Homeschooling your kids on Guam

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Homeschooling your kids on Guam

by: Kym Pangelinan | .
The Guam Guide | .
published: October 29, 2013

Though the title of this article could also read “Homeschooling Horror,” I would prefer to focus on the upside of homeschooling and how I’ve managed to do so for almost 10 years!

A few months ago, you no doubt noticed frenzied parents, kids and school supplies cluttering the aisles of some of our stores. Some of us were able to sit back and give a sigh of relief that we weren’t among the harried who clamored for the best deals as the kids went back to school.

Who are we? Homeschoolers! While we may have been in the above scenario many times, we aren’t now. Nestled in our own little home school haven, we school when we want, where we want, no uniforms, and the best part, we don’t have to run around for a million and one things to satisfy the ever growing list of items a child must now bring to school. Okay, maybe that isn’t the best part, but it is definitely a perk.

If you or someone you know would like to homeschool, this article will help point you in the right direction.

The Department of Education acknowledges section 6109 of Title 17 of the Guam Code Annotated, which states:

“Children not attending a private full-time school and who are being instructed in study and recitation for at least three (3) hours a day for one hundred seventy (170) days each calendar year by a private tutor or other person, in the several branches of study required to be taught in the public schools of this Territory and in the English language, shall be exempted from attending the public school.”

At the elementary level, your branch of study should include, but is not limited to, core subjects like reading, writing, and math.
Though not required to report or test with a particular government agency, I highly recommend keeping records for yourself. It is as simple as using a teacher’s grade book. Not only are the records helpful for you as the facilitator, but you are covered and can prove you did meet the minimum requirements. Record your day to day activities including assignments, grades, and field trips like swimming classes and hikes to historical sites.

Why Homeschool?
Living on Guam has some great travel advantages. Travel has always been high on our ‘to do’ list. Homeschooling your child makes year-round travel possible. We are a ‘hop, skip, and a jump’ away from tons of adventure! A homeschooler need not be tied to a list of holidays to take time off. You can set your schedule to what suits your needs best.

Quality and quantity. Being with your homeschooler 24/7 may not be appealing to all, but for some, it affords a better opportunity to spend time together and use the window you have to instill family values, morals and traditions that sometimes get lost in a hectic schedule.

Who can Homeschool?
You can! As long as you are willing and committed, you can do it! Look for homeschool support groups online and enlist the advice of other parents who homeschool. I found informative articles online by Colleen Smith, who has homeschooled almost 20 years. Yikes! You can contact her personally at (671) 483-3748.

Is it Expensive?
No, for the price you spend on uniforms, required school supplies, and other incidentals, you can pay for your homeschool materials. I learned the hard way and bought programs online, only to find the same thing at a bookstore. Twinkles (located in Guam Premiere Outlets) carries a number of consumable workbooks that the boxed programs use for a fraction of the cost.

A number of free online resources are available. Among them are typing classes, free reading material, spelling games, math games, printable worksheets — the list goes on and on. Don’t be afraid to explore!

Graduate and Get a Diploma!
Some hesitate to homeschool because they think they can’t get a diploma. If this is your fear, make sure to use an accredited program. We use Penn Foster High School, though there are many to choose from.

How Do You Start?
Take the first step, make a schedule and commitment to yourself and your child(ren). Be serious, but not stern. We want to have fun but not create a lackadaisical environment where things don’t get accomplished.

Look for resources; decide what you can spend on homeschooling. How much work are you willing to do? Can you compile your own curriculum or would you prefer a boxed program?

Hunt and gather the best deals throughout the year. I’ve used Amazon, eBay, and Twinkles to name a few.

If you want to have a specific work zone, set up a quiet study spot that promotes productivity. Think functional – space for books and other supplies, a comfortable chair, a table or desk. This area will become a part of your child’s daily routine, so make it conducive for learning.

Do Your Homework
I stated earlier that this article could have been called “Homeschooling Horror,” in part because many who embark on this endeavor get sidetracked, or lose the interest in staying the course. Kids don’t cooperate, they won’t get up, stay up late, don’t do homework, don’t care, fight with each other and just drive us parents crazy! The reality? It happens. Things are never perfect. Stay in control, and remember who drives the bus. In time, things fall into place and you’ll find that it isn’t as hard as it seems.

While this information is helpful, it is by no means complete. A treasure trove about homeschooling can easily be found online. There are homeschool message boards and groups, online freebees, printable materials, and scheduling programs. These are a few of the avenues I’ve travelled down in my quest to be the best homeschool mom I can be.

The information contained in this article is to be used as a guide, not an authority. No two children are exactly the same, so work to find what works for yours. Homeschooling is not a vacation from education, but a serious responsibility that you as a parent choose to take on. You’ve decided to take them out of conventional public schools and create a program specifically tailored to their needs. As the parent, you’re in the best position to help your child, not only in their secular education, but in shaping who they are and who they become. So don’t be intimidated, be the best parent-teacher possible for your child.

NOTE: There has been some confusion as to whether or not homeschool high school credits are accepted if a homeschool student transfers into public school. At the time of this writing, (10-17-13) Department of Education will accept homeschool high school credits, they must however, be from an accredited program. For more information and clarification you may contact the Department of Education directly, Ms. Eloise Sanchez or Mr. Joe Sanchez at (671) 475-0512.

Resources to help you get started

The Guam Military Christian Homeschoolers Support Group
According to its Yahoo Groups webpage, The Guam Military Christian Homeschoolers Support Group has 25 online forum users. Sources say it was formerly named Navy Homeschoolers.
groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/GuamMilitaryChristianHomeschoolers/info

Guam Home School Association
The Guam Home School Association (GHSA) started in the late 1980s to provide homeschooling support and guidance in accordance with Guam’s public law as well as the group’s own Statement of Faith, Statement of Purpose and Code of Conduct. It hosts volunteer-run events, such as field trips and support group meetings, as well as programs and classes to foster “educational excellence, character development and socialization skills that bring about a well-balanced, wholesome and enjoyable homeschooling experience,” according to its website. Regular events include participation in the Scripps Howard Spelling Bee, Math Olympiad, curriculum and academic fairs, sports programs and Scholastic book orders. GHSA boasts a more than 70-family membership base including homeschooling groups that consist of military and other federal-hire families.
www.guam-hsa.org

Andersen Homeschool Group
According to its Yahoo Groups webpage, Andersen Homeschool Group (AHG) has 19 online forum users and, “consists of homeschool families that are dedicated to providing our children with the highest quality education possible within a loving home environment. This group exists to provide support and to enhance student learning while living in Guam.”
groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/andersenhomeschoolgroup/info

Guam Homeschool Resource Center
The brainchild of veteran homeschoolers Leslie and Colleen Smith, Guam Homeschool Resource Center is an independent brick-and-mortar, as well as online, resource center open to anyone on Guam. According to the website, “We are a library, a free Internet cafe, and a listening and compassionate ear” offering an extensive collection of print and online catalogs, books and other materials as well as computer stations and Wi-Fi in downtown East Agana.
www.guamhomeschool.com

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