Part-time homeschooling?
December 16, 2008 6:53 PM   Subscribe

Part-time homeschooling?

My dream is to soon be able to teach my kids myself one day a week. Currently they attend a public elementary school in Charleston, SC, that's actually very good. I am a computer professional that could make this work from a flextime perspective.

However, I hope to provide an out-of-the-box educational experience and alleviate some of the tedium that a modern school week can be.

Has anyone done this? How would I begin to set this plan in motion?
posted by toastchee to Education (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It seems like you'd have to work with your kids' teachers to make sure they were covering the right material--or the kids would be in trouble when tests come around.

Honestly, I don't think this is a great idea....homeschooling seems like an all or nothing deal, and while I'm not a fan of it, I respect those who do it. I don't think you can do it halfway, or 1/5th of the way in your case. I don't think it'll be as great as you think. Your kids will either resent regular school and look forward to that one day, or resent the one day and look forward to the rest of school. You can't have it both ways.
posted by DMan at 7:12 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, and: if you want to contribute in this way, what about offering to volunteer in the classroom that one day every week? I think most teachers really appreciate the help, and I'm sure you could get some time in to do an "out of the box" activity. Added bonus: the other kids would get the experience, too. I think most teachers want to do more with the kids, but time/personnel constraints keep them from doing so.
posted by DMan at 7:14 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Are you looking to have your child at home 1 day per week, but in the public school the other 4? You might want to check on the state laws that cover homeschooling for SC. Some of the organizations on that page would be good places to start. HSLDA can be a little reactionary for my taste, but they are usually a pretty good clearinghouse on the legal requirements of each state. For what it's worth, I'd be surprised if the public system would let you do a partial enrollment. The record-keeping would be a bit problematic.

You might look into hybrid schools. These typically offer 2 (or 3) days of classroom-type learning with the balance of the work done at home. Some areas (depending on the density of homeschoolers in the area) may also offer co-ops for sharing tutorial expenses and other things.

There's nothing stopping you from supplementing the public offerings with off-the-shelf curricula from any of the myriad vendors out there. Some of it is quite religious in nature (think: creation in the science books), but much of it is not.

You can buy a complete year's worth of, say, math material that would include textbook, manipulatives, labs and so on. You might even be able to find some of this stuff used if you plug in to your local homeschooling community. Our area used to have curriculum swaps and suchlike pretty frequently.

Send me mefi-mail if you want to know a bit more. We homeschooled in GA and are doing so again in TN. I can't imagine that the scene is much different in SC.
posted by jquinby at 7:19 PM on December 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

The school I work at (Montessori school ages 2-9 although the oldest kid is 6) lets people go less than 5 days per week. But it's a private school, which doesn't exactly have to follow the same rules that your school would.

With current education laws (be they BS or not), I can see this causing a lot of problems. There is the attendance requirement, leaving you with around 10 absences to play with. If you're just looking to give your child new/different experiences you could just not have them not go to school once a month (or however the math works out) and do your thing.

There's also standardized testing. They've got the set schedule for when those tests take place, and if your kids miss those days they're causing problems for themselves later. However, the final decision on if it's worth it to you/your children to take the tests on make up day is up to you.

School isn't all about academic work. They'd be missing out on a nice chunk of social development as well. Children of that age really should be around other kids. And while you wouldn't be totally depriving them of that they would still be missing out on whatever happens the day that they miss.

You're also going to be causing problems for the teachers. They're either going to have to schedule activities around your children because of the different schedule or make extra effort to have your children make up for what they missed.

Elementary age children almost always have something that happens only once a week. Library day, spelling tests, there's going to be something. And your children would be missing out on that.

I don't think it's a good idea. DMan has the right idea with suggesting that you volunteer. I haven't known a teacher yet that hasn't welcomed volunteering.

However, if you're set on this plan I know people in the Charleston County school system (teaching right now at Stile's Point on James Island and previously at Mitchel) and I can get you more information if you want.
posted by theichibun at 7:21 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

My mom did this, except I still went to school five days a week. But when I wasn't in school, it was trips to the library, museums, exploring tidepools (I grew up in Hawaii), hiking, etc. Everything was an opportunity to discover something or figure out how what I learned in school could (or could not) be applied outside of school. There were no worksheets, no homework, but my mom encouraged me to write and draw pictures about things I saw. Why not try something like this first?
posted by rtha at 7:41 PM on December 16, 2008 [5 favorites]

The family of one of my brother's friends did a partial homeschooling thing but they set up the schedule so the kids went to class for some subjects and came home for others meaning that my brother's friend was in school for part of every day and home for the other parts. This worked for them because they lived a few blocks from the school and his mom didn't work, but it can be done.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 7:44 PM on December 16, 2008

If your children attend school part time, it will increase their stress. As they get older, they will have to spend more time out of school catching up and finding ways to make up tests and assignments. It is not a good idea at all. Trust me, I missed a bit of school for various academic competitions. They were fantastic, but created a lot of stress irt staying on top of schoolwork.

If you did try to do anything of the sort, martinX's bellbottoms had a good plan. The thing is they shouldn't be missing any regular classes.

I think your desire to give them a unique educational experience is great. I would do this by doing fun educational activities outside of school - ones perhaps related to what they are learning at the moment.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:18 PM on December 16, 2008

I went to school with a girl and her little sister who did what you're suggesting, although they would often miss school for months on end and the teachers were sometimes completely in the dark about the whole matter. Although she was... weird in other ways, I think missing as much school as she did really alienated her from the rest of the class. It seemed like she was just killing time in our classes until she went off and did whatever it was she did. She was doing stuff so different from the rest of us and wasn't really involved in what we were doing that we couldn't ever really bond with each other. Looking back, I feel bad for her. It must've been rough.

Granted, this is just anecdotal evidence and the circumstances aren't necessarily the same, but I just wanted point your attention to some of the social drawbacks it might have. (I think it's awesome that you want to do this for you kids if you can find a way to make it work, by the way.)
posted by lilac girl at 8:50 PM on December 16, 2008

My dream is to soon be able to teach my kids myself one day a week.

Saturday? Sunday?
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:11 PM on December 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

I'm a big fan of homeschooling, and was a homeschooled student for many years, and if I'm understanding your proposal correctly, I also don't think it's a good idea. If you're trying to integrate with the existing public schooling, you'll wear yourself out trying to stay on track!

I agree with The corpse in the library: Do it outside of school days, and teach things that aren't covered in the existing school.

Or go all the way with homeschooling!
posted by kidbritish at 9:47 PM on December 16, 2008

3rding the corpse in the library: do extra-curricular 'homeschooling'. I am a big homeschooling advocate, but I do see the problem here with part-timing. consider your efforts as a counterbalance to the school week. show them something outside the box after hours during the week, or on the weekend. show them what the school system is not showing them; give them a new/different experience.
posted by tamarack at 11:02 PM on December 16, 2008

I did pretty much what you're talking about from second grade until I dropped out of high school. It can work, but everyone's right in that it does mean that the kid misses things - for example, I managed to miss the part of math class where they taught fractions and never properly understood them until halfway through a pre-calc course. In fact, until college, I generally got good grades only by doing extremely well on the things that I was there for...which alleviated some of the tedium in and of itself, I guess.

Anyway, despite the possible negatives, if it's something your family really wants to do, I think you should look into it more. Could the kids come in late/leave early sometimes? Is it really crucial that they attend "library time" or whatever (assuming they'd get the same thing with you somehow)? There are a thousand homeschooling websites and mailing lists out there with more specific advice for SC, but since you say it's a good school, this is where you need to be talking with the principal and classroom teachers to see how flexible they're willing to be. A lot of my "part-time homeschooling" was done during the times that even the teachers acknowledged were just filler.

(If you'd like to chat about how this sort of thing went for me, I'm happy to share. Not that the Saturday/Sunday suggestions aren't good ones, but seeing as this is your dream, I thought I'd offer.)
posted by teremala at 2:45 AM on December 17, 2008

This is a bad idea.

If you're just teaching the public school curriculum, send them to school so they get the associated benefits of being there--connection with classmates, an uninterrupted schedule, continuity of teaching, etc. I am aware of very few public schools that would permit a child to be enrolled yet not meet institutional attendance requirements. You either go or you don't.

If you're going to keep them home, keep them home full time, or you sacrifice most of the benefits of being homeschooled: flexible scheduling, parent-directed curriculum, individual attention, etc. Unless you do this as their only schooling, you lose most of the benefits of homeschooling and add a whole lot of drawbacks that would not otherwise be there, i.e. now your children have two teachers for every subject instead of one.

Now there are ways, i.e. homeschooling co-ops, where your children can take classes a day or two a week and then do the rest of their work at home, but this is really just an extension of homeschooling, not an attempt to be part of two completely distinct school systems.

Unless either you or your spouse are able to be home full-time, or your children are in at least 8th or 9th grade, homeschooling is not something you're going to be able to do very successfully. I'm not saying that there isn't some way of making this work for you, but the way you've outlined it strikes me as one of the worst ways of doing it.
posted by valkyryn at 4:53 AM on December 17, 2008

This won't happen because the public school wants that warm body in the seat every day-it has to do with their funding.

Your best bet is to either go whole hog (easier than you think if you can swing the time factor) or to simply supplement after school.

I homeschooled my children for four years-until the oldest hit high school. That worked for us.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:55 AM on December 17, 2008

It might be pretty difficult to integrate well with what's going on in the school classroom. Talk to the teacher(s). If the teacher is on board, it could work.

The school's funding is not generally affected by home schooling, at least not in Maine. It's more that they don't trust it, and want control of the education process, at least in my experience.
posted by theora55 at 1:10 PM on December 17, 2008

I was also a homeschooled student, and my mom did the part public school/part home school bit with me for 3 years. However, this was during my high school years, which made it quite a bit easier. The way that elementary schools are designed would make missing one day a week difficult for you, your kids, and the teacher. They would be missing out on things that they would probably have to make up at some point, and the continuity would be messed up. I would definitely encourage this in middle/high school (where you can decide which classes you'd like your children to take, and which you'd like to teach at home), and I very much enjoyed the schedule I had. It gave my parents and me more educational options, and filled in gaps where they were less equipped to teach in certain areas. If there's an Education Service District near you, give them a call, and they'll be able to give you some ideas on how to make it work. In Oregon, they REALLY helped out with giving us the information that we needed. Best of luck!
posted by I_love_the_rain at 2:16 PM on December 17, 2008

The school's funding is not generally affected by home schooling, at least not in Maine. It's more that they don't trust it, and want control of the education process, at least in my experience.

It's not that the school loses funding for someone who is a homeschool student. If that were the case then they could lose funding because of students going to private schools as well.

The problem is that the student is enrolled and would be missing roughly 20% of the school days. The state doesn't like it when students who are enrolled in public schools don't go to school.
posted by theichibun at 6:02 AM on December 18, 2008

theichibun: "It's not that the school loses funding for someone who is a homeschool student. If that were the case then they could lose funding because of students going to private schools as well."

I thought they did lose funding for students going to private schools (or homeschooling, or vouchers). Isn't funding often done partly on a per-student basis, called a "weighted student formula"?
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:30 PM on December 18, 2008

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