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    School Prep: Course of Study Forms

    July 25, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

    There are a few ways to homeschool legally in California, and one of them is to create your own {very small} private school. This is what I have always chosen to do. This means that I have to keep my own records; I don’t have any sort of umbrella school keeping records for me. There is a common misconception that independent homeschoolers do not have to keep records. For example, I had this misconception in the past!



    There are a number of records required by various state educational codes, and some of them can seem quite silly. I mean, really? Really I have to write my child’s name and address on a piece of paper and put it in a file? Reeeeallly?

    Yes. Save yourself some possible grief and just. do. it.

    If some well-meaning {or otherwise} neighbor calls and complains about your private school, and some government official shows up at your doorstep, they will ask for records, and not being in compliance isn’t going to help your case.

    For me, it is really an issue of integrity. When I file the affidavit, I sign my name and declare that I will keep the records. If I don’t do actually keep the records, I have lied.

    Is it a pain? Yes. Do I have to draw up documents that are pointless and unhelpful to me and which will probably never be looked at by any other human outside myself? Yes.

    But I signed a legal form saying I would do it, and I take that sort of thing seriously.

    So, one of the many records required by California state educational law is the Course of Study. I prefer to set it up in such a way that if a government official does look at my records, it will make sense to him. So, for example, even though I call science “natural philosophy” to myself {because I adore that phrase}, on my paper I call it science. I speak their language on their form.

    Make sense?


    If you look around on the internet, you can occasionally find sample Course of Study forms, but they are usually created for schools or individuals with a textbook mentality. If, however, you use a literature-based curriculum, you’re going to find that first of all the books cannot always be categorized in such a neat and tidy way, and second there isn’t enough space for a full curriculum.

    Students using a literature-based curriculum usually read a lot of books.

    So today I’m going to show you some old Course of Study forms that I have actually used in the past. One uses the Ambleside Online Year 1 curriculum {plus a few alterations and additions I made myself}, and the other uses the Ambleside Online Year 4 curriculum {also slightly tinkered with}. Ambleside Online kindly granted me an exception to their License and allowed me to use the copyrighted booklist for this purpose.

    A big thing to note here is that you can move books around as you deem necessary. Feeling light on history? Move that science biography into the history category–it’s really both, after all. Feeling light on literature? Not to worry: almost the whole curriculum is literature!

    So now I’ll offer you a blank Course of Study form. You can simply write your books into the form by hand and ta-da! you have a Course of Study form ready to go into your school files.

    I hope this helps some of you Californians who are pondering a Course of Study form in preparation for your upcoming school year. The forms you see here will only work up to grade 6. After that, there are more subject requirements {such as foreign language which, though is appears on my form, is not legally required for lower school}. You can recreate this form on a basic spreadsheet program, and then add in the additional areas of study, in order to meet the requirements for upper school levels. Next year, when we are actually doing grade 7, I will offer a blank form that is appropriate.

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  • Reply Anonymous February 17, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!! My son is in year 1 of AO and this is just great! I can’t thank you enough for sharing your hard work with the rest of the world! God Bless!

  • Reply Amber July 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Thanks, Brandy, your second post was very helpful! (Gack, more stuff to do at the computer… and I haven’t even completely finished up my school planning yet!)

  • Reply Angela July 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm

    So helpful! Thank you!

  • Reply Amber July 26, 2013 at 3:26 am

    Oh dear, somehow I was under the impression that all I had to keep was a copy of the affidavit and my attendance records. Yikes! Now I am wondering how I even came to that conclusion… How embarrassing! It looks like I need to read up on this some more. Thanks for your post.

  • Reply Ann-Marie July 25, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    Brandy, I cannot thank you enough for sharing these a while back on AO! It really helped me to piece it all together.

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