Missouri home schools not tracked

Sunday, October 23, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:50 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Missouri law allows any parent to home-school, said Jim Morris, spokesman for the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“They are supposed to keep a log or a diary that provides some basic information about what subject they teach and how much time they spend at it.”

Parents are expected to teach their children for a minimum of 1,000 hours per year, Morris said. “We do not supervise, accredit or monitor home schooling in any way,” he said.

However, families can be reported to the state’s Division of Children’s Services, part of the Department of Social Services, if others, such as neighbors and school officials, suspect they are not fulfilling these requirements. If there is clear evidence of neglect, the family may be investigated, Morris said.

This doesn’t happen too often. “It’s not unheard of, but (it) is also infrequent,” Morris said.

Kellie Haithcoat of Columbia has found an efficient method to track her children’s hours. At the beginning of each school year, she creates a lesson plan book for each of her children, mapping out assignments for each day. “They check off the assignment as they finish it, and it also records their hours,” Haithcoat said.

Her older children can earn home economics credit by learning how to take care of children, cook, clean and do laundry.

And when her two daughters, Lindlie and Louisa, help with seasonal work at a family friend’s farm, Haithcoat records the hours — as long as the girls are learning something new.

In a file cabinet beside a computer desk in the family’s learning room, Haithcoat also keeps a file for each child, with grade cards, tests and some homework samples for their portfolios.

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