Homeschooling has been a blessing to our family. It has provided decades of learning and togetherness. It is a great way to impart knowledge, family values, and religious beliefs to our children. One year we joined a local homeschooling charter school. I can tell you that schooling through a charter school is quite different than homeschooling through a private school or on your own. What a learning experience.
My biggest takeaway was Charter Schools hinder learning by wasting time with endless meetings and testing. My other takeaway was the realization of the loss of freedom to teach the way I wanted to and what I thought was important. When all your time is spent checking their boxes, you have little left to fulfill your own goals with your children. I didn’t want to mimic the way public schools taught. I wanted to train my children in the way that they should go.
Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.
I desired to teach with a biblical worldview because anything less than that leaves God out of my child’s education. Furthermore, to teach Bible as a subject and have time during our school day to pray, read the bible, and talk about biblical truths. But with the school’s timewasters, I rushed my student to get assigned work done before each deadline. When I calculated all the learning time lost, I realized why we always felt behind.
When using a Charter School for homeschooling, we lost time checking in with our personalized learning teacher. During the meeting, we show work done and discuss goals, materials requests, or classes. Turn in photocopies of work samples for each subject. And the mother/teacher has many forms that need to be filled out every 3 weeks, including attendance, P.E. hours log with activity listed, and California standards completed for those 3 weeks. This may seem appropriate if you are working/schooling for someone else but such a timewaster for the typical parent-teacher because she already knows this information daily. So to gather this information and log it to be ready for a meeting is a pointless waste of time. In my charter school, there were 9 meetings which took 1/2 day of school time each by the time you stopped productive learning, gathered books, drove to the meeting, participated in the meeting, and went home and resettled into school. Learning time lost-27 hours/ school year.
Testing, testing and more testing
For our local charter school, the testing never stopped. They required an online test 3 times a year, which cost us 2-3 school days each time. Then there was a yearly “California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress.” This is at the school site and costs about a week’s instructional time. Let’s be clear here, testing is not learning. It’s testing what the student knows. I’m not against testing every couple of years to show any holes in the child’s academic progress. This can be useful for the homeschooling parent. But testing continually isn’t helpful, in fact, it takes away from students learning time. That’s what school is for learning, right? Learning time lost-11 to 14 days or 98 hours/ school year.
Personalized Learning Plans
Personalized Learning Plans are set up to help the parent/student, but they hinder the student from being educated as the parents see best for their child. For example, you use up all your time checking all the boxes for the school for what the charter school requires, leaving very little time to work on the specialized curriculum you may have found. Many times the school won’t pay for and won’t accept work done from specific publishers. I use a Christian published science curriculum. We purchased it ourselves but found it hard to turn in work samples because of the G word. Maybe you are not familiar with the G word; it’s God. Strangely, however, we were able to use school funds to purchase the experiment’s equipment for our book, but when I received it, the word
God was scribbled out with a sharpie on the side of the box. Learning lost-freedom to learn according to our family’s values.
Forced Common Core Standards
The last straw was the forced common core standard we had to do each learning period. I say forced because they often did not align with what they were already learning in English Language Arts, Math, History/Social Science, and Science. This system stopped the flow of a carefully laid out curriculum to teach an unrelated concept/fact. Their worksheet became extra things to go over and learn. I put my foot down and said no way. I left mid-year that year. I guess it would take 3 hours nine times a school year. Learning loss-distracted from regular course study to fill out an unrelated work page. Time loss-27 hours/school year.
If you want to leave behind the public school and their agenda, then using a Charter School is not the best option. I figured I lost 20 days of the 175 days per school year to be a part of a charter school. I conclude that they are a massive waste of time; they want to control what your child learns, and you lose the freedom to pour into your child what you really want to.
- Find a local private school to work with or file your own affidavit that is due in October saying you are teaching your own child.
- Join Home School Legal Defense. They are a great resource, and they will come to defend you for free if you are ever taken to court because of homeschooling. For us, this has been peace of mind. They know homeschooling and what’s lawful. Check out the website. They have each state listed and laws by state. Here are California’s laws for homeschooling. They also list private homeschools in your area. They also have curriculum and record-keeping information.
- Join or start a local homeschool co-op group. Many have their own classes and field trips. You will find like-minded parents on this homeschool journey to talk with. Best of all, your children will develop friendships.
If you are always upset with your charter school, take a leap of faith and leave. You can school elsewhere, or you can do it entirely on your own. You know what is best for your child and your family. Don’t let fear, money, or others keep you from making the best schooling decision for your children. Remember God gave them to you to raise, not the school and certainly not the government, sheesh. You are responsible for their physical health, emotional health, education, and safety. You can get help from educators when needed or desired, but don’t abdicate this responsibility to others. -Kim
P.S. If you work for a charter school or love your charter school, great. I know many excellent teachers who work at charter schools. Notice I’m not complaining about the teachers. What’s upsetting is the regulations of the charter schools in California and the fact that some are run poorly. This article aims to highlight these as well as list other homeschooling options.
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May God bless you as you consider your child’s education. -Kim