The partnership between home schooling families and public libraries can be vibrant and beneficial.
Home schooling children account for an estimated 1.5 - 2 million students. It is predicted that this figure is increasing by about 10% each year. Many parents cope with their disparate views of public and private education. These parents often lack the funds to acquire a private school education for their children.
Home schooling is now legal in all fifty states. However, the rules and regulations that apply to home schools differ from state to state. The public library reference collection may include information sources that will assist parents interested in home schooling. Is is the responsibility of families to be familiar with these laws. While librarians may not offer legal advice, they can provide information about organizations that offer assistance.
Support groups are available in communities and online. This may mean requests to use meeting rooms in the library. The public library must ensure that policies for the use of meeting space is dealt with fairly and even handedly. What are the policies for group size, food, length of meetings, the presence of children? Deciding these issues ahead of time, and being clear in the requirements, will ensure that the patrons and library staff work from a position of trust and understanding.
For many public libraries, the increase in home schooling has meant higher circulation numbers and interlibrary loan requests. The home schoolers are natural consumers of virtual libraries and online data bases. The public library may offer training in the use of databases and effective Internet searches. In turn, when it is time to contact state legislators to support funding, the librarian can turn to their home school friends for assistance in writing letters.
For many home school families, the public library becomes the "school resource center." They utilize the many resources for learning. Take time to survey the needs of this population. Is Animal Farm required reading? Can the collection benefit from more books about rocks and minerals?
By supporting your home school families, you build bridges to members of your community. These community stakeholders in turn can be pivotal in building support for tax referendums, book fairs, etc.