By Raylene M. Hunt, B.S., Ed.
Copyright 2009, 2020
Recently, Kathy Green of Homeschoolers of Maine asked me to revisit this article for the current season. I had forgotten about this piece, written over a decade ago. I’ve left the original article intact in most places, and updated it to include the current climate we are living in. Homeschooling will not be an easy choice for many families, but it will be an essential one. It’s important to offer these families all the support we can from within the homeschool community because they will not likely find it outside, beyond this community.
Part I - An Introduction
When I wrote this article back in 2009, mandatory vaccination and the Covid-19 crisis weren’t even on the radar in the homeschooling community. We were just struggling to survive an economic downturn. I believe the following statement is as true now, as it was when I wrote it, though.
Homeschooling is undoubtedly a growing trend in education. Trends, however, tend to change with the tide of popular culture. As our economy continues in this downturn, I wonder if homeschooling will be strong enough to maintain itself, becoming more than just a trend.
While the downturn in the economy was my initial catalyst for writing, and I wondered if homeschooling was strong enough to sustain as a viable educational option, I no longer wonder. It has become the only option for many families at this time.
Today’s homeschoolers have ridden on the waves of the pioneers. We’ve become complacent and assume that it has always been and will always be as easy as it is right now.
This was true in the late ‘90s and the early part of the 2000s. Today, I think we have returned to a time when we recognize the sacrifice that pioneering homeschool families made, that many families are about to make again, for the safety of their children.
There is, however, a cost to homeschooling. It isn’t just one option for many families, it is the only option.
This is as true now as it was a decade ago, and as true as it was back in the early 80s when homeschooling families first started becoming recognized in Maine.
By Raylene Hunt B.S.Ed
While working with Homeschoolers of Maine over the years, I’ve spoken to many parents who were feeling stressed about portfolio reviews. There is always some uncertainty about the process, and there are usually some questions, especially from those just starting out. I always assure them, and I want to assure you, that it really isn’t that complicated.
A lot has changed since I first wrote this post three years ago. The future and how education will take place for all students in the months (and even years) ahead now seems unclear. One thing hasn’t changed, and that is how easy it is to create a homeschool portfolio for your year-end assessment! You still only have to show that 175 days of instruction have been completed, that all the required subject areas have been covered and that the student has made progress.
It’s still as Easy as 1 – 2 – 3!
Actually, it’s a little easier now than it was when I first wrote this post. Now, instead of doing Step 1 below, HOME can provide you with a pre-assembled portfolio, which includes the three-ring binder, plastic sleeves and all essential printed forms. All you have to do is insert the student's work throughout the year. At the end of the year, you’re ready for your assessment! No fuss, no muss, and no trying to remember what you did back in September and where you put those work samples! It’s all right there, ready to go.
You’re committed to homeschooling your kids. Ready for the long haul. Out of the blue, an unexpected event happens, and suddenly your world is upended. You are now in crisis mode. What if, as a homeschooler, you couldn’t get access to the curriculum or resources you wanted to use? This scenario is a very real possibility. In fact, to some degree, many homeschooling families are facing circumstances much like this right now. Over the past few weeks, life has looked very different than it normally does.
We are facing times of uncertainty unlike anything we have experienced in recent years. With the closure of libraries, stores, and other places of business, homeschooling has become a little bit more challenging both for those of us who have been doing it for a while as well as those families who are new to it. In homeschooling, as in all of life, times of uncertainty and difficulty come to us all. We have all faced challenges and have had to learn to cope in ways we might not have dreamed of before. Were you ready for this challenge? Do you have the resources you need to deal with the closures and shortages we have come up against?
What about next time? Would you like to be ready and prepared if another situation arises that brings with it this level of uncertainty and challenges? What would you need to stock up on in order to be prepared to homeschool through an emergency or time of uncertainty?
As homeschooling families, it would serve us well to examine what sorts of supplies and resources to have on hand in case we should find ourselves in a place of need again in the future. But what sorts of resources should we be prepared with in order to be ready for that?
by Connie Overlock
Spring has tarried, and we still are finding ourselves under order to stay at home. What are some things we can do to make the most of these times?
1. Plant a garden. There are some great books and resources out there for gardening. Some of my favorites are Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots by Sharon Lovejoy, and Ready, Set, Grow by Rebecca Spohn.
You can find gardening activities that include growing a sunflower fort, planting a pizza garden and so much more. As you dig and plant in the garden don’t forget to save the earthworms you find.
HOME’s unit study HOME Grown Gardens can also help you get started with some great gardening activities.
2. Go fishing. Children under the age of sixteen do not need a fishing license in Maine, so grab those fishing poles and earthworms you saved from the garden and go fishing. If you don’t own a fishing pole, check with a friend or neighbor. Even if you don’t catch a fish, there is so much you can observe in the pond or river where you fish. Make note of creatures you saw, draw them in a nature journal, describe them in a notebook and be sure to try to identify them when you get home. Look for new blossoms and note the color, where they grew, how many petals, leaves, etc.
3. Visit a park that you haven’t been to before. Maine has a lot of beautiful parks, and getting outside is so important to good health, both physical and emotional. Pack a picnic and spend the afternoon playing frisbee, tossing a ball around or just enjoying the beautiful sunshine.
4. Go for a hike. Use HOME’s unit study HOME Hikes to get you started on some great hiking locations, activities to do along the way, and how to identify the tracks, creatures, and plants you may find as go.
5. Create an outdoor scavenger hunt for your kids. Take some pictures of things in your yard, and have your kids locate them.
6. Mark off an area in your yard that measures 3 feet by 3 feet. Find everything you can to identify in that small area. Check on it weekly to notice any changes that may occur.
There are so many amazing things to do outside, whether you have yard clean-up today and happen upon a spotted salamander (as we did yesterday), or you purposely choose one of the activities listed above. Staying home doesn’t mean we can’t still find an amazing assortment of things to do. In the case of the stay at home order, it doesn’t mean we can’t hike, fish, or visit some of Maine’s beautiful parks. It simply means we need to re-adjust to when, where, how and with whom we participate in these activities.
You can find more great unit studies that incorporate learning outside here at the HOME Website.
By Brandi Schunk
There have been many questions and concerns lately about whether or not homeschoolers are included in Maine’s waiver of the required days for our current school year, 2019-2020. The following thoughts have been stirring in my heart for days. I hope that my words here will both ease your concerns and encourage you.
I recommend that you complete your 175 days for this school year as planned. There are many benefits and considerations in doing so, and I shall outline just a few.
1. Since the Maine DOE website does not mention homeschoolers specifically, the safest thing is to complete your days. It may be worth the peace of mind, even if it takes a little longer than planned.
2. You were going to do the days anyway, so really you are just honoring your commitment.
3. Your child’s education is worth the investment. They still need the knowledge, the chance to be challenged and grow, the pride and confidence that come from learning new things. Carrying on in the face of adversity is itself a valuable lesson.
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