A true educational movement in this country is underway. American families, more and more, are looking at "alternative" means to educate their children beyond the traditional school model. This movement has taken two forms: homeschool and unschool. Parents choose these routes for a variety of reasons (religious, ethical, practical, and so on). However, a growing population of "special needs" students are joining the ranks for homeschooling and unschooling. There are a variety of reasons for this phenomenon, but typically, the most common reasons are traditional school systems being unable and/or unwilling to provide accommodations, medical issues, or the child simply would thrive better in a nontraditional environment/schedule. Whatever the reasons involved, Washington State is in the forefront of fostering alternative education. With laws that really work in the families favors, it's becoming more of an option. The Washington Homeschooling Organization (WHO) has an amazing websites that explains the law, requirements, resources, and support.
Sounds perfect? Oh, no. Complications can (and do) arise. It isn't easy. But what about any kind of education is easy?
What is simple to understand is the concept of homeschool. The child does their schooling in the home environment under the watchful eye of a parent/guardian/caregiver. This adult is responsible to teach and administer lessons. This can be done in a variety of ways. Purchased or borrowed curriculum can be used or a more free form approach (developing one's own curriculum and materials). It's up to the parent's judgment and what works best for the child. Homeschool parents provide continuous enrichment in the community, through events and activities, to supplement the child's home education and stay within the law.
"Unschool" is another approach that is popular particularly in Puget Sound. The Unschool philosophy is that the child shapes his/her own experiences, life lessons, and education, by going, doing, and being. Unschoolers are like homeschoolers, but with a very free form kind of structure and philosophy.
What's interesting is that each home school is unique. Parents can combine multiple approaches, or just use one. I know families in which their children have all three methodologies at their disposals (part-time traditional school enrollment, which is allowed for any child in our state, and then elements of homeschool/unschool).
Regardless of one's opinion as a parent or citizen (and believe me, there are a lot of opinions on this issues, some of which are quite heated and even downright venomous), at least where we live, as parents, we have some options.
Readers/bloggers, come into the discussion. What do you think about the homeschooling trend? Where do you stand with our traditional school system? Is there a happy medium? Families of special needs children, your thoughts?
Where local education is concerned, this is only the beginning folks.