By Ann Zeise
Your son or daughter didn’t do too well in school this past year and you want to help them catch up so that they will pass along to the next grade in September. You have heard of this educational alternative calledhomeschooling and you are wondering if this community can help. Your school district does not have a summer school program that would help in your situation..
Usually the question has at least two parts: Can I teach my own child this subject? And will my school district give him credit for it?
There is no law that I know of anywhere in the world that prohibits parents from teaching their kids anything at all. I welcome all parents and children with the desire to improve themselves to avail themselves of the resources on this site and linked from this site.
Do you need to go through all the legal steps that year-around homeschoolers need to do in your state? Here is the big “depends” statement. In about 17 states you can declare your home education program a “private” or “parochial” school and as such may issue credits. While this has its advantages, there are no guarantees that your school district will accept your home-issued credits. They also may consider that your child has been “unenrolled” from their school, and the place given to another child. In impacted school districts, this could mean a long commute to a less impacted school in the fall. So, in most circumstances, no, do not declare yourself an “official” homeschool.
What I suggest is to come up with a proposal or several proposals for “summer schooling” and get an academic counselor to sign off on one of the plans. In the case of a child going from an elementary school to a junior high, the counselor at the elementary school needs to agree to issue the credits, and the junior high counselor needs to be signed off to accept the credits, and to be willing to reevaluate what classes your son or daughter will next take.
Here are some suggestions on what to propose:
- Ask the district to let you sign out the books from the class your child failed and go over it again in the summer. (Realize that this could be a struggle: he didn’t get it then from this book, perhaps he’ll never get it from this particular text!) Suggest you do this through their Independent Study Program.
- Tell the school you’d like to try a different approach, and spell it all out what you propose to do.
- Propose to place your child in a tutoring “club” or academic camp. Look in the yellow pages for tutoring services.
- Propose to enroll her in a distance learning program for the summer. Specify which one and reassure your school that this school is accredited.
- Do what ever it takes this summer, and get a transcript from a place like Beach High School or North Atlantic Regional Schools.
- High school aged teens may usually enroll in college classes through Community College Dual Enrollmentprograms. See if this is available for you. “Concurrent Enrollment” is educationalese for being enrolled in two different educational institutions at the same time. Typically, you get class credit at one and academic credit toward graduation at the other.
Ask what the school counselor will accept for proof of completion and of satisfactory work in order to issue credits. This is something I cannot divine. I get asked, “Will my school accept what we do this summer?” I have no idea! This is something you’ll have to negotiate with them.
Summer is a great time to see if you could enjoy the “unschooling” life style. Try journaling what your children learn each day. Improve their self-esteem by giving them new responsibilities over the summer. A good success or two during the summer can change a kid with a “I can’t do anything” attitude into a winner. Help them to enter an animal or project in the county fair. Go with them as they climb a high peak or swim all the way across the river or learn to surf. Help them get materials for building a fort and figure out how to make it a sturdy one. While these activities won’t earn school credits, they can go a long way toward making your child feel like a person who can succeed, and his next year in school you’ll see an improvement…. or you may decide, “Hey! This homeschooling stuff works! Why send her back?”