With the coronavirus pandemic creating uncertainty with the schools, and many parents not satisfied with how the schools are educating their children, interest in home schooling in growing. Hannah Parker of the Parker Home School Group offered a presentation on home schooling July 30 at the Parker Public Library.
Parker said the best thing about home schooling is it has the flexibility to match with your child’s style of learning. She said it was important to remember that not all children learn the same way.
As an example, Parker said she was home schooled when she was young, but later went to a public school. She had problems there partly because she found so many distractions. She also found the teaching style did not work well with her style of learning.
“I realized my learning style was hands on,” she said.
By state statute (ARS 15-802a), Arizona allows for home schooling. The required subjects are reading, grammar, math, science and social studies. A second state statute, ARS 15-802.01, says homeschooled students may participate in sports and extracurricular activities of their local public school districts, as long as they maintain passing grades in their subjects.
Parker listed some of the “pros” and “cons” for home schooling. The “pros” included increasing family bonds, greater flexibility in educating children and more real-world experiences. The “cons” include loss of income as one parent or guardian will need to be home.
A major advantage of home schooling is standardized tests, like the AzMerit test, are not required. She said students really stress over these tests because they understand how important they are.
To home school students, Parker said parents must “think outside the box.” They must do what is needed for their children’s education.
“Forget the public school mentality,” she said. “If it doesn’t work out, try something else!”
As for the curriculum, Parker said there are many curricula out there. She urged potential home schoolers to do their research and find one they’re comfortable with. Some are more expensive than others. She added a home school may not even need to purchase a curriculum, as they are many free resources and educational materials at local public libraries.
Parker also discussed the difference between home school support groups and co-operatives. He said support groups offer ways for parents and students to help each other and plan events.
Home school co-ops involve actual learning. Through co-ops, home schools can share teachers and plan for joint learning. The home schools involved would have to have the same curriculum.
“Co-ops spread out responsibilities among parents,” she said.
Parker said one of the first and most important steps to take when creating home schooling for children is to file an affidavit of intent to home school with the county school superintendent’s office. She said this will avoid any legal problems if the children aren’t attending local schools.
Brad Sale, Superintendent of the Parker Unified School District, said the affidavit is legally mandated for any parents who want to home school their children. He added that home schools students are welcome to participate in the PUSD’s athletic and extracurricular activities. He cautioned, however, that some on-line schools are considered separate school districts. If students are enrolled in curricula from one of these schools, he said they may not be eligible to participate in PUSD activities.
Sale said home school parents should check out if the curricula from the on-line school they’ve selected (if they’ve selected one) would put their children in a different school district.
For more information on home schooling, you can e-mail Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 928-304-6116.