Officially withdrawing your child from their brick and mortar school to homeschool for the duration of this pandemic is certainly an option you can consider – BUT parents are encouraged to consider a few points before filing their paperwork.
Many states, like Maryland, are an all-or-nothing homeschool state. In other words, when families opt to educate their children at home, they become 100% fully responsible for all costs associated with homeschooling. All school-owned textbooks and technology must be returned. And, children are removed from online learning platforms, losing access to a plethora of school-funded apps and software.
With the global pandemic, it is not clear how soon a family may need to return materials to a school. With no guarantee for how soon an online order for new books may arrive for your family, these are factors to think about.
Special Education Services
Schooling-at-home has upended special education services for tens of thousands of children with special learning needs. With little to no guidance from the Federal government, as of mid-April, many families are receiving nominal – if any – services identified in their child’s IEP. Should you chose to homeschool now, your child’s IEP will most likely go inactive. Most states, including Maryland, do not provide special education services to homeschoolers. You can, however, check with your medical insurance to see which service providers, such as speech pathologists and counselors, may be covered to provide tele-services.
High School Credit
Granting high school credits is a matter that is dealt with by laws and regulations. For example, in Maryland, a homeschool high school student who transfers into public school is not automatically guaranteed credit for all the classes that they’ve completed. Those holds true even for credits earned through an accredited online course provider or (believe it or not) at a local community college.
State and district policies will dictate how schools can legally grant high school credit earned outside the traditional brick and mortar seat time. Generally speaking, protocols exist to allow a student to take an end of year exam or by presenting a portfolio of work that will be reviewed by the high school’s department head. Look up your district’s rules and policies about high school transfer credit. Then, send an email to your child’s guidance counselor letting them know ahead of time that you intend on petitioning for the credit earned at home.
High School Credit Earned as a Middle Schooler
Not all states allow middle school students to earn and carry over high school credit. Check to see how that’s handled where you live so you won’t be blindsided by an automatic denial to your transfer petition. Worst case scenario will be that your child will have to retake an at-home accelerated class once school reopens.
If At First You Don’t Succeed . . .
Deciding to officially homeschool in the midst of a global pandemic with strict stay-put orders could very well be the right decision for your family. You may be leaving behind a lot of headaches and traditional schoolwork that does not work for your child. However, you might find that despite your enthusiasm and your child’s excitement, homeschooling just isn’t working out for you.
Living through the coronavirus crisis is not easy. Even if you are not personally effected by the tragic and staggering number of deaths, there is a trauma to having lost our sense of normalcy and the fundamental sense of trust that life is generally okay. With that trauma comes stress and grief that can play out in all kinds of short tempers and behavioral issues for everyone in the family.
If homeschooling does not go well for you right now, don’t be quick to blame yourself or your child. You are starting your homeschool journey without the benefit of joining a homeschool community and creating new friends and systems of support. You also don’t have the opportunity to enjoy community-based learning, like going on field trips or park days.
Before you throw in the towel, remember: Your current experience – good or bad – will not likely resemble anything similar to a post-COVID19 homeschool life.