With bullying, childhood suicide, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse and the removal of God and faith from the public classroom, many parents at some point in their child’s educational experience find themselves considering home school. Homeschooling is a very fast growing option for families dissatisfied with the public education system and here in Waco we ave a thriving homeschool culture.
According to letshomeschool.com:
- In 2003, 2.2 percent of all students – about 1,096,000 – were homeschooled, up from 1.7 percent of students (850,000) in 1999.
- Over 43% of homeschooled students were in grades K-5, with about 28% in grades 6-8 and about 29% in grades 9-12.
- Over 19.5% of parents of homeschoolers have been to graduate or professional school.
- Of the 1,096,000 students being homeschooled in 2003, 82% of them had no education other than homeschooling, while 18% attended another school part-time, most of those for less than 9 hours a week.
Most parents wonder how making the choice to home school may affect their children later in life. Things such as admittance to colleges, quality of education and socialization are issues that parents are concerned about. Colleges and Universities are fully aware of the growing trend towards homeschooling and have altered their admittance policies with it in mind.
The Wall Street Journal confirms that many colleges are adjusting their admissions policies to homeschoolers:
Many colleges now routinely accept homeschooled students, who typically present “portfolios” of their work instead of transcripts. Each year Harvard University takes up to 10 applicants who have had some homeschooling. “In general, those kids do just fine,” says David Illingsworth, senior admissions officer. He adds that the number of applications and inquiries from homeschoolers is “definitely increasing.
Stephanie Howell is a happy homeschooling mom and Christian in Waco, Texas with thriving and intelligent children. Here is her take on the homeschooling experience, and making the initial decision to embark on the homeschooling journey.
Q. What guided your decision to home-school your child?
A. Home schooling my kids has always been a dream of mine. I always wanted to do the stay at home mom thing and be able to enjoy my children as children. Life circumstances prevented it for a long time. I went to school and earned my RN degree and worked full time. The medical field is difficult when you have kids because normally you start out working holidays and weekends. I had a good job that was a rare Mon through Fri 8am to 5pmthat paid well. With the stress of being in management, I was not able to give my kids the attention that they needed. My oldest daughter started going down a path that was not good, making poor decisions and at that moment, I knew God was telling me it was okay to quit my job, we would be okay so that I could be there for my kids. I haven’t worked in two years outside the home and I am loving every minute of it. I am homeschooling my daughter who will be a senior in the fall and will start my boys who will be in 6th and 4th grades. Today’s school system isn’t what it used to be. I feel that too much emphasis is placed on passing the TAKS testthan teaching children how to learn. They learn how to pass a test. Once out of high school, and on the job, they are asked to be out of the box thinkers, and lots of them struggle with that because they are used to being taught how to learn instead of learning how to teach themselves to learn things. Also, there is a lot of negative influence on kids these days and it starts very young. My third grader has already been asked to smoke a cigarette and kiss girls, and that is just crazy to me. I feel like I can provide a stable learning environment inside the home and away from the negative influences until they are old enough to handle it. I heard this comparison and I really liked it, we don’t go buy a tender small plant and immediately plant it out doors to endure the harsh elements, we keep it inside our homes or our greenhouse until it is big enough and strong enough to withstand the elements. It should be the same with our kids.
Q. What does a normal day of home-school studies include?
A. A normal day of home school consists of waking up around 8am, eating breakfast, taking care of chores and house hold obligations. Usually we begin our studies around 10am. We just stay with it until we are done. If she concentrates and gets all her daily assignments done, she usually finishes around 1 or 2pm and then has the rest of the day for freedoms. This next year we may do things a little different since she will be a senior. She will be able to work part time and go do school around her work schedule.
Q. What curriculum do you use, how did you find it and how did you choose it?
A. We are using the ACE PACE curriculum. I like it allot because it is self taught and self paced. She is able to teach herself with the examples given in the books. I have a friend that has been using this for a while now and she loves it. She was able to show me all the PACE’s and coach me through any questions I had which was nice because it turned out to be like a try before you buy type thing. If she doesn’t know how to do something even after reading all instructions, there are lots of resources out there. You tube has tutorials on just about anything you could think of. She has used that to help her when she is stuck on a math problem.
Q. What would you tell a parent trying to make the decision between home school and public school?
A. I would tell them to pray and discuss it with their spouse. You won’t be successful at home schooling if you and your spouse are not in agreement. Second, I would tell them to look up their local support group for homeschoolers, in Waco; GWCHE is pretty well known and offers a wealth of information. They have people that are able to answer just about any problem or question you could have related to home school. Some people that are part of this group have homeschooled their children for 30yrs plus. It is amazing. Third, decide on the curriculum that fits you. Some parents enjoy teaching and like the hands on approach, and some like the self taught curriculum. I think home school is definitely an option for any parent out there that is willing to try it. There are so many options these days and allot of helpful information on the web. It can be a little overwhelming.
Q. What are your favorite things about homeschooling?
A. My favorite things about home schooling is that I have been able to get to know my child better; what makes her tick, what she likes and doesn’t like, her personality, and temperament. It has brought us closer together as mother daughter and that is something you could not pay me enough to take away from me. I also love the freedom in it, if we want to take a field trip we can, we can go wherever whenever to learn. We aren’t confined to a classroom or even our home. My home is more in balance with the way I believe God wants it. We work together to keep it clean and picked up and we try to have dinner ready for my husband when he gets off work. My home is more peaceful and a true place of rest.
Q. What sacrifices have you made in order to home-school your children?
A. Well, as I stated earlier I was working as an RN and was the main provider in our home for many years. My husband owns his own business and I was able to be the income source while he grew his business. Now, he is able to support us, although he doesn’t make near as much as I did when I worked. Sacrifices are many and sometimes daily. We don’t usually eat out allot, it is a special treat if we go to eat, and we have cut back on what we eat [at home]….lots of hamburger and rice and beans…the cheaper foods, we don’t keep sodas and snack foods in our pantry anymore. We hold on to our clothes a little longer and save up to do household replacement items…however, I believe we are blessed because we still have been able to go on vacation each summer.
Q. Is there anything not covered in the above questions that you would like other parents to know/understand about homeschooling
A. Yes, there are more people than you think that home school their children these days. If you decide to home school, definitely think about joining a group like GWCHE. They have park days, school events and field trips, high school events and field trips, a year book, prom, and even graduation ceremony. I love that they do this because it helps the kids feel that they aren’t missing out on any of those important high school events. They are also programs in Waco that if you home school your kids you can still enroll them in sports with a private or charter school. [This allows them to] still be able to play football, basketball, baseball or whatever they would like. You typically have to pay for it, but home school can offer all the benefits of traditional school. This usually makes people feel comfortable and like their kids won’t be “social freaks” that is labeled on [some] home school kids.
Q. How do you think homeschooling affected your children?
A. I know that my daughter has more self confidence and she has gone from being a failing student to an all A and B student. She works hard to get her school done and I think that she is proud of her accomplishments. She is planning on going into graphic design after high school and home schooling has encouraged her to continue her education. When she was in traditional school, she did not want to keep going; she wanted to quit altogether because she was so frustrated. I am anxious to see the affects it has on my boys. I am sure it will be similar.
Stephanie is a perfect example of the types of mom’s making the change to the home school educational model. This top-notch mom is able to cater to her children’s needs and strengths in a very hands-on and personalized manner. Her daughter loves being successful at her work and her son’s will soon benefit ten-fold from the safe and nurturing environment Stephanie has created for them in her home. Is homeschooling the next step for your family?