Archive by Author

Overcompliance

by Melissa Robb

 

It’s that time of year once again.

The time of year you will have mailed your End of Year letter and Letter of Intent.  You wait for your “approval” letter, hoping that your school district isn’t going to be a problem.

There’s the envelope from the school department in your mailbox. You hope it’s a simple “thank you, your child has been approved for 2018-19”. And, for most of us, it will be! But, your district may send a packet of forms and other “useful information.” Your district may send an approval letter that contains language that leans to overreaching and may even have a threatening tone.

School districts think they are being helpful.  I believe they are trying to do the “right” thing. They think they are providing valuable information to uninformed homeschoolers.  They may think their desired level of oversight is what the state (RIDE) expects of them.  At best these packets are just a waste of time, trees and money. More and more often these cover letters and packets have become more than harmless and useless information. Overreaching, threatening and outright untrue. They may include due dates for paperwork (no, we don’t have deadlines). They may “require” information above and beyond what is actually required by law so that your LOI can be “approved”. They may request a meeting with the superintendent. They may hint at (or outright threaten) truancy and forcing your child into public school if you don’t comply.
These letters, often mailed with copies of forms that do not align to RI law, come with added requirements. They are no longer simply trash-worthy papers, but overstepping the mandate of the school department, and we should not comply.  Every time one family overcomplies in order to “play nice” it hurts another family that is following the law by making it look like they are not doing their job (seriously, we have heard school departments compare LOIs and EOYs this way).

Today we have so many freedoms (rightly so) and homeschooling is more accepted and understood than in the past.  We don’t hide our children inside during the day (as homeschoolers used to). We don’t fear that we will be hauled off to jail for not sending our children to be educated by the state.  We can be grateful for those who fought for decades for the homeschool laws (and policies) to be as free as possible.  We can take for granted our chosen lifestyle because of those homeschoolers who came before us.  If we overcomply, if we give in to the requests for more and more information because it’s “easier,” then we are not showing the respect and gratitude to those homeschoolers who paved the way for us.

We, the homeschoolers, know the law better than many of those working in the school departments.  They have thousands of students to worry about, and so many laws and policies to keep track of.  We have a handful of students and few statues to be adhere to. There are times when we, as a community, need to speak up, educate the school departments.  Politely, respectfully, firmly.

Most times you can simply ignore these letters. Follow RI law. Follow the letters that have been acceptable in the past.  Follow the sample letters and FAQs outlined in the resources section of the ENRICHri website.

Remember that if you ever get pressured to provide information beyond what is required by law (such as a threat that your LOI will not be “approved”), we are here to help.  ENRICHri has members in every district.  We stand together so no one family needs to stand alone.

 

Take a Break

by Melissa Robb

Want to know a secret? Shh….it’s one of the best-kept secrets of homeschooling. Ready? Here it comes…

Homeschoolers don’t have to follow any schedule at all. We can take a break ANY TIME WE WANT OR NEED TO. Oh my gosh, right?

What kind of schedule or break am I talking about?  Hourly? Yes! Learning in your home does not need to take place between the hours of 8:30 am and 3:00 pm. Your school can be from 5pm to 8pm or 5am to 8am or, if you are all night owls why can’t you do lessons at 1 in the morning? No reason at all… go head, enjoy!  Daily? Yes! Plan to take a Wednesday off just because. School Tuesday – Saturday instead of the tradition-al Monday – Friday school week. Or if your school day isn’t going so well, choose to change your planned lessons, choose to reorganize the day or choose to just take the day off!

Weekly? Yes! You are not required to “have school” on the same weeks that the public schools do. You can work on weeks they are on vacation and you can take vacations on weeks they are in school. Days at the playground without bunches of kids around. Disney World vacations without LINES!!!  Monthly? YES!!! Yes!!! It’s true! You can skip school all of January but have lessons all of July! YOU CAN MAKE YOUR YEAR’S SCHEDULE LOOK HOWEVER YOU WANT IT TO!  Yearly? Well, SURE! Why not?? When it comes right down to it, why not? Take off a year, travel, un-school, do what you want. The next year will still be there waiting to be used as you wish.

On a serious note: nowhere in Rhode Island is it a law that you follow your town’s school schedule. Your town may LIKE for you to do so. Your town may send you pretty attendance sheets that cover Mon-Fri, September-June, but you are not required to use them. Rhode Island law requires that you complete 180 days of school. You can achieve that in any way that you want to.

R.I.G.L.16-2-2. City and town schools required — School year …. — (a) Except as specifically provided in this section every city or town shall establish and maintain for at least one hundred eighty (180) days annually exclusive of holidays …

So I can take my life for granted . . .

*Submitted and written by Melissa Robb*

Many, possibly even most, times the phrase, “taken for granted”, is used in a negative way.  I like to use it in a positive way.  When I can take something for granted it shows, in my mind, that the situation is a very secure one, one I can rely upon.

There are many people in the past who have NOT taken their rights for granted.  Many of those people have spent a lot of their time, energy (and sometimes their lives) fighting for those things that I can take for granted now.  Those who fought the American Revolution, those who worked to change child labor laws, those who wouldn’t rest until women had the vote, and so many more… so many.

At this time in my life, there are two groups of people who come directly to mind when I think of things that I take for granted in my current daily life.

Feminists: this is a huge one for me.  I have been very conscious, for quite a long time that I do not have to fight for equality with males.  Women chose to oppose their husbands, chose to risk remarks from their female friends, and were made to feel like less.  I don’t have to read books about my rights as a female.  I don’t have to listen to feminists explain to me what life could be like.  I don’t have to take less pay because I’m not the man of the house.  I don’t have to focus on the fact that I am a female, just like I don’t focus on the fact that I am a person with blue eyes or a person who is right-handed.  I can take it for granted that I am simply a person, who happens to be female.  To those who planted the seed and those who marched in DC, to all the women who fought for their equalities within the confines of their own homes, thank you.

Homeschoolers of the 70s and 80s:  thank you, thank you.  You paved the way for my life today.  You hid inside the house for years, keeping your children away from prying eyes.  You wrote your own curriculum.  You stuck to your beliefs that your children belonged at home.  I have endless choices in curriculum.  My child has options of many workshops, classes offered from a variety of places.  We don’t have to close our curtains during the day.  We go out into the world without a shred of fear.   We live in a country where most people have least heard of homeschooling, even if they don’t know much about it.  The image of denim jumper moms and socially awkward kids are almost completely a thing of the past.  I thank every parent who chose homeschooling and every child who lived that life.  You have all made our right to homeschool something that we take for granted on a daily basis.  Thank you for paving the way.

I appreciate all I have in my life.  There are so many people have made and who continue to make me, here and now, possible (including my husband who leaves the house 5 days a week to earn a paycheck, which enables my chosen role as a SAHM – something I do not take for granted!!).   I pause, occasionally, to think, to breath and sometimes to audibly say, thank you, but mostly, I take you all for granted.   I am safe enough to do so.

Masquerade Ball

*Submitted and written by Beth Daley*

The lights were turned down low, the music was jamming, and balloons were bouncing all over the dance floor.  Everything was draped in purple and gold.  Even the lights on the wall had a hue of purple shooting up to the high ceiling of the hall.  Families entered through a golden curtain dressed in their best.

My children were dressed in suits and ties, or a sparkly dress.  Squirming with excitement their eyes were huge as they took in the sight.  This was our first ever family dance.  What made it even better?  It was with friends AND they could wear masks!  A masquerade ball was just kicking off!

Children of all ages swarmed the dance floor.  Some dancing without a care.  Others grabbing friends by the wrist to chat.  The youngest grabbed balloons and dashed from one end to the other while others stared entranced by the lights.  At one point, there was a train of children of all heights giggling their way around the entire venue.

Parents could be seen mingling from table to table.  Couples were dancing, while some preferred to sit back and watch the evening unfold.

Pitchers were filled at each table with sweet lemonade and iced water.  Plates were filled with fixings from the taco bar, complete with beans, two types of tortillas, and all the cheese my daughter cared to eat.  The child loves cheese.  The unveiling of dessert caused a rush to receive a helping of homemade strawberry shortcake topped with homemade whipped cream.  Dietary concern?  It was gluten free and it was delicious!

Dashing around all evening was the woman of the hour who planned the entire evening, Larkin Trainor.  With her baby by her side, she could be seen all night refilling pitchers, checking on food, chatting with friends and family, and simply making sure everyone was enjoying themselves.

Larkin and her family pulled off quite a night.  From the extensive planning to the washing the last dish from dessert, she executed an event where families and friends could get together for a night of good old fashioned fun!

Now, I know throwing a party can be intensive and sometimes, rather stressful.  This was a Party with a capitol “P”!  How did she do it?  Why?  I had to know.  So I asked.

This is the second time Larkin planned a dance for ENRICHri.  She took on the task because her teenage daughter asked for a dance event.  After receiving board approval, Larkin and her daughter, Kaylee, got to work.

Though Larkin and Kaylee headed took the reins, there were many other people who provided services to create the event.  Julia Arnold, head of special events for ENRICHri, Larkin mentioned, was an asset in planning.  Her husband was helpful but Larkin said her father-in-law was the man who helped bring it all together.  He was able to secure the venue for the dance because “he holds a seat on the board for the venue” as Larkin shared with me.  It’s always good to know a guy.

In true homeschool fashion, planning the dance was an opportunity to learn.  Together, Larkin and Kaylee worked out a menu, decorations, seating, for just over 100 people. As she said “it took some work” even though she has had experience catering.  Larkin admits even if it was challenging to plan dance with four kids at home while juggling making the food (yes, she made all food) and decorations, “watching everyone have such a grand time and hearing how thankful they are makes all the hard work worth it!!!”

Larkin wanted to provide her daughter with an experience.  She made it happen not only for Kaylee but for the ENRICHri community.  I asked Larkin what advice she would give to someone who was thinking about running an event she responded “I guess the best advice I can pass along to others is it’s always a bit nerve-wracking planning events, plan/play to your strengths! And know that the enrich community, board members and members alike, are extremely supportive and will do everything they can to support and help!”

As she and her family recover from the weekend of excitement, Larkin has already begun brainstorming for next years dance.  She and her family look forward to the dance, they always have a good time.  Larkin mentioned “I think I am doing a pretty good job filling the void of a ‘school dance’ for my teenaged daughter”.

Pretty good?  I would say pretty fantastic!  Thank you Larkin and Kaylee.