It's that time of year again. You know, school is ending. You've already put in your applications for next year or hoping it's not too late to switch public schools. The financial aid application deadline is past, or is fast approaching. Whatever it takes to give our children the education model that best fits the needs of our children, we do it.
For many of us in Santa Fe, that education model is through home learning, or homeschooling by its more popular name. Homeschooling is being seen more as a mainstream option, rather than an alternative model. It has not become just another way to teach, but a lifestyle.
Thankfully, New Mexico is not a highly regulatory state, and believes parents can choose how to educate their own children. The state only requires a notification of intent to homeschool, which can be filled out online or through the mail. The homeschooling parent or guardian must have a high school diploma or GED and keep a copy on hand, as well as a vaccine record or waiver, and a calendar showing number of schooling days. A copy of the Home School Operators Procedures Manual is available at the NM Public Education Department's website.
Many Santa Fe families do a mix of homeschooling alone and with other families. There are several homeschool groups with opportunities to form friendships and cooperative learning groups. Some past and present events include geography fairs, art classes, park days, history fairs, a 4-H group, and more. Possibilities abound for families to initiate and join. Trips to fairs and theatrical events available to school groups are also available to homeschool families within a group.
Some homeschool groups that also have an online presence (through Yahoo! email groups) are:
There are also homeschool groups in Los Alamos and Espanola.
What if your family is not ready to make the jump to homeschooling? Often referred to as a homeschooling option is the Family School. Your child is still considered a public school student and receives half their instruction in the public school and half at home. Family School is currently being held at Alvord Elementary. Future public-school-at-home options in the works include Connections Academy and IDEAL. Connections Academy is a nationwide virtual charter school; it is currently getting its charter approved. IDEAL-NM-Innovative Digital Education and Learning in New Mexico-is a statewide initiative that would serve high school students.
Where do you get started to learn more about homeschooling? Our Santa Fe library system has a wealth of books on the subject. There is also a homeschool information box located in the children's section at La Farge and I'll soon be setting up the same at Main and Southside. Every two months or so, free homeschooling magazines are available as well.
Want to talk to someone who is currently homeschooling? Saturday park days are being started back up. Beginning April 26, a single homeschooling mom will be meeting others after lunch at the Sweeney Elementary playground for fun and friendship. Come on out and join some homeschool families. It's that time of year again!