Today I watched a little girl get really upset as she discovered that her homeschool friends had submitted entries to a local writing contest that she thought she was too young to enter. Her big sister had entered a poem in the contest, which was open to students from first through twelfth grades, but she had no idea that she could enter, too. This is the 32nd year for this writing contest, and the Friends of the Library notify every public school in the area months in advance. Students can enter up to six samples of their writing in three different categories, but few public school teachers in the area help their students enter.
My friend’s daughter was really sad that her teacher never told her about the contest. Her mom took home an entry form, and I hope that she gets to come back and turn in a poem or a story before the deadline tomorrow. If not for her friendship with a homeschool family, she might not have ever known about this opportunity which is open to every student in the area. The whole experience made me think about the many good reasons for public school parents to be friends with homeschoolers.
Homeschoolers generally network with each other and find out all about the extracurricular opportunities around town. We know which dance studios are filled with the most drama and which youth sports have the best practice facilities. Lots of homeschool groups post information on their Facebook groups or webpages about upcoming sign-ups for extracurriculars of all types.
Whether your child likes writing or math, spelling or science, if there is a local contest open to all students, the local homeschool group is likely to know about it. I can’t really think of any good reason that every English teacher in the county didn’t encourage their students to write submissions for our local library contest, but the fact is, if a parent wants their child to have all the opportunities to show their work and compete for prizes, chances are they will have to pursue those opportunities on their own.
Raise your hand if your child got to take more than one field trip with their class this school year. Budget cuts mean fewer field trips for public school students, but if you are friends with a homeschool group, chances are they will be taking several field trips over the course of a year.
Of course, the schools want your children in their seats every day, because they receive funding based on attendance. However, you may have to ask yourself whether your elementary school child would learn more during a regular day of school or on an all-day trip to a Civil War museum and battlefield. Sometimes, you might just have to go for the field trip and leave the worksheets for another day.
The schools choose their curriculum based on what works best for a class of thirty kids. Your child might learn differently than a lot of the other kids in the class. You may need to catch up a child who is falling behind or to challenge a child who is just dying of boredom. If you are friends with a homeschooler, chances are they know a lot about many types of curriculum, and no matter what type of learner your child is, they can help you find solutions that will work. Also, if you find your child needs a little extra help in one subject or another, chances are a homeschool student would make an excellent tutor.
If you don’t know any homeschoolers, don’t worry. Most groups have an online presence now, either in the form of Facebook pages or other websites. Just do a search for homeschool groups in your area. Who knows what rewards you and your kids may reap from new friendships with the homeschoolers in your town.
More from Tavia:
Homeschooling Saved Our Lunch
Anti-homeschool Bills Threaten Parental Rights
Make Spring Break a Learning Adventure