BY JENNIFER HUBBARD FEB 2016
Find out what options are out there for Central Georgia parents and hear about local parents experiences with homeschool.
“I never intended to homeschool my children,” says Macon mom Fredrina Slaton. “I hadn”t even heard about homeschooling. My thoughts were that children should be in a school environment.”
When Fredrina’s oldest daughter began reading before kindergarten, Fredrina’s vision for her child’s education hit a snag.
“We were told she would be bored and that we should look at alternatives for her education. The best of those alternatives was homeschooling.”
Today, Fredrina is a homeschool mom of 15 years and the Organizer for Macon Worldschoolers, a 657-member home-school group in Middle Georgia.
Barnesville mom Laurie Heiney has a similar story. When the time came for her oldest child to start school, Laurie never considered homeschooling. It wasn’t until she sent her daughter to preschool that her plans hit a road bump.
“I began to notice that the child who came home from school each day was not the child I had sent,” says Laurie. “When I first heard about homeschooling as an alternative, I thought it was a crazy idea. I was looking forward to sending my children to school. After researching the benefits of home education, I thought, ‘How can I not do this?’”
Today, Laurie is a homeschool mom of 20 years and the Middle Georgia Support Representative for Classical Conversations, a nation-wide homeschool community.
With hundreds of Middle Georgia parents making the same choice as Fredrina and Laurie, our community is part of a growing and changing nation-wide homeschool climate.
In fact, you’ve probably noticed that home-schooling is becoming more popular.
You turn to the fellow baseball parent in the bleachers and ask, “So where does little Johnny go to school?” “Oh, actually we homeschool,” he says as he tosses another popcorn kernel into his mouth.
No surprise. You may not have expected that answer, but you aren’t surprised. Just 50 years ago you would have been stunned.
That’s because 50 years ago, homeschooling was almost unheard of—an educational anomaly mainly reserved for those who lived “out in the boonies.” It wasn’t until the 1970’s when John Holt, an educational theorist, spoke against rote classroom environments that modern homeschooling began to take root.
Continuing to grow in the 1980’s, homeschooling took on a heavy religious connotation when an increasing number of parents began to advocate home education due to convictions of faith that were being challenged in public schools.
Today, however, homeschool families are as varied as America itself. “Homeschooling convictions are different now,” says Laurie. “When I moved here 13 years ago, families mainly homeschooled for religious reasons. Now, a wider variety of parents are homeschooling for the academic and social advantages.”
According to the most recent data from U.S. Department of Education, from 2003 to 2012, the number of home-school students in the United States rose dramatically by 61.8%, climbing from 1.1 million homeschoolers to 1.77 million.
Experts predict the trend toward homeschooling will only increase in the coming decade.
While the rise of homeschool families stems from a wide range of personal motivations, certain advantages stand among the most popular reasons why more people are choosing to homeschool.
AN ACADEMIC CHOICE
One of the strongest appeals of home education is academics. In a society where class sizes are ever-increasing, home- schschooling provides a personal education. Children dig into areas of strength or interest and find support for their weaknesses, working at their own pace and level in every subject. With a vast number of easy-to-personalize homeschool curriculums, hands-on learning kits, and online video courses, homeschool students are flourishing academically.
“Colleges are at the homeschool conferences,” says Laurie. “They want home-schoolers! And homeschoolers qualify for the HOPE scholarship and dual enrollment!”
A SOCIAL CHOICE
Despite one of homeschooling’s most widely spread misconceptions, many parents find homeschooling to be a better social environment for their children.
“Ten years ago, the idea of homeschooling was not something most people wished to tackle, mainly because of the lack of socialization issue,” says Fredrina. “Now, people understand that homeschoolers have a lot of socialization options.”
There are an abundance of homeschool organizations, groups, and co-ops that provide students with loads of socialization without common downsides, such as unhealthy peer pressure and bullying.
A FAMILY CHOICE
Cultivating a tight family unit is a challenge to any family. School hours, extracurricular activities, homework, social calls, community/church functions, and bedtime leave little time in the day to enjoy each other. Many parents are finding a beautiful solution in homeschooling. With homeschooling, families are able to spend the best hours of the day together before the activities and exhaustion take over.
A TIMELY CHOICE
Homeschooling provides a unique advantage time-wise. Because a homeschool day is usually shorter than a traditional school day, homeschoolers have more time for play and special interests. For many families who make the jump to homeschooling, gaining more time in the day is life changing.
A FLEXIBILE CHOICE
From school days to vacation days, homeschool families are masters of their own schedules. Deeper still, homeschooling provides a flexible environment for children to flourish. In How to Get an Education at Home, Pat Farenga wrote, “Children, like adults, need time to be alone to think, to muse, to read freely, to daydream, to be creative, to form a self independent of the barrage of mass culture.”
A PARENTING CHOICE
Many homeschool parents gain confidence in their roles as mom or dad. Being their child’s teacher naturally forces parents to find a way to maintain a loving authority while also providing ample time for mom or dad to fill other, non-authoritarian roles.
A PRINCIPLED CHOICE
A large part of education is the shaping of a child’s character—guiding young individuals as they explore themselves and their world. As home educators, many parents enjoy the added time to instill values within their children, religious or not, and mentor them through daily choices and struggles.
A FUN CHOICE
Homeschooling can be very fun. Nature walks, field trips, museum memberships, play groups, and kitchen counter science experiments are just a few of the ways parents and children are having a blast together.
A RESTFUL CHOICE
No more rushing to the bus or scrambling into the mini-van at 7 a.m. Home-schooled students have the option to sleep longer and thus be better prepared to learn. Mornings transform from a frenzy of lunchboxes and backpacks to breakfast at the table.
A FINANCIAL CHOICE
In most families, a decision to home-school means one parent will have to stay home. While this is a major sacrifice, homeschool does not come without some financial benefits. There is no need for daycare or private school tuitions, and there are many free curriculums and resources available. Many parents find free or discounted extracurricular activities for homeschoolers during school hours, like a piano teacher who appreciates lessons at 11 o’clock in the morning.
A PERSONAL CHOICE
Where and how to educate children is an extremely personal choice. The truth is that homeschooling is not for everyone, and choosing to send children to school is a better decision for many families. While home education is not the answer to every educational need, it is proving to be a viable and beneficial option for many families. #