PLANT, Inc. Blog
Encouraging Parent Led Education
By Suzanne Lawrence
As if homeschooling through the high school years is not daunting enough, now your student wants to try out for a public high school athletic team! The numerous reasons for homeschooling are varied and complex with each family, many citing the poor public educational system, special needs, religious instruction as well as distancing our students from the bullying, drugs, worldly influences, political correctness and mean kids wandering the classrooms and hallways.
Why on earth would you want your homeschool student to participate in public school sports activities?
You have come to the conclusion that athletics are great for your student and your student wants to participate in a competitive environment. What are your options in the state of New Mexico? Can homeschoolers participate in public school athletics? What are the pros and cons? Are there other options for my sport instead of public school athletics?
According to New Mexico law, annotated statute 22-8-23.8: “A home school student is eligible to participate in up to three school district activities at the public school in the attendance zone in which the student resides. The school district shall verify each homeschool student’s academic eligibility to participate in school district activities.”
While these documents are available online, the New Mexico Activities Association (NMAA)[www.nmact.org] as well as the Christian Association of Parent Educators - New Mexico (CAPE-NM) [www.cape-nm.org] are available to answer any other questions you may have regarding the New Mexico law.
Now that you have studied the New Mexico law as it pertains to homeschool students participating in public-school athletics, how do you proceed?
Research, communicate and stay involved. If your student wishes to try out for a sport, contact the high school coaches in May or early in the summer before the new school year begins. Many fall athletics schedule non-mandatory, pre-season workouts or training over the summer months to prepare athletes for early season competition when school starts.
Once your athlete has made the team, communication with coaches as well as the school Athletic Director becomes important. Your athlete is subject to all of the same rules and eligibility requirements that apply to every public-school athlete. Academic eligibility is reviewed every 6 weeks. It is your responsibility to report your student’s grades for each 6-week term. Each school may also have additional eligibility requirements; communicate with your Athletic Director to make certain that you are in compliance. Your school will ask you to register your child as a participant and verify residency. Transportation forms, booster clubs, athletic fees and other fundraising activities are also in your future. Ask lots of questions and if you are in doubt, consult with NMAA to clarify the law.
Our homeschooled student-athlete experienced a wonderful relationship with her high school, earned letters and awards, trained with great coaches and in the end, gained a college scholarship in her sport. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few coaching issues, spin-the-bottle games at pasta parties (she politely declined), and sometimes a feeling of being an outsider while still being accepted on the team. However, the overall experience was largely positive. Many other wonderful NM homeschool athletes have similar stories of achievement and positive experiences with their coaches and teams. Be aware that competition is fierce in certain sports, bullying exists, inappropriate conversations may abound and your coaching staff may not be top notch depending on the school in your attendance zone.
You are pretty much stuck with that school as a homeschooler. Transfers are simply not available with current NM law. Stay involved. Communicate with your student athlete concerning the coaching, team dynamics and overall experience.
Sports descriptions, mission statement and contact information for AHSA is found online at www.ahsasports.org/ Whatever your choice may be regarding athletics, the beauty of homeschooling is that you have a choice in New Mexico!
Suzanne (Sam) Lawrence
In her ninth year of homeschooling, Sam is the wife of Matthew and mother of Nicole, 17, and Isaiah, 15. We love that our athletes continued to compete against their club peers throughout high school, keeping their friendships close in a tight knit community.
PLANT, Inc. Blog is written by local parent educators and supporters of parent led education.