Resources On- and Off-Line (Part II)
as an alternative to traditional, classroom-based education, has
been growing in popularity across the United States for several
years. It is now legal in all 50 states, but each state regulates
it differently. New York State has some of the more stringent
rules, asking that homeschoolers and their parents submit Intent
to Homeschool to their school district, in effect, registering
them as having been discharged from the system. Yet, they are
still required to submit quarterly reports and take standardized
tests after each academic year in order to track their progress.
the child finishes their educational experience, whether its homeschooling
or not, they need to be prepared for a position in life,” said
Matt Bromme, superintendent of southeastern Queens’ District 27.
Thus, he explained, homeschoolers and their parents meet with
their neighborhood school’s guidance counselor in order to come
up with a plan of study that will “help the child move successfully
With 30 elementary schools from Ozone Park to the Rockaways, District
27 has 35,000 students in grades one through eight, only 102 of
who are homeschooled, according to Carmen Perrone, the principal
neighborhood coordinator of the district. Each school district
a coordinator like Perrone who keeps track of and advises elementary
and junior high-level homeschoolers. They, in turn, are supervised
by the Office of Attendance at the Central Board of Education.
The high school superintendencies have their own homeschooling
One hundred and two students is not much in comparison to the
whole district, but the district does not receive any money for
as far as Bromme can tell. Yet, the district provides them with
curriculum guidance, books when available, as well as services
such as speech and occupational therapy.
have a wonderful, good relationship with our homeschooling parents,”
said Perrone. One of the reasons she has to keep track of homeschoolers
is to make sure that should a student want to return to school,
he or she is at a level that to rejoin would not be a problem.
Although homeschooled students are required to have a curriculum,
according to Perrone’s colleague, Mark Sherman who, among other
duties, is the attendance coordinator, this does not mean it has
to be structured.
The term unschooling has been coined to describe a method of homeschooling
in which the student’s interest directs the course of study, which
may mean he or she does not follow a book or testing schedule.
According to Perrone and Sherman, this method still has to be
approved by the district as being in the best interest of the
want the child to be successful,” stressed Bromme. Homeschooling
is “an option for a parent,” and as far as they take it, the district
has to support the decision. At the same time, homeschoolers,
because they are not part of
the system as students, are not allowed to
take any courses at the schools, even extracurricular activities
such as sports or music, as it is a liability.
The school district can help with curriculum, but homeschoolers
have many other options. While unschoolers learn on their own
through reading and projects, other homeschoolers choose curriculums,
both on- and off-line.
One option is online coursework, or even
an online diploma. The Florida Virtual School (FVS) is one school
that exists only in cyberspace. The school is publicly funded
in Florida and is free to Florida residents, but students do
not need to be from that state to enroll. Bruce Friend is the
FVS’s Chief Academic Officer. He hires faculty, works on course
and oversees the registration of the over 6,000 students, 40 percent
of whom are home
come from all walks of life,” he explained. Many students use
the courses as supplemental to their other studies, and homeschooling
parents will often enroll their children in the classes that “they
aren’t quite comfortable teaching,” such as upper level math,
AP classes and computer science.
From English to physical education, all the classes are taught
by one of the 70 teachers who work out of their homes. “The coursework
is always there,” said Friend, which is one of the benefits of
Students can take as much or as little time on the assignments
as they want, and as they complete them, the teacher’s grade and
provide feedback. The FVS is one way of having courses taught
at home, on the computer. A variety of correspondence courses
also exist, but finding the right one can be overwhelming. The
Internet can be as daunting as it is helpful.
An initial web search can yield hundreds,
if not thousands, of pages, all touting the latest and greatest
in homeschooling courses, materials and activities. Many of the
web sites have been created by individuals who have put up their
own links. While the information can be useful, the number of
the sites can be overwhelming. Homeschooling organizations can
recommend sites, and most have a links section
on their website to other good online resources. A good place
to start is the John Holt Newsletter at www.holtgws.com.
Of course, the internet is not the only place for homeschooling
resources. In fact, most
homeschoolers say that their primary resource is their good, old-fashioned
bricks-and-mortar library. Parents and students should try to
get to know a librarian at a local library. Besides reading lists,
books, magazines and research material, libraries offer study
and research courses, host readings and activities, provide a
place to surf the Internet and other, invaluable tools. Museums
are also good places for activities. Most museums have tours,
and many, such as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, have
classes for children all year round. For specific courses, such
as science, homeschoolers may opt for non-online tutors while
other families may team up for different subjects, each family
teaching one subject. The possibilities are endless.
Here is a short, non-comprehensive list of resources that could
be useful to homeschoolers and their parents:
* For New Yorkers, the State Education Department has a Q&A
site that clarifies many issues at www.emsc.nysed.gov/rscs/nonpub/
* Ann Zeise, a homeschooling mother in Milpitas, California, has
put together a vast site of homeschooling resources at www.gomilpitas
* Some magazines and newspapers offer reduced rates for homeschooled
students. Just call and ask them.
* Homeschoolers in New York can find Regents exam preparation
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: email@example.com.
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