Friday, January 18, 2008

Home School in Nevada

People told me home schooling in Colorado was great--it was easy, the laws were lax, etc. I went along, not knowing there was any difference. In colorado, homeschooled children are required to do 4 hours of school a day, and their parents are required to keep records of what was done. The parents have to take attendance every day, keep samples of work, and agree to have their records examined on demand. Their children have to place over the 17th percentile (or something like it) on standardized tests every 2 years (when the public school kids have to take them), and the kids have to take the tests in a public facility (which is not really ideal for the kid, since many homeschooled kids are not accustomed to the rules and 'norms' of test taking--ie many have never even seen a scantron, much less had it drummed into their heads that they must "completely fill the circle, like this"--so they can easily fail for non-academic reasons). The law lists the subjects that must be covered, and it's a fairly long list including US Constitution. You have to report to the district every year that you are homeschooling, and they can't talk to you or even recommend books for the kids, or even tell you what the kid might learn if they were enrolled in the public school because there are "non interference" laws, which apparently mean they can't help you, but they can evaluate and check on your homeschool any time they want.

Then we moved to Nevada, which just passed new homeschooling laws last July. They are laws written largely, in part, by the homeschoolers.

Now I know what good for homeschoolers means, and I will never go back to cyberschooling.

In Nevada, you report ONCE that you are homeschooling, and not until the child is 7 years old. Then you have to turn in an educational plan, which must include English (reading, writing, speaking), Math, Social Studies, and Science, but you can't be disallowed to homeschool because anyone disagrees with your plan, and the plan can be as simple as "We plan to cover English (reading, writing, and speaking), Math, Social Studies, and Science" or giving the name of the curriculum you are going to use, if you homeschool that way. Religion is expressly ALLOWED. You don't have to prove your curriculum is "equivalent" to the public schools. You sign up, turn in your plan, and you're done forever. No updating them except of your address if you move (so the new district can be notified you are home schooling). What's more, the home schooled child is allowed to participate in any activity or class in the public system, provided they qualify the same way other kids do (for example, they have to audition for the high school play just like public schooled kids do). For systems that require academic qualifications (like the kid has to have a B-average gpa to play football, or whatever), a letter from the parent is sufficient and not to be questioned. The kids don't have to take any kinds of tests, but if they do happen to want a high school diploma (which most states deny home schooled children), they have to pass the same High School Proficiency Exam that other high school students have to pass to graduate here. Then they have a diploma.

It's a very "Let them be" philosophy, which is nice because for all their saying, "We're just requiring them to do the same thing as public school kids have to do" in Colorado, they weren't really. Public school kids are not kicked out of class, held back a grade, or forced to switch schools if they miss a day of CSAP testing. They can get the flu that week and not take any of the tests and still stay on their educational course. And, sad as it is, I think that LOTS of kids who aren't in the 17th percentile are moving on with their classes. Otherwise we wouldn't need reading remediation teachers in 8th grade who are working with the illiterate kids who fell through the cracks.

So now we're homeschooling, joyfully, and I have discovered that the kids have a good feel for the best ways for them to learn. Everyone is now signed up for, and we've discovered that they have TONS of resources available, produced by CompassLearning, that Cdela didn't give us access to! I'm very upset about that, or would be, if we hadn't moved on. They have lesson plans, activities (including cross curricular ones that are really fun), worksheets, and answer keys for the parents, all available for download as pdfs on the site. Cdela gave us math and language arts worksheets, but only because they are available from the activities page on Odyssey, so they didn't have a choice. Then Cdela provided monthly "calendars" of lesson plans that included some of the same topics, but not taught nearly as well as Odyssey's materials.

So I downloaded the k-3 stuff, burned it to a cd, and am printing it. I'm sticking the pages into sheet protectors so that the kids can use dry erase markers to do their worksheets and then just erase them to do them again or to let someone else have a turn. Also, if we need to, say, cut and paste on one, we can just print it and stick it in its right place again. It gives the kids some flexibility if they don't feel like working online one day, and it gives me ready-review pages if I think someone might need more help on a topic.

We are having a lot of fun with the freedom we now have to work with our kids the way they need.

The kids have a good sense of when they best learn, even at their young ages, so I have told everyone as long as they do one lesson in each of their subjects online every day, I don't care when they do them. Anda very happily finishes everything right when she gets up; Caleb works best right at bedtime, so he does his then (which is wrecking our schedule again, but he's happily learning. Finally.). And they are enjoying it so much, they usually do several lessons instead of just one.


1 comment:

C. Wilson said...

Wow, Becca, that's awesome! We might have to give it a try!