– Choosing a Charter Home School – Comparing Charters in Southern California

Long before we had kids, I knew when we did I wanted to home school them. This year we officially started homeschooling, with home school you can file a PSA (Private School Affidavit) or join a charter school. We decided to go with a charter school, at least for now. Our daughter is 4.5 and would be able to start TK (Transitional Kindergarten AKA Preschool) next year. So I started doing research into schools. There are so many charter schools to choose from, and trying to pick one was overwhelming. I spoke to many parents as well as my own online research going over the pros & cons of the schools, with my husband. Then I learned Inspire Charter School offers an expanded TK program (for little ones who’s 5 th Birth Date falls between December 3, 2018 & February 28, 2019). It’s the only local charter that I found that offers this early enrollment program, otherwise, we would have to wait until the following March to enroll her with another school.  The idea of starting her now became one of our main reasons for joining Inspire as well as the great reviews from many parents.  Inspire refers to their teachers as an HST (Home School Teacher).

So far we are very happy with our decision to join inspire. They are helpful with any question we’ve had, they offer many extracurricular opportunities & field trips. You only have to meet with your HST once a month (once every learning period) and during this meeting, you only have to provide one sample of school work. They offer funding that pays for classes, field trips, learning supplies, etc. and any unused funds, roll over to the next year (unlike most other charters). There are a wide variety of vendors who work with Inspire. If a local class or program you are interested in, is not a vendor with Inspire, and if you can convince them to become one, the process is fairly simple for them to add themselves on. 

The main reason we are so happy with Inspire, is our wonderful HST Miss Erin! It was very important to us, that along with the school we chose, that we had a great teacher. She has been extremely helpful, with 15 years of teaching experience, we couldn’t have asked for a better teacher. She is knowledgeable and quick to answer calls, text messages and e-mails. Even though I always knew I would home school, with this being my first year and our first child we are schooling, I knew I would need a good support system. I started friending and networking with other home school Mom’s and have been very happy with how supportive Miss Erin has been on our home school journey. My daughter and I both felt a connection to her right away.  I love her teaching style, She is very patient and kind with my daughter and I, and she really seems to enjoy what she does. I love that she understands how we want to school our little one, she is not pushy, she listens and addresses all questions & concerns.

We opted out of purchasing a standard curriculum (at least for preschool). I am basically putting our own together from other home school mom blogs, Pinterest, workbooks (purchased from Dollar Tree, online, etc), my own ideas, as well as suggestions from our HST. 

Another good thing to know, if you are new to charter schools is with purchasing learning materials. When you purchase items they fall into two categories consumable and non-consumable. Consumables are items that are fully used up or consumed for example; art supplies, ink, toner, paper, classes and field trips, etc (see my post “The Ultimate Consumable Idea List for Charter School Funding”)…. Non- consumables are items that can be reused again and again by other students such as books, games, telescopes, computers etc… With Inspire you keep/ use consumables, but non-consumables have to be returned when your last enrolled child either graduates or you decide to pull them out of the school. (see my post “The Ultimate Non-Consumable Idea List for Charter School Funding”). Inspire has Lending Libraries where you can borrow learning items for free (placing the order online), the Lending libraries get their stocked items from the non-consumables that are turned in when students have finished with them. 

Below I am posting a chart of  Charter schools in the Inland Empire of  Southern  California. The schools are listed in ABC order. I created this chart while I was in the process of deciding which charter to go with as I could not find a chart or website anywhere comparing local schools. I hope this helps you with your decision. Also if you are new to homeschooling and are looking for personalized advice and a support system, a great place to look (if you are on FB) are the Facebook groups. You can find groups for homeschooling in general, local homeschooling groups or groups for the school you are considering enrolling your child in. The information in the chart is correct to my knowledge… Schools change how they do things all the time, if you see anything on my chart that needs to be updated or perhaps a school that should be added on, please don’t hesitate to let me know so that I can keep this post up to date. 

School NameHow do you meet with the HST?Frequency  you meet with the HST?Number of work samples you have to provide?Amount of funds you receive per year?Do funds roll over to the next year?The school provides drop off programs (Enrichment Classes)?Items shipped to home? or You pick up elsewhere?Summer school program offered? 
CavaOnline1x a week5 samples (1 per subject) once a quarter$0NoYesHomeYes (for special education students) 
CompassOnline2x a month1 sample per meeting$3000 k-8NoYesHomeYes 
Dehesa UnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsure 
EliteUnsureUnsureUnsure$2,700 TK-8, $3,200 9-12UnsureUnsureUnsureUnsure 
Excel AcademyIn person1x a month/ every 20 days4 samples (1 per subject) per meeting $2,850 and $500 for summerNoNoTeacher drops offYes 
iLeadUnsureUnsure2 Samples per monthUnsureSemester to semester. Not year to year.UnsureUnsureUnsure 
InspireOnline or In person1x a month/ every 20 days1 sample per meeting$1600 TK. $2,600 K-8, + an additional $400 if you choose to opt out of online subscriptionsYesYesHomeNo 
Method In person2-3x a weekUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureNo 
River SpringsIn person1x a month/ every 20 days6 samples (1 per subject) turned in 2x a year$1250 + a chrome book + $300 coupon redeemed through the school’s website for classes or curriculumNoYesBothNo 
Sage OakUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureUnsureYes 
Sky MountainOnline and In PersonEvery 20 days1 sample (per subject) per meeting$2400 tk-8, $3000 high schoolNoYesUnsureUnsure 

NOTE: You will notice some of the schools in the chart above say unsure. They were suggested, that I add them to my chart (the info I have is all they provided). I have not yet looked into these schools myself, I will update with the info when I do. 



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XOXO, Cameo

*LIST UPDATED 6/10/19*


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