Monday, December 13, 2010

The wheels start to turn...

In my last post, I left you hanging with how I wanted to know more about homeschooling, but wasn’t yet convinced it was the right thing for my family.  I wanted more information, so I started with the legalities.  I learned that Idaho’s laws concerning education are pretty liberal.  According to the state constitution, parents are responsible for providing their children with an adequate education—either through the public school system or an “equivalent.” Parents are not required to register their homeschools with the state, rely on state educational resources, and they are not required to have a college degree in order to teach their own children.  They do not have to provide the state with attendance or curriculum records.  Homeschooled students in Idaho are not required to take standardized tests.  Of course, if a parent signs on with one of the many “distance learning” programs offered through the public school system, they ARE required to register, keep records, and have their kids take standardized tests and be evaluated regularly by state certified teachers.  (As an aside, people who choose to register with the state and use public school-designed “homeschool” programs are not legally considered homeschoolers, but more on that in a future post.)
So I had to think about that. IF I were to homeschool, would I want to be aligned with a public school curriculum, or would I want to “freelance”?  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  On the pro-side of going with a public school curriculum, I would have a teacher assigned to my family to assist us in choosing text books, organizing our academic schedule, and I would be reimbursed for much of the costs associated with teaching (money for books, field trips, supplies, even some extra-curricular activities.)  On the con-side, I’d have to keep meticulous records regarding attendance, lesson plans, grades, maintain a portfolio for each child enrolled, and follow the scope and sequence for any given grade. The curriculum would be set and I’d have to work within it’s parameters.
On the pro-side of “freelancing”, I could avoid all paperwork and testing, aside from what I choose to do.  I could choose whatever curriculum I wanted and implement it any way I desired.  I would not be beholden to the state for anything.  (God bless Idaho for trusting me to take responsibility for my kids’ education!) On the con-side, I would have to pay for EVERYTHING, I’d have to wade unguided through the sea of homeschool curricula and make my own decisions—hoping they were the right ones and would work for each kid.  I would not have access to a state-certified teacher to keep me pointed in the right direction and keep me on task—and I had no idea where to start! 
Despite this, I decided IF I homeschooled, I wanted to “freelance.”  Call me masochistic, but I was looking for a challenge.  I wanted to know what all went into creating a full curriculum.  And to be honest, I was a little afraid of the “official” programs offered through the public school.  Finally, I thought if I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, I should take full advantage of that!

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