Just before I began writing this post:
Maya: I’m so glad I don’t have to go back to school in a month like all the people on Facebook.
Me: Why, are they talking about it?
Maya: Yes, it’s all ‘OMG! We have to go back to school in a month!’
Nope. None of that for Maya or Ben. And none of it for me either. I even got my DOE paperwork in before June was done – including my Annual Assessments, Letters of Intent and IHIPs (Individualized Home Instruction Plan), so I have been thinking not at all about the commencement of the school year.
But on the email lists for homeschoolers that I belong to, there is a lot of chatter lately regarding required paperwork for the beginning of the term, especially the IHIP. One woman who is moving from traditional homeschooling to a more ‘child-led’ approach (this is what unschoolers say before they take the leap and just call themselves unschoolers or life learners), wanted to know if she should adjust her IHIP to reflect their change in approach or simply ‘fudge’ and turn in a traditional lesson plan.
I answered her, because my approach with the DOE has always been to be honest and not pretend we are doing anything other than what we actually do. Making stuff up is not only dishonest, it is unnecessary, because what life learners do is more than adequate for DOE purposes. This is how my IHIP reads:
We will continue unschooling Maya as she enters her sixth official homeschooled year.
For this reason, as was the case last year, a structured IHIP will not be relevant or accurate, as we cannot know in advance where our learning will take us. We can guarantee very detailed quarterly reports, and for that reason ask that you allow this letter to serve as an introduction to our IHIP, to be continued in our first quarterly report. We will submit reports as follows:
– 1st Quarter November 15th, 2011
– 2nd Quarter January 31th, 2012
– 3rd Quarter April 15th, 2012
– 4th Quarter June 30, 2012
– Annual Assessment June 30th, 2012
All instruction will be provided by Joshua and Amy Milstein (unless otherwise noted in our quarterly reports). We hereby declare that Maya will be meeting the compulsory educational requirements of Education Law.
Three weeks or so after mailing this along with my letter of intent, (the one for Ben is identical except of course for the name and grade level) I got my official Letter of Compliance from the NYC Central Office of Homeschooling. So we’re good to go.
No ‘OMG’ required.