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Sports & Unschooling

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 

So my son has been playing team sports through the park district.  Next year football and basketball fall under the local public school umbrella - 7th grade.  Currently, homeschoolers are not allowed to play.  However, we have been encouraged to take it before the school board. At least half of the board, including the president are members of our church.  So they should be sympathetic to our plight.  *I think.*  There is one other HS boy in my son's grade who will be petitioning  with our family.  His mom is very structured and I am sure they will have no problem.


I'm told, the main concern is making sure my son has the grades to play.  The other junior high students must be passing their classes in order to play so must my son. I don't keep records because I don't have to.  Even when we were more structured, I did not keep grades.  I found it a waste of time.  If I have to sign off on a weekly form....easy.  Are they going to make me show my grade book?  I guess they can make up the rules for how I will "prove" his eligibility to play sports.  


We will be talking to my son and we might just lay it out and say,"look, if you want to play, you will have to follow a more structured curriculum that can be measured."  If he knows that is what is required, he can make his choice.  Part of me says we should just wait and see what they want.  The other part of me wants to be prepared when coming before them.  I am just starting to get a little anxious.  I thought we would have this dilemma when he got to the HS level but it is starting before then.  Looking to hear from families who have been here.

post #2 of 2

We're umbrella'd under our local school district and due to rules about funding that means we have to have a liaison teacher who creates report cards with grades based on the kids' unschooled learning. It is an odd dance, but it keeps the authorities happy and it doesn't require us to change a thing we do from an educational standpoint. Nor does it feel dishonest to me.


I think you could do the same. Do you think your ds is learning well, and learning broadly, and learning what he needs to learn? If so, I don't think it's dishonest to give him a glowing report card.


Here's what happens in practice with us:


I write an anecdotal report to our liaison teacher. "Fiona has engaged in lots of self-directed reading from websites, novels, magazines, newspapers, magazines and non-fiction books. She reads easily and fluently aloud when she wishes to share what she is reading. She writes to her pen-pal at least twice a month, and is using cursive handwriting more often. (See attached photocopy) She has written several poems inspired by the natural world. She eagerly engages in discussions about the fiction she has read, expressing her ideas about plot devices, character development and the writer's expository style. Novels she has read this term include ___, ___ and ___." I do a paragraph like that for each 'subject' that the school district recognizes. 


It takes a little bit of effort to document and report, but it's only what I do that has to change, not what my child does.


The liaison teacher copies and pastes bits of my report into an official report card and then adds grades: Language Arts: A, Math: A, etc.


In the "general comments" section of the report card he includes a paragraph I once wrote to him explaining that we use a "mastery approach" for learning. "Fiona's learning is mastery-based, in that something is not considered to be learned, nor is it submitted for reporting, until it is learned to the point of mastery. Unlike in a school situation, where the curriculum moves forward whether a particular student has learned what is expected or not, Fiona spends as much time as she needs in order to learn something well before moving on, and as a result her grades reflect full mastery to her current level."


We need a liaison teacher to be involved in generating the grades because of the way the laws for funding work here. But you don't need a teacher involved: you could just generate a report card with an anecdotal paragraph reported on a subject-by-subject basis, and a grade of A or B depending on how much time and effort you feel your ds has spent in that area. I would conceptualize "subjects" in a very broad sense. "Wellness" could include outdoor play, raking leaves, football, helping with grocery shopping and food prep, the experience with tooth cleaning he had at the dental clinic, a visiti of a family friend in the hospital. "Languaging" could include listening to podcasts, explaining his plans for a video-game plot, writing thank you notes for birthday gifts, listening to readalouds, participating in a discussion on a tech support message forum, whatever. If he's confident, happy, gaining ability, write a glowing little paragraph using lots of educational lingo and give him an A or B. 


Add a introductory paragraph explaining "His excellent grades reflect our mastery-based approach to learning etc. etc."


Add an official looking Homeschool Letterhead if you feel creative. Print a copy. Sign it. File it away. I'll bet it would take you about 2 hours, three times a year. A waste of your time normally, but if it allows him to play the team sports he loves, it's not a waste IMO.


Then you just submit his grades to the school sports program. Almost straight A's, a B+ in History. Cool! If they ever question the grades -- which I highly doubt -- you have tidy-looking documentation to back them up, complete with an explanation of why his grades are consistently A's and B's.



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