Welcome Back…. You do strictly homeschool, right?! Uh… Uh…

This summer has been a whirlwind. We have been here there and everywhere trying to make as much out of the summer as we could. While summer isn’t over, we do have to start getting back to our regular schedule.

I’ve met alot of people this summer and had alot of conversations about homeschooling and what that means. Since so many people concern themselves with labels I thought I would clear up how we run our school at home.

I have a Master’s Degree in Post Secondary Education and spent alot of time writing and auditing curriculum. This included developing mixed media classes where a portion of the classes were online and on ground. As I took my conversations from this summer and compared it to what we do in our own home I had an aha moment. While obviously our children are still in primary school; in our home we do what could be considered a mixed media learning environment. We are enrolled full time at K12 and like the structure, curriculum and support of the teachers and staff. However, I also choose to supplement with my own lessons – generated from a variety of resources. I would say that we teach our kids mixed media via virtual and home school. (Whew! There! I said it! Now we have a label too…..)

What I find interesting is that people are so quick to label the type of education without taking the time to understand the format of it; and how it applies to what the child truly needs. Our kids need opportunities to explore subjects more (for example last year we started a virtual Science lesson about the layers of the oceans and what animals are in them; then we spent the rest of the afternoon talking about all those creepy critters on the very very very very bottom of the ocean. How did they get there? How do they see? What do they eat? Do they get cold down there? How can they make that blue light glow?) On and on the questions went, we kept looking up information. This is called understanding a child’s curiosity to learn; and NOT ignoring it. The love of learning is like a fire which must be stoked; and never squelched because of a label or particular predetermined view you have of a delivery style/type of education. Questions are the fire; the fuel is the way you respond.

Please don’t let the label of the educational delivery style deter the way you teach your children, please allow the children’s curiosity and love for learning to drive the path of the education. Ask yourself this, if you were at my home and we were doing a K12/Virtual lesson on triple digit addition – would you not allow your child to participate because it isn’t pure homeschooling? If the answer is Yes, wow – guess what all kids have to learn triple digit addition, does it matter if it comes from K12 or pure homeschooling? If the answer is NO, bravo your an open minded educator.

Be open and understand that every child learns differently, it’s all hard work but if mixed media works – don’t judge others, support others – everyone’s is on a path to educate their children and help them become strong, smart, free thinking, open, well-educated and successful adults. (And success doesn’t always mean marrying a billionaire, having a Stanford education, developing the next successful IPO and wearing a perfect Prada suit to work. For some it means virtual/homeschooling, climbing Mt. Everest and calling home for money because you’re trying to decide if you want to be a fashionista or a famous rock star).

Hope everyone has an amazing school year!! 🙂

“We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” – Buddha

The Seat Cost of Educational Decisions

I know, I know you get tired of me talking about homeschooling. However, I had an aha moment the other day when visiting with two other parents about educational choices. One had chosen to put their child in a Montessori school where the child could get the balance of educational vs. social/emotional well being. The other had chosen to put the child in a publicly funded Montessori school. This means that while it had the benefits of the Montessori teaching, ultimately it answered to public school regulations, as such that parent was concerned with the child’s educational development because there was only “so far” the publicly funded Montessori could move the child forward.

This is the crux of the very conversation I have been trying to have people understand about publicly funded education and educational choice. Two things you should try to understand:

A. Every child, no matter how advanced, who attends public school, must be labeled into a particular grade. Unless they are participating in an Advanced Placement (AP) or Gifted Program (or another program of that nature) the normal placement is based on age. For example, some children I know are attending an online public school which allows home school style instruction. These children completed Kinder in 6 months, and then were sent “advanced” materials (which are technically 1st Grade materials) but they were not advanced to first grade. They stayed in Kinder and worked on 1st Grade materials. This is because it is a publicly funded program and needs a particular amount of “seats” per grade and is funded by that “seat” count (think of it like headcount for a department in the workplace). Currently that same family is now labeled as 1st Grade and is almost prepared to finish and receive “advanced 1st Grade materials (basically starting 2nd Grade). However the nice thing about this program is the child works at their own pace an is never held back from new materials as long as they are grasping and applying their education.

B. Every child who receives their education from an institution which is State Funded (thereby making it “public” education; and this applies no matter what the platform semi-private, online, public) has a “seat price”. This “seat price” is paid to the public schools by the State and the US Government (no need to go too deep here). Everytime you remove a child from a publicly funded institution that institution loses that “seat money” and that is why they may make it difficult or cause you to “explain yourself” when you are unenrolling your child.

To the best of my knowledge through my own research (disclaimer: I am not a lawyer)…..There is no law which states you must explain yourself. There are some school districts which ask you to meet with particular school superintendents in the event that you’re going to strictly home school; so that you can layout the child’s educational path.

Please ensure that you are educated about what decisions you are making and what you are and are not required to provide the school. Do not feel bullied into making a decision you don’t feel comfortable with, or allow school officials or others to make you feel uncomfortable. Just remind yourself, whatever educational choice you make for your child; public, private,partial enrollment,  Montessori, semi-private or home school it’s your choice and it’s your tax dollars, but bottom line it’s your child’s future that matters – not “seat money”.

***Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, these are my opinions and information I have gathered based on my own research in our home school journey and apply strictly to WA State. Please ensure you do your own research in your area on laws and regulations regarding public school and homeschooling.