Washington State is blessedly relaxed on the requirements of homeschooling one’s children. Not everyone in my newsletter groups would agree with me, but I think a little regulation is important; we are talking about education, but there are other states that have more of a hand in home education than here, but that’s a different topic all together. What we have here is simple: once a year, we go to our local school district office and turn in a Declaration of Intent form (created by a homeschooler) that includes only the information required by the state (e.g. age, not birthdate, et al), and once a year, we pay a private individual or company to provide some type of testing to gauge how well our students are doing that year. This testing can be anything from a proctored standardized test to a one-on-one home evaluation with a selected individual. The type of test is up to the parents or guardians, not the state, and the records only need to be shown if a child is enrolled into the public school system later.
That Declaration of Intent, while an annual annoyance, has proven useful outside the school system. For the last five years, as soon as we’ve turned in our DoI, my daughter and I have headed to a local print shop to make two reduced copies of the DoI (now stamped by a school district official), trim them down to size, and have them laminated — one card for me, one for my daughter. My best friend and her children do the same. This card then becomes my daughter’s proof that she’s not a truant, and my proof at bookstores and similar places that offer teacher discounts on educational materials. When you’re homeschooling, you tend to be on a tight budget, and every 10% off or teachers’ blow out sales you can grab are a golden blessing.
When we still used workbooks, this came in especially handy, since I could get them at a reduced price (usually just the equivalent of getting them tax free or slightly more), but it’s helped. It helps the stores, too, because then I’m able to justify buying that extra book or tool we might need or want for our educational goals that year.
Now that my daughter’s in her teens and has her own Orca card for the local buses, I thought it high time she start getting some of those student discounts public school kids get that she can’t without a student ID (this even includes special prices for day-of-performance seats at certain operas and theaters). I’d considered making a student ID for her in the past, but just never made the time for it. Last night, I finally did it, and had fun with Photoshop making IDs for the whole family. The one year old certainly doesn’t need discount movie tickets, but once I started making them, I thought how fun it would be for us all to have them … I know, I’m silly. So are my kids. It’s genetic.
That print shop’s laminator also serves us in other ways: handwriting practice is made easier by having a laminated page that can be wiped clean after each day. Consider it for worksheets you want to reuse like scavenger hunts, plant identification, and wildlife sightings. Laminating local maps allows us a chance to write on them for project plans, stories, and explorations as needed — it’s even good for teaching a teen how to use the local bus routes!
Go check out the services at your local print shop. It costs us just a couple of dollars a year to get our DoI’s copied, and for under $10 a year, we can have student and instructor IDs, and a handful of reusable educational tools on hand (keep those worksheets and maps in the car with dry erase markers or wipe-clean crayons).
Oh, and it should be noted that my partner’s instructor badge, under subjects, reads: “Mathematics and Ponies”. We love our brony.