01 May 2009

Record-Keeping.

HSLDA's most recent magazine title asks, "Is it worth the trouble?" The answer? "No. Don't worry about it. Records just take up a lot of space you could be using to store the Ty Beanie Babies collection you have that is sooo four years ago and you don't feel like displaying anymore."

Ok, not really. HSLDA Attorney Scott Woodruff says that in the event of a legal challenge, unexpected custody dispute or child welfare investigation, these records could prove invaluable. "None of the parents we've been called on to help in these circumstances ever dreamed they would be facing such a difficult situation. Unfortunately, tragedies do occur. Since no parents know for sure whether they will ever be in this situation, it's wise to keep a full set of records."

Wow, you'd be surprised to see how "full" the fullness of the full really is when they talk about "full." Oh, and while I'm on the topic, the records they want you to keep on special-needs children borders on the astoundingly difficult and expensive. The magazine doesn't do it justice, but I have called in the past for specific guidelines when I was looking into homeschooling G.

(Aside: Public school works for G right now. I just wanted to know because he was moving up to the junior high level this year... new building for him... new staff. They were getting ready to do his three-year eval at school and I called HSLDA for friendly input. You never know what they'll find after these evals and I wanted to be prepared for what-ifs.

HSLDA has a bad rap for being very down on the public schools, but I need to tell you that the special-needs staffwoman I spoke with was very helpful and supportive. She asked *me* what I would prefer as a parent, and I told her that I was already homeschooling another autistic child and would prefer to keep this one in school if I possibly could. And she told me that she would try to help me plan within that framework and gave me some ideas. *whew*

Anyway, please don't get down on the HSLDA people for being anti-public school. They've seen some bad horror stories, I'm sure. I wonder about the stories we don't hear about...but I digress...)

The guidelines for homeschooling G? Document that you are doing therapies for the child. For us, that would mean getting him speech and social skills therapies. Right there, the money we're talking about is pretty high. Occupational therapy. You need some sort of testing or evaluation done twice a year to show progress. Keep this in your records. You need to write a student plan just as if you were making an IEP, with measurable goals and etc.

Ok, good luck with that. My head hurts even thinking about it. I'm not sure I'd do *all* that if I had to homeschool G. Theoretically, I suppose I should be doing all that with Elf since he has been documented as autistic. But he does his English and math work just like anybody else. Sure, a little trubbl with the speling, but I think at least a sizeable minority of boys his age have the same difficulties with writing. He can read quite well. In short, he can do anything anyone else can do except sit in a class with bunches of other children without special help.

I'm thankful.

You'd be amazed at what the medical and school people wanted to do with this child. They wanted him to be on meds. Heavy meds. I'm ok with medicines if they're genuinely needed. I think some of us Christians get a bit overly leery of the drugs and the good things they can do, but I also am not so foolish as to believe that the drugmakers have no influence on prescribing decisions. In any event, if changes in how we handle the child don't help, or if the child has a demonstrable need for a medicine, fine. I don't think he did. But I think having him home suddenly cured him of his autism! Just imagine! As long as he never has to go out into the real world and earn a living, or attend a college away from Mom and Dad, as long as he can do all his learning in his living room and see children outside his family only on Wednesdays and Sundays at church, he's just fine.

Sigh.

Yes, I know I am borrowing time with this little boy. But I just can't see sending him back into a world that he finds so hostile that medicine starts to look like a palatable option. He's a wonderful person, and if he's supported, he can be creative and productive. Too many people around is just too much for him. I don't know what we will do in the future. I guess we'll figure that out in the future.

Honestly, my concern in educating G is to just get that diploma and who cares if he spells "Russia" with three R's and an -sh? If he were homeschooled, I'd have to put him in the third grade class with Elf and Emperor and he'd get angry because some of this stuff is *still* too hard for him. Bless him, but G thinks Elf and Emperor are amazing smart, smarter than any of the kids he goes to school with. That's just not true. It's just that G has a learning disability, so the kids he goes to class with are different, too. At home, it would be very tough to get some sort of "diploma" for him. The public school can modify until G "makes it." When I modify, it's just Mom lowering the bar and printing his diploma at Kinko's.

That's just an unfair way of looking at homeschooling, but I have to be practical about such matters when deciding where to educate him.

And yet we are dealing with a disability here. Bummer for you if your child has a learning disability and you want his accomplishments recognized outside public school. Bummer for you if you want to homeschool with the same budget you use for the other children in your family. I know there is a little special-needs stuff "out there," but anyone who has seriously priced a workable option will be sobered quickly.

But back to record-keeping.

I have pictured above the math books Emperor and Elf finished JUST TODAY and the journal I've been recording their hours in. There is also a stack of three-ring-punched, yarn-bound school papers. I'm thinking for an eight and seven-year-old, I don't have to be nearly so freaked out about documenting every little class, lesson plan and etc. that I would if they were in high school. Perhaps if they're cooking I might mention what they're making. Then again, I might not. In science, if we're studying plants, I might not write that we did p. 40 in the textbook and 12 in the workbook and had a 20-minute discussion following about stems. I might just take the total and write 2 in the margin and then "science." At the end of the day, I add up all the hours and write that next to the date. Each month, say, I would write that we are learning about plants in science and fractions in math or whatever the case may be. Easy.

I still wish I didn't have to do it.

One thing that bothers me about some of the HSLDA defences of member families is that when new laws are proposed, HSLDA will argue that the current law does a great job of making sure parents are educating their children. Argh.

Or I'll hear moms go, wow, that state-required testing took 3 months and $9,000 out of my pocket (ok, slight exaggeration here), but it was great because I learned about how my children met the state standards! Argh. I guess if you have a special-needs child, it might be worth it for practical purposes, for *yourself* to know what you're up against and cover your bottom... and you have to do what you have to do to keep your kids, and if that means testing then so be it. But... argh. Shhh. Please don't write that! I love ya, but please don't write that! So it was worth the money for YOU, and how much did it cost all the other homeschoolers, total, for this test? You're glad that this was a requirement? Sigh. Can't you just be GLAD you took the test and leave it at that?

Worse yet, don't say things like that within earshot of your state rep. He'll think that that means testing is a great thing and then he'll make EVERYONE do twice as much the following year. More laws always seem to be good laws with these people, and a they need a little reminder every now and then that no one is "getting away" with anything by not providing every bit of information the state ever wanted to know about homeschooled children. Don't you get me started on the census people (read it from Jenn instead!). Ok, at least I don't see any of you guys blogging about what a blessing the long forms and various "surveys" could be...

Or I'll see people go, I'm so GLAD I went through the "grovelling" process with our local whatevers so I could have permission to homeschool. You know, it turns out the state-required inspector of my house was also a Christian and it was really a BLESSING to get to talk with her. So when I kissed her ring, signed allegiance to Beezlebub, and gave a detailed course outline down to the type of pencil we'd be using, it felt like ((love)). Argh. Glad it worked for ya, but can you at least ideologically say that the rules are crap? At least in theory? Please?

Another thing, people. If you homeschool for religious reasons, and then pick curriculum on purpose so that it aligns with state standards... aaaargh! Just.. aaargh. I'm thinking of one good friend of mine in particular who highly recommended Alpha Omega because it was aligned with California state standards. We don't have "state standards" for homeschooling in Missouri. Just a certain number of hours in each subject in a record-book. Well, I suppose those are "state standards..." I got confused, because I was new to homeschooling. So I got brave and asked... why don't you just use your Bible and figure out the standards? I mean, CALIFORNIA?? As a standard for Christians?

Are there even Christians in California anymore?

It was like her whole body shot out of the chair. Mrs. C, you're right!

Hey, I still like Alpha Omega stuff... I mean, don't get rid of it just because the Californians like it... I'm just not into it for the stupid California standards.

And yeah, I've met some wonderful Christians online since having that conversation. I had been wondering why the fire and sulfur thing hadn't happened, but turns out God knew more than me and there were at least ten good men out that way. :]

Do you keep records in your homeschool? I keep a few things even for my public-schooled children.

5 comments:

  1. MrsC: given that laws out here are different & that's one reason we have an umbrella school ~ I don't. The school is suppossed to do that. Mind you, they lost a whole unit of Math~U~See ~ a year's work & no, I don't keep stuff we're finished with. *sigh*

    When it comes to dealing with the State I do just enough to keep them off my back. I need all my strength to deal with Ditz. She's smarter than I am & has twice the lasting power.

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  2. I know that public schools have to allow homeschoolers on the sports teams. Is there anything similar for textbooks where parents can rent the books for the year just as a public school student does?

    Allison

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  3. Ganeida, it still freaks me out to see they lost a whole year of math. My word, what a bunch of work you had to do straightening that mess...

    A, there ARE programs where the public school will lend you books and let you do the school stuff online. Catch: You're counted as a public school student and therefore "accountable" to the school.

    Which makes things I think 20 times harder... you'd have to do things on their timeline AND document their way AND you wouldn't get to choose curriculum. That last one's actually the biggie for me. :]

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  4. Enjoyed your post.

    I keep records for our homeschooling even though my state is lenient. Although I own a computer program it is a pain to use (EduTrack) if you use it for planning (as intended) and also as "work really done" it is time consuming to put in data then revise it to match reality.

    I use a spiral notebook and put info in it. What we did, how long it took, lessons numbers, page numbers read, book lists read. We do not do a lot of workbooks so I do keep them all. I have the room so I throw them in a box and store them.

    However I did recently chuck out finished fun workbooks that also taught math from my 11 YO's preschool years.

    One issue with an LD child is the standardized test results can be used to incriminate the child and the home school. Not good. So while it is tempting to have all kids tested to show how great they are doing a parent must be prepared to hear a not-great result and realize it may come back to bite the family in the end.

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  5. Thanks, Christine. I keep thinking the same thing about the testing, but then... how to show improvement if I home educate a non-verbal child?

    What if there IS no measureable improvement?

    Just thinking aloud.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)