Getting Started, A Chat

By Ann Zeise

In chat I often get to reassure a new parent to homeschooling. This New York mom had recently started to homeschool after also moving to a new home.

NewHomeschoolMom: About how many hours a day do the kids do schooling?

Homeschooling Guide: Depends on how you count it. I’m an unschooler so we don’t watch the hours very carefully at all! Legally, I’m supposed to “teach” 175 three hour days a year in California. We’re “on task” much more than that, I’m sure.

NewHomeschoolMom: I will be homeschooling in New York for the first time and was told about 3 to 4 hours. Just curious.

Homeschooling Guide: Figure that schools only have kids on task two hours a school day, about 18 days a month for 10 months. If you can match that, you are doing fine. Include PE, weekend “field trips.”

NewHomeschoolMom: I still don’t understand this unschooling thing. What exactly do you do?

Homeschooling Guide: Well, first we eat and do dishes. Feed and take care of the pet rabbits. Sit down and do some math. Maybe do a science project. Do house chores. Shop. Visit friends and relatives. Go to team practice, Boy scouts, activities like that. Evenings we write, read, including history.

NewHomeschoolMom: Hmmm, got to be longer than that? Oh well, I figured 40 min. a subject. I’ll try it. see how it works.

Homeschooling Guide: I didn’t believe it could be done at first either. I tried scheduling for awhile. Couldn’t keep up the house, too, had no time for myself: was burning out.

NewHomeschoolMom: Wow, that sounds really great! I would be scared that child welfare would come to my house though and tell me that I’m not teaching properly. I heard they come to your house unannounced, at least in New York City.

Homeschooling Guide: Ha!!! Heavens no! Don’t they have their hands full with abused and neglected children? You don’t neglect your kids. You kind of mentor with them, consult with them. Help them define and carry out various projects.

NewHomeschoolMom: Wow! My daughter is 14 she would probably love that. If you can believe it, they consider in abuse now if you don’t meet up to what they want. Children have to take all the city tests and everything.

Homeschooling Guide: Homeschooling kids average 85% on tests. Take notes. If you go to the beach, you studied “oceanography.”

Homeschooling Guide: My son reads a book every day or two. Says he loves reading history. He studied WWII on his own last year. Drags out his chemistry set and goes through experiments there.

NewHomeschoolMom: I hope she will do better. She hates to read.

Homeschooling Guide: Right, because she’s been forced to give book reports probably. Here we treat reading as a fun thing. We recommend books between family members, just like “normal” people would.

NewHomeschoolMom: She got excited when she just passed in public school. Public school did absolutely nothing for her. She was slipping right through the cracks, so that’s why I decided to do this. She wants to, also, so that is good.

Homeschooling Guide: Nice days we take a good book out to the park and flop down on blanket and read. I hear you. My son was not learning anything in 4th grade. You certainly can’t do any worse!

NewHomeschoolMom: Nope. I’ve received a letter every year since Kindergarten that she might not make it to the next grade.

Homeschooling Guide: Do make some notes about where she is now. Try to get her school records. Should anyone ask, you could then prove that she had improved at home.

NewHomeschoolMom: Need to get her some friends though. Will do

Homeschooling Guide: At home you can teach to her strengths. Say she was good with animals, something like that.

NewHomeschoolMom: I think she’s going to do great.

Homeschooling Guide: It takes about a year to get esteem back up. Doesn’t happen over night.

NewHomeschoolMom: She has none left.

Homeschooling Guide: Get a book or two on how to build up your child’s esteem. That should be your top “subject” this year, even if it means no forced curriculum subjects.

NewHomeschoolMom: I wish she could meet some homeschoolers here her age, but I don’t know where to look.

Homeschooling Guide: Hang on, I’ve got link here for ALLPIE — NY support group. Here’s web site of contacts in New York for homeschooling.

NewHomeschoolMom: But just like public school, don’t you need 36 credits to get a diploma?

Homeschooling Guide: Well, these people know more about homeschooling in New York than I do. California is “different.”

NewHomeschoolMom: I asked in my church. No one homeschools there.

Homeschooling Guide: Make sure whoever you talk to online or off knows what they are talking about. I won’t pretend about something I don’t know. I do know WHERE resources are. ALLPIE is a big and thriving support group in New York, so should be able to help.

NewHomeschoolMom: OK, great. I sure need it. Thanks. You were a great big help.

Homeschooling Guide: It’s important to know the law. I have each state’s homeschool laws on this web site.

NewHomeschoolMom: Thank you. How long are you homeschooling?

Homeschooling Guide: Four years now. Starting 5th school year, you could say.

NewHomeschoolMom: I decided to leave the smaller ones in grammar school and pull them out in Junior High or 6th grade.

Homeschooling Guide: You might have more fun with all home, so you don’t have to be home by 3:00 p.m. or whenever. Watch the movie “Little Women” with your girls. They were all homeschooling, but the littlest. Then mom pulled her out, too.

NewHomeschoolMom: Yea, well, I am starting with my daughter first to see how this goes, if all goes well then I will do all of them. She’s my guinea pig.

Homeschooling Guide: All she does is watch TV all day. I have to tell her to turn it off.

Homeschooling Guide: Get her out and away from TV! I put my kids on TV diet: only 2 shows a day.

NewHomeschoolMom: I just read something about TV diet.

Homeschooling Guide: OK, so she likes TV, even that is a place to start. Visit a TV station. Volunteer to learn how to run TV cameras for public TV.

  • Visit an advertising agency and learn how ads are made and how they try to influence. Justbrainstorm like this.
  • Try to get outside. Take day hikes while others in school. Nature can do wonders for depressed kids.
  • Do have her checked out by your doctor. She could really be depressed. He could diagnose and help out.

NewHomeschoolMom: But how do you get credit for this as far as getting diploma. She ishomeschooling out of a real school in Arizona.

Homeschooling Guide: Ask the school in AZ. Do they give credits?

NewHomeschoolMom: I think so. Its a real high school. She gets a real diploma not a G.E.D. We just moved and she is very homesick for her friends. I know what’s wrong with her: there’s no one here.

Homeschooling Guide: I’m pretty sure there are homeschoolers on Staten Island.

NewHomeschoolMom: There are, but as far as I know the lady I spoke to is about an hour away: too far.

Homeschooling Guide: OK, post in note up in the local library, if they’ll let you. Say you are looking for other homeschoolers and how to contact you. Also, just hanging out in the library during school hours, if you run into kids there, they must be homeschoolers too! We run into other kids our age at museums and other points of interest. Usually they are homeschooling, too.

NewHomeschoolMom: Well, thanks for all your help. Will do that. I’m going to the website to check this out.Bye and thanks again.

Homeschooling Guide: I’m often in here. But others are nice and helpful, too. Take care.

NewHomeschoolMom: I’ll be back. You were a lot of help. Thanks.

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