Snapshots of…

July 29, 2005 Categories: Kid Stuff , This and That | 9 Comments  

Our week:

  • Josiah calling the video we checked out from the library “Maggie and the Roast Beef” (Ferocious Beast).
  • Jonathan inner-tubing for the first time at the lake Tuesday.
  • Josiah inner-tubing for the first time (with Daddy, of course).
  • Mommy driving the boat for the first time so Daddy could inner-tube with Josiah. I don’t think I did too badly, until the other boat came out on the lake and I (slightly) panicked. I think I scared them — they quickly headed over to an adjoining lake.
  • Attending the Chamber of Commerce luncheon and making contacts with (possible) jobs for Kevin’s business.
  • Meeting a cyber-friend in “real life” at the park. Lisa and I had a great conversation, without any “I’ve never met you before” awkwardness. I didn’t realize that she is on staff for The Old Schoolhouse magazine! She gave me a free issue, and I’m in the process of talking hubby into a subscription. Her daughters are delightful girls and my Natalie and her Michaela seemed to hit it off. They will possibly be camping at the lake with us next weekend. New friends are such blessings!
  • Attending the library’s Medieval Fair. For a small-town library, they did a nice job. There were wonderful stories, a juggler, and crafts. The kids made coats of arms, finger-dragons, crowns (for the boys) and circlets (for the girls) and had a blast.

I’m not sure yet what our weekend will entail. Natalie is off for a sleepover with Grandmama and Papa, and Kevin is thinking about taking the boys fishing tomorrow — which would mean a “free day” for Mommy. I’m trying not to talk him into anything, but I have my fingers crossed.

I have been reading on many blogs of excitement and anticipation for the new homeschool year. (For those of us who take the summer off, anyway.) As I read, I’ve been pushing down a bit of panic at my own unpreparedness. It’s not that I don’t want to be prepared. But finances have been a major issue in our lives this year and so far our curriculum account (meaning an envelope in our dresser drawer) is empty.

We’ve been here before. Last year, God provided a computer job for Kevin that lasted several days and paid for all of our curriculum needs. I know He is capable of doing that again this year. I also know I am capable of getting by with less purchased materials and more library materials. In the meantime, my trust is being tested.

I recently heard of a program in our area for homeschooling families. It is through the public school system, which initially made me hesitate. The kids meet together for three hours a week of group activities: science experiments, music, art, etc. The parents are required to draw up a learning plan and keep track of hours homeschooled — which I do anyway. The school system then sets up a student account with an amount of money that can be used for curriculum, athletic programs, art and music lessons — anything that is considered academic. My first question to the coordinator was, “Can I use Christian curriculum?” She responded by telling me that our superintendent who oversees the project is very pro-homeschooling. Imagine, a public school superintendent! Because any curriculum I purchase would be used for my children only, I can use anything I want. As far as I can tell, these are the only regulations. I will know more if my name comes up on the waiting list and I receive the enrollment materials. I figure it doesn’t hurt to check it out. Even if we enroll and laws change to make it more restrictive, we can pull our children out.

I am praying that this isn’t too good to be true, and that it works out. Natalie has wanted to take dance lessons for two years, but at $40 to $50 a month we haven’t been able to manage it. The boys would like to participate in tae kwon do, but for the older two, that’s another $80 a month. Noah would like to take drawing lessons. There are so many opportunities that we miss by being a one-income family with debt. (A small income, I might add.) I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining — we have learned much about God as provider and being content with what we have. We knew there would be certain sacrifices we would have to make for me to be at home with the kids and to homeschool them. But maybe this program is one way for God to provide for us. I don’t know yet, and the waiting is hard.

Are any of you involved in programs like this? Any opinions — pro or con? I’d love to hear of your experiences.

Time to think about cleaning the bathroom and preparing dinner. Have a great weekend, everyone!

9 Comments

  1. Hornblower

    Here in BC there are tons of these types of programs. If you sign up with one in your neighbourhood, you can often participate in classes (some you need to pay for though; usually it’s deducted from your funding) & you get $ for curriculum. If you sign up with one far away, you just get the $. It’s usually a $1,000 for the year. The programs run by public schools require secular curriculum, but the independent schools let you use whatever you like. The big problem with all of these is that you’re not homeschooling; you’re public schooling at home. In BC, that means your kids need to be meeting the provincially mandated learning outcomes & they need to participate in province wide testing in grades 4, 7 & 10.

    We have been signed up with a program run by an independent school, one which was founded on unschooling, child-led learning principles. Because of their more flexible outlook, we have been able to very much do our own thing (classical ed our own way) at our own pace. As the kids get older though, the programs always get increasingly onerous. For example, all the schools, except ours, issue letter grades starting in Grade 4.

    It’s a tough call & I would recommend talking with people who were in the program in the past year to get a sense of what really is required. Some times people say ‘oh it was nothing!’ regarding the reporting, but when I look at the incredibly detailed portfolios they created, I feel faint. Some families are OK with a teacher saying ‘Johnny has to study magnets, the solar system and Ancient Rome this year’; for me, that’s just not an acceptable level of interference in our learning.

    Good luck sorting through it.

  2. Ron

    If Andrea and I were offered it we would not take it.

  3. razorbackmama

    With the money that is given to you by the district, no, you cannot use it to buy religious materials. But you can use it for lessons, etc.

    The main thing you will want to find out is how your children will be classified. Most programs are 5 hours/week, and this causes the dc to be classified as “public school students.” Which means you are no longer considered as homeschoolers (even though you really are). That is the catch.

    Now, some districts (lots of districts in WA do this since it is state law to allow “alternative learning experiences) are letting the dc do it only 2.5 hours/week (and they get half the money as well), and that does not classify them as “public school students” I believe.

    http://www.homestead.com/wahomeednet/AEP2.html has some good information.

    Our school district is just starting something like this, and IMO it’s not big enough to waste my time with right now. I’m only interested in things like music, art, PE, etc. – things I can’t provide effectively at home – and our district’s program doesn’t appear to have enough involved to really do much justice with those things. There are 2 really good programs near here that I’ve considered, and I have a lot of homeschooling friends at church who are involved with them, but I’m not sure that they are aware that by participating they are no longer homeschoolers legally. :-/

  4. Carrie

    Hornblower – thanks for the insight! As far as doing school at home, I’m not sure if this group fits that idea. They don’t mandate what you must teach. As far as the testing issue, we’re already required to do this on a yearly basis to meet our state legal requirements for homeschooling, so that wouldn’t change anything for me. Our state is weird, in that we are required to test, but the results are for our own records — the law does not require us to turn them in. Nor does it state that they have to score at a certain level. I think they want to make sure we know if our kids are “missing” anything they consder important.

    Ron — Wow — you didn’t even have to think on that one! ~grin~

    Kirsten — I was wondering, why do you see it as a negative to not be “legally” homeschooling? If you start a program like this, are you then obligated to continue with it, or can you pull your children out at any time? I do know that the law governing this group was changed this year and the amount of time is now left up to the local coordinators. The group I am considering is meeting 3 hours a week. As far as religious materials — no, I would not be able to purchase Bible study curriculum. But the group administrator assured me that many people in the group, including her, purchase various curriculums, such as math or science, from Christian publishers, and that their right to do so has never been questioned, as long as they are academically up to par. Also, the group meets in a church. I don’t know about the drugs and peer pressure issues, except that parents are present and involved in the group activites, which is different than public school. I’m beginning to see that people have had very different experiences in groups like this depending on where they were located. Our town is fairly conservative (especially when compared to the rest of the state) so maybe that’s why I’m hearing such good things about this group. I’m still looking into it; we haven’t made any decisions. I was just wondering if you could elaborate a little further.

  5. razorbackmama

    Ya know…I don’t know. LOL! I just know that some of the state hsing groups are concerned about it. I guess for the most part it wouldn’t really matter how you are classified by the state. But perhaps if something happened, and for some reason it did matter???? We’ve only lived in WA for a year, and this sort of thing is completely unheard of where we came from. In AR public schools and homeschoolers simply DO NOT mix. And here it’s state law that they can! So I’m slowly learning how it all works and am not really SURE how it all works LOL!!! The whole concept is just so completely foreign to me!

    But I’ve been sort of like you…what’s the catch?????

    Like I said, I know several people who are involved in the Deer Park and the Mead programs (Mead is in north Spokane), and they love them. I also know a lady who takes her son to some school for PE every week. I do know that we’re allowed to do that – have our kids participate in pretty much whatever class we want them to in the public schools. (Another foreign concept!!!)

    The money certainly would come in VERY handy. I am really wanting my kids to take some sort of music lesson or sport or dance or something, but we just don’t have the money. And the moms I know that do these things have enjoyed getting to know the other moms.

    I guess probably (as with everything else) what’s right for one family isn’t for another.

    You might google for other people’s opinions, or maybe there might be some “higher-up” in some of the state hs organizations that you could ask for input???

    I’m not AGAINST these programs per se, but I’m just leery. (But I’m a skeptic at heart LOL!)

  6. Sheri

    We were part of a charter school for a couple of years back in California. There were some definate advantages (with their equal and opposite disadvantages) to the program.

    First off: I really considered it a great jumping off point. I was ready to homeschool, but unsure of what to do, the charter basically told me what to do. (See the Pos. and neg. there?)

    2. We were alloted $1000/yr/child for curriculum, extra curricular activities, etc. The first year it was wonderful. I didn’t use much curriculum so I put all of the money into extra curricular activities. The second year the president got wind of it and nixed that whole idea.

    3. I ordered my curr. for the following year in April. Again, the pres. got wind of it and stopped my order. Said I couldn’t do that, and I had saved money all year just so I COULD.

    4. Religeous curriculum was NOT allowed. We could teach religeon, but it had to be as history. I would frequently use bible verses as copy work, etc.

    5. I never, not once, got all of my curriculum in a timely manner. Every order I put in was closely scrutinized. And oftentimes lost. My DD’s kindergarten year I created all of our own curr. for the first 6 months. Her 1st grade year the same thing happened and I finally said enough was enough and disenrolled from the charter.

    Don’t get me wrong, they had some great things to offer, but I literally spent all of my time doing paperwork, proving we did enough work, arguing that we did enough work or that something should have been counted as work…it was frustrating and I wasn’t enjoying schooling through them.

  7. Ron

    Carrie,
    Yep. We started Addison over 11 years ago (part way through a year).

    For us, it involves so little money that it wouldn’t be worth it to keep track of it. But for the sake of everyone else though, the sense I get from south of the border is that HSers are concerned that the charter schools (if enough people join them) could lead to less freedom in HS choices in some states (eg. you have to join a charter school to homeschool at all).

    I don’t think we have to worry about that here since they view people wanting to homeschool as being people who at the very least have good intentions. But also, often kids are pulled out because they are having some difficulty in class (eg. ADHD). Even though thay are still bureaucrats, I’ve found the education people here realize that people learn better one on one.

    But there are still alot of HSing parents here who do worry about the PS trying to drag the HEK’s into school. So, I also wouldn’t participate for their sake.

    But I think most of all, we enjoy the freedom to do what we want without having to answer to anyone. I believe that’s worth it.

  8. RANDI

    Hi Carrie, For the first time I signed my girls up for a similar program last year. I did it mostly because I want them to get high school diplomas (for college scholarships). So far so good, the lady that oversees the program is wonderful and very supportive and they let us buy Christian curriculum. They do not meddle in our lives, I only have to send in a list of “hours” and subjects studied each month. If I felt they were becoming intrusive, I would pull them out immediately!

    As far as money, GOD WILL PROVIDE since He has led you into homeschooling. There are a lot of reasources available at the library for free, it just takes some time to look. Usually homeschoolers are happy to loan out mathbooks, etc that they are not using! Don’t feel bad asking for some help from friends!

    Whether God leads you to utilize the school system, gives you money, or asks you to be creative, all will work out, even if the little money envelope stays empty!!!

  9. razorbackmama

    Carrie,

    I forwarded an e-mail that I received from Valley Home Scholars. There is going to be a conference in the area discussing this exact thing in mid-Aug.

    I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go, but if we both do it would be fun to meet! :-)