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How to I "legally" unschool?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I live in FL where from my understanding the law requires that I provide proof that my child has made academic progress annually.

I have 2 boys (ages 9 and 7) that I have been unschooling for 14 months. I was registered with my local school board as a homeschool family but the pressure of providing proof of my childrens progress in the form of testing or a portfolio review has pushed me to withdraw them as homeschoolers and put them in a private school (Alternative Education Institute) where I only have to mail in my attendance once a year. My problem is that I need to keep a portfolio in case of an audit of I were ever questioned so I have the boys do random workbook pages every month or so and stick it in a folder.Neither the boys nor I are happy with having to do this. I know the school board would not accept my style of "education". I live in fear of one day having to prove their academic progress. My questions are.......

Do other unschoolers keep a portfolio?

Do other unschoolers use an umbrella school like I do?

What would an unschool portfolio look like?

How do unschoolers make it pass the school board or other authorities who are convinced that "school" and "curriculum" are a requirement of education?

thanks for any help you can give!
post #2 of 36
I'll have to do an annual portfolio starting next year. I'll set aside anything ds happens to do, take pictures of non paper projects, pamphlets from places we go, etc. I'm supposed to keep a record of books read so I'll make a list of what we read together and anything he reads on his own if he should start reading independently by then. I'll have to check off the days we do school, no dates necessary so it can just be a grid with 180 boxes that I check. I'll jot down notes about some of the projects I imagine he'll do (even building lego spaceships involves math, science, physics, engineering). Some people keep a blog or a journal where they write down all the cool things their kids come up with. I think it would be pretty hard for an unschooled kid NOT to make academic progress.
post #3 of 36
Maybe if you thought of it more like a scrap book of your kid's childhood it wouldn't seem so stressful?Maybe the kids could even put one together themselves.
post #4 of 36
Do the audits ever happen? In my state I need to keep attendance records, but no one can recall anyone ever being asked to produce them. Knowing how likely it is that you'll need to show the portfolio to someone might help you decide how much effort to put into it.

I'd also ask the umbrella school or homeschooling friends what they recommend/do. Is testing an option? It might be less stressful, because you would only have to think about it once a year, and there would be no question that it was "enough".

ZM
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zeldamomma View Post
Do the audits ever happen? In my state I need to keep attendance records, but no one can recall anyone ever being asked to produce them. Knowing how likely it is that you'll need to show the portfolio to someone might help you decide how much effort to put into it.

I'd also ask the umbrella school or homeschooling friends what they recommend/do. Is testing an option? It might be less stressful, because you would only have to think about it once a year, and there would be no question that it was "enough".

ZM
A friend in the "homeschool" group that I use just told me a few weeks ago that she had been asked this past December to provide her portfolio. She turned in all of her stuff for her 13 yo son and they said she did not show enough "hand written work". She told the school board that her son struggles with dyslexia so they told her he needed to use a voice recorded. He recorded some stuff (I diddnt ask what it was) and she turned it.

The school board where I live is not aware (or they pretend to not be aware) of the homeschool laws and what you REALLY have to provide. They have contacted my "private school" to confirm my childrens enrollment and also when I told them about the private school I was using they told me I couldn't!She said that she would" look into it". She did not know what un umbrella school was. When I sent in my Notice To Terminate Homeschool Program that I printed off of FPEA website, I recieved a call from the school board saying that I did not provide the name of my childs private school. I diddnt want any trouble so I gave it to them but I know that I legally dont have to.

Im just trying to find a peaceful way to handle my unschooling without having problems with the school board. I don't want my kids tested. I know that some evaluators are nice and arent that invasive but it is juat a process that I would like to avoid. I get advice from homeschoolers and they tell me that the evaluators have told them "well Johnny doesent know his address and he really should know that at his age":!

Thats why im in search for unschoolers to give advise! Thanks ladies!
post #6 of 36
hey veg! (it's me )

For some who don't know - we live in a VERY obnoxious county. We have heard from other moms that they have been threatened with jail for not showing progress.

Its kind of scary.

And not to mention DCF on our backs on a regular basis - Unschooling is not very well accepted here.
post #7 of 36
I am so lucky to be in Texas where we are not required to keep records, prove progress, or do any testing.

I like the idea of keeping a scrapbook as a record. Add a page for attendence if required, add a few pages to list books that are being read, and use photos, drawings, writing samples (my dd loves to make picture journals with lots of drawing and writing in them), copies of letters written, little notes with everything of what they were doing and how they were learning.

If you go for a walk outside, take a picture and jot down the discussions that you had about flowers or weather or whatever.

I hope you figure out a system that is easy for you to keep and as unstressful as possible.
post #8 of 36
you might be interested in this thread:

http://www.mothering.com/discussions...t=cps+unschool
post #9 of 36
post #10 of 36
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/...1003/Sec02.HTM

The 2008 Florida Statutes
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by vegmama3 View Post
A friend in the "homeschool" group that I use just told me a few weeks ago that she had been asked this past December to provide her portfolio. She turned in all of her stuff for her 13 yo son and they said she did not show enough "hand written work". She told the school board that her son struggles with dyslexia so they told her he needed to use a voice recorded. He recorded some stuff (I diddnt ask what it was) and she turned it.

The school board where I live is not aware (or they pretend to not be aware) of the homeschool laws and what you REALLY have to provide. They have contacted my "private school" to confirm my childrens enrollment and also when I told them about the private school I was using they told me I couldn't!She said that she would" look into it". She did not know what un umbrella school was. When I sent in my Notice To Terminate Homeschool Program that I printed off of FPEA website, I recieved a call from the school board saying that I did not provide the name of my childs private school. I diddnt want any trouble so I gave it to them but I know that I legally dont have to.

Im just trying to find a peaceful way to handle my unschooling without having problems with the school board. I don't want my kids tested. I know that some evaluators are nice and arent that invasive but it is juat a process that I would like to avoid. I get advice from homeschoolers and they tell me that the evaluators have told them "well Johnny doesent know his address and he really should know that at his age":!

Thats why im in search for unschoolers to give advise! Thanks ladies!
By testing, I meant a standardized test, not evaluation. They aren't a great way to measure people or learning, but you don't need to worry about the bias of the people who give the test or read the results-- there's a number there, and it is what it is. I used to live in a state that required annual proof of progress, and lots of unschoolers liked to use the CAT, because it was cheap and they could administer it themselves at home.

As for your over-stepping school district, I would suggest that you start standing up for yourself when they overstep. When they ask for more information than they have a right to, send a polite letter that says "if you can show me where the law requires me to submit this information, I'll be happy to comply". Hopefully you'll be able to help them learn what their rights and responsibilities are, regarding homeschooling, and you and other homeschoolers will have an easier time with them.

ZM
post #12 of 36
We keep a portfolio. It's not workbook sheets. It's a digital portfolio containing photos, videos, audio samples and my observations of the kids' unschooled learning. It ends up looking very robust indeed. Amazing what builds up when you just diligently document on a weekly basis. And it doesn't interfere with unschooling at all.

Miranda
post #13 of 36
We don't have to document where I live, but I'm currently writing up "high school" transcripts for my ds and a friend recommended this book: http://www.amazon.com/Homeschoolers-...0161405&sr=8-1

It addresses high school transcripts but also is largely about portfolios and record keeping in general. Very comprehensive and organized. Maybe it would help you to develop something acceptable to your reviewers.
post #14 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rere View Post
Maybe if you thought of it more like a scrap book of your kid's childhood it wouldn't seem so stressful?Maybe the kids could even put one together themselves.
I do that with pictures. I have lots of "field trip" pics and pamphlets! Last year we went on 14 "field trips" From The Museum of Science and Industry to our local Botanical Gardens! Maybe I am under estimating the power of pictures and pamphlets!

I know they make progress! I'm just asking what types of things you use to have "proof"

Thanks guys for being helpful:
post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by vegmama3 View Post
I do that with pictures. I have lots of "field trip" pics and pamphlets! Last year we went on 14 "field trips" From The Museum of Science and Industry to our local Botanical Gardens! Maybe I am under estimating the power of pictures and pamphlets!

I know they make progress! I'm just asking what types of things you use to have "proof"


Thanks guys for being helpful:
I think thats the main question is how do you "proove" progress....and how much progress is "enough" for the school board to not put you in jail?
post #16 of 36
Thread Starter 
I am thinking like this....my kids learned to crawl,walk,talk,play video games and so-on and so-on.....if you ask me to show you how they learned to do all of those things I really couldn't explain it. They just did! Through life,living,experience,practice and naturally evolving! So its hard for me to explain how my 7 year old can read so well *naturally! He reads signs along the road and communicates to other players on his online games by typing sentences to them.He reads our fortune cookies when we have Chinese food.

I didn't go to school for 5 years to learn how to drive a car and I didn't use a curriculum to learn either.I just learned by doing it. I believe you learn by doing. Trying to explain that to ppl is hard ( I don't know why!)
post #17 of 36
I'm in Pinellas County and my DD is 5. I have put off becoming "official" for may of the reasons you stated in your OP. The stupid portfolio just seems like such a PITA.

My plan is to blog my kids educational experiences. We take pictures of all kinds of stuff already to share with my parents (who are in may ways helping to homeschool). I plan to beef my record keeping up a bit to include a file that I drop writing sample into, library receipts that list books we have checked out, pamphlets from places we visit, etc... I do not plan on making my file "professional" in any way other than dating materials that go in.

Since my DH is a certified FL teacher (I let my certification lapse) and we have a good friend with certification, we plan on adding a note stating that DD "is making adequate progress" to the yearly file. DH thinks it is a good idea to let our friend write the note to avoid any questions that could come from a parent being the evaluator. Legally that is all that is required to cover "proof of adequate progress".

Just curious, what county are you in?
post #18 of 36
Ugh, making a mental note NOT to move to Fla...
post #19 of 36
We used to live in Florida and staying legal wasn't a big deal. You get to choose the evaluator for your portfolio, so find a "friendly" evaluator.

Keep track of what you do, books read, field trips taken, math projects and games, outside classes taken, science experiements, etc. In short, keep track of what it is that your child IS doing.

Many people homeschool because they want to be relaxed or because their kids don't learn in a traditional way. As long as your child is doing interesting things, then a portfolio isn't a big deal. I don't believe that keeping track of what a child is doing is in conflict with unschooling, but I believe that unschooling means doing a lot of cool and interesting things.
post #20 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AbbieB View Post
I'm in Pinellas County and my DD is 5. I have put off becoming "official" for may of the reasons you stated in your OP. The stupid portfolio just seems like such a PITA.

My plan is to blog my kids educational experiences. We take pictures of all kinds of stuff already to share with my parents (who are in may ways helping to homeschool). I plan to beef my record keeping up a bit to include a file that I drop writing sample into, library receipts that list books we have checked out, pamphlets from places we visit, etc... I do not plan on making my file "professional" in any way other than dating materials that go in.

Since my DH is a certified FL teacher (I let my certification lapse) and we have a good friend with certification, we plan on adding a note stating that DD "is making adequate progress" to the yearly file. DH thinks it is a good idea to let our friend write the note to avoid any questions that could come from a parent being the evaluator. Legally that is all that is required to cover "proof of adequate progress".

Just curious, what county are you in?

We are in Hernando County. You live in a county where there is alot of open minded ppl,co-ops,meetups and opportunities! (lucky you)!
I think I need to join the HSLD. Maybe that would make me feel better. We do cool stuff! We are going to a Reggae Fest this Saturday and in preparation for that we are getting together with other families and making tie dye shirts!
Is the county going to accept things like that academic IYO?
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