State Standards and regular assignments. Maybe that’s not what is needed. Maybe baking bread or pizza is what is needed. Maybe reading aloud is needed. Or watching documentaries with popcorn. Or maybe talking about worries.

Help your kids through this in whatever way they need. If they are missing friends, perhaps there’s a way to connect online. If you see your children are stressed, don’t force schooling to continue as if nothing is wrong. At the end of the year, they won’t be behind. And more importantly, someday they’ll look back at this year and remember that you supported them, and it was the security they needed.


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.

Easy Steps to Filing a Private School Affidavit (PSA) and Establishing Your Own Private School!

Updated 7/17/2023

Filing a PSA is a great option for many, and it may be right for you. It was for me.

As you begin, I suggest a word of caution about social media comments that may recommend filing a PSA “because it’s so easy.” Yes, the PSA is a free document, but filing is just the beginning, and they often don’t mention what to do next! Fortunately, the State homeschool groups have accurate information to help so you won’t be alone, and you will soon be fully responsible for the education of your child. What an honor!

Ready to get started?

Step 1. You will want to learn what a PSA is and what your obligation will be if you decide to file a PSA. A California private school affidavit is filed every year from October 1-15 for as long as you have children enrolled in your school. It is a statistical document that notifies the State that a private school with X number of enrolled children is in existence. 

NEW! In 2023, the CDE announced a change in the affidavit filing period, saying that they would be opening their filing system on August 1st “to accommodate new schools and home schools.” This is their solution to the former confusion that happened every year when parents established their private schools and began homeschooling a few months before the October filing period.

The PSA is NOT an application or a request to homeschool. It is a notification about a private school. Permission is not granted by the State, so don’t look for any acceptance after you file.

You will be expected to do everything a site-based private school with many teachers and students would do, including requesting records, selecting curriculum, and issuing report cards or high school transcripts. You will be the director of your private school, even if there is only one child enrolled. 

Note:  You will want to establish your school before you file the PSA, so keep reading the remaining steps. If you are filing for the next school year, establish your new school and file your PSA by the time your local school district starts, which will usually be in August.

Step 2. Now that you have a basic idea, it’s time to learn more. Here are some resources. You might want to print them and put in your homeschool binder for quick reference later:

Just the Facts” will give you an overview of your options and requirements. 

Home Based Private Schools:  the independent option”  (AKA The Private School Guide) will give you more details about establishing your new school. 

Need more information?  Read CHN’s “How to Homeschool” pages to learn what files you need to create when you establish your new school.

Step 3. If you are ready to establish a school, it’s time to contact the school your child went to last year (if your child has never attended school, don’t contact the school or school district).

Call or email and let them know you are withdrawing your children from school because they have been enrolled in a new school. It can be quick and friendly. A formal certified letter was often done years ago, but I don’t think it’s necessary now. Just be sure to include the full name of the child, date of birth, and what grade they were in last year. Sign it with your first and last name (this is especially important if you have a different last name!) If it is a friendly parting and the school helped your child, be sure to thank them! 

Some schools have their own form to sign, and if they do, they’ll let you know. If you prefer not to go into the school, ask them to mail, fax, or email it to you.

Step 4. At a later date (maybe a week or so or after you file the PSA), you’ll need to request the school records by fax or mail. Keep that letter formal because you will be making the request as the director of the school, not the parent. A sample letter is on page 6 of Just the Facts. Once you have done that, it’s up to them to send the files. You have done your part. Some schools are fast and some wait months. That’s their problem, so don’t make it your worry.

You can start your school even if the records don’t arrive. If your child is in high school, use the parent/student copy of the last transcript they provided. If you can’t find it, it’s worth continuing to ask the school, because you’ll be needing those records to add to your teen’s high school transcript or study plan.

Step 5. If you are establishing your school at the beginning of the school year and have filed your affidavit, congratulations! It’s time to start homeschooling!

If your child is enrolled in a school, and you decide to withdraw during the school year, you should file your PSA at that time.

Step 6. The link to the PSA and instructions for filing is at After you fill out the PSA, a link to your copy will be emailed to you. Be sure to save the link, and also print a hard copy for your homeschool binder too. When you withdraw a child, the former school may want to see a copy of your PSA as your verification of enrollment in a new school, and you can email this link to them if they ask.

Step 7. Your files are in order, you have withdrawn your child, requested school records, and you have filed your PSA. Learn more about keeping school records at:

When you are done, you will have a clear understanding of the PSA. Informed homeschoolers are more secure and ready to take on this awesome responsibility of educating their child.

WHAT’S NEXT? You’ve dotted your I’s and crossed your T’s and carefully set up your school. It can all happen pretty fast and parents often worry about selecting curriculum or deciding what to do next.

While you are expected to create a course of study, you don’t need a complete plan for the year before starting. And if you do have your plan done, be prepared to make adjustments during the year because your child may become excited about learning new things you hadn’t thought about, and you will want to take advantage of that interest. 

To help in planning, visit Cedar Life Academy’s resource page.

Start by reading a chapter book. It’s good for your kids, and it gets you off to a good start. Here are some resources to help you find books you and your kids will love: The list of books I read to my son, and my Pinterest Read-Aloud Board. Make a list of books you are interested in and then go to your county library’s website and request them!

Browse CLA’s Pinterest site, where over 1,000 educational links have been organized. You’ll find curriculum, educational game ideas, movie suggestions, audiobook lists, math, science, social studies and more to help you with your homeschooling!

Note from Karen Taylor: I hope this information helps you! I filed a PSA for my homeschooled child from first grade until graduation. When my son graduated, I became the director of Cedar Life Academy, a PSP (private school satellite program). I can’t possibly enroll every child, nor is it even necessary for everyone! With this information, I’m hoping many families will be empowered to homeschool independently and be secure in knowing they are following all steps and not just filing a free form! I linked to California Homeschool Network because I was a volunteer for over 20 years, and it is the organization I am most familiar with. In addition to California Homeschool Network (CHN), there are two other State groups: The Homeschool Association of California (HSC) and Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA).


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF. She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.

What You Need to Know about Preschool, TK, and Kindergarten

Did you know that Kindergarten is not required by law? In California, compulsory education begins the year a child is 6 by September 1st

If you want to homeschool for the preschool – kindergarten years, you can! Your child’s learning time (whenever they are awake!) is too valuable to be wasting it with schoolish assignments, so forget what is advertised – you can do better than that! Children learn at a rapid rate from birth to age 5, and there are things you can do to maximize that brain growth. Workbooks, lessons, and things marketed as “educational” don’t need to be on the list!

What does a home preschool or kindergarten look like? It looks like home! It looks like reading aloud. It’s full of giggles and hugs. It looks like playing games, singing, and having fun with your little one, and it won’t be expensive because you won’t need new costly educational supplies. Think back to a few years ago before you started to worry about school. Nothing needs to change. 

You’re not suddenly your child’s teacher – you are still the mom, dad, grandparent, or whoever is important in their life. This is just what a young child needs. A parent is a child’s first and best teacher. Relax and do what is natural, and don’t feel pressure that you must become “the teacher”. You are experienced and have had that role for years.

When it is time to get a job or go to college, they will be ready. But for now, all they need is an enriched home learning environment, spending time with someone they trust and love. 

Read picture books, read chapter books, read, read, read. And then read some more! Same with singing and listening to music. Have fun with fingerplays (search online for some). Collect art supplies such as paper (different colors, sizes, and textures), crayons, colored pencils, felt pens, scissors, ruler, tape, feathers, chalk, pipe cleaners, straws, stickers from junk mail, envelopes, glue, and whatever else you would normally throw away. Put it in a box or on a shelf so that your child can use it whenever they want!  Paint and play dough are also loved at this age.

Play outside. Go for walks. Play in dirt and maybe plant a garden. 

Talk to your child, but listen too. Listen and respond. Appreciate what your child says. Read some more. Provide fun toys like puzzles, blocks, Legos, puppets, dress up clothes, and lots of cardboard boxes that will be used in ways you couldn’t imagine.

Make playdough! Cook together and do other chores together.

Make your home kid friendly where enthusiastic ideas are welcomed. You’ll be creating the perfect environment for your child to learn and happily thrive.

Welcome to homeschooling!  You don’t need to teach academic subjects to be considered a homeschooler. You just need to keep your young child home with you, and be available to help them learn. Some parents do it until kindergarten, and others take one day at a time until it’s time for their child to go to college!  Always worry about today and tomorrow, but not next year or 10 years from now. You can do anything when it’s just one day at a time.

A note from Karen. My homeschooled son did not go to preschool or kindergarten and was homeschooled until he graduated. I wrote about some of my memories shortly before he left for college: No Regrets, It Was Worth It.


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.

Unpreschooling Experiences

It’s back to school time. If you are not taking your child to preschool, what are you doing? There are probably some people asking you that and wondering how your child will ever be ready for school in the future!

A successful home unpreschool doesn’t need to look like the local drop-off preschool. It can be based around experiences instead of lessons and workbooks. Just lots of experiences, and the good news is that you can’t do it wrong because young children are ready and willing for anything!

One of my favorite things to do with young children is to stop and watch workmen build or repair something. If a new building is going up, watch it often, so you can see the changes. Guess what is going to happen next. And of course, go in the building once it’s open to see if the guesses were correct! You can’t do it wrong, and your child will take what they need from the experience on that day, and then learn something new tomorrow. They are connecting the dots from many different experiences and building a strong learning foundation.

You may know this is best, but there are some who will continue to think that your child should be in a “real” preschool. You probably won’t convince them otherwise, so avoid the subject when you can, and when you can’t, just reassure these well-meaning friends and relatives that your child is being exposed to everything they’d learn in a preschool plus a lot more – like watching things happen in the world. You might even call them field trips!

An update: This was originally published on September 2, 2012 at, before Transitional Kindergarten (TK) became popular with those enrolling in charter schools. Today’s TK kids were once considered preschoolers. Requiring them to sit and do workbooks will not get them into college early or make them eager to learn. It’s not developmentally appropriate. And while they are being subjected to the requirements of TK (which cuts into their play time), what are they not learning about the world?


Karen Taylor’s always homeschooled son attended a local community college after graduating from homeschooling. He transferred to UC Berkeley as a junior, and received a PhD in neuroscience from UCSF.  She shares homeschooling comments and links on Facebook, Pinterest, and this blog.