By Patricia Hutchins
As we all know, the reasons for homeschooling are numerous and diverse. The manifold benefits of homeschooling include spending more time together as families, accommodating each student’s individual learning style and pace, ensuring academic excellence, providing opportunities for community engagement, experiencing the world through hands-on opportunities, safeguarding our children’s physical and emotional health, practicing our faith in authentic real-life situations, exercising our freedom to choose curricula, and many more. While we as parent-teachers are highly invested in our homeschooling methods, and are familiar with the reasons we have chosen to home educate our children, it is likely that, at some point, each of us will encounter the question, “Why homeschooling?” It may come from a family member, friend, church congregant, coach, tutor, pediatrician, or college admissions officer. It may even come from our own children. This is when a prepared homeschool profile can come in handy!
Have you been contacted by your school district regarding your notification to homeschool for the coming school year? You are not alone. Many homeschoolers are receiving contacts from school officials regarding use of state forms.
School superintendents and designees are continuing to erroneously demand use of the state's online or paper form as a means of homeschool notification. The law does not require use of a particular form as long as the required information is included in the notification. Once you have submitted the required information, your job is done! No other communication is necessary. Please read more about why you should not use state forms and the common misconceptions: https://www.homeschoolersofmaine.org/the-law/letters-of-intent/using-doe-forms/.
If you choose to use a form, use a HOME or HSLDA form, and notify as you always have in the past. You will have fully complied with the law by filing the traditional way. Remember to send them by certified mail, and keep copies of your mail receipts and forms in a safe place. If you are new to homeschooling and the notification process, read more here: https://www.homeschoolersofmaine.org/the-law/steps-to-comply/.
Many school districts are insisting that they need more information, so that they can enter it all into the state's portal. The law does not require the Department of Education or your local superintendent to file and keep your information or enter it into their portal once they receive it. You are simply required to NOTIFY and submit assessment results, if applicable. That's it.
Any communication with officials should be in writing. If you receive a phone call, request that they contact you by email instead. Save all communications. If you are an HSLDA member, send these communications to them.
The Maine Department of Education's overreach (as well as the compulsory school attendance law change to age 6) is currently presenting challenges to homeschoolers. HSLDA membership is highly recommended. You will want to have have good counsel and protection, if it becomes necessary.
You can join HOME at any level to take advantage of our HSLDA group discount membership. Find out more here: https://www.homeschoolersofmaine.org/join/become-part-of-the-mission/. HOME's HSLDA group discount number is 291046 and our group name is Homeschoolers of Maine. Find HSLDA membership info here: https://www.homeschoolersofmaine.org/the-law/letters-of-intent/using-doe-forms/.
By Raylene M. Hunt
Maine's compulsory school attendance age has changed. Compulsory school attendance will now begin at age 6 as of September 19th, 2019. That change means that homeschool families will need to submit a notice of intent to homeschool for younger children. Notices must now be filed by a child’s 6th birthday instead of the 7th birthday.
Just because the law has changed, though, doesn’t mean that how you homeschool your younger children needs to change.
In an alternative educational setting, Maine law requires that elementary-aged students receive 175 days of instruction in the areas of English/language arts, math, science, social studies, health, physical education, library skills and fine arts. The law also requires that you show that the student made progress during the academic year.
You can cover those required subjects for your kindergartener in developmentally appropriate ways!
Dr. David Elkind, Professor Emeritus at Tufts University, has written many books and articles that speak to developmentally appropriate practices in the education of young children. Dr. Elkind warns against pushing children past their cognitive abilities with forced academics. He believes that it is crucial that parents and teachers promote spontaneous play, and reduce the stress produced by expecting too much, too early. You can read more about his research and ideas in the following books: The Hurried Child, Mis-education: Preschoolers at Risk, and The Power of Play. These are all excellent resources for consideration. An article with excerpts from Mis-education: Preschoolers at Risk, can be found here: https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/1988/02/03/07430016.h07.html
by Barbara Reyhmeyer
Most public libraries offer a Story Time. It's not only a great opportunity for your child to hear someone (other than you) read aloud to them, but it is a chance for them to interact with other children and adults. Your child will enjoy 20 minutes or more of reading, which is the recommended daily dose! Parents can connect with other parents, who are dealing with many of the same things, such as lack of sleep or dealing with tantrums. It is an opportunity to be around other adults, make new friends, and network for childcare services, too.
When you attend a library program, your child benefits - they learn to share with others, take turns, and to listen. They learn songs, fingerplays and rhymes, and they might do a craft or play a game, related to the story or theme that week. They also make new friends and begin the habit of life-long reading.
When you check out books to read together at home, it creates a community connection to your library. When your child helps choose the books to borrow they are even more likely to sit and listen to a story read at home. The librarian or volunteer leading story time is a resource for book recommendations. Encourage your child to talk to the librarian, and get help finding just the right book.
Get you and your child out of the house and enjoying the company of great books alongside other kids and families and take advantage of this free service!
by Hannah Washburn
14 Years ago, I sat on the couch with my mother, a reading book in her lap, both of us in tears. At seven years old, it was mandatory that I enroll in a school, public, private or homeschool. Thankfully, my mom is adventurous and was willing to homeschool her children for their benefit. But as we sat down day after day, she trying to explain how reading works and me not understanding, we both felt discouraged. I was frustrated that as much as I tried, I could not understand. After a month of trying, my mom laid it aside until the next year. Yet still, that next year I would slowly grasp some of the concepts of reading only to lose them again. But the year I turned 9 something clicked, and within 6 months I was reading up a storm and loving every minute of it! If my mother had just plowed through, forcing me to learn concepts I was not ready for, I do not believe that I would look at a good, informative book with anticipation like I do today, but rather with great dread. Thankfully, that is not so.
Driving down to the Augusta State House at 8:30am was not something I was expecting to be doing three days before. The morning was beautiful and warm, the five of us riding together chattered away while trying to get to the public hearing for LD 151, "An Act To Align State Law with Current Practice Regarding Required School Attendance", sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett. LD 151 would endeavor to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 years old to 6. Those traveling down in our vehicle were either graduated or in high school, none of us have children of our own and yet all five of us were ready to do what we could in order to keep it legal for a parent to keep their child of six from needing to meet the pressures of formal education, whether at a public or private school, or at home.
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