People have asked me to keep them updated on our homeschooling progress. It’s summer and we haven’t started yet, but the preparation is well underway. I have been reading and talking to so many people that my head spins at times. I am amazed at how many options there are available to people who homeschool. I think that most people think homeschooling is just a fad and has risen as a backlash to public school. What may have started off that way, has truly evolved into booming businesses with rigorous academic schedules.
Where I live in California, my local district offers a virtual and homeschool option. They provided students with an educational resource teacher and all materials that are available to regular educational students. In addition students can take up to 2 classes at their home school. So if I wanted my son to continue learning the violin, I could put him in orchestra at our local middle school. Or he could take art, PE, Math, Spanish, etc. To keep the homeschool status, he couldn’t take more than 2 classes. Students are required to check in with their educational resource teacher and they take assessments to make sure they are learning. In addition they are required to take the standardized state test in May. Not a bad deal if you are on a budget that makes buying curriculum difficult or you are lost about the different options of what to purchase.
Another program that is very popular in my area is the charter home schools. It is very similar to the one offered by my district, but it allows parents access to the state funds it receives for you child being in attendance. When you enroll in the charter school, it receives the state funding for your child. It uses a portion of that money for paper work and educational support teachers, but the parents can decide how to spend the rest of the money for education. It is usually about $1600/year/child. If you need to purchase schools supplies for chemistry, you can purchase through an approved vendor. If you want your child to take private art or music classes, you can pay for it with this money. The charter school has curriculum you can use free of charge just like the local district, but if you don’t like the text book you can use your money to purchase one that you think is suited better for your child. It gives the parents freedom to help spend their child’s state money. There are checks and balances to this system. You must meet with your educational support teacher and show that your child is learning, money must be spent at approved vendors (its not a blank check you get), and you must participate in standardized state tests.
There are also several private online home schools that one can join for a fee. They usually provide text books, lessons plans and parental support. Usually one can even find several families in their own area that they can contact for further support. It is a nice option if you are looking for specific affiliation of religion or learning style. The nice thing about all of the above programs is they file your home school paper with your state and provide you with transcripts at the end of the year.
Then there are the go it on your own options where you register your paperwork yourself and you teach your kid. Many people don’t even realize this is an option and really it is not that big of a deal (at least that is what I hear in California). You register with your state so that the authorities know your child is being educated (because it is the law your child be in school). After that, you are virtually free to educate your child how you see fit. There are numerous textbooks and programs you can purchase to achieve your academic goals. If you find a home school group in your area, you will see that many parents teach a specialty class in their homes that you might join (math, writing, biology, Latin). There are also academic enrichment programs that home schoolers have formed that meet once a week. I soon realized that I could find a class for every subject and never be his primary teacher!! It would kind of be like going to traditional school except that I hand pick ALL of his teachers. Really it is not an option for every subject, but I am considering a few classes.
Well if your head is spinning thinking about all the options available, you can imagine mine. It’s a hard choice. I narrowed down my options based on what my goals were for my son and which program fit us the best. My son has been in a bilingual program since kindergarten. He can read and write in English and Spanish (pretty cool program). His math is on par, but his English Language Arts Skills are sporadic. Those of you who are multi-lingual can attest to the difficulty in spelling in 2 languages or the difficulty in forming a sentence. He is not behind, but there is a blend of two languages that happens that make it appear that he is behind. So our focus is going to be here. There might be some areas we can advance in and certain aspects we need to go back to the basics on. For that reason, a one size fits all program with a district, charter or online school doesn’t make sense to me (I could be wrong). I have currently been working on putting a program together that fits him. I am taking things I like from several programs and putting them together for my perfect program. Isn’t that what teachers do all the time?
So that is where I am with my homeschool endeavor! Its crazy fun and busy all wrapped into one.