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The homeschooling debate

Tiernan McKay is a freelance writer based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has appeared in magazines such as Alive!, Occupational Health and Safety, Restaurants and Institutions, Tampa Bay and Arizona Woman. Right now, she is either ridi...

Educational alternatives

Any parent will tell you that each child is different, especially when it comes to learning styles. Some thrive in a structured classroom while others bloom in a more creative and open setting. If the classroom environment is just not for you or your kids, perhaps you are considering homeschooling.

Homeschooling family

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, upwards of two million children are homeschooled, and that number grows by 15-20% every year. Every parent arrives at the decision to homeschool through their own unique circumstances, but there are some shared characteristics among homeschooling families.

The profile

Research gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that homeschooled children are:

  • Slightly more likely to be female.
  • Most likely to be of non-Hispanic, White ethnicities.
  • Usually living in a middle-income household with a married couple.
  • Probably with a non-working adult for most of the day.

That same research shows that parents who choose to homeschool do so for a variety of reasons, including a lack of confidence in their school district, a belief that homeschooling provides a superior education, objections to subject matter covered in local schools and a lack of a challenging curriculum.

A personal perspective

Tori Dennis, RN, is a certified nurse midwife and mother of three in Tuscumbia, Alabama. Her decision to homeschool her children (ages 15, 13 and 11) was based on her personal experience in school. "During my high school years, a lot of girls became pregnant," she says. "Most students were having sex, drugs were available in school from 7th grade on up. Then news of 'school shootings' began springing up around the country." All of these factors encouraged Dennis to look into educational alternatives and homeschooling seemed like the best option. "It was the best choice for my family because I want my daughters to have a better atmosphere to learn in, without the negative social pressures," she says.

A typical day

A homeschooler's typical day varies greatly, but Dennis says her day includes an early morning workout at the gym with her girls, chores at home and school work from 9 a.m. until about 4 p.m. "We use a video DVD program by ABEKA that includes math, reading, Bible, language, spelling, handwriting, health, science and history," she says. "My role is to grade quizzes, tests and oral reading."

Considerations

Although homeschooling was the right option for her, Dennis acknowledges that homeschooling isn't for everyone. There are certain types of students who seem to excel, including those who are self-motivated or highly gifted. Additionally, kids with issues like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder can really benefit from the one-on-one attention. Some other benefits include "no homework in the evening and no peer pressure," says Dennis. "I am able to spend a lot of time with my children, instead of the one or two hours in the evening like most American mothers."

If you are looking for educational options that invite parental involvement in a setting other than a traditional school, homeschooling may be worth considering.

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