Due to the ongoing pandemic, our kiddos said “hello” to summer break early. While my kids are doing online classes with the Bremerton School District right now, it got me thinking about my options for the future. I started by researching the process in order to homeschool your children, then looked up my options such as online programs and what Kitsap County has to offer.
Where Do I Start?
I have never even considered homeschooling before, so I started my research by Googling “ How to homeschool in Washington State.” I was immediately overwhelmed by the ways that one can fulfill the teacher requirements, but they are actually pretty simple. Your first option is to be surprised by someone with a teaching certificate where they spend a minimum of an hour a week assessing the child’s progress. The second option is to have at least 45 college credits in education. The third option is to complete a course in home-based education. The last option is to “be deemed sufficiently qualified’ to provide home-based instruction by the superintendent of the local district. You then have to write out a signed declaration of your intent to homeschool to be given to the local superintendent at least four-teen days before the beginning of the semester/quarter/etc. You must teach for at least 180 days and 1000 hours in the year. I personally thought that it is a pro for parents wanting to homeschool because as long as you meet these requirements, you decide how many hours in a day your child is learning and you can tune that to what works best for your child. You have to teach the required subjects for your state. For Washington State, those subjects are occupational education,science, math, language, social studies, history, health, reading, writing, spelling, and the development of an appreciation for music and the arts. The last requirement is to conduct an annual assessment. For this you have two options. The first option is to ensure that a standardized test approved by the state board is administered annually to your child by a “qualified” person. Your second option is to have your child evaluated by a certified person. So, if you’re like me, the second option is refreshing because I really do not like the standardized testing system.
What Does School Look Like This Year?
I think that the local school districts have done an amazing job responding to this pandemic with the resources that they have. Schools around the county offered free lunches for students in need. I talked to my highschooler, a sophomore at Bremerton High School. He starts school at 11am, a half hour lunch, and finishes at 230pm. I asked him what he thought about this school year so far. He said “ at least in the out system there’s a lot more flexibility and the teachers are more accessible. You also have to manage your time since it’s more self lead.” As a parent, I like that my child is getting more of a sense of responsibility. I asked him if he thinks he is getting more or less out of school and his response was “ I think I’m honestly more productive this way. I saw my algebra grade go from a C to an A because I didn’t have to do it at 7:20AM. Then again, you miss the social aspect a lot, kind of a double-edged sword for me at least.” So the pros I got from talking to him are the flexibility of teachers and that his grades are improving since he does not have to wake up so early. A pro and a con is the time management of learning online. While my high schooler is doing okay, my middle-schooler needs a lot more help managing his time. The big con that I gathered was the lack of socializing with other kids their own age that the traditional schooling system offers.
Just because traditional schooling is the easiest option, it does not mean that it is the only option. Homeschooling and online schooling lets the parents have more of a say in what their child is learning and choose the best for their child based on how they learn and what they struggle with. The downside of homeschooling is the lack of social interaction with other kids but that can be helped with sports teams, clubs, youth groups etc. but making the effort to help your child make these social interactions is what makes homeschooling a viable option.