Homeschooling Program Now Available Through the Dublin Unified School District
Homeschooling. The mere mention of the term raises eyebrows and causes angst for some families. In reality, the concept has been alive and well for decades. By definition, it is a legal option for parents to allow them to provide their children with a learning environment outside of their local school site as an alternative to a public or private school.
This academic year, the Dublin Unified School District introduced a Homeschooling Program for families that wished to choose this option. While it might be intuitive to think that the District would wish to have its students learn in a conventional or classroom setting, the reality is that there are some families that require or desire other options. In its present form, the Homeschooling Program addresses the needs of students from Kindergarten through the Sixth grade. Subsequently, students may continue on through the Quest Program, which is independent study. Both of these programs are fully supported through the School District and continuous monitoring/evaluation is provided to ensure both guidance and compliance.
OneDublin.org recently met with District staff to learn more about what this program means to families who elect to choose a homeschooling path. Our first visit was with Bryce Custodio, Director of Student Services & Alternative Programs at DUSD.
OneDublin.org: Why do parents choose to home school their children?
Bryce Custodio: “In certain cases, families choose to be a part of their child’s education – beyond the traditional classroom. In some cases, they want to have a voice in the pacing of their child’s learning and, at times, there is a religious choice in their curriculum. We have also learned that there are some families whose children are on an amateur or professional track (gymnastics, pre-Olympic abilities, etc.) that may require extensive time commitments or travel. As a school district, we are committed to providing alternative programs to these students.”
OneDublin.org: As it relates purely to Kindergarten through 6th grades students, what resources are supplied to provide a ‘level’ experience to these students? Is there any benefit to the school district?
Custodio: “DUSD provides curriculum materials, supplies, textbooks and educational materials which mirror what they would be receiving in their respective classrooms. Furthermore, the families are required by contract to participate in a weekly counseling session with a Certificated Staff Teacher to ensure that adequate progress is being made. We make every effort to ensure that the child’s experience and growth is in line with what we would expect them to achieve if they were attending daily classes at any of our school sites. A small benefit is experienced by the District. For the students enrolled, their active participation equates to Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funds that are directed to the school district from the State of California.”
OneDublin.org: Should the student continue on through the sixth grade, what would happen next?
Custodio: “The student always has the opportunity to return to a school site and a ‘traditional’ setting at any time. In fact, we encourage these young students to return to their local site to participate in school assemblies, field trips or other activities. However, the next step would be to enroll in the Quest Program, which is an independent study program which could take the student all the way through high school graduation. Another point to note is that any enrolled home schooling student would still be required to participate in annual STAR or statewide testing.”
OneDublin.org: What are your aspirations for the program after the conclusion of this first year?
Custodio: “We’ve been working on getting this program launched for about three years. Thus far, I’ve been pleased with the results, but we have so much more that we can do. I would love to see the program to expand to include a science section and perhaps Spanish language. Young students are sponges and the introduction of foreign languages has been proven to be highly successful in this age group. We would also like the awareness of this program to be heightened in the next year so that more families become aware of homeschooling as a viable option. The side benefit would be to form home school parent groups that could pool their time/resources to make it an even better experience.”
Next we reached out to the District Home School Teacher, Kristin Toney, to gain her perspective on this first year of the program.
OneDublin.org: What is your academic and professional background?
Kristin Toney: “I attained a B.A. in Sociology from University of California, Davis and a multi-subject teaching credential from National University. I’ve also had the good fortune to serve in many roles at DUSD. These roles ranged from serving as a Title 1 teacher, Instructional Assistant & Aide and Barton Reading Tutor at Wells Middle School.
OneDublin.org: What piqued your interest in this current role?
Toney: “I liked the idea of having a credentialed teacher assist families with this endeavor. I had further comfort knowing that I could supply them with adequate curriculum and resources to help them through their daily/weekly work. On top of everything, it has been a great learning experience for me.”
OneDublin.org: Beyond standard classroom handouts, what other resources are you able to provide?
Toney: “The District provides a web-based program called Odysseyware. It is a leading online eLearning resource that provides a platform for many of our core subjects. This tool is largely meant for students in grades 3-12. Equally important, I have the opportunity to interact with these families to help assess their child’s progress and to offer strategies for success.
OneDublin.org: What hopes do you have for the future of this program and what are the overall benefits?
Toney: “Simply, I’d love to raise its awareness throughout the community. In additional to Dublin, there are intra-district transfers available – so those not living in our immediate community can participate. Now that we nearing the end of our first year, I would like to move towards developing a greater depth of resources that I can pass along to our families. It would also be great if these students could really take advantage of the group activities that are occurring at their local school sites. While some may assume that the ‘classic’ classroom setting is best for all students, our school district is recognizing that there is room for choice for every student. Our program is here for those that have made this choice.”