Nebraska state law (see Nebraska Revised Statutes § 79-2,136) provides for another option, though: part-time homeschool. Part-time homeschool allows you to create a hybrid program for your children, taking advantage of the public school programs you like and supplementing with outside programs. This gives parents the flexibility to tailor their kids’ educations to help them be more successful.
With part-time homeschool you can decide which programs at the public schools meet your kids’ needs, and you can find other resources to fill in the gaps. Some parents send their kids to public school for core classes and take care of electives at home. Others only send their kids for electives. Some parents send kids for math and science (lab science can be tricky at home) and take care of English and social studies at home. Lately we’ve been hearing about parents forming groups to teach several kids at once, stretching parents’ time and giving the kids a chance to learn in a more social setting. Online courses are another great way to find the course content you’re looking for. There are thousands of online courses from a variety of sources. Additionally, part-time homeschool students can play high school sports, as long as they’re taking 4 courses each semester at a public school.
So how do you get started?
1. Fill out the Nebraska Department of Education Exempt School paperwork and mail it or email it to P.O. Box 94987, Lincoln, NE 68509-4987 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of this paperwork must be notarized, and the due date is July 15th.
2. After you’ve received your state approval letter, fill out the Application of Non-Public School Student for Part-Time Enrollment for LPS and mail it to Director of Student Services, 5905 O Street, Lincoln, NE 68510. This is the form that you will use to tell the school district which courses you would like to enroll your child in.
3. After you have received your acknowledgement letter from LPS, contact your child’s school counselor to discuss the school schedule. You’ll probably want to group your child’s classes all at the beginning or ending of the day. Everyone we’ve talked to who has had children enrolled part-time in LPS has talked about how cooperative and helpful the schools have been in accommodating part-time schedules.
The process is fairly straightforward and simple. As you’re waiting for your forms and approval letters to find their ways through administrative offices and the postal service, you can research your options, and this is the really exciting part.
The Internet and improved publishing technology has put a whole world of educational resources at our fingertips. The following is a short list of some of the resources you may want to investigate as you put together your children’s customized curriculum. Please add resources we’ve missed in the comments section of this blog post.
Lincoln and Nebraska Homeschool Organizations
Heartland Home Schoolers
Home Educators Network
Lincoln Friday Classes
Khan Academy (free)
BYU Independent Study
Stanford University Online High School
MIT Open Courseware (free)
Time 4 Writing
Middlebury Interactive Languages
Ron Paul Curriculum
Free Online Resources
Academic Skill Builders
FreeRice Math Practice
SumDog (Math Games)
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives
Young Minds (Handwriting Lessons)
Easy Bib (Bibliographies)
Purdue OWL (Online Writing Lab)
Scratch (Computer Programming)
P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University)
Glencoe Literature Library
Summer Reading for Curious Parents
Homeschooling Gifted and Advanced Learners (at our library)
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home (at our library)
Homeschooling the Child with Autism
102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum
Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology
Raising Lifelong Learners (at our library)
“Home Schooling Goes Mainstream”
Homeschool Buyers Co-op
As you can see, there is no shortage of homeschooling resources out there, and Lincoln is a famously supportive community for homeschoolers. Those who have part-time homeschooled talk about how they get the best of both worlds.
Soon, Nebraska will have bona fide choice within the public school system (as soon as our state legislators realize that we don’t want to be the last state in the country without public school choice). In the meantime, we can work within the system to create viable solutions when a one-size-fits-all approach just doesn’t cut it.
Remember, though, if you want to part-time homeschool this year, you’ve got to hurry and get your initial paperwork in by July 15th. The clock is ticking.