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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How a charter school can be less like school at home..

Or how to homeschool with a charter and still retain your soul.

Lots of people (who shall remain nameless) think because I homeschool through a charter school, that I in essence do school at home, and therefore am not truly a homeschooler. Just like the social structures in high school that separated the geeks from the jocks, and the actors from the set builders, if you are labeled a school at homer, then the "true" homeschoolers, or Goddess forbid the unschooler, tend to look at you as slightly less then one step away from a *gasp* public schooler.

And for a lot of the charter school families that I have met, they are okay with that. They WANT to be like the public schoolers, only they want to do it at home for what ever reason. Maybe they have an odd family schedule, or a special needs child or maybe they don't wish to chance exposing their child to something outside their religious beliefs. Cool, good for them, and more power to 'em. But that's not all of us.

Some of us like having a teacher to turn to when we need suggestions to help our student learn. I tried this once before, hired a PROFESSIONAL for a session, and her advice to me to help me with my defiant child who refused to learn to spell? Unschool.. That's it, no let's look at it this way, or have you tried this or that.. Just unschool cause we all know that's the answer to everything, NOT! I like having the accountability of someone else, not telling us what to do and when but confirming that yes, we are on track. I like that, again Goddess forbid, but if my kids ever had to jump into public school, we would know exactly where they should be grade wise, and have the paperwork to back it all up.

Though I school through a charter, I don't do school at home. I use the same curriculum pieces that lots of "homeschoolers" do, Moving Beyond the Page, REAL Science Odyssey, Growing with Grammar. In fact, the only school at home type book we use is our Math book, and that's cause, honestly? IT WORKS!  I take a great deal of time and research to find EXACTLY what fits for our needs. I appreciate that my charter school is flexible enough to allow families that want to use what works for them to do so.

So please, when you hear someone say they school through a charter, don't automatically classify them as school at home, and therefore not worthy to be in your little circle. We all decide what works best for our family, and unless you've sat at my kitchen table and seen how we learn, you don't know how I school just based on where my books come from.


Spooky said...

This was interesting perspective to her! In our state we don't have the choice to homeschool through a charter, so I am just curious, if you do all the picking of curriculum and such what exactly do you use the charter school for? Are there downfalls to it in your opinion?

Spooky said...

May I also add that please don't look down upon me since I don't homeschool? I'm making the best decision for my family, as you (not just you Beckie, I mean all yous) are for yours. Also, since I'm not a homeschooler, that doesn't mean that I look at you like you're a crazy homeschooler. I think homeschooling is wonderful...All avenues of it. But...I have friends who homeschool who sometimes make me feel bad for sending my child to school. I like her school. No wait, I LOVE it. So, can we all stop judging one another, purty please?

Spooky said...

There are several different kinds of charters out there with various levels of control. I looked into a few that were just crazy with how much they required of parents and how much oversight they demanded over the work and scheduling. I was lucky to find one that fits my needs perfectly. When I first started, I was unsure of myself, and required more hand holding. I was given choices of curriculum based on the state standards, and what is typically used in a regular public school. But as I got more comfortable, and confident, I was able to go to our supervising teacher and discuss using other options, all of which we ended up at least trying, until we found what fits for us. So while you CAN pick your curriculum, you are not required to, and they have set boxed stuff ready to go. Lots of the families are perfectly happy using what ever the teacher picks out for them. I find the safety net of the charter to be comforting, plus at least my charter, helps pay for our curriculum, so it helps easy the expense of homeschooling! They offer enrichment classes, such as art and cooking classes, tutoring and other things that might be difficult to find or expensive otherwise.

As far as a downfall, I guess if you are uncomfortable with oversight, that might be a problem. As I said, I don't mind having someone keep us on track. Also, some families take the given lesson plans, follow them to the letter and never deviate at all. I think that can be just as bad as not having a plan at all.

Well, there I go writing another novel :) Hope that answered your questions..

Spooky said...

AMEN! Let's not judge one another at ALL based on the choices we make for our family!

Plus, I think that you have Seren in such an AWESOME school, probably where I would want to send Danielle if she had to go to Public School!

And I KNOW you know we are crazy homeschoolers, but that's okay 8-)

Spooky said...

That's a neat way to go about homeschooling... I live in TX and we don't have the charter option. The state just opened a virtual schooling option for people to try. While it's not for me, I do see the merit in having that as an option - for some people, it will allow them to homeschool without feeling like they have to do it all. Anyone who says that homeschooling isn't stressful (at times, anyway) isn't doing it right, IMO ;) Having a helping hand from the district is just the thing for some families. If it's working for you, then you get a gold star in my book!

I found you through the Denim Jumper forum.