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Home-schooling: You’re doing it too!

Before the torrential thunderstorms moved into New York City on Thursday afternoon this week, several hundred kids and their parents got together for a picnic and enormous free-form play-date on the Great Hill, an open hilltop meadow near the northwestern corner of Central Park. The children ranged in age from toddlers up to teenagers and, yeah, it was a school day. That was pretty much the point. The event was the annual Not Back to School Picnic hosted by the New York City Home Educators Alliance, the largest of several Gotham home-schooling organizations.

There are something like 3,000 registered home-schoolers in New York City, my two fourth-grade children among them. (That's probably a slight undercount that doesn't capture people who don't register, but in any case it's a small number.) At least on the surface, the NYCHEA picnic is a pretty good example of how different their daily routines can be from those of the 1.1 million or so kids who attend New York’s public schools. There’s a truism about home-schooling in an urban context that holds somewhat true, which is that the term is a misnomer: It mostly doesn’t happen at home and mostly doesn’t look like school.

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