March 25, 2017

Treading New Ground In Our Homeschool – Do You Co-op?

Colored Pencils

Our family is starting our 6th year of homeschooling and we’re doing something this year that we’ve never done before. We’re adding some co-op experiences for both of our children where they will be taking a few different classes one day each week. Our daughter has already started attending the Francis Schaeffer  Study Center and our son will be starting at New Life Academy next month.

When we lived in Indiana we never really pursued co-ops for the kids. I think then it was a combination of just not feeling like it was something we wanted to do and we weren’t really aware of any that interested us there. Plus, both of our kids at the time said they didn’t want to go back to “school” and enjoyed the independence of just doing schooling on their own at home each day each week.

Since relocating to Tennessee, co-0p seem to be far more prolific as well as the involvement of homeschool families in them. Still being fairly new to the area we also started to see co-ops as another opportunity for our kids and ourselves to meet with and interact more with other homeschooling families in the area. Making the decision didn’t come easily, but in the end we decided it would present its challenges but that those challenges would be worth it. The obvious challenge is the additional expenses incurred with participating in more formalized instructional opportunities and the various fees associated. The next challenge is the logistics of getting two kids back and forth to their co-0ps on their days. They’re both in the same town that’s about 10-15 minutes away from our home, but they are in different locations and meet on different days.

Our daughter absolutely loves school and has surprised us since our move by being far more social and craving interaction with other girls her age than she ever has before. She’ll be taking Geography, Intro to Literature and Art History. She’s already met with her classes a few times and absolutely loves it she says.

Our son is far less interested in the idea and frequently uses the words “making” or “forcing” to describe the decision to put him in a co-op. However, we believe introducing a little more structure back into his studies and weekly activities now that he’s entering his freshman year will be a good thing for him. He’s also surprised us by being far less social than he used to be in Indiana, so we’re hoping he’ll establish some new relationships and friends from this experience as well. He’ll be taking Geometry, Biblical Studies (Revelations), and Biology. One of the big reasons we also chose this for him is that I’ve done a horrible job of doing experiments with him in his science courses at home. Very irritated with myself on that considering I was a biology major and love studying it as well as other sciences.

Do your kids participate in co-ops as part of your homeschool experience? What have been your thoughts and experiences along the way? What are the costs you and other challenges you face with including these options in your weekly homeschool routine? Would love to hear about your thoughts in the comments below.

The Politics of Homeschooling

American FlagHaving a bit of a decision to make this evening on one of the positions on my local political ballot here in Indiana. It’s for the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. The choices are:

Here’s the challenge this evening. I have a number of friends that are educators and a few them may have their positions eliminated if Bennett is elected because he has stated that one of his budget cutting measures would be to eliminate fine arts instruction from schools. Glenda Ritz on the other hand has stated that she is probably interested in implementing new, additional policies on homeschooling for the state of Indiana.

Honestly, I’m not necessarily opposed to Indiana increasing some of the oversight of homeschoolers in our state. As Ritz stated, I believe homeschooling probably is being abused by families in our state and I believe that that is a disservice to those children affected as well as society as a whole if these children are not educated appropriately. I’ll withhold the entire debate of what it means to be “educated” for another post. However, the more appropriate action in this case is probably not more or additional policies, but to just enforce those that are already in place in the state.

This statement was agreed on by the HSLDA in a recent article:

First, homeschooling is regulated in Indiana. There are several code provisions and Indiana case law that applies to anyone who want to teach their children at home. If, and I mean “if,” this situation Ms. Ritz mentioned is actually happening, these provisions of Indiana law can be applied to ensure that children are being educated.

For instance, local attendance officers can bring a case to enforce the compulsory school attendance provisions of Indiana law. They can also serve notice on any parent whose child is out of school illegally. Parents who are convicted of failure to send a child to school can be imprisoned up to 180 days and fined up to $1,000 dollars.

In Indiana a parent conducting a homeschool program is legally recognized as operating a nonpublic school. Among other things, they must maintain certain records to provide evidence that their child is legally attending their homeschool program and receiving instruction that is equivalent to that given in the public schools. Homeschoolers in Indiana don’t need any further regulation.

As with many of my other political arguments. In general, we don’t need MORE regulation. We need enforcement of EXISTING policies and regulations. It still astonishes me when people think a new law will somehow be the one a criminal (or someone not interested in obeying laws) will agree to not break.

But, does that mean I vote for Bennett? Not necessarily. I absolutely believe that fine arts programs are important in schools. I believe there are plenty of other areas to cut funding in, or perhaps the better solution is to change how resources are made available and established for schools and educators. I don’t want my friends to be out of jobs either. Where’s the balance?

In the end, there’s no guarantee that Ritz won’t cut programs that will impact the careers of my friends. And, no guarantee that Bennett won’t go along with initiating some additional regulations that will impact homeschooling families like myself as well.

I believe it’s important that the freedom to homeschool isn’t abused. I also believe that even though we’re homeschooling our children, it’s important that I’m aware and involved with what’s happening in public schools as well. I understand that homeschooling is not the best option for everyone just as public schools aren’t the best option for everyone. I know I haven’t talked to a single teacher friend yet that’s in support of Bennett. That’s got to say something.

Hmmm.

Let Me Get This Straight

After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said:

Let me see if I’ve got this right.

You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.

You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self esteem and personal pride.

You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.

You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.

You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.

You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.

You want me to do all this, and then you tell me…….

I CAN’T PRAY?

Yep, sounds about right to me.