Dear LA Teacher,
Am I a right wing wacko for contemplating the idea of pulling my second grader out of public school and home schooling him? How does a mother take this route in California?
Dear Mainstream Mom,
About six years ago 36% of parents, homeschooling their children, did so because they wanted to provide religious or moral instruction. Today that figure is closer to 21%. According to the US Department of Education, of those parents surveyed in 2007, 21% were concerned about school safety, drugs, or negative peer pressure. That number has jumped to 25%. Today, 1.77 million students are being homeschooled representing 3.4% of the students in k-12 living in the United States. You are not alone. You are joining a movement that has doubled since 1999.
In California, there are technically no home schools. Families choosing to home school their children must establish a mini-private school. They hire a credentialed teacher to tutor their child or they homeschool through an on-line program sponsored by a public school.
A mini-school must be declared in an online form, a “private school affidavit,” every October. This lets the state know the school is functioning. Under penalty of perjury, the homeschool parent pledges she is offering the same branches of instruction traditional schools offer.
Pam Sorooshian, a co-founder of Dragon Tree, a group of Long Beach home-schoolers, said, “There is nobody authorized to check on mini-schools. We don’t report to anybody. We have a lot of freedom to do things the way we want.”
Even with all the independence and established programs, the task of homeschooling a child is daunting. First, it helps if a parent knows how to teach. When a mom puts on a teacher’s hat, the child won’t change his behavior too much. If you are a permissive parent, don’t expect your kid adhering to a schedule or listening to you about getting assignments in on time. He’ll probably do as he pleases.
Second, when a parent decides to homeschool her child, she may think teaching reading, arithmetic, or writing is a snap. Wrong! That parent needs to know how to determine readability levels, make sure the questions asked stimulate higher order thinking skills, and she should know how to teach thesis statements during the writing process.
Finally, she needs to make her lessons fun and stimulating.
If parents decide to teach their children elementary, middle, and high school curriculum, they need to keep in mind that some colleges have strict guidelines on coursework completed. For example, the UC system must approve the curriculum used at home. If a parent can’t get that endorsement, chances of their child entering their freshman year at UCLA are not a reasonable expectation. However, UC Riverside has a special committee in place that vets home-school applications.
If you have patience, determination, a willingness to learn, as well as a self-motivating student, homeschooling is the logical alternative to public school education.
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