For years, the Homeschool Association of California has been advising parents not to include their five-year-old children on the private school affidavit when independently homeschooling via a private school. The main reason we recommend this is because the compulsory education law states that only children ages 6 through 18 need to be enrolled in a full-time school (1).
Because five-year-olds do not need to be enrolled in a full-time school, this leaves the choice of whether to enroll or not up to the parents. Some children are ready to enter kindergarten and some are not, depending upon their age and many other factors and circumstances. The pandemic added additional layers of concern for parents to consider. Additionally, the majority of parents in California already enroll their 5 years olds in kindergarten each year, although that l number did suffer during the pandemic. “In 2019-20, kindergarten enrollment statewide was 523,009 and it dropped 11.6% in 2020-21 to 462,172.” (2)
Parents who are home educating can certainly plan to actively educate their five year old children for a kindergarten year, but they don’t need to have any legal structure to do so. By including a large number of five-year-olds on the private school affidavit, a message could possibly be sent to the California state legislature that since parents are including five year olds as a matter of course, it’s not a big deal if they decide to make it a mandatory requirement. However, parents are in the best position to decide if their five year olds should be in kindergarten or not.
Recently, the state legislature passed AB 70, which would have made enrollment in kindergarten a pre-requisite and requirement for entrance into any public school first grade class. The government estimated that an additional 30,000 students, representing a 6% increase, would have been added to public school rolls at a cost of over $200 million per year. Thankfully, governor Newsom vetoed the bill as being too costly in an uncertain economic environment. He supports early education, but wasn’t willing to take on the ongoing costs of the additional students at this time.
For those parents who want to take advantage of optional free public transitional kindergarten (implemented by the state recently) or free public optional kindergarten via charters or brick and mortar schools, the choice to do so continues to be available.
This is positive news for parents all over California who want to have flexibility and retain the choice of whether or not to send their children to school at five years of age, and for home educators, we can continue as we have, and only include students who are ages 6-18 on our affidavits.
JAMIE HESTON: Veteran homeschooler, HSC volunteer and former HSC board member, homeschooling consultant at www.jamieheston.com