Rhode Island Districts with the Most Home Schooled Students
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
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Numbers of home schooled Rhode Island students range from 1 on Block Island and 3 in Central Falls, to over 100 in Woonsocket, Warwick, and Cranston.
"From a national perspective, home schooling is growing at a rate of 2% a year," said Andrew Campanella, President of National School Choice Week, which every January "shines a spotlight on the need for effective education options for all children" -- including home schooling. This year -- and this week -- National School Choice Week will feature over 5,500 events across the country.
Campanella continued, "The number of students educated at home continues to increase, and we expect that to continue with online learning, technology advances, and blended learning. Whereas parents might not have been comfortable teach all topics before -- now they can access online courses, which is opening new avenues to home education."
Beverly Burgess, state coordinator with ENRICHri, which is a "secular community which provides support and guidance in a welcoming environment for homeschooling families in Southern New England," told GoLocal, "We've had a huge movement in the past year -- we've probably doubled in the past year. We had 80 families when we started, and we're close to 200 at the moment."
Burgess continued, "We started in 2009, with ten families meeting weekly at my house, just to get together to do some fun things, academic activities as well. And then it was 25 families, and then 50 -- the following year we obtained the non-profit status, with an exec board, we've got a PR team now. It's been a great process. We have over 300 events a year, field trips, social events, academic classes, great relationships with the community. Classes with zoo school set up exclusively for us, programs with RISD, the historical society. Our children love to learn, and they're successful."
National Home Schooling Picture
NEHRI President Brian Ray told GoLocal, "The reasons why families chose home schooling haven't changed much 30 years, but the overall range of diversity has. 30 years ago, it was almost white-Anglo families home schooling. That has changed drastically. People want education customization, individual learning, strong family ties."
Ray, a PhdD, noted he was recenttly invited to be guest editor for the peer-reviewed academic journal Peabody Journal of Education. "It's the second oldest of its kind in the United States," said Ray, who penned an article for the issue, "Homeschooling Associated with Beneficial Learner and Societal Outcomes but Educators Do Not Promote It."
For Brenda Polion with the Rhode Island Guild of Home Teachers (RIGHT), the reason she home schooled her children stemmed in part from her husband's work -- in the military.
"We're military -- we traveled around a lot, so my husband suggested homeschooling," said Polion. "A lot of the military wives did it, so I had a great support system."
Polion continued, "It's a way of life, it's not something you "do" -- everything is a learning experience, everything is a learning opportunity."
Home School Support in RI
On the page, it reads, "RIDE does not directly supervise home instruction. In Rhode Island, approval of home instruction occurs at the local school district level. If you are thinking of home-schooling your child, please call your local school superintendent’s office for information."
Polion says she often gets calls from parents looking for further guidance. "A mom or dad calls, and they want to tell me their story -- normally they have more than one child, they don't know what to do. They ask, "Do i need a degree?", one question leads to another. And I say yes -- you can teach your children at home. You taught then how to eat, how to talk. You don't have to stop at age 5. I highly recommend they become familiar with the law, so they know what to expect when they file their letter of intent [to home school]."
"The principal of your school has nothing to do with your decision," said Polion. "You send that letter to the superintendent. You have to agree to 180 days and keep a calendar. If you want to work Saturday and Sunday, you can -- it just has to be equal to the school department."
"RIGHT is a very good resource, I was a member when I was younger," said parent Tammy LaForest Schneider. "I was home schooled since 7th grade, and knew I wanted to home school my children. The process is exactly as it is on the RIGHT website, but I didn't do just bare minimum. I told them the resources I'd be using, and how I'm covering the mandatory subjects, and I'd be using a portfolio to demonstrate proficiency."
LaForest Schneider, who is the parent of children ages 7 and 4 said, "I know a lot of home schoolers, and I know a lot of home schoolers who are cool. A lot of home schoolers are about keeping their kids away, but I enjoy doing activities and classes with other families."
While she home schools her students now, LaForest Schneider said she might consider enrolling her children in public school while she goes back to college for a degree before returning to home schooling. "We'll see, it certainly is an option."
Student Success Cited
Burgess with ENRICHri noted that while two of her children were always home schooled, her oldest son decided he wanted to go to a charter school for 11th and 12th grade, where she said "he thrived."
"I think as home schoolers, we want to find the fit that's best for our child," said Burgess. "And our children are succeeding. They're going to colleges that are actively seeking them out."
"It's about ensuring they love learning, which they all do -- and seek out their own ideas, and what it means to learn and take control of their education,"said Burgess, who acknowledged there have been naysayers. "There have been very few articles that haven't been critical or damaging about home schooling, and it's been disheartening. There's a lot of pre-judging. If people spent a day in out lives, they'd see it works."
Camapanella noted the track record of home schooling. "If folks doubt the effect of home schooling, just look at SAT and ACT scores. Those kids are preforming at as high - and oftentimes higher -- level than their peers."
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