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Counting the Cost of ‘Free’ Curriculum

Updated: Jun 7, 2023

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Editor’s Note: A “new” way of “schooling” your child at home is being aggressively marketed and threatens to change the face of home education throughout Florida and the nation. Home education began as a way for parents to take both control and responsibility for their child’s education, these school district full-time programs, providing “free” curriculum, relieve parents of the financial responsibility, but they also limit, and in some cases eliminate, the parent’s privilege of making big and small choices in their child’s education. The “free” curriculum comes with State regulations and parents should take time to understand the differences and count the cost as they choose wisely which method, home education or “public school at home,” is right for their family.

When searching the internet for home education sites and supplies there are numerous advertisements for “free” home school programs. “Home educators can purchase the same curriculum directly from the vendors, but when parents accept the free curriculum through their school district, the child becomes a full-time public school student,” explained Brenda Dickinson, President of The Home Education Foundation.

“My concern isn’t about which curriculum the parent chooses.” Dickinson explained. “My concern is that parents will lose the ability to completely control their child’s education, without the confines, conformity and uniformity of content occurring in a public school setting which The Home Education Foundation has fought hard to provide. The cost of the ‘free’ curriculum is the loss of the parents’ right to direct the content, timing and order of their child’s education.”

Be careful that the ‘free’ curriculum does not cost you the hard fought right to freely direct your child’s education.

“It may look like home education, but enrolling a child in the school district in order to have free curriculum mandates that the parent bring public school home, coming under the authority of the school district.” she continued. “The home education law allows parents to follow the interests of their child, to provide instruction based on the child’s development and maturity, to choose reading materials and to teach number concepts until the light comes on for that individual child. Concepts do not have to be taught on grade level unless the parent chooses to do so. Home education is not bound by school hours, school days or the school calendar. Home education is a way of life, capturing the teachable moment, and, in the early years, building a brain full of experiences on which to place information. Learning is not tied to the FCAT which only measures what students have learned in a classroom. It is about individuality, freedom and flexibility in learning.”

“Parents that use the free curriculum will most likely never experience the wonderful benefits other home educators do,” Dickinson noted. “Individualized education is one of the cornerstones of home education.” These parents have so much more time to build relationships with their young children and allow them to learn at their own developmental pace. Parents of middle and high school students have many ways to “customize” their child’s home education program. They can incorporate public or private school courses or activities such as chorus, band, or sports into their home education program. They can choose courses from the Florida Virtual School and dual enrollment at state colleges and universities, all tuition free. Students can explore career options with internships and spend concentrated amounts of time in theatre and dance productions, speech and debate clubs, and pursue their passions and dreams.

“Be careful that the ‘free’ curriculum does not cost you, as well as future generations, the hard fought right to freely direct your child’s education,” Dickinson cautioned. “If a large percentage of parents choose the free curriculum, we may find that in a few short years home education will be redefined as ‘public school at home’ and the freedoms to individualize and direct a child’s education will be lost. Future home educators will be trained to bring ‘public school home in a box.’”

The effort to get home educated students back into the public schools is not just occurring in Florida. It is happening nationwide. Read what is happening in California:

Home educators need to take time to educate themselves and others on the differences between bringing “school home in a box” and directing the education of your child at home. “We also need to get involved in the political process immediately.” Dickinson encouraged. “With so many people running for office in November,” Dickinson said, “home educators and their families need to get involved in as many political races at the local, state and national level as possible. While working on a candidate’s campaign, you will be building relationships that will provide opportunities for you to educate the candidate on the benefits and uniqueness of home education.”

“We need to be ready to mobilize forces on a moment’s notice if unfriendly legislation is proposed,” she explained. “Encourage every Florida home educator you know to subscribe to the HEF newsletter  so they can stay informed and we can email them quickly if there is an urgent need.”

P.S. If you have a story to share about how HEF has helped you, how your family has benefited from home education, or a question you would like to ask Brenda, please e-mail me here.



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