This month I’m speaking at the VaHomeschoolers Conference, where I’ll meet new homeschooling parents and visit with old friends and veteran homeschoolers.
Conferences are always exciting for me. They remind me of why I chose to homeschool my sons. I see parents getting their “professional development” needs met. Interesting vendors provide books, curriculum, and resources for parents to browse. Speakers provide their expertise, giving information on everything from how homeschoolers can make transcripts for their high schoolers to how they can support beginning readers and writers. Kids and teens are everywhere, enjoying family programming, volunteering, and reuniting with once-a-year friends.
But above all, homeschool conferences and conventions provide a place where homeschooling feels normal. Instead of getting funny looks for having chosen something different from the mainstream, I feel I’m just one of many people who values this type of personalized education.
In fact, at this particular conference, I may not share political views, religious beliefs, socio-economic status, or ethnic backgrounds with the other people there. We are simply all interested in homeschooling – and we don’t even have to agree on what approach to take or what curriculum to use.
Homeschooling has grown and become more accepted in many places. However, homeschooling families still make up a small percentage of the population, with probably around three percent of school age children being homeschooled in the United States. As three percenters, we feel good when we are with a community of people who share something that is far less like institutional education and far more a lifestyle: a lifestyle of learning.
During a conference weekend, we don’t blink at larger families and later readers and kids with their own businesses and parents who are working on their own handwriting or learning the periodic table right alongside their kids. For a couple of days, we simply reflect on homeschooling together as the normal part of life it is for us.
The internet and park days do their part in helping families find and build community for homeschoolers, but I love the personal interaction and jazz of a conference. I’ll come home tired, but I’ll come home inspired. And I’ll hope to have shared some homeschooling experiences that will help families make the most of their years learning together.
Brave Writer’s Poetry Teatime
April is National Poetry Month in the United States, which we’ve featured in TheHomeSchoolMom Newsletter before. But did you know many homeschoolers have a tradition of having weekly or monthly poetry tea? April would be a great month to start your own tradition, and you can get some ideas for reading and writing poetry, preparing snacks, and getting started with the great combination of poems and tea through the Poetry Teatime website.
Poetry teatime is a snack for the brain, heart, and taste buds. As Julie Bogart says, “Poetry appreciation (enjoyment) leads to so many good places–greater awareness of the power of language, the apt word, linguistic musicality, the impact of a metaphor, and the joy of creativity.
Teatime leads to restored equilibrium in a busy household, delight for all the senses, nourishment, and family bonding.”
You can click on your own state or country to get a list of the species of turtles, birds, reptiles, mammals, butterflies, bumblebees, and other animals that live in your area – complete with scientific name and photo. That could make a great scavenger hunt for your family this spring: see how many you can spot, and keep a list!
While these resources aren’t intended to be complete curriculum, they may indeed have the right photo or lesson to enrich learning for an elementary student or add to the research a high schooler is doing. Plus, a homeschool mom could get lost going down the rabbit trails of the Library of Conference.
Ask Jeanne: Homeschooling and Immunization Law (Featured Article)
A reader recently asked about homeschooling to avoid immunizations. Jeanne wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the relationship between homeschooling and immunization requirements.
I have a 4-year-old little girl. We have always wanted to homeschool her. The main reason for this decision is we don’t agree with vaccinations. My fiancé is older than I am. He grew up in the ’70s, so in his mind, this was going to be easy. Well, times have changed. I have been doing research, and it seems so much harder than I was thinking. I’m so overwhelmed with information that I don’t know where to start. My little girl is so smart, and she’s easy to teach, so we’ve got that down, but as far as the law goes we, of course, want to make sure we follow the guidelines so it doesn’t backfire on us. If there is any way of simplifying all of this, I would greatly appreciate any advice.
There are all kinds of reasons to homeschool, and some people do bring up vaccinations and immunizations. However, before homeschooling in order to avoid them, you should be aware that homeschooling does not automatically mean you are exempt from laws requiring immunizations.
In fact, in the state where I live, as well as in many other states, homeschooled children are required to follow the same immunization laws as children who attend school. This is administrated in different ways in different states, but for example, in my state, homeschoolers send a Notice of Intent to Homeschool to their local school divisions. Local school administrators then may request immunization records from those families, and to be in compliance with the law, parents need to submit the records when they are requested. An alternative in my state is submitting an official religious exemption or medical exemption from immunization. These exemptions have specific requirements and paperwork…