More kids learn ABCs from parents

Parents who crowded into a classroom at First Baptist Church recently learned something that should make the coming months easier.

They learned they are not alone.

“I hope they walk away from the meetings more sure and ready to give a response about what they are doing,” said Susan Maga�a, a parent in her fourth year of home-schooling her children. She said she didn’t want parents new to home-schooling “to feel that they have to defend themselves.”

As home-schooling has become better accepted in El Paso and throughout the country, the Southwest Homeschooling Network has seen a need to help parents who are taking on their children’s education. Read more…

Masked teen helps prevent crime

Michael Gruenwald is a gourmet cook, owns an automotive detailing business and wears the McGruff costume for Seguin Police Department activities.

The surprising thing is Gruenwald is only 16 years old and has never attended public school.

Michael�s day starts early. He gets up and feeds his animals, which currently include three dogs, seven cats (including five new kittens), a cockatiel and a rosy boa constrictor.

His mom calls him an entrepreneur, and says his first business was a lemonade stand when he was 5 years old. He does schoolwork year round, leaving him time to fit in jobs during the school year. Read more…

Homeschooling option on the rise

When many parents and children think ‘homeschooling,’ what comes to mind are Mark and Rebecca Cotswold from the cartoon ‘South Park’ – awkward children who talk ‘funny,’ have trouble navigating social interactions on the playground and in the cafeteria, but who can out-spell anyone.

While the spelling stereotype may be accurate (homeschooled children won the national spelling bee in 2000, 2001 and 2002), the worry over a lack of socialization isn’t necessarily so. For several families in Saugus who homeschool their children, this negative is a myth.

Clarice and Daniel Cipolonne homeschool their two oldest children, 9-year-old Andrea and 5-year-old Samantha. Clarice Cipolonne said that socialization has not been a problem for Andrea, who she said has an easy time making friends, whether it is in the neighborhood or at outings organized by a local homeschooling support group. Read more…

Wisconsin Plan calls for home-schooler testing

Mukwonago – Home-schooled students could have to take tests so high school officials can confirm that the teenagers have done the work their parents say they have.

A proposed policy before the Mukwonago School Board would require any high school student who is not coming from “a recognized or accredited public/private educational institution” to take a semester final exam or achievement test for a report card grade in certain subjects. Students would be required to pay $20 for each test taken, with a maximum $160 charge.

Requiring a test also would allow the district to properly place the students in high school classes and make sure they’re ready for the courses they enroll in, said Principal Dale Henry and district curriculum director Kathy Kippers.

The new mandate would replace a policy that allows the high school to test home-schoolers, but which Henry said he has been reluctant to use for fear that students will feel picked on. Current policy also automatically gives a “satisfactory” mark for home-school credits. Read more…

Homeschooler wins 14 ribbons, two medals, plaque, trophy

Emma Leahy, an 11-year-old Clarke County homeschooled rising sixth grader, won 14 ribbons, two medals, one plaque and one trophy at the 50th Annual National Junior Classical League Convention at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, July 28 – Aug. 2.

She won the sixth place trophy for overall individual achievement nationwide in all areas combined.

Leahy also won a fourth place plaque — the Lillie B. Hamilton award (for overall achievement nationwide in graphic arts, creative arts, and academics). To win this award she had to receive ribbons in three of the four contest areas).

She received a second place medal for overall achievement nationwide in creative arts.

For overall achievement nationwide in graphic arts, Leahy received a 10th place medal.

Her 14 ribbons were as follows: Read more…

There’s no place like home schooling

Robin Vaughan of Jupiter Farms knew she wanted to homeschool her children even before her first child was born.

And it’s worked so far, she said.

‘I’ve seen a lot improvements in (their) learning that I wouldn’t see if they were in public school,’ Vaughan said of her 5-year-old son, Matthew, and 2-year-old daughter, Emie.

For Jonica Wisneski of Jupiter, the decision to homeschool her children came as her son Dane, now 12, was finishing second grade at a private Christian school.

‘I felt that even with Christian schools, a lot of kids were influencing him in ways I wasn’t happy with,’ she said. ‘I don’t mean to be judgmental, but I wanted to teach them at home.’

She uses curriculum taped off satellite TV from Bob Jones University in South Carolina, which sets up courses for students to learn at home.

Home schooling is an alternative that is growing more popular with families in South Florida, officials say.

This fall, according to the state Department of Education, more than 45,000 of Florida’s 2.5 million students are taught at home. Read more…

For this family, only home school makes grade

GRESHAM — Tamra Orr thinks some kids just don’t belong in school.

“School can be a very damaging experience for a lot of kids,” the Gresham resident said. “It’s against their every nature. They want to discover, learn, move. School’s an artificial environment.”

So Orr, who moved to Oregon from Indiana two years ago, decided early on to home-school her four children.

“It was probably the best decision my parents ever made,” said Orr’s daughter, Jasmine Pettet, 19.

Orr, who had already published dozens of educational books, started writing about home schooling several years ago. Her latest book, “After Homeschool: Fifteen Homeschoolers out in the Real World,” was released by Parent’s Guide Press this year.

She couldn’t have picked a better time for the topic. The popularity of home schooling has steadily increased since the late 1980s, said Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute, which has offices in Salem and Washington, D.C. He said there were 1.7 million to 2.1 million home-schooled students in the United States last year. Read more…

Home-school parents swap notes, gather resources before lessons start

The 18 women and two men stroll from table to table, pausing to flip through some of the items on display. Parents browse books titled “Playful Ways to Help Your Child Read,” “Friendly Chemistry,” and “An Easy Start in Arithmetic.”

As the start of the traditional school year approaches, parents whose children belong to the untraditional-education sector swap favorite lesson books and teaching tips. Home-schooling is a lifestyle change, they say � and at times, a lonely one.

“It’s important for me to not feel like I’m doing it by myself,” said Anne Healey, chairwoman of the Issaquah chapter of the Homeschoolers’ Support Association. The support group, based in the Puget Sound area, also has chapters in Federal Way and Renton.

Since home-schooling became legal in Washington 18 years ago, the number of home-schooled children has jumped from about 5,000 to 20,000. That number has held steady during the past five years, said Melinda Dyer with the state’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Read more…

Some people find public instruction inadequate

WASHOUGAL — On a recent drive to swim lessons, Naomi Gilmore rattled off the seven continents.

Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Antarctica and Australia can be hard for adults to remember.

Naomi is 5 years old.

Jodie Gilmore plans to home-school her two children, Naomi, and her 4-year-old brother, Axel, when they reach school age. But the learning has already begun.

“We’ve already started; it’s just when do we have to start jumping through the record-keeping,” Gilmore said. “We play, we learn, we eat, we sleep. We do everything all mishmashed together.”

Gilmore chooses home school for several reasons. She doesn’t trust the government with her children’s education. She wants to teach a faith-based curriculum. She is legally blind, and for her rural Washougal family, transportation is a problem. Read more…

State Fair makes the grade as classroom

Aaron Keenan saw a miracle at the Nebraska State Fair.

Standing on a bale of hay at 11:43 a.m. Tuesday, the 3-year-old watched a sow give birth to a piglet.

It happened in the birthing center of the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association.

Aaron’s grandmother, Ellen Keenan, called the event ‘amazing.’

‘Can I touch it?’ Aaron asked.

Not a good idea.

So with the attention span of a typical 3-year-old, the Lincoln boy wanted to go next to the petting zoo to feed the goats –despite the fact 10 or 12 more piglets were momentarily expected.

The fair always has attracted kids, but this week it’s become a classroom, too.

Tuesday was Nebraska’s Largest Classroom Homeschool Day, drawing 125 students from home schools as far away as Kearney. Read more…

More dads getting involved in home schooling

MT. VERNON � A Christian home schooling organization saw more fathers getting involved in their children�s education over the past dozen years.

Tim and Barbara Cole, support group leaders for the Jefferson County Christian Home Educators, said the involvement of more fathers has also helped the home school movement here.

�At the beginning, it was mostly moms,� said Tim Cole. �We saw very few dads.�

When the Coles joined the support group 12 years ago, they found that many fathers� reasons for staying at arm�s length was either work or simple apathy.

�Home schooling is really about building the home up,� said Tim Cole. �Christians have a biblical mandate to … teach their children or see them educated … and fathers ultimately must give an account� of their family. Read more…

State schools turns to homeschooling to save

Margaret Hoffman yearns to home-school her only child. Now, with Florida facing a classroom crunch, the state is offering to help.

Two companies — one headed by former U.S. Education Secretary William J. Bennett — will operate two “virtual” public schools starting next month, each allowing 500 students in kindergarten through eighth grade to study online at home.

The state is paying the $4,800 cost of educating each child, which seems like a good deal to Hoffman, a Seminole County school cafeteria worker whose husband works nights stocking at a grocery store.

“Quite frankly, I can’t afford the curriculum for home school,” said Hoffman, who would like to see her daughter, Julia, 10, a round-faced fifth-grader at Keeth Elementary School in Winter Springs, make more progress on her lessons. Read more…

A choice for Home-Schoolers

Samuel pads around in socks, Lauren goes barefoot and Holly Jackson, teacher and mom, wears slippers.

They wrap pasty newspaper strips around balloons to make papier-mache Picasso sculptures, working at a folding table in a room painted bright blue and yellow. Cardboard dioramas on the walls depict reading assignments, and a jar houses snails they pulled from Round Lake the day before during a nature walk inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Rain.”

They call the converted bedroom the schoolroom. Lauren and Samuel’s neighborhood peers are still on summer break from Illahee Elementary. But Jackson teaches Samuel, 8, and Lauren, 7, at home, and the family sets its own school schedule. Read more…

Homeschoolers take Public school electives

When school starts Sept. 2, Brenda Weideman will send her children to school each morning on the bright yellow bus.

The odd part is that Weideman home-schools her three children.

The Weidemans are one of several home school families who take extracurricular activities and elective classes at public schools. Weideman’s children — ages 11, 13 and 15 — have taken physical education, library, vocational and music classes at Evergreen district schools.

“I didn’t want to isolate my children away from other people. That wasn’t my purpose,” Weideman said.

She home-schools in order to give the family more time together. With her husband’s work schedule, traditional school hours would mean the children could only see their father on weekends. Read more…

Why I Homeschool My Child

Home schooling is my passion and that is why I have co-founded two home school organizations with my husband, Michael: the North Carolina African-American Homeschoolers and the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance. We now have about 130 members in North Carolina and over 200 families in the national organization.

Although in North Carolina, where we live, our daughters, aged five and two, are too young to be regarded as homeschooled, we consider them home schooled nevertheless. We thoroughly believe that education begins from day one � and we plan to homeschool our daughters until they leave for college.

Even before our oldest daughter was born, my husband and I were leaning towards home education. We had heard so many great things about it. The clincher for us was when we watched the National Spelling Bee Competition on ESPN one year. One of the last students still standing was a homeschooled child and at that point we realized we had to learn more about it. We received some information from our state home schooling organization, and by the time we were finished reading it we agreed out children would be home schooled. Read more…

More families opting to home school their children

WASHINGTON — Scott Butler could not stand high school. On the days he made it to class, it felt like a waste of time.

‘It was hard to pay attention,’ he said. ‘I really wasn’t learning anything — a lot of distractions.’

When he was pulled by his parents from Wilson Senior High School and his education overseen at home, the family joined the fast-growing trend of home schooling. Once considered the realm of the ideologically or religiously extreme, home schooling is becoming a mainstream option.

‘I can pace myself more, and I can learn about subjects that interest me,’ Scott said.

A leading advocate of home schooling says 1 million to 2 million children, representing 2 percent to 4 percent of all U.S. schoolchildren, are taught at home. The latest government numbers, from 1999, put the total at 850,000. But Brian Ray, president of the National Home Education Research Institute contends the federal figure is low because some home-schooled students do not report themselves. Read more…

Homeschooled Girl seeks to support bill easing efforts of mailing items to troops

An industrious and patriotic local teenager was among those gathered at the Giles County Courthouse Monday when U.S. Congressman Lincoln Davis visited Pulaski.

Fourteen-year-old Emily Clayton asked Davis to ensure the passage of H.R. 2705, a bill to amend the United States Code to provide free mailing privileges for personal correspondence and certain parcels sent from within the United States to members of the Armed Forces.

Davis told Clayton that he would review the proposed “Providing Our Support to Troops Act of 2003” and become a cosponsor. The bill would impact mail delivery charges for those serving on active duty abroad and are engaged in military operations involving armed conflict against a hostile foreign force or for other purposes. Read more…

The rise of home schooling

In Gwinnett County, home of the state’s largest and, as many see it, most prestigious school system, a band of parents have turned their backs on public education.

They have their reasons.

For starters: overcrowded schools, trailer classrooms, campus violence, burned-out teachers and too much class time spent teaching to standardized tests.

Not even last year’s average SAT score of 1033 — an all-time best for the system — was enough to sell them on Gwinnett schools.

The way Cheryl Schoenberg of Dacula sees it, the best instructor for her two daughters is Mom. Read more…

Grass Lake sisters are thriving in college after homeschool experience

Michelle and Stephanie Carter could be the poster children for homeschooling.

The Grass Lake residents are articulate, smart and driven, with GPAs of 3.97 and 3.99, respectively, at Baker College, says mom and former teacher Karen Carter.

Karen Carter homeschooled her daughters from the fourth grade through their senior year of high school.

The sisters insist they missed out on nothing — except for peer pressure, bullies who feast on the insecurities of others and noisy classrooms.

‘I’ve had a lot of my friends, as I’ve gone through homeschooling and graduated, that wished they could have done it with me,’ says Michelle, 21, who earned an associate’s degree in small-business management from Baker and is ready to continue for her bachelor’s. ‘They were really envious. They never got to experience the joy of learning.’ Read more…

County opens first home school out of home in Beaverton

BEAVERTON — In two weeks, the doors to Washington County’s first home school-away-from-home will open, with as many parents sitting in on classes as children.

Board members and teachers at Village Home Education Resource Center, which is publicly financed but privately run, hope to attract parents who have so far avoided traditional schools.

Lori Walker, one of the school’s founders, said the home education center is meant to provide classes, workshops and field trips that will supplement courses taught at home.

In fact, Walker said, the school’s staff expects parents to attend classes with their children. Read more…