Your mom narked on you

SPOILER: Your mom narked on you.

Email of the Day:
[You know how I sometimes tell you that I’m the Homeschooling Police? How I say that if someone wants to nark about you and your homeschooling, they do it to me? You remember this?

Well . . . this time, it’s your mom.]

I was recently told by my daughter who lives in Washington- that she removed her 2 children from school to home-school.
I do not know the school they were attending, but concerned. My question is this, does the school follow up with the parent re curriculum or if the state law is being followed by the parent? The parent told me she was not following a curriculum per se- but allowing “teaching ” by their interests. She is not a teacher- nor college grad and I fear the children may not be given the education they are entitled too. Could you please contact me- or give me ph# to explore this matter further. Concerned Grandmother Thank You

Homeschooling can be very scary when you watch your kids jump in head first with your grandkids. You love you grandkids, and you want what’s best for them, and your reaction is very natural.

You don’t have to be a teacher or a college graduate to homeschool in WA. Many parents begin homeschooling when their children are young, and then learn alongside their children as the children have interests that outpace the parents. My daughter is a musician — I have test scores proving that I am tone deaf — in cases like this, the parent transitions into the role of facilitator and chauffeur. You don’t have to know everything to homeschool. (Even with 4 degrees between us, my husband and I didn’t — and I’d been in the classroom a decade before we started homeschooling).

In WA, parents have to qualify, declare intent, cover the 11 subjects (reading, writing, language, spelling, math, science, social studies, history, health, occupational ed, and an appreciation of art and music), test or assess once a year, and keep certain records. But our law is very specific that “all decisions relating to philosophy or doctrine, selection of books, teaching materials and curriculum, and methods, timing and place in the provision or evaluation of home-based instruction shall be the responsibility of the parent,” and that our “legislature recognizes that home-based instruction is less structured and more experiential than the instruction normally provided in a classroom. Therefore, the provisions relating to the nature and quantity of instructional and related educational activities shall be liberally construed.”

The path your daughter is headed down with her children is something called “learner-led” or “interest-based” or “unschooling.” It’s a method many of us have used to great result. We did this with my daughter who, at the age of 16, turned around and headed off to college full time, spent 6 quarters on the President’s Honor Roll having not been in a classroom since she was 7, transferred to uni, and is graduating this June with two bachelor’s degrees — one in Computer Science and a second one in audio recording. There are a number of great resources out there to learn about unschooling. I’d refer to you first to John Caldwell Holt — he’ll be in the library — pick any of his titles. Because the older child is a tween, I’d also refer you to the works of Grace Llewellyn. The third author I would recommend on this subject is John Taylor Gatto, who was the NYC Teacher of the Year who turned around and embraced unschooling.

I am the only person on both sides of my extended family to homeschool. My parents and my in-laws (all college graduates and with 5 advanced degrees between them) were frantic when we began this strange new adventure. What really helped was us inviting them to be part of it. My mother did spelling with my daughter, my father did arithmetic with her, my mother in law did chemistry — and we all had a fuller, richer, experience for it.

As the grandmother, I would encourage you to get involved and support your daughter and grandchildren in this endeavor. Consider bringing them to Convention and make it an awesome outing with grandma (or leave the kidlets at home and have a mother-daughter weekend with your daughter). Come and see the homeschooling community at large, take the Intro to Homechooling seminar, go see the Young Adult Panel and see what homeschoolers look like coming out the other end, come by the WHO Booth and meet me, come meet my daughter who will be a week away from her college graduation (and likely on the panel). Embrace the journey they’re on, and you (and they) will have a fuller, richer life and homeschooling experience for it.

Let me know if you have further questions.
~Jen Garrison Stuber, WHO Board Advocacy Chair

[Listen, ya’ll — you really should to bring the people in your life into your homeschooling — the more you incorporate them, the better they will feel about this crazy journey you’re on. Bring them along. (Less work for you!). Look — I know sometimes you have a strained relationship that this is never going to work for — and that’s okay — but if it’s otherwise hunky-dory — you get in there and you recruit them — aunts, uncles, grandparents — bring them all along. Keep your mom in the loop, and she won’t nark to me. If she does . . . well, provided you’re in compliance with the law — I’ve got your back. ~Jen]