Congratulations! You have found yourself in a position where your child needs to be educated outside of the school system in order to take an acting job. This is great news. On the other hand, you are probably freaking out a bit trying to figure out how this tutoring or homeschooling thing works. Relax. It is not as scary as it sounds. Chances are you have been teaching your child their whole life. You just need to adjust a few things to make it work. Here’s what you need to know.
Every state has different laws on homeschooling. You need to research them for your state. This page lays it out how every state approaches homeschooling pretty clearly https://projects.propublica.
The easiest thing to do when starting out in a hurry is to switch from in-person school to online school. But, you need to choose carefully. Connections Academy and K-12 are state-sponsored schools and starting in them are as easy as transferring from one school to another. However, this is not homeschooling. This is a public school. The downfalls of such a program is that the state requires a certain amount of seat time and bogs down the children with excess busy work to make up for the fact that they are not in front of a teacher. Keep that in mind if you need to move quickly and use one of these free options. These free options also mean that you won’t have to do homeschool paperwork.
My favorite online curriculum for anyone starting in a hurry is Time4learning. It is a low monthly fee for this online, animated program that is also used by schools, by the way. I personally used it for my own children in the younger grades through middle school until they decided that they were too cool for animated curriculum. You will have to submit homeschool paperwork for this program.
For those who are more creative and want to take a laid back approach to homeschooling, I like Khan Academy which is free and has an amazing math program and supplementary programs for other subjects. Just have the kids go online and do the work and then take screenshots of their account page that shows what they have accomplished. This is free, by the way. Khan Academy should be supplemented with reading novels, writing, hands-on science experiments, and science, social studies, and art field trips. We will revisit this in depth in future articles.
Learning on the job
Each job location whether on the set, or in the dressing rooms of a theatre will have its own rules, and possibly its own staff. Some request that the students use the tutors they have on hand to teach the subject matter to the students. Some will supply a tutor if you request.
What you need to know is that you, the parent, are responsible for your child’s education, and you need to advocate for what they need as well as turn down what will be overkill or distracting from what they are already doing. Parents can hire additional tutors if their child needs special instruction. Parents can take on the tutoring role themselves.
What you must keep in mind, however, is that you cannot interfere with the filming, rehearsal, or acting schedules. Learn to make the most of short breaks, and downtimes in the schedule to get in that valuable learning time. This is another reason I like Khan Academy as children can watch math videos and do a few problems in a 15-minute break on a cell phone.
I hope I covered the basics you would need to help you get started homeschooling in a hurry due to a working child actor situation. If there are specific questions, please ask, I will answer it as quickly as possible, and if necessary write a whole article on the subject. As this is my introductory post, please keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more going on under the surface and we will be working to provide everything you need to know to get your children educated on set or backstage.
Andrea Hermitt is a veteran homeschooler who has taught her two children from early elementary through high school. Both were accepted into several colleges and received scholarships. One holds a Bachelors degree, and one has a Masters degree. Ms. Andrea, as she is affectionately known, counsels homeschooling parents in setting up a program that works for their children, and helps students work toward their college goals.