Friday, October 14, 2011

A Common Sense View

That is what I feel I have. I am an educated woman capable of reading a law and determining just what that law says. I also know that when we joined HSLDA there were boxes to mark that indicate our understanding of and acceptance of terms. Those terms included but were not limited to keeping records of child's education progress, to exercise diligence in teaching the children in a responsible way, and to use a thoughtful and intentional program of education to instruct the children. 

I am in Illinois. I am not required to register my students with the state or our school with the state. The Geralds Learning Academy is a stand alone private school in my state. I have a compulsory attendance law that went into effect when G turned 7 yrs old and I do keep a desk calendar that shows dates of attendance and dates of field trips. We must attend school 176 days per year. 

I must teach in the English language in my state. I must teach in the branches of education that correspond to the age and grade level they would be in if they were in the public school.

Permit me please to break this down. I have the due diligence to know what subjects are being taught in their public school for like grade. Now, if they were in public school and were to be held back then it is reasonable to also assume that I can hold them back if they have not mastered the material.  So I could do two years of second grade if it was appropriate.  So let me look at what I was told last night. When she reaches sixth grade then it is OK that she is only performing second grade level math.  I am more than willing to say that one cannot expect more than a child is capable to do. However, should I consider my student a sixth grader if they did not meet the basic knowledge of information with at least an 80% comprehension of a third grader?  If they are doing third grade math and sixth grade language then yes, we now have a special math program for that child. If they are doing third grade level work in all subjects then we do not have a sixth grader, regardless of age, we have a third grader- period.   BUT to not have goals of achievement is nonsense.  Use a thoughtful and intentional program of education to instruct the children.   

You are not planning out and giving thought to each aspect of your daily life. You may be living an intentional life to the best of your ability but that does not meet this term. 

Therefore, I submit my conclusion that one cannot take a day at random and play Yahtzee and call it math. Sure it is a great game to reinforce but it will not teach math. Yes, you can cut you pizza up at dinner and find a practical application for your intentional teaching but it is an enrichment activity and not your math lesson. 
This idea that so many have about the freedom of Illinois law really should look at that freedom and respect it or it will be lost.  I am not saying you have to have a workbook lesson everyday but you should have an evaluation process that will display the learning progress of your child.  You cannot do hands on science every day without keeping samples and photos of the project. It is my opinion that if we take lesson books away completely then we are not teaching them how to express their own curiosity and question the validity of a statement.

We must teach language arts, fine arts, math, science, health/physical development, social science and we must include character development.  I am not all about standardized testing but I am able to read the education standards for the correct level and find a means to broadly address the standard. Lets face it, the standards do not give specific items to master but general material and of course year to year it will overlap as education is a process.

As homeschoolers everything we do is an education process so we teach 365 days per year.  Nonsense!!!!  Other parents who do not home school are also teachers to their children. Does that mean that they can take the time from the public school and declare it as education. This is by far the most disturbing comment I get from the hard-core HS group.  Go back to the HSLDA terms and I believe it will guide one using common sense.  Use a thoughtful and intentional program of education to instruct the children.   

My conclusion is that Illinois does have laws that clearly direct me to what needs to be done but I have the freedom to choose how to do it.  I believe I have made myself clear.  I do not expect you to agree but at least read it with an open mind.