By Jessica Leavitt
When I taught kindergarten in public school, we were allowed five field trips per year. FIVE. Once I started homeschooling, I was determined to take field trips as often as possible. I even had the lofty goal of weekly field trips. “Field Trip Fridays!” I proclaimed to my children.
And then reality set in. It was the middle of winter. Most museums were closed. Our budget for field trips was … non-existent. Determined to make good on my promise, we set out in the cold for Fort Edgecomb. We listened to a history CD on the way, used Google Maps to navigate, learned about the history of the fort while we were there, and explored the geology and ecology around the fort. This was such a success, we visited Fort Popham on an even colder day! The fort was closed, but we explored all around, got too close to a seagull, saw a mink, and discussed the ecology of the salt marshes.
We learn so much on field trips that we don’t bother with formal schooling that day. I take the lead from my children and see what interests them while we are out. Then, in the next day or so, we head to one of our favorite libraries (we have several) and choose books to support their interests. Field trips are an excellent way to get to know your children better. On one field trip to an historical site, I was sure my son would be caught up in the history and battlements. No. It was the variety of rocks at the site. Off we went in search of books on rocks and minerals. My history lesson became a geology lesson. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing.
Dear HSLDA Members and Friends:
I’m optimistic and persistent, so I hate to give up hope for a peaceful resolution to a conflict, but that’s where I find myself today. After unavailingly asking Education Commissioner Pender Makin, Assistant Attorney General Sarah Forster, staffer Pamela Ford-Taylor, and many school unit superintendents to drop their inexcusable demands for the birth dates of homeschool children, I have asked HSLDA’s seasoned litigation team to take over on this long-running issue.
Our team is giving Makin until October 30 to right the wrongs she has been inflicting on Maine families.
Please send a copy of this letter to your superintendent (email, fax, hand delivery, snail mail, your choice). We want every superintendent in the state to consider his or her role in collaborating with the commissioner to bully parents into divulging private birth date information.
As we point out in our letter, officials at several public school districts have told homeschooling parents that if they do not provide this information their children will be considered truant.
By Joanna Martel
I have heard movement in the house and am sure the kids are in various states of dress, feeding, and distraction, and I am searching for at least one matching pair of shoes. The cat came in and has curled up on the bed, just where I want to be. Ha! I found one of my favorite loafers, this might be a good day. Asking myself where my other shoe is leads me to wonder where the school stuff is, and I wonder… how did I get here? I am not sure how many cups of coffee I need or even what we had for dinner yesterday. But I know that I graduated once and that I am an adult (though I feel like throwing a tantrum of my own at the moment). At times like these you say to yourself, ”I have a brain!” (though that may be lost now with my shoe).
Coming down the stairs through a gauntlet of Lego bombs, half folded (clean?) laundry, and letters marked “Important,” I find the teenager has not made an appearance (again) and the ten year-old, trying to be helpful, made pancakes. Are those pancakes, or did the kitchen just explode? The only one who looks like they are trying to do schoolwork is the toddler who seems to be measuring cups of flour out of the pantry and seeing if they will balance on the back of the dog.
I ask myself, “the decision to do this homeschooling thing was the right one, right?” It seemed so at the time. I mean, I am now the sole overseer of the education of these kids whom, I must admit, I sometimes love the most when I see them immobile and asleep in the middle of the night.
So how did I get to the point of being the head teacher in this one house school? Over my first of many cups of coffee, and the smoke alarm telling me my pancakes were ready, I made a mental list:
By Scott Woodruff
Senior Counsel, Home School Legal Defense Association
This essay should not be construed as legal advice.
Maine law requires home instruction families to file a statement assuring that they will provide at least 175 days of instruction, annually. I recently helped a family whose unique situation caused me to probe what "175 days, annually" really means.
They started homeschooling their child on July 1 when their child was only 5 years old, and therefore not subject to compulsory attendance. (If a 5-year old is enrolled in public school, the child is subject to the compulsory attendance laws until the parents withdraw him from the public school.) By the time his birthday rolled around on September 30—and their notice of intent was therefore due—the child had received 60 days of instruction. Would those 60 days count toward the 175?
I believe the correct answer is "yes". Here's why.
What "Year" Means
Everyone knows what "annually" means. It means once a year. And we all know a "year" is 12 months.
On the other hand, there are many different kinds of "year." They are distinguished based on when they start and stop. A calendar year goes from January 1 to December 31. A "fiscal year" can start on any day of the year. An "academic year" can start any day as well. So can a "school year."
A "year" might be reckoned based on the Gregorian year (which is commonly used in the West), or the Julian year (used by the Eastern Orthodox Church). The Islamic year begins in the summer. The traditional Chinese new year will next begin on February 12, 2021.
In ancient Greece, every big city had its own calendar. Multiple calendars were in use while Christ walked on earth (which causes some interesting dating challenges).
If we draw back our lens, we see that the earth's orbit around the sun (the basis of our solar year) is roughly circular, and a circle has no end or beginning. While the amount of time it takes to make one orbit around the sun is always about the same, the point we pick to call the "start" of that huge circle is more or less arbitrary.
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.
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