We welcome Kitty Michelotti, one of our new GSHE leaders, as the editor of our monthly newsletter. This also marks the launch of her periodic "The Granite Tablet" column. Kitty serves as our representative on the Home Education Advisory Council (HEAC).
The Granite Tablet -- Building Alliances
We, as homeschoolers are used to tailoring our children's education to them day by day and week by week. Public school teachers have too many children to be able to do that. While I am grateful we are able to utilize public schools to supplement our homeschool, I believe we homeschoolers who choose to use classes, extra curriculars, and clubs have an added burden of responsibility to start the conversation. We are the ambassadors of our kind, the go-between of the educational world, and often we are the only exposure the schools, teachers, and students will have with homeschoolers. It’s especially important to make a good impression because more than just your child’s experience is counting on it.
The onus is on us to have clear, open and respectful lines of communication with the schools and teachers. Why? Teachers are working incredibly hard (as are we), and while we are protected by law to utilize the schools, it no doubt makes the teacher’s day a little harder having a student whose attendance is inconsistent. I’ve heard many people ask questions such as; “my child takes art at the local public school, but has a homeschool class she loves every Friday, what do I do?” or “my child takes math at the local school but we’re leaving for a month, what do I do?” or “my child wants to try out school, what do I do?”
In every case I want to suggest that we communicate, communicate, communicate. Talk to the classroom teachers, principal, anyone who will be involved. The more open we keep the lines of communication, the better impression we as homeschoolers will leave with our fellow educators.
If you don’t find a teacher, or school who is open to filling the role you want them to fill with the flexibility you desire, you have choices. You could wave the law in their face, but that could build resentment. Keep in mind, teachers could very well feel threatened by your ability to create an a la carte education for your child the way they wish they could for each of theirs. You could ask for a meeting and find a compromise. Or you could try another school who might be more flexible. Working openly and honestly with public schools, if you choose to utilize them, will only benefit the homeschooling community as a whole.
In reality, we are all working together to educate the future, and while we have different methods and constraints, the products of our education will need to be able to communicate and work together as adults; it’s best we model that for them on all sides. It all starts with us. The same way any long-term, respectful relationship should; with open ended, clear communication, including listening, and someone who’s willing to take that first step.
-- Kitty Michelotti