Frequently Asked Questions from parents about enrolling in classes at Pacem and in Home Study with the State of Vermont
Note: The responses to these questions are based on our understanding of homeschooling laws and regulations in the state of Vermont. Please do not consider them to be legal advice.
Do I have to officially homeschool my child?
That depends. If your child is not enrolled full-time at Pacem you must officially homeschool your child. This gives you the overall responsibility for overseeing your child’s learning experiences and demonstrating progress each year. To get started, request or download enrollment paperwork from the VT Department of Education Home Study office (http://www.education.vermont.gov/new/html/pgm_homestudy.html), and send them the completed forms to arrive by Labor Day.
How many classes can I take at Pacem?
According to the guidelines published by the Home Study office, “To be enrolled in a home study program, at least sixty percent of the core academics must be conducted at home. ‘Core academics’ includes reading and writing, math, history/citizenship/government, the natural sciences, English/American, and other literature.” Many students attend Pacem multiple days/week (which includes social time, outdoor time, the arts, etc.), and do the remaining academic work on the days they are at home, which can include evenings and weekends.
What do I say about Pacem in my Minimum Course of Study outline?
Unless you qualify for the minimum course of study exemption (see Guidelines for Home Study in Vermont, p. 8), you will need to send the state a curriculum plan for your child. The home study guidelines say that for outside classes you should, “Include the content of the class in the minimum course of study.” This is particularly important for any class that you plan to use to fulfill the complete requirement for that subject area (for example, if your child will take science at Pacem and you are not planning other science activities). You can use the Pacem course description for information on skills, topics, and activities to include in your curriculum outline, but we recommend listing these yourself rather than sending the Pacem course description. If your child will be studying a subject area both at Pacem and at home, and the Pacem class is only a piece of the curriculum, you should also describe the other activities s/he will be doing (for example, if your child will be taking writing at Pacem, but will be also working on writing, spelling/grammar, reading comprehension, etc. at home).
How do Pacem classes fit into each area of the minimum course of study?
Here is each area required by the home study statute, followed by information on how it can be addressed through Pacem’s classes:
- Basic Communication Skills: Language Arts – All Pacem writing classes and foreign language classes fit in this category, and so do literature classes to some extent (for reading practice and comprehension). Student Interest Project includes instruction and practice in research skills and writing. None of these classes is intended to provide the full language arts curriculum (although it is possible that they could in combination, depending on the student’s individual work).
- Basic Communication Skills: Math – All math classes fit in this category.
- Citizenship, History, & Government (Social Studies) – A peace studies class can be the foundation of your social studies curriculum with some additional studies outside of the class. Students taking Student Interest Project often choose projects with social studies content that can be listed on the course of study outline (if the idea is developed in advance). Often Pacem literature classes include works that depict or reflect historic periods and/or various cultures or cultural experiences.
- Physical Education and Comprehensive Health Education – Active outdoor play is a regular part of the Pacem day. Some science classes include health content (see course descriptions for details). In addition extra-curricular sports and dance are offered when there is sufficient student interest. Outdoor Activity Days in the fall and the Mountain and Service Retreat in the spring are times for hiking and other outdoor endeavors.
- English, American, and Other Literature – A Pacem literature class can satisfy this requirement. Students taking Student Interest Project can choose projects with literature content, which can be listed on the course of study outline (if the idea is developed in advance).
- The Natural Sciences – A Pacem science class can satisfy this requirement. Students taking Student Interest Project can choose projects with science content, which can be listed on the course of study outline (if the idea is developed in advance).
- The Fine Arts (required by the state for ages 12 and under) – A Pacem art class can satisfy this requirement. Students taking Student Interest Project often choose projects that include the arts, which can be listed on the course of study outline (if the idea is developed in advance). Pacem’s dance troupe, theater group, and singing group also fit into this category.
What about Form E? Whose signatures do I need and how do I get them?
Form E in the home study enrollment packet is to list instructors who are not the student’s parent and not based in a public school. Pacem’s classes fit into this category. If you are expecting a Pacem teacher to take significant responsibility for your child’s progress in a specific subject area, you are encouraged to list him/her on Form E. If the class is serving to supplement or enrich the curriculum you are providing at home, it may not be necessary. According to the Home Study guidelines, it is not necessary to get “the signatures of instructors in fine arts, health, or physical education.” The signature can be provided by the faculty member teaching the class or by the Director. If the director signs, you should indicate the instructor’s name and class title. If you register for your Pacem classes while our classes are in session, you can stop by to get the needed signatures (call first to be sure we’ll be there). Please contact Pacem if you need help getting these signatures over the summer. If you notify the Home Study office, you can also send in the rest of your Home Study paperwork whenever it’s ready and then send Form E with signatures once Pacem classes begin.
Should I send Pacem’s narrative assessments to the state as part of my end-of-the-year assessment?
That depends on your end-of-the-year assessment method. If you do a portfolio and parent report, you can include Pacem’s narratives as part of the portfolio, along with samples of the student’s work from the class. If you use a teacher assessment, you can show the Pacem narratives to the teacher along with the student’s work from the class. Then you would send only the end-of-the-year assessment form to the Home Study office (not Pacem’s narratives).
What can I do if I have more questions about homeschooling and Pacem?
Lexi Shear, Pacem’s Director, can answer additional questions about Pacem classes and how they can fit into your whole homeschooling experience. She can put you in touch with the right teacher if you have questions about the content of specific classes. Pacem also offers a variety of homeschool support services including 1 hour of free consulting for currently enrolled students and their families who are new to homeschooling. In addition, Pacem faculty member Rebecca Yahm does independent curriculum consulting with homeschoolers and could set up a meeting to help you with other aspects of the Home Study enrollment and curriculum planning process.