Friday, September 25, 2009

Front Page Homeschool article

The front page of our hometown paper has an article about homeschoolers in it. I like a few homeschoolers don't like the slant of it and we see more intrusions into homeschooling family life in the horizon.

Here in Montana, we have an excellent hs law next to ID has been the best we have seen and for over 20 years it has worked very well. Science is easy to teach in using nature outside and the kitchen inside. Or even as simple as asking around to certain business' you never know what you are going to find. Even like last year MSU-bozeman did Saturday class days some including science type studies.

Exploring Science

Science is a difficult subject for 13-year-old Sierra Albers to tackle because her schooling
doesn't take place in a laboratory, but rather in the comfort of her family home.

But a new program established and funded by the Helena School District is making science that much easier for home-schooled students like her.

Albers is one of 61 home-schooled students attending Explore School, an inquiry-based science class being offered by the district at ExplorationWorks.

That's the concept behind the school - having students explore to find answers to science questions, to inquire about what's put in front of them instead of getting their information strictly from a textbook.

Bruce Messinger, Helena School District superintendent, who serves on the board of ExplorationWorks, said the facility has provided a valuable service to all children in Helena since it opened. He wanted to find ways to reach more of them.

Messinger thought a partnership between ExplorationWorks and the school district would help reach more students beyond those in the public school setting, who regularly go on field trips to the museum.

"It's still in its infancy, but a year into it I'm pleased with the response and what's happening in that setting," Messinger said.

If it works, he added, over time there may be other kinds of opportunities in the community that home-school families might be interested in, like theater or art.

"(Explore School) provides great opportunities while building a bridge with the home-schooled students and the schools." Messinger said.

Explore School is free to the students since the district counts them as quarter-time students and gets funding from the state for their 90 hours of instruction per semester. The district is paying the part-time teaching salary of ExplorationWorks' Kyle Hunter at $18,520 annually. Messinger said he hopes to establish a budget for the program so tools and supplies can be purchased when needed.

Hunter, the teacher of Explore School, said the courses are intended to enrich and complement what is being taught at home.

And Albers says that's just what the class does.

"It's hard for me to learn science at home where it's just lots of letters and memorization - it's confusing," she said.

What many students in the class say they are enjoying most is the social aspect.

"There are more kids here - at home it's just me," Albers said. "More interaction makes it fun."

"I can interact with more people here," said 12-year-old Garrett Poteet. "I'm not an only child, but my sisters don't really play with me."

Poteet said that without the equipment and tools - like tweezers, probes and microscopes - he couldn't conduct the experiments at home like he does in the classes.


Now as of next year I don't have to report Kelda to the superintendent that she is unschooled but the other 2 still have to be. I certainly don't want to see the freedom we have erode to the point where homeschoolers will be supervised by the ps system. I know when we pulled the kids out of Gallatin County schools the superintendent said he was happy because the classes were overcrowded.

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