the network for radical unschooling families
No one in our school district has any clue what this even is and questions its legality. We live in Stoughton Massachusetts and I've read quite a bit on Christine Yablonski using this education method in our state. The ABC News article on her and her husband plainly states :
"This parenting style might raise some eyebrows, but in Massachusetts, it's perfectly legal. Unschooling parents in that state are required to report to local school authorities once a year. The Massachusetts Department of Education did not respond to calls and e-mails from ABC News seeking comment."
I'm having a hard time dealing with the school administration in getting this approved for us. Can anyone offer any advice? I have to meet with them on Monday and despite my own research I still feel very unprepared. Both the principal and district admin have no idea what I'm talking about when I use the term unschooling and they keep stressing the need for a structured academic program in which they would closely monitor.
Any advice will be appreciated!
I don't know MA at all, but in general, it's better to avoid the word "unschooling" when dealing with educational administrators. You want to talk about fitting the education to the unique needs of the child, or pursuing an interest-based curriculum... words to that effect. Look over the following link for ideas as to how to "pitch" what you're doing to educators:
Oh, and since you're new to home/unschooling, it doesn't hurt to say "we're going to try this for (the rest of the school year) and see how it goes".
Wow, that is an excellent link! Thank you very much for your input.
Hopefully someone from this commie state that I call home (and do love) can chime in as well! I do love Mass, but they are the most strict state I have every lived in, in almost every aspect. And I've lived on both coasts and many places in between. It can be frustrating...
Always check with local homeschoolers before asking the district, and "unschooling" isn't legal in the sense that there's a law about it. It's a way to homeschool. Ask about homeschooling, and then find local unschoolers.
There's a Boston and a New England listing, so I hope someone there can help you.
There are two state groups in MA. Both have extensive information for those getting started. MHLA I know has information tailored to superintendents. AHEM probably does too.
You shouldn't mention unschooling. As far as the state is concerned your child will be "otherwise instructed," (as opposed to public or private school). I used Carol's letter at the "Unschooling Curriculum" link above for Kathryn's 12 years of homeschooling.
i emailed christine and asked if she might have some advice for you. while the always helpful ladies above have pretty much got it covered already, i thought she might be able to add some local insight.
Laura contacted me & told me about your questions. Homeschooling in Massachusetts is managed at the local level, meaning you must report to the Stoughton school department. Here is a link for guidelines via AHEM (Advocates for Home Education in MA) - this organization was a huge resource for me when we started homeschooling in 2004. It explains what a school system can ask for and what they cannot ask for. This link is for how to write your homeschooling plan. I used their templates the first time and then just tweaked and updated from year to year.
This is the most important point: you are NOT applying to unschool. You are applying to HOME SCHOOL. Unschooling is the shorthand label for how you are homeschooling. When we were interviewed by ABC Boston one of the producers contacted our superintendent and asked him if he approved us to unschool. He had no idea what they were talking about and contacted me to find out more about it. I explained to him what I've just explained to you - we are home schoolers and we and the Westford public school system have followed all of the MA requirements necessary for approval for a homeschooling situation.
He was curious about unschooling and after I explained it to him he responded very positively. However, I would not go out of my way to tell authorities that we unschool - that can gum up the process needlessly. If someone in authority thought it sounded fishy then you may have a harder time getting approval.
Use the templates from AHEM, list every kind of educational resource you have at your disposal, follow the rules without providing more than is required.
Wow, thank you all for the help! I already have much more confidence about my mtg on Monday. I'll have my homeschool plan/proposal all ready to go by then and hopefully we can get this moving as quick and painless as possible :)