County homeschoolers make own schedules on snow days
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — When Susan O’Neill of Presque Isle decided that she would homeschool her 5-year-old daughter this year, she made preparations for almost everything.
She said Thursday that she researched the best curriculums, set a corner of her home up to look like a mini-classroom, and bought alphabet and number charts.
The one thing that she did not think about, however, was whether she would still teach her daughter on snow days, when school in the region is otherwise cancelled.
“I learned that it was something that I should have considered very quickly,” she said, laughing as a blizzard headed up the East Coast. “Even though my daughter had never been to school before, there are other children in the neighborhood who go to public school. She noticed them playing outside in the snow when she was still sitting at her desk.”
That led to the first policy change in her administration, she joked, and she decided that she would not homeschool her daughter on snow days.
“I figured that I am going to send her to public school in a year or two,” she said. “So I should get her on the same schedule.”
Tania Durland Baldwin grew up in Houlton, where she was homeschooled for some of that time. She said that she also homeschooled her daughter for three years and her son for two.
“When I homeschooled, we did school on snow days,” the Presque Isle resident explained. “We also did school from 8 a.m. to noon and were done for the rest of the day. When the kids were done their work, they then had the option of going sledding or playing in the snow. We’d also do crafts or watch a movie together.”
She added that her family also took a number of field trips to the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island and to see the Liberty Bell.
Jennifer Pryor of Houlton also said that her 17-year-old daughter was having a “normal day” on Thursday, as winter storm Grayson pummelled the state.
“She is a junior and takes her classes online,” she explained. “We researched curriculums and found one that she could slide right into while we wait for a seat to open on an online high school. She is still ‘enrolled’ in Houlton High School so that she can participate in sports and take classes at the Region Two School of Applied Technology.”
O’Neill said Thursday that she knows other parents who keep to a full schedule on snow days.
“But that is the beauty of homeschooling,” she said. “You can make the schedule your own.”