When I first started homeschooling, I had to withdraw my kids from the
government school they were attending. The school corporation sent me
an attendance form to turn in at the end of the year showing that we had
180 days of school attendance.
I looked at the form and wondered what this meant for us as a homeschooling family. We are here every day, aren't we? Even as a brand new homeschooler, I could see that it would be possible to have a school day on weekends, summer months and other days government schools were out. But as time went on and I began to see how learning involves much more than just textbooks, my questions resurfaced as to what would count as a school day. Or, maybe more importantly, what wouldn't count.
For example, on days when my kids were sick, they still read lots of books or watched programs on Discovery or History channel. Does that count?
We were outdoors a lot, taking hikes in the woods, talking, questioning, drawing, observing, and riding bikes. Does that count?
We took vacations and trips where we did a wide variety of activities and learned all sorts of interesting things. Does that count?
What about the days my daughter was outside helping my brother build a deck in the back of our house? She helped design, plan, measure, cut, and hammer. She discussed the business of construction. Does that count?
What about the days my son helped his father at his computer business? Does that count?
My kids volunteered with our church youth group, at the Louisville Science Center, and with other community organizations. Does that count?
But then I found that this question did not go away on days that were spent more traditionally using textbooks. On those days, I generally wondered whether my kids had done enough to consider it a school day. However, there were those days when we did so much that I wondered if we could count the day as two because so much learning happened.
What is the real purpose of this attendance sheet? Is it really about actual education and learning? I came to the realization that the attendance law was really only intended for institutional school accountability where the child had to be in a certain location for "school" to happen. For homeschoolers, it can happen anytime and anywhere in any varied number of ways.
Eventually, I quit focusing on whether a particular day was a school day and
relaxed in the knowledge that my kids were learning, growing, accomplishing
goals and easily managing the 180 days of "school" required by Indiana
law. It took me a while, but I finally learned to count.