Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Proselytizing Preschoolers in the Park

I forget that the world is devoid of most children between the hours of 8 and 3, because my world is full of them 24/7. I forget how obvious we are in public and there is no escaping it. In the post office, the supermarket, craft store and the park people ask why my kids are not in school. The park is the most conducive to longer conversations and this week alone I had three such experiences.

All the moms I spoke with asked me if it's o.k. to ask me a few questions. I am *always* open to conversations about homeschooling - I blog about it, talk about it, and hope to open up the idea of homeschooling to other families.

The first question I am asked is 'who tells me what to do' and 'what the school district helps me with'. New Jersey does not have any homeschooling requirements or guidelines which means several things. One is that you are free to home school as your philosophical beliefs and your children's educational needs lead you. In NJ, we have the freedom to use an entire continuum of methods. Those range from prepackage, ready-made, highly structured curriculum (there are probably hundreds of options for those) through a method termed Radical Unschooling. There is also every combination of options in between those and different choices for multiple kids in families and different methods at different times during many years of homeschooling.  The possibilities are limitless.

When your children are learning at home, in NJ, the local school district is not obligated to assist with anything. Home schooled children are not enrolled and therefore are not considered pupils. There is no requirement of reporting homeschooling intentions to a school district unless you are pulling them out of school. My kids have never been enrolled and the district would have no knowledge of them. There are also no testing requirements - so my kids are not required to take the NJASK or any other standardized tests.

People often ask how I know if my kids are on grade level and how do I know that they are. They are usually shocked to find out that I am not really interested in that. I usually give them this spiel. Some people are interested in that and there are ways to make sure you are in step with State Core Curriculum Standards, if you so desire - told you, there are unlimited ways of doing this!

Believe it or not, people ask me what I do about Phys. Ed. It is a crazy thought to me. The boys play roller hockey and attend Circus Arts School, they play outside, swing, climb, run, jump, hang, slide, and roll - everyday. They play basketball and kickball. They swim all summer and ski, snowboard and ice skate weekly in the winter. They wrestle just about every day ;) We hike together. I recently purchase them a FitDeck Jr. at their request - they are still asking for a chin up bar. I think Gym is covered!

Another question is how I can stand to be with my kids all day. I have to admit that this question confounds me. It's not that I don't get how kids can 'get' to you. It happens to me. I have always had my kids with me so I have always had chores to do, phones calls to make, books to read, paperwork to handle and errands to run. We have worked out a rhythm that works for all of us. They are used to it - I'm used to it. I am not 'with' them every second or the day. I tell them when I need some time to do things. Sometimes I just notice that we are in as many different rooms on as many different floors that this little house can provide. Quite frankly - I like these kids.

They always ask me if I like it. I really like it. I like how homeschooling has enhanced our life - it's a really good way to live, if you ask me, and someone did. I'm a 'homeschooling missionary' sharing my 'faith' in the park.

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