Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Homeschooling, a la carte
Scholastic.com's Administrator magazine ran an article recently called "The Homeschool Twist." Aimed at principals and district leaders, the article encourages them to consider partial homeschooling for gifted students whose needs can't be met fully during the regular school day. The idea is that a child can take some courses at school (language, art, music, PE, electives, or any subject where the regular classwork will suffice) and then others elsewhere. Perhaps this is at home via online courses. Perhaps this is at home via tutors, or the parents, or perhaps it's through a local college. There are all sorts of ways to structure such a program. My favorite example in the piece is a school district that lets high schoolers enrolled in online AP classes miss the first hour of the school day. You can take the class whenever you want (so 9pm works, too) but you get to sleep in! Not a bad deal. As the article notes, "With partial homeschooling, gifted students still have access to other children and activities and parents can work or have personal time without paying for child care. Students can take advantage of master classes in a talent area, and spend time on individualized study or hands-on learning." This is getting at one of the main obstacles to homeschooling -- namely, that many parents need the school day as a form of childcare while they work (though we've written here about homeschooling and working). Anyway, I'm a big fan of the school day being less set. Some districts -- and some parents -- view the school vs. homeschool issue as black and white. You're either all in or you're all out. If you're all out, there's no participation in anything -- which some parents, who might be homeschooling for philosophical or religious reasons, might be fine with. But if you're homeschooling for more practical reasons, then an a la carte approach to school has a lot going for it. Frankly, there's no reason to limit this a la carte school choice to gifted students. Perhaps another child might want to take his core classes during the morning and run a business during the afternoon. Someone else might want to do a morning internship and take classes in the afternoon. As school changes, and as methods of content delivery evolve, there's no reason to have school mean what it has in the past. One can envision a system where schools are reimbursed per course, and if students take an online course while in the school building, the school could be partially reimbursed as "rent" for providing the computer, the broadband, and supervising adults. Have you tried partial homeschooling? Is your district or school for it or against it?