Berkeley Parents Network >
K-12 Schools >
Homeschooling younger children
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
We are new to homeschooling ourselves but would like to pass along a few
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
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
not mandatory in CA, is it even worth the trouble to complete
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
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:http://www.hsc.org/countycontacts.php#county
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:http://www.hsc.org/choices.php
Hope that helps!
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
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
644-4500 ext 14301
Kamala Asher, K-8 Home School Facilitator
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.
please check this out (from a teacher) about things to think
about before you homeschool:
I would be happy to discuss our homeschool journey with you.
Please feel free to contact me.
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.
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.
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
These 3 are all Oakland homeschool blogs:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
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*
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
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 http://www.hsc.org/
and Einsteins Clubhouse at http://EinsteinsClubhouse.org
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.
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
Thanks so much!
Cheap Heathen Needs Curriculum
Have you heard of Hickman Charter school in Berkeley?
Free and Public!
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
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.
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
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
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?
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.
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
Please visit our website at: www.bayarealearningalliance.com
and contact us for a free introductory interview:
What's the difference between homeschooling and unschooling?
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
Homeschooling is the same thing as public school, but the parent
is the teacher in all subject and there is much less peer
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 http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/.
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.
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!!!
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
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: www.caliva.org
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about it.
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
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
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
P.S. There is a deadline to file as a homeschooler, it's in
October, just so you know. hslda.org offers information on
We have 2 daughters, ages 9 and 11. They currently go to a
Catholic school, and we are realizing that their current path is
not at all what we envision for them. It is really important to
us that we raise girls who are not only excellent students (they
are), but strong and aware that the world extends beyond Limited
Too and Webkinz! Our oldest is in 5th grade,a great kid but a
little naive socially, and mucking through the mire of nasty
girls who tear each other apart at any opportunity. What we want
is to explore home-schooling her, meeting up with other home
schooled kids, and supplementing what she is learning with travel
to other, less fortunate, but amazing places on our planet. At
the same time, we would like to have her enter high school more
than well prepared for the academics ahead, as her choice of
college is totally wide open. Is there any like-minded group in
the Berkeley/Oakland/Lamorinda/Concord area that we can
collaborate with? It is so important to us that our girls learn
to be strong women who are part of the SOLUTION, not tearing
other women apart in this crazy, keep-up-with-the-Joneses
society. Why do we do this to each other???!!! Your input is
Refusing to Play that Game ~
I am part of the wonderful homeschooling community in East Bay, and there are a
of resources and options available for those interested in this educational
check out Homegrownkids.org online for a lot of information and links to other
websites. My contact information is listed there, if you want a live person to
Homeschooling groups in the area include
Alameda Oakland Home Learners
Home Grown Kids
All three are welcoming and friendly groups. Family Village and
HGK meet together at Codornices Park once/month, so if you try
that day you will meet members of both groups (see their
websites). Although you are welcome to just come to the park, it
seems to work better for newcomers if they contact the group and
let someone know they are coming. People will look out for you
and make sure to greet you if they are expecting you.
Alameda Oakland Home Learners is a somewhat larger group than
Home Grown Kids with more preteens/teens. HGK tends to younger
kids in regular attendance. However, my experience has been that
if you join a group and stick with it, kids your kids' age will
show up in not too long.
I hope we see you at the park!
My daughter (who will be 11 in September) and I are also looking
for homeschooling groups, and we would love to talk with you.
She is completing 5th grade this year in public school (Madera)
in El Cerrito. We are going to homeschool in the Fall. Her
younger sister will attend public school (1st grade), but will
participate in some of our special projects and travel and
outings, as well.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
through all subjects. Days are not compartmentalized. It would also be
awkward for your child because they would not be able to be a stable
part of a group
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.
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.
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
However he's a bright kid who seeks out intellectual stimulation and
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
him for sept or keeping him home and following something like the Oak
homeschool program for a year. I'll be home with my toddler anyway and
certainly use not spending $ on preschool.
My biggest concern is that he really thrives in having independent time
home and connecting strongly with other adults. I'm not sure how I
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
would adjust socially, and academically, to a BUSD K after being in
Waldorf and at
Has anyone been in a similar situation? What did you decide, and how
did it work for
you? Thanks for any thoughts and experiences.
I am a homeschooling mom of two (7 years and 5 years). You are
welcome to join our homeschool group, Homegrown Kids
(www.homegrownkids.org). 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
(www.lawrencehallofscience.org) and enjoy them.
The East Bay Waldorf School may have information for you on
waldorf-inspired preschools (www.eastbaywaldorf.org) or playgroups.
You're welcome to contact me directly for more information. Good
luck and welcome to Berkeley!
I can totally relate to what you're feeling right now, my daughter will
kindergarten for 2 years at East Bay Waldorf School. She did the
program this year and absolutely LOVED it. Even though I go back and
between homeschooling and Waldorf, she is the driving force that tells
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
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
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
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
Good luck in your decision!
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.
Mother of three,
wishing & working for better
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.
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 http://www.hickman.k12.ca.us/charter.html
for our local public charter school, and
! http://www.hsc.org/ 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
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
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!
Homeschooling is a viable and popular choice in the Bay Area. Almost
homeschool and be successful at it. There are many different styles of
homeschooling, and a lot of curriculum to choose from, since
become so widespread, especially in this area. You will find a lot of
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
are homeschoolers and friends who go to regular school. They are very
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
and ask them questions. Most have weekly park days. If you live in
Alameda, check out aohl.net. There are also groups in Berkeley,
Hayward, and everywhere else. You can also find books (even at the
can give you a basic overview.
Feel free to contact me if you have more questions!
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 &
I missed the original question posted about homeschooling, but I saw
recent response. My son homeschooled for four years and has just
school for 8th grade. We've had a very good experience, both with our
homeschooling years, and with the transition back into school, but
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
fantasies, both positive and negative. The most prevalent anxiety is
that taking a
child out of the institutional setting is damaging for social
common one is that the mother-child relationship is inimical to
these anxieties are misplaced. Weigh pros and cons based on real
be happy to provide contacts. Best wishes.
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?
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
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,
Looking for homeschooling communities
I looking to make contact with the homeschooling community(ies?)
in Berkeley. Can someone help me?
Search the Berkeley Information Network under "homeschooling" or "home
schooling" http://library.ci.berkeley.ca.us:81/screens/mainmenu.html 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).
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.
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 http://www.lhs.berkeley.edu/Publications.html
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
Homeschooling middle schoolers & high schoolers
We are in the process of looking for a school (middle school) for our daughter who is
gifted with a learning disability. The learning disability was completely overlooked by
the private school she attends in Berkeley. For that as well as other reasons we are
looking for a school that will really get her as a learner: be able to reach the extremely
bright kid while accommodating her issues. She is very sensitive and her self esteem has
really suffered so our ideal school would have a great social emotional component. We live
in Oakland in a not so good school area but are willing to drive for the right place.
Another option we are willing to consider is homeschool. Is there a homeschool group in
the area that would be a good fit? We are considering pulling her from school for the rest
of this year to focus on remediation as the homework load she is getting from school seems
like too much to combine with the remediation. I don't think she would qualify for
assistance in a public school setting as she is able to keep up.
We were in a similar situation with our son - gifted with learning
disabilities and not happy in school. Last spring, we pulled him from his
private school. We settled on a hybrid for schooling - part time homeschool
and part time in a great ''micro-school'' called One Room.
One Room is based in Oakland and the teacher, Jade Rivera, specializes in
teaching gifted kids. Her school runs three days a week (you can select 1-3
days) and has just a handful of kids aged 10-12. She focuses on
social-emotional development and provides a choice-based curriculum with a lot
of project-based work. She provides a wonderfully supportive, warm
environment and yet is firm and keeps kids on track to meet their goals. The
school is housed at Kids N' Dance in the Laurel District where there is a gym
room and the chance for after school programs.
Jade has a blog that talks about her philosophy and has a tab that talks about
One Room. http://jadeannrivera.com/
I'm interested in forming a coop with other parents/teachers to home school. Does
anyone have any advice or information on this subject.
The best way to find people for co-ops is through homeschool groups like Home Grown Kids and Alameda Oakland
If your child might be interested in Science Olympiad we have a team he or she could join. We meet once/week.
I have a lot of homeschool co-op experience.
I have 14
and 13 year olds whom I homeschool.
We are homeschooling our 13 year old son for the first time this year and would
like to hear from others about how to address the need for socialization at this
age. I'd like to find a way for him to meet kids and make lasting friendships. Any
Hi there Boring Mom,
There is a thriving, vibrant, homeschool community in the Bay Area. Since you did
not mention any religious affiliation I will assume that you are looking for
secular, inclusive, homeschool groups; of which there a number in this area. I can
speak mostly of Homegrown Kids, since I founded the group in 2001, when my son was
two. It's an eclectic group of home educators. We have a lot of 11-14
year old boys, some 13 and 14 year old girls and a larger group of 10 -12 year old
girls, plus all ages on down to about two. Those of us with teens place a lot of
our focus on teen activities and have been organizing events that include other
local groups. I started a Yahoo Group for this purpose. I will email you my
resource list. Below is a list of some local groups.
Homegrown Kids (HGK): www.homegrownkids.org
Bay Area Homeschool Outings for Teen (BAHoOTs) My new Yahoo Group
San Francisco Bay Area Unschoolers (SFBUN) Yahoo Group:
Alameda Oakland Homelearners (AOHL): http://www.aohl.net/
Tri-Valley explorers (TVE): http://www.trivalleyexplorers.com/
We're looking for homeschooling options including groups, classes, or
even one or two other children for our 8th grade daughter. We're
especially interested in group teaching and exchanges for math, science,
language (Spanish). We can do English/Grammar/Literature and History. Can
you let us know what may be available in the East Bay (Alameda or Contra
Costa Counties)? We're also interested in recommendations for any math or
science classes/labs that may be available for 8th graders to sign up
There a quite a few options for homeschooling in the area, in a variety of ways.
Your best bet is to start contacting local homeschooling groups like Homegrown
Kids or Alameda-Oakland Home Learners and getting to know other homeschoolers. For
math and science, check out Quantum Camp in Berkeley. Lawerence Hall of Science
and the Exploratorium also run homeschool classes. Good luck and welcome to the
wonderful adventure that is homeschooling!
I am interested in homeschooling my teenage son, who is 15 and has
some school anxiety issues. I am interested in any advice or
recommendations. For example, are there any charter schools in
Alameda County that take homeschooled teens? Has anyone used tutors
or started their own school? Has anyone tried online schools? We
live in Berkeley.
You can homeschool through Berkeley Unified School District Independent
Study program. I know of a few good experiences with this. Student
sees Indep Studies Program teacher once a week I think. And teacher
can modify workload etc to accommodate outside activities.
There are a growing number of homeschooling teens and plenty of
resources for your son. My son is using and liking Berkeley High's
Independent Study program, but a lot of families either homeschool on
their own or use the two homeschooling charter schools, FAME
http://www.famecharter.org/FAME-IS.html, and Connecting Waters
http://www.connectingwaters.org/. Also, a lot of homeschoolers take
their math and science with QuantumCamp in downtown Berkeley, and
outdoor education with Trackers or starting in the fall with the Yerba
Buena Institute http://yerbabuenainstitute.org/.
A good email list to be on is High School Without Borders. We are a
group of families with homeschooled teens and we help each other set up
social events, classes of interest and events, and we also share ideas
and resources. This summer we will have game days, swim days, computer
days, hiking days and possibly a Shakespeare class and movie night, so
there is a lot for your son to plug into. It's a good place to ask
about online resources or other homeschooling questions you might have.
Feel free to contact me offlist if you're interested.
BHS Independent Studies Program may be a solution for your family. We
discovered it as an alternative for our child to achieve a high school
diploma after having experience similar to yours. It's one-on-one
weekly academic learning meetings, you help your child track their
assignments, and they have on-site mentors as well who help track
progress. It might be similar to homeschooling. The kids are welcome to
participate in BHS team sports as long as GPA is good. You have to
really stay involved, their department also processes homeschooling.
The only thing I felt was missing was academic advisor-which is a
function of the principal. Set an info. meeting up before the end of
this school year as they are not there over the summer. Good luck to
I need more info about starting to homeschool/unschool a 15yr old
who has stopped attending his public HS two months ago. His reasons
are pretty vague. We have had various recommendation from
professionals (psychological testing, residential schools, tough
love). I've read about homeschooling, researched a few bay area
groups. How does one begin? What should the expectations be? How
many high school aged kids are there in the area that
Homeschooling is fine, and there are resources in this area.
But you really, really need to know why he hasn't been going to
school. Is he being threatened? Is he seriously depressed and
doesn't think it's worth the effort? Does he have a substance
problem? Is this an ominous sign of new-onset schizophrenia?
What about his frustration with a learning problem he doesn't
understand? Whatever the answer, it's unlikely to be identified
just by homeschooling. Get professionals involved.
My son was in a similar situation last year. He is now thriving
at San Francisco Flex Academy near Union Square in San
Francisco. It is FREE charter school that works with students
at their own pace, through online courses complemented by
The students are required to be there every day, so there is a
social life. Their homework is usually done by the time they
leave school at 3 p.m.
I encourage you to call and visit the school.
There aren't a ton of homeschooled teens in the East Bay but I
think it will be a growing group in the next year or two. My
son is 14 and we've always homeschooled. He connects with other
teens in TrackersBay Scout Team Marine, QuantumCamp, and
activities set up by High School Without Borders. In the fall a
new homeschooling charter school (K-12, but really focused on
high school) will be opening with a learning center in downtown
We don't unschool, but there is an unschooling group called San
Francisco Bay Unschoolers Network (SFBUN) and they have some
teens. Feel free to contact me if it would be helpful to you.
We are moving to Berkeley from Marin. We have a 12 yr old son who
we have begun homeschooling (fall 2010). He went to several
public schools in Marin K-6, but was often under-challenged
academically. He is very creative w/ interests in theater, D&D,
math and writing. Since beginning the homeschool adventure we've
found it to be very isolating. In Marin ''park days'' were geared
more towards younger kids and he has felt out-of-place randomly
showing up at parks and trying to make friends. We are trying to
figure out the best path to take once we get settled in the east
bay. He is enrolled at Berkeley rep but, I would love to hear
any ideas about social stuff for artistic-type boys this age. We
would like to stick with homeschooling if we can, but might have
to consider alternatives.
There are a ton of 11-13 year old homeschooled boys in and around
Berkeley. Check out Home Grown Kids or the Berkeley annex of
Hickman Charter School. Hickman contracts with CalShakes every year
to put on a Shakespeare play, so there must be some
theatrically-interested kids in the mix. Also, in addition to
Berkeley Rep, Julia Morgan theater might also have a youth program.
I don't have any first hand experience with homeschooling but if you
"have to consider the alternatives" I hope you consider one of the
many fine schools available in Berkeley (and area) that are
excellent for drama, the arts and such. As for public schools, our
son goes to MLK Middle School, and loves it. He is in advanced math,
having skipped 7th grade math completely. He did this by passing the
7th grade year-end test, that all 6th grade students were
administered in June. He is also artistic, and loves the cooking and
gardening options at King. There is drama, dance, percussion, band,
art, computers, orchestra and chorus, to name a few. There are also
writing, journalism and other creative literature options. Our son
attended a small private school for six years prior to King, and we
thought he'd have a hard time adjusting. But it's been fabulous.
He's found 3-4 boys that share his interests and aptitudes, and he
studies, plays and does sports with these pals. It's everything we
wanted for him.
Parent of 7th grader in BUSD
Finding good social activities for your home schooled teen is a
pretty big challenge. Your son's interests match the interests of
many of the particants in my after school and summer program.
Additionally, students in our program often form lasting friendships
with each other.
For the last 21 years, the Roleplay Workshop has been providing fun,
safe, and supportive programs for youth ages 10 to 18. We use
Abantey, a role playing game very similar to D&D, to teach life
skills in a creative setting, promoting self esteem, problem
solving, and social skills. Participants work together to solve
dilemmas using logic and common sense, while learning math, sciences
and ethics along the way.
The program is ultimately about teaching young adults personal
Our school year programs include after school programs (Monday -
Friday, 3:30 - 6:00 pm), weekend programs (Saturdays, 12 - 5 pm),
school holiday programs (9 am to 5 pm) and special event programs.
Enrollment opens on September 27, 2010. After school programs begin
on October 4, 2010. School Holiday programming is available for most
public and private school holidays.
Contact: Becky Thomas
Program Location: 4014 Piedmont Ave.; Oakland Ca
Mailing address: 925 39th St.; Oakland, CA. 94608-3860
Becky Thomas, Director
If your son is interested in D&D, Itsyourmove on Telegraph ave has
kids D&D on
weekends which my son loves! Most of the boys are in the age range
12 to 16ish I think. At least one boy that goes there is
You can call them at 547-4386 and their site is
Their schedule vary, but its often 12:30-3:30 on Sundays or
The DM Will is fantastic with amazing imagination.
happy mom from Oakland
There are many, many homeschoolers in this area. Here are two
listings of support groups: http://www.homefires.com/support/ and
http://homeschooling.gomilpitas.com/weblinks/support.htm. For those
homeschooling gifted kids and teens, there is San Francisco Bay Area
Gifted Homeschoolers, http://sfbaghs.org. For the math interest,
there is a Berkeley math circle, http://mathcircle.berkeley.edu/,
and for the theater interest, Berkeley Rep, where he's enrolled, is
a great place to be. I've been homeschooling my 13yo daughter for 8+
years and her theater/music connections are fulfilled within the
larger community, not specifically within the homeschooling
community. Good luck!
There are several options for you in this area, charter schools,
support groups, unschoolers, etc. There is a homeschool craft fair
coming up, and you may wish to attend and meet many kids and parents
and talk to people. Please email me for details.
As a science center offering an array of programs well attended
by homeschoolers, QuantumCamp can get you in touch with active
homeschool families very quickly.
Contact us anytime.
American friends have been sailing in Mexico and places
south for several years, and their son, just turning 16,
would like to enter a Bay Area high school. Because of his
unusual education he's more than proficient in some
subjects and probably behind in others. He's also spanish-
Any ideas how to get him assessed for proper grade
Any ideas about high schools/programs (public or private)
that would appreciate and support his self-directed in-
depth knowledge of computers (he's been the consulting
computer tech for all the computer owners in their marina)
and other sciences?
I would check out Maybeck High School
in Berkeley. They are a a small private
school with a lot of small group learning experiences. The school culture is
one of acceptance. I could see a child as you described needing support in this
sort of setting. Ask to speak to Trevor, he is in admissions. Good Luck!
My wife and I are looking for any good information, contacts,
experiences reguarding Homeschooling. We plan to begin with our
son (7th grade) immediatly and need any help we can get.
I wrote directly to the family who inquired about homeschooling, but
also wanted to
post information here. There is a homeschooling support group for
every city in the
Bay Area. One is Alameda Oakland Homelearners, which meets every
afternoon from 12 to 4 at parks alternating between Alameda and
Oakland. We also
organize occasional classes and field trips. Anyone interested in
welcome at our park days. We have kids of all ages. Our website:
A good website for people interested in homeschooling is this one:
I am always available to answer questions or provide help.
A great place to learn about different options and such for
homeschooling is at Mothering.commune:
there you can read about what other people are doing, what
materials to use, etc. It is a great community!
Also, search yahoo groups--there are tons of homeschooling groups
for all different styles and degrees of learning at home.
Good luck and have fun!
In addition to moderating the Marketplace newsletter, I am a
homeschooling mom. My kids are younger than yours (they are 6 and
8), so I don't know if I can answer your questions related to
older kids and homeschooling. However, I'd like to help you if I
can. Feel free to e-mail.
The Homeschooling Association of California has a very
informative website. They have one section devoted to new
There is no homeschooling law in California. The California
Education Code states: ''[A]ll children between the ages of 6 and
18 must attend a public full-time day school unless otherwise
exempted.'' ('48200 )
Homeschooling families in California comply with the compulsory
attendance law in one of five ways:
* They establish a private school in their home ('48222
* They enroll their children in a private school that offers
an independent study course ('48222 exemption).
* They hold, or employ a private tutor holding, a California
teaching credential for the grades and subjects being taught
* They enroll their children in a public school that offers
independent study (public school).
* They enroll their children in a public charter school that
offers independent study, distance learning, or a homeschool
program (public school).
For socialization, there are several groups in the
Berkeley-Oakland-Richmond area to choose from. Homegrown Kids
tends to have younger kids (up to about 8 or 9). Alameda-Oakland
Home Learners (AOHL) has both younger and older kids, and Family
Village tends to have older kids. This is, of course, a
generalization. I would recommend you try a few groups and find
one you like.
This is another great resource:
I am a member of a homeschooling e-list, Home-Ed:
There are many e-lists devoted to homeschooling, some of which
are associated with different homeschool organizations and some
that are independent. Your task is to find groups you like :-)
The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child: Your Complete Guide to
Getting Off to the Right Start by Linda Dobson
Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum
Preschool Through High School by Rebecca Rupp
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home,
and Updated Edition by Susan Wise Bauer, Jessie Wise
I think some of these are available at the Berkeley Library.
I see that you have had some helpful responses to your post
already. Here’s one more. I am a volunteer for the Homeschool
Association of California, (HSC.org). I offer phone and email
support to families in West Contra Costa County, and previously
for Alameda County. For specific information regarding
homeschooling teens, contact Wes Beach at (831) 462-5867. You
can read more information about Wes on the HSC website at:
I will send a detailed resource list directly to your private
email address. Anyone else who needs some questions answered;
some homeschool support, and/or would like me to send them an
extensive list of homeschool resources, both local and state-
wide, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oak Meadow Homeschool Program
Re: Troubled daughter has stopped going to school (Jan 2002)
For the parent looking for alternative to High School. We enrolled in a
Homeschool program called Oak Meadow . We want a well structure program
and this one is excellent. You choose your classes with their help and
advise, and receive the books and planned lessons on the mail all at once.
You can choose to do undependably or with them. They also offer an online
school. The curriculum is the same with the difference that the child has
one teacher for each subject and has to send his or hers homework every
other day via email. It cost considerably more but to us is worthwhile to
have the structure, advise and guidance. The children receive grades and
credits for all the classes. The enrolled student has access to their
library a nd their students chat room, besides being able to work on line
with other students from different locations.
You can find out about the school (which in California is considered a
private school) on their internet site, oak meadow.com, where you can sample
the lessons. Denise G.
this page was last updated: Dec 29, 2013
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network