Private Does Not Have to Mean Expensive

I have to get something off my chest. It’s about what education is and what makes home education work. It starts with money. Education is not about buying the right stuff. A good education is not expensive. I’ll admit that in the past, people were limited educationally because they couldn’t get their hands on books or see outside their own farm or neighborhood, but that just isn’t the case in the United States today. We have public libraries in every city and an internet connection is a must in every home. Yes, there may be exceptions, but I’m talking generalities here.

The most important thing you need to educate your own kids is to be able to be at home with them. If you have a partner that can support you and the kids while they are young, you have a huge advantage over any expensive education system. If you have a vehicle and gas to get you around, you’re sitting pretty!

How can you give your kids a practically free education? Again, it starts with you. Educate yourself and take your young children along for the ride. That doesn’t mean go back to college! It means read an article online, open a book, visit a museum, watch a movie, or have a discussion. Create and cultivate in yourself the life long learner first. Do it right in front of your family. Your kids will follow suit in their own way.

Go to the library and check out any books you and the kids like and read them. Don’t study them, just read them! Go the park and explore. Walk around your neighborhood. The grocery store, the post office, the bank, etc. are all potential field trips when you look at them like a child would. Instead of rushing through the grocery store with your list, involve the kids with making the meal plan, the list, and the budget. A couple of dollars of their own to spend at the grocery store or save for the future is a lesson plan all of itself. Actually working with money goes a lot farther than talking about it. Go through the store and answer all the questions they have, have them find things, substitute things, and explore the store like you’ve never been there.

When we allow our kids to explore their world, if we can be patient and quiet while they do so, they get so much out of it. They become more interesting people. And we can see the world in a whole new way. We can do this everywhere we go.

When my boys were very little, the regional park was amazing to them. We spent hours there every week. We loved amusement parks but rarely went inside. They thought the shopping area, pond, and Independence Hall was Knott’s Berry Farm. And Downtown Disney, its fountains, people, shops, and hotels was the best part of Disneyland. We went to beaches, parks, free museum days, all over Southern California. Small local museums are usually only a couple of dollars donation and we always brought a picnic lunch for all of us. My sons wanted lunch boxes like school kids, so they each had one with their name on it and a backpack to carry it in.

My point is that you don’t need a packaged curriculum, the monthly craft/science box, the big organized field trips, or extra-curricular classes to give your kids a great education. You just need to be with them, be patient, and help them explore the world around them safely. We unschooled the whole time, but even if you want to home educate in a more traditional way, there are tons of free resources on the internet. You may have to piece it together and you may have to open your mind to some unconventional ways of doing things (i.e. Mad Libs instead of grammar workbooks), but it is very possible to do this on your own without the state school system breathing down your neck.

I always see private home education as an entrepreneurial thing, a do-it-yourself, be your own boss, kind of thing. What are the benefits of private education? No state standards to keep up with, no grade levels, no mandatory number of days, no testing. That’s just the start. To me, the best thing I got out of it was a sense of self-reliance. I second guessed myself all the time, especially when my sons weren’t behaving the way I thought they should. I’m lucky I had an amazing partner that could see outside my day to day life and remind me that many of my perceived “problems” were just parenting/relationship adjustments. It had nothing to do with school.

I don’t begrudge people the choice to use the public charters to homeschool. If the education the public schools are giving is what you want, without the crowd control and classroom bullies, then charters would be fine for you. But if you want something different, if you want the education outcome to be different than the seniors graduating this year, then there are other options out there.  Private education is feasible, even on a tight budget.

Make Those Calls!

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California Homeschool Network

★CHN TIME SENSITIVE ALERT★
Today we are bringing you a time-sensitive action.

It is NOW time to call the AUTHORS of AB 2756.

Your goal is to get this bill dropped before it reaches committee. This could be as early as next week.

➤TODAY: Take less than 5 minutes to make just 4 quick & friendly calls to the authors.

➤”I oppose AB 2756. Please drop this bill.”

Assemblymember Jose Medina (916) 319-2061
Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman (916) 319-2013
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (916) 319-2080
Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (916) 319-2052

★★Bonus Action★★ Comment directly on the bill.
This requires that you create a login. It is quick & easy!
Simply click on the below link for ‘Comments to the Author.’
Once you’ve signed in, be sure to mark ‘oppose’ before sending your comments.
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/loginClient.xhtml…

Thank you for your participation in preserving homeschooling in California.
We’d love to hear how your calls go, let us know!

Interview About AB2756

When a local news outlet contacted me about an interview, my first reaction was to ask someone else if they wanted to do it. I’m naturally a shy person and was terrified of being made to look like a fool. I ended up calling them back and was instantly set at ease. They couldn’t have made it easier or more comfortable. God does work miracles!

I waited on pins and needles for the broadcast date and here it is!

Click HERE to watch and read the interview.

Here is the Legislative Alert CHN is sharing today. Take time to contact your representatives.

★CHN LEGISLATIVE ALERT★

There are just two weeks left before AB2756 goes to committee.

It is very important that our representatives hear from the homeschooling community.
TODAY we are asking that each of you contact both your State Senator & Assemblymember.

➤Send a simple email asking them to OPPOSE AB2756.
That is the most important part of this contact.
Let them know that you are aware of the bill and that you oppose it.

➤You can find your rep here:
http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov

Each representative has a “contact me” form on their website.
Be sure to mark OPPOSE and include the bill number.

If you have more questions about the bill,
our statement can be found on californiahomeschool.net

Thank you for your participation in preserving homeschooling in CA.

The Great Homeschool Convention

If you’re looking at using a curriculum for your homeschool, want to hear some great speakers, or looking to see what homeschoolers lo a k like in large group, The Great California Homeschool Convention may be a good start!

This convention is put on by a large national group that just does events like this. They aren’t a social group but if you just want to hear speakers and look at a large vendor hall, this is a great place. It is mostly Christian, but not all and even if you are not a one or someone homeschooling for religious reasons, you’ll find loads of great information and resources here.

Best part? It’s only a couple hours away in Ontario AND it’s only $50 for the whole family for two days. I think I might go, just to check it out!

Legislation AB2756

“Why not have a Fire Marshall inspect your home if you are going to use the private school laws to home school? The private school I send my children to has to have an inspection.”

I’ll tell you why, because this private school is my home, with only my children as students. It is not a business. I do not charge people money to be here. I do not watch or educate other people’s children. I do not say to people, “Come here and I will keep your children safe and educate them while you are at work for only this many dollars a month!” The only people living and learning here are my family. Regardless of how old my children are or where they go to school, I still have the right to a private home free from government regulation. This is the United States of America.

Let’s think about this bill for a minute.

If your children are under compulsory school attendance age, under six years old, you would not have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home.

If your children attend the local public school during the day, leave at 7am and come home at 4pm to spend the night, you don’t have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home.

If your children are enrolled in a public charter school and spend most of their days at home, you don’t have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home.

But if you satisfy compulsory education laws in California by creating a private school, pay for and use your own curriculum, keep your own records, and educate your own children, you should have to have a Fire Marshall inspect your home?

Should your home be just as fire safe as the local public or private school down the road? Sure. And I bet it already is. If you own your own home, the house was probably inspected when you bought it, when you refinanced, or when you upgraded your home owner’s insurance. If you rent, there are regulations about renting in California and you are most likely pretty safe there. “Fire Safety” addressed in this bill is already covered.

And how about the notion that the Fire Marshall coming in and inspecting your home once a year would keep children safe from abusive parents? Do you really think so? Teachers are trained and regulated. Doctors, dentists, and therapists are trained and regulated. Gym teachers and sports coaches are trained. Background checks and fingerprinting are done on all of these people. They all take classes each year to notice signs of abuse. They see the same children on a regular basis and they are all legally required to report abuse when they suspect it. But children continue to be abused, many times by the very highly regulated people that were charged with reporting it.

So what good would a Fire Marshall inspection on home-based private schools do? Next to none. In fact, it would probably do more harm than good. If you believe that if you have nothing to hide, then nothing can be reported against you, you are naïve. When an authority goes looking for trouble, they will find it. That’s not being a conspiracy theorist. It’s just human nature and it happens on a daily basis. It may not have happened to you, but it happens every day. When it does, it’s destructive and tears families apart in much the same way abuse does. It’s why we have laws that protect us from searches like these. It’s why we have “innocent until proven guilty.” Laws that make it hard for the police and other authority figures to search you or your property are there to protect the innocent from being harassed.

The state of California’s constitution gives everyone the right to an education. As a parent, I’ve chosen to educate my children privately without the financial help of the state government. My children are receiving an education. It may not be the one that the government wants for them, but that does not make us suspect and subject to search. Do we really want to treat parents as criminals simply because they chose to educate their children outside of state control?

For more information about this bill and to stay on top of the latest legislation, please visit The California Homeschool Network’s website HERE. Please consider becoming a member as well!

Backpacks!

Years ago, at a campground, I made one of the best discoveries. The campground had an interpretive trail like many we’d been to, but this one gave you an “adventure backpack” to take with you for $5 and a $20 deposit. In that backpack was a laminated field guide, binoculars, a handheld microscope, baggies for collecting treasures, a trash bag to help clean up as you visited (clever), and a scavenger hunt page. My sons loved it! And we resolved to get backpacks of our own to have with us wherever we went. These packs were lifesavers on so many occasions. Not only did I not have to carry water and snacks for everyone anymore, but they used them to bring home all sorts of exciting treasures that I didn’t need to clean out of their pockets before I did the laundry!

Here’s a list of what we kept in them in case you’d like ideas to make your own!

A “field guide” of some sort for the area we were in.

  • Binoculars
  • Handheld microscope
  • Baggies for collecting
  • Trash bag for helping clean up where we go. My older son insisted on having rubber gloves for this purpose.
  • Sunscreen and chapstick
  • Bandana
  • Kite string
  • Water bottle and snacks.
  • A hat
  • Geocache trinkets
  • Pens, pencils, and sketch pad
  • A small pocket knife, yes, I let my kids have pocket knives.

I’ll admit, sometimes the bags got a little full and we had to cull thru them from time to time. When they were little the packs were smaller but as they grew they transferred to the regular school backpacks everyone has. I spent about $20 on each backpack that lasted forever since we weren’t lugging around books. And from $10 to $20 on the microscope and binoculars. They don’t need to be fancy, just a little tough, built for kids.

Other things that ended up in the backpack were a fire starting kit, a space blanket, a book we were reading, a pedometer, candy, bird calls, and old wooden games we got at a fair one time. Things were always rotating in and out of there. Sometimes we were hosting “Flat Stanley” characters or a stuffed animal needed to come along.

Every time we went anywhere, from a walk around the neighborhood to hiking in the forest, from the local park to Disneyland, those bags went with us. We’d constantly stop to inspect a bug or plant, identify it, maybe draw a picture of it, or take a picture. We collected interesting leaves and rocks. We built paper boats and floated them down streams. And I took notes to remember an idea they had or something we needed to bring the next time we came.

Speaking of notes, I took pictures or made notes to remember the things we talked about or investigated and translated that to my personal blog the next morning while they watched cartoons. That was my “education tracking” during our elementary age years.

Get out there and have some fun following where your kids lead you on the trail or in the neighborhood!

Clarification

This is something I posted to a local Facebook group. It is a subject close to my heart and I want so badly to help people not be afraid, combative, or stressed about homeschooling.
First of all, if you are enrolled in a charter school, you are in the public school system. There are only public and private schools in California, no “homeschoolers.” That’s actually a very good thing and something that advocates of secular and religious homeschooling in the 80’s and 90’s worked hard to keep that way. It’s a way of protecting us from the “tyranny of the majority,” giving ALL public and private schooled “homeschoolers” the same protections as those that enroll in the corner school or pay out of pocket for the church’s private school.
 
Second, I think it might help a lot of people to think of the local school district, the charter school, the church private school, and all the other “school” options as individual businesses trying to get you to buy their services. Walmart doesn’t lose money if you shop at Target, but they do want you to shop at their store and will do what they can to entice you to shop there first. And in meetings, they do say, “We’re losing money to that other company! What can we do to stop them?!” Businesses use all kinds of tactics to get you to buy their products, including advertising, sales, surveys, etc. And (unfortunately) since the government is now involved with more and more every day, they also have government ways to force you to shop there, from stopping other stores from coming in the area to lobbying government to change laws in their favor.
 
Schools are very similar. They want you to buy their product (enroll your child) and they will do what is available to get you do just that. The role of government in our schools has added a bit of fear to all of this because they have the use of force on their side. They made laws (long ago) that will put you in jail if you don’t enroll your child somewhere. Kind of a bit of a monopoly, I’d say.
 
That fear of the use of force is what we are all reacting to, but I’m refusing to do so. We don’t have to worry what the school district is up to. We don’t need to get them to see our side. We can just use other options, ignore what they are doing, and do what’s best for our families right now. I’ve found over the years, while working with the legislation and legal teams at CHN, that interacting directly with the school district as a community only creates stress and solves very little. Bureaucracy is an infuriating slug when your child is growing up so fast! They just want to find ways to “help” and like a vampire you’ve invited into the house, they’ve found a way to get into the homeschool community. Most of us don’t want their help. We just want to be left alone. I’m not saying anyone shouldn’t interact with them, I’m just saying you don’t have to. Sometimes the best way to fix something is to let it sit on its own, walk away, “opt out.”
 
That being said, to stay on top of legal issues, I’d recommend joining and following a statewide advocacy group. CHN, HSC, HSLDA, CHEA of CA, all have people watching the legislation that comes in and out and they warn us when we need to “do something.” I love advocacy groups of all kinds! It lightens my load of citizenship and lets me focus on my family.

I’m Back!

Wow! I didn’t realize I had been gone so long!

I had to take a break from homeschool blogging to focus my energy on my two teens who have decided to take leaps into independence WAY earlier than I had mentally prepared for. It just goes to show that kids will take the reigns when they are ready. We just need to be ready for them to take them. More about THAT journey is coming soon!

I won’t be posting daily. And I’m not sure just yet what I will be posting, but I have felt led to write about my experience in the hopes of encouraging others, so I’m following that with much prayer for guidance.

I hope you’ll join me!

A Special Reminder and Calming Vibes

If this is your first year homeschooling as a private school, you may be feeling pretty excited and a bit nervous for the coming year. It’s exciting to take that first step into independence. You’ve read all the rules. You’ve organized your files. You’ve created all the documents. Everything is in place. And then you get a letter, a phone call, or a visit from your child’s old school! Yikes! All your confidence comes crashing down. Did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble? No. Take a deep breath! You’re fine. Here’s what you should do.

For public charter folks, you have a far smaller chance of dealing with school district officials because your school takes care of that for you. For private schools, we have to be the administrator as well as the teacher so we get the calls and letters directly.

If you get a letter from the school district, calmly read it over.

If you get a phone call, put on your school admin hat and take a message. Get their name, phone number, and what they are specifically calling about, get the child’s name they are trying to verify as well. Tell them you will call them back after school hours. Most likely the school official is trying to clean up their paperwork. They are looking to verify your student’s enrollment.

If you get a visit from an official at your home, keep your children inside and talk to the official through the door. You do not let them into your home to inspect your school. Be polite and calm while you ask them what they need. If they want to know what school your kids attend, give them the name and phone number of your school. If they want more information than that, politely tell them that you are busy with your kids right now and that they can call the school for an appointment if they need more information, then give them a piece of paper with the school name and phone number on it. They will most likely leave on that note.

After any of these situations, get online and contact one of the statewide groups like CHN or HSC, or the national group HSLDA. Find their contact info and either call or email them. Don’t go to a Facebook group and post. You’ll get a quicker and more precise answer instead of having to wade through all the comments from everyone else in that group. You don’t need to panic and hurry. The school officials are dealing with lots of other things and aren’t sitting by the phone waiting for you. But that doesn’t mean not to take this seriously and wait weeks before answering. Give this your utmost attention. The sooner it’s taken care of, the less problems will be created.

The statewide groups all have legal teams waiting to answer your questions and are happy to help free of charge. They may make a phone call or write a letter on your behalf. They all want to know how school districts are reacting to homeschoolers, so you are helping them advocate for our rights and make things easier for others in the future.