Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hot topic: Homeschooling

An SF K Files visitor wants to start a thread on homeschooling:
I've been looking through past posts, and I don't see a homeschooling hot topic. That seems like a good one, as I have questions such as:
- Who is thinking about homeschooling, and why?
- What resources are out there for homeschooling, esp. here in San Francisco?
- Are there any folks out there who are "homeschooling," but in reality making their own small school with a small number of students?
- What if you go 0/7, homeschool for Kindergarten only, and then re-tried for first grade?

35 comments:

  1. I'm thinking about putting together a group -- potentially homeschool, potentially private school -- either in Pacifica or closer to San Francisco, because we're on waiting lists for 4 schools with appropriate type of instruction for my daughter (hands-on, differentiated instruction, etc.). She's in 2nd and doesn't have any hope of our public school choice until middle school.

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  2. I believe that one must have a teaching credential to homeschool in CA.

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  3. No, one must not.

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  4. Nor do private schools need teaching credentials for their teachers, right? I believe many do, but some do not. Pretty certain therefore that homeschooling parents also do not need them!

    Not sure what licensing is required for a school when one is teaching children other than one's own, however. 6:33, have you researched this?

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  5. You might want to check out the website for the HomeSchool Association of California. there are a few ways to homeschool and most involve jumping through some hoops.

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  6. This site may help:

    http://sfhomeschoolers.org/

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  7. The first few days after we learned we got 0/7 for Round 1, we were very hurt, angry, and somewhat irrational. We briefly considered homeschooling at least for a year until we could try again for 1st grade.

    However, that would mean me quitting my job or taking a leave of absence. Plus, I'm not sure I have it in me to successfully homeschool.

    We realized that the situation would have to be pretty dire in order to homeschool, i.e. not getting anything from wait list or Round 2. The public school we were assigned is not an option. However, we did list schools for Round 2 and wait list that we have a reasonable chance of getting into so we hope something pans out.

    Back when I was researching, I checked out the CA Homeschool website and didn't see an SF chapter. I'll have to check out the SF Homeschooler's website listed above.

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  8. I don't want to "out" anyone so this is vague but I know someone who went to a newly created small school by a very wealthy family because the parents were not happy with their choices. Fast forward to high school - bright kid but woefully behind in the fundamentals in math and science. I would just be careful with the notion that you can teach your child more or even as well as trained teachers, even in so called underperfoming schools.

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  9. 6:33
    I'd be curious to know what you think of Katherine Michiels School? My only initial critisism was that the upper elementary was so small and intimate that it is too much like home-schooling.

    I now understand the benefits to the amount of one on one time. Also, the cozy home feeling of KMS seems to foster a warmth--for example the kids hug each other good bye and say good morning to each kid as they come in--on their own! Not a "class rule!"

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  10. Of course I can't find it on their website - but the district offers some support services for homeschoolers. I talked to a guy who was homeschooling his 9 year old through the district - the dad said that the SF Unified cirrciulum just wasn't advanced enough for his kid. The kid was taking calculus courses at City. I know of one family that homeschools - they were assigned to DeAvila repeatedly when it was slated for closure. They are pretty happy with their decision and their kid seems extremely well socialized. It's something I would consider if my kids didn't think that every idea that emanates from me is automatically something to discount! Places like the Exploratorium and the Academy of Sciences also offer support to homeschooling families.

    FYI - It's legal in CA to homeschool and without a license: http://www.hsc.org/legal101.html

    There's also alternatives like CAVA - http://www.k12.com/cava/

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  11. Homeschooling can be a great if it's what you want to do. There are a lot of curriculum options out there so you don't have to reinvent the wheel. San Francisco has so many cultural and educational resources that it's hard to fit them all in. There are also classes arranged specifically for homeschoolers at various times -- at the Exploratorium, at New Conservatory Theater, Marsh Theater, etc. taking advantage of that morning time when most kids are in school. For a parent who likes to get out and take his/her (a number of homeschooling dads out there) kids out in the wider world it can be a great option.

    You can cover the academics of traditional school in a fraction of the time that it takes in regular school particularly in the early grades.

    We homeschooled my daughter for sixth grade, a time when a lot of homeschoolers end up sending their kids to school. I think it would have been great if we'd started earlier.

    I found the SF Homeschoolers group a little hard to break into. You kind of have to find your own way, make your own connections. Other communities on the peninsula are reputed to be more open but I don't have any direct experience there. A friend in the southern part of the city has found the San Mateo group more open to newcomers and has joined a number of their activities but that's just one experience.

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  12. It's a good idea for anyone considering homeschooling to become familiar with the CA educational standards for each grade:

    http://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/

    And actually, it's a good idea for anyone raising a child in CA to be familiar with these standards!

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  13. I heard that there were a small number of parents in the Sunset who went 0/7 last fall, and then homeschooled. Mid-year, the district opened up some spots at coveted neighborhood elementary schools which were offered only to folks coming from private school, out of the district, or homeschooling and those children were placed.

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  14. 2:18 pm, I've heard the same thing and have considered doing the same. Do we accept a school that is not one of our "top 7" or do we homeschool and/or attend private until we can move into one of our top 7 mid-year? SFUSD does not allow tranfers within the district but will place kids from "outside" the district as space permits.

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  15. We are also a 0/7 family -- we live across the street from Feinstein and were assigned to Jose Ortega like many Sunset families. We also talked about home schooling for one year. Looking at the numbers provided by the school district, many schools had more slots available than the number of 1st choice requests for that particular school. I'm still baffled that the first choice families didn't just get the school they asked for. It's such a shame that this pointless process has created so much stress for families. For us, we're hopeful that we'll get one of our choices in round 2, but if we don't, we're going to look closer at the home schooling option. We've already decided he's not going to Ortega.

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  16. Kathy, I know it's hard, and I'm sorry you didn't get your first choice, but that is how the lottery is set up. They could change it to give priority only to first-choice requests, but that would have other, perhaps unintended results, including perhaps even more segregation but also a tendency for parents to avoid putting acceptable-but-not-top choices at the top, whereas a GREAT strategy for getting a round 1 pick is to put a bubble school (in terms of popularity) near the top. And lots of other results I probably haven't thought of. Not to say you're not right that prioritizing first choice might be the way to go--but just know there are other issues in the balance. It's always a question of balance.

    Actually there has been lively discussion about this going on over at the pps listserve if you are interested in reading more.

    Good luck with waitpool and round 2. I know some family is going to be happy with your Ortega spot--it's certainly a school on the move.

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  17. We'd love to have gotten Ortega!

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  18. I second the last comment. Ortega is fantastic!

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  19. Wonderful principal, active parent community, language immersion in half the school. It will continue to rise.

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  20. The principal knows the name of every child in the school, makes herself available to the teachers, attends fundraisers, and mentors junior educators.

    You're right. Ortega will surely continue to rise along with her well-deserved good reputation!

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  21. For those of you strong, reasonable folks who will hang in there through Round 2 and the waitlist:

    I hope your truly mean that. The waitlists are active until the 10-day count, I believe. Someone correct me if I'm wrong.

    I got a phone call in mid-August last year when we were going through this grueling process. Voila! After 5 months of stress, we got one of our top picks. I think the price was worth it. I was willing to live with the anxiety because I was confident all would turn out well in the end.

    Keep your spirits up!

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  22. Some other good links for those interesting a homeschool or private school:

    http://californiahomeschool.net/howTo/pdf/justTheFacts05.pdf and

    http://privateschool.about.com/cs/startingaschool/ht/startaschool.htm

    (My apologies for the ad at the top of the latter link!)

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  23. 4:56 pm. Are you talking about Jose Ortega GE or Mandarin Immersion. They are two different programs!

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  24. 9:49, I'd be glad for either program at Ortega.

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  25. Let me clarify one thing. We met with a group of Ortega parents a few Saturdays ago. Very impressive group--very committed, involved and interested in improving the school and making progress. The problem--these parents were all from Mandarin Immersion. Not one GE parent was represented there. I went into this meeting very hopeful, as I'd seen all the five star ratings online and was actually optimistic that this could work, even with the commute. Turns out the Immersion parents make up all of the PTA and raise money for GE. They expressed frustration about the lack of participation by GE parents and were hopeful families would come into the school who would participate. My hat is off to them but I have to be honest--from what they said, the GE program (where my son was placed) doesn't have much involvement from GE families and that was a red flag for me. My son goes to a private Spanish Immersion school now and I'm a member of the Parent Association. Our parents are wonderful and jump in anytime something is needed. I just want the best for my child.

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  26. Kathy - May I ask, what is the private Spanish Immersion school? In my preliminary searches, I didn't see any spanish immerssion private schools.

    I'll be looking for kindergarten in the 2010-2011 (my girl just turned 4), and given that we'll now be facing the same "lottery" system that yall have had to deal with, I'm concerned to say the least. However, we are committed to her continued spanish development (she's fully bilingual, fluent in both spanish and english), and feel spanish immersion is the only way to make sure she keeps it up permanently. However, in looking at these enrollment numbers & anectdotes, along with knowing how popular immersion programs are, we may not get into *any*.

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  27. Hi, Kathy --
    I'm one of the 0/7 families who got assigned to Jose Ortega GE, too. Did you go to the welcoming event at the school the Friday after letters went out? There were some GE parents there who talked about their experiences -- people who went 0/7 and gave the school a try. There were plenty of prospective parents at the event -- they had to move it from the library to the auditorium to make room. We registered and plan to give it a try if we don't get our wait pool choice. We figure if even a few other parents do the same, it might bring more GE families who are active into the school. I don't want to try to make it sound like something it isn't, but we are definitely willing to give it a chance. (Home schooling is not an option for us.) I realize this is a moot point if you didn't register there...

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  28. Todd, the Spanish immersion program is for ages 2-5--it goes up to Pre-K only. But it's WONDERFUL! Teachers are amazing and my son has really blossomed. It's called Crayon Box Preschool on Ocean Ave; they also have a location in Daly City.

    To 8:54, we did register and went to the school the following week. We didn't go to the Friday event. If I knew there were parents who were willing to get involved, then sure, I'd consider it.

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  29. 8:54 here. I can't promise we'll be there come August, but I wouldn't be surprised if that happened. And my husband and I definitely plan to get involved wherever we end up. We are going public for sure. Although everyone talks so optimistically about getting what one wants through wait pools, the 10-day count, etc., I'm just not convinced that will be the case this year given the huge surge in applications.

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  30. I visited Crayon Box and didn't hear the kids speak Spanish at all among themselves.

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  31. The SFUSD examiner who tested my daughter for Spanish fluency told us the kids from Crayon Box were not scoring that well on their assessment. She recommended a different Spanish-immersion preschool for our youngest, Centro Las Olas. She said their kids were all scoring around 95-100 percent fluent, including the kids from English-speaking families!

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  32. Some of our parents who are looking at continuing an Spanish immersion program have been talking about this issue at Crayon Box. I can say my son has really come a long way in his 2 years at the school--I'm not sure I would call him fluent but he speaks very well and understands most of what's said to him. We love Crayon Box because the teachers are very nurturing and patient. It's really a great place.

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  33. San Francisco Homeschoolers is a loosely organized, inclusive group of homeschooling families in San Francisco, California. We meet for weekly park days and other events. Please send a message to our membership coordinator at membership@sfhomeschoolers.org to join the San Francisco Homeschoolers. Only current members may participate in this Yahoo group. For more information, please visit our web site at www.sfhomeschoolers.org.

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  35. We are also looking for a small "homeschool" with a small group of kids and one teacher. Does anything like this exist in SF or does one have to create it?

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