Homeschooling is an alternative to more traditional educational options such as public school private schools, charter schools or religious schools. As homeschoolers we educate or learn alongside our children with a family focus at home, in the community, or in small informal groups. The homeschooling continuum stretches from curriculum driven education to radical unschooling, with with many options and blends in between.
This is probably the question asked most often! What most people usually mean is socializing, rather than socialization, so it bears making the distinction between the two, and answering both.
Socialization: The word actually refers to being able to understand and function within the norms and rules in society. Homeschoolers are typically out and about in the world going to parks, museums, libraries, stores, etc., so learning to be a part of society is a non- issue.
Socializing: This is the one people really worry about, because they want to know whether their child can be with other kids and make friends. Opportunities to socialize and meet other people are many. There are lots of classes and activities available in the community, as well as homeschool organizations to join where you can reach out to others to create your own playgroups, learning co-ops, field trips, etc.
There are no qualifications specified by New York State for a parent/guardian who wishes to homeschool.
Anything your child wants to or needs to know, you can learn right along with them! Some homeschoolers try to follow very closely what schools are teaching in each subject, while others facilitate learning in all of the required subjects, but allow the learning to reflect the child’s interests so the child has lots of time to deeply exploring something they are passionate about. Inevitably, homeschooling parents wind up learning lots of new things, or relearning things they learned in school but had forgotten.
Check out the New York State Home Instruction regulations for details on what is required. Within ten days of the time you begin homeschooling, you must submit a letter to your district informing them of your decision to homeschool. Later you’ll need to create an Individualized Home Instruction Plan that tells the district what you plan to do for each subject.
NY state homeschooling rules & regs are here:
There are 4 types of paperwork that need to be submitted every year:
- LOI – Letter of intent to homeschool
- IHIP – Individual Home Instruction Plan
- Quarterlies – Four quarterly reports spaced out over the year
- Year end assessment – (in most districts) this can be something you write, but it must be a standardized test every other year starting in grade 4 and then every year in grades 9-12. Most people pick grade 4 as an “other” year and so do standardized testing in grades 5 & 7 and then in 9-12. If your child is below 9th grade and this is your first year homeschooling, they were tested last year and do NOT need to test this year.
Is homeschooling expensive?
-That depends. Some families purchase published curriculum and textbooks for each child, which can get very expensive. Others find lots of free resources online. Many make regular use of the library and places in the community for free or low-cost learning opportunities, and are able to homeschool without spending very much at all. If finances are a concern, try to remember that everything a child could learn in school, and much, much more, is available for no cost at your local library.
What homeschool groups are there in Rochester?
-There are three large homeschool groups in Rochester that are not specifically religious:
(1) RAHA, (2) Simply Homeschooling and (3) Homeschoolers of Greater Rochester.
(1) Rochester Area Homeschooler’s Association (RAHA). (You are on the website for RAHA right now). RAHA has a private Yahoo email loop and a private Facebook page. Members receive a membership list with addresses and kids ages for networking, as well as a monthly newsletter.
We are primarily for families who want to practice child-led learning & unschooling. Our mission statement is: RAHA is a community of families dedicated to supporting one another in our common commitment to learning without schooling. Our membership gathers together for philosophical rather than religious reasons and therefore welcomes families of all backgrounds who share our vision. We are deeply devoted to our children and believe that their growth is best fostered in a child-led, rather than curriculum-driven, learning environment that is centered in the home and reaches out to explore the world around us.
We also have monthly meetings. Children are welcome at (and usually come to) the meetings. The meetings are topic focused for the adults (paperwork, getting into college, early years etc.) and playtime for the children. There is a paperwork book that comes to the meetings with samples of paperwork that has been submitted to and accepted by various school districts. This is available for members to review to help figure out what to put in your own school paperwork. There is a lending library of books and other materials. RAHA also has a moms meeting usually held on the 4th Thursday of the month from 7-10pm (no kids except little babies).
Our group is membership based. Dues are sliding scale (you decide) from $10-$25 per year.
There are two other homeschool resources that are mixed (some religious people and some not), and some different activities than RAHA (although many things are cross-listed). These don’t have meetings as such, but get togethers and classes are posted. They are not membership based (no fee) and can be joined by contacting the group leader:
(2) Simplyhomeschooling’s website is at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/simplyhomeschooling/
(3) Homeschoolers of Greater Rochester NY facebook
page: Large Christian groups include LEAH http://www.leah.org/ , Charity http://www.charityhomeschool.com/ , and STAHRA (Catholic)
There are lots of smaller groups.
Child development and parenting are ongoing and they don’t change when children become compulsory age for school. Just as you worked with your preschool aged children to learn necessary life skills like walking, talking, using the toilet, and manners, you followed their lead and created a unique way to help them master these skills seldom, if ever, using a curriculum or specialist.
life situations that consume a significant amount of my time? Yes, it is essential to understand that child-led learning without schooling is nothing like learning in a school setting. All that is necessary is a desire to be together, and time to experience and explore the world around you together.
Good books to start with are:
- How Children Learn by John Holt
- Teach Your Own by John Holt
- Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto
This is an extensive list of unschooling resources.
Also, here are some good video/audio sources to start with:
Pat Farenga on unschooling:
Growing Without Schooling YouTube channel (TV videos, conferences,
Podcast interview with Pat Farenga about John Holt’s legacy and other