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by Brisja Riggins

It really doesn’t matter which method parents use, as long as it reaches the child they are home schooling in a meaningful way. Noticeably, home schooling has become more familiar, more community based, and more mainstream. In this area alone, a huge number of families are home schooling their children.

Reasons vary from necessity to choice, religion to medical issues, and everything in between. All the families I spoke with love the home schooling experiences they have had so far. What does vary is the approach they take to teaching, and those approaches are as diverse as the families themselves.

A quick search on the internet will provide a multitude of options for families to purchase curriculums of every kind. Some are classically based, while others use a Montessori approach. Some include text books and learning materials parents can purchase. Others take a more high tech turn offering on-line classes or satellite feeds children can watch on their TV; many of these programs also offer written materials and learning aids to use along with the videos. Other parents simply choose skill appropriate materials from places like teacher-parent stores or on-line sources and make their own lesson plans like a school teacher does.

As they say, the end justifies the means, especially when it comes to home schooling. Many families have tried a few different options until they find a good fit. A home school convention, usually held in spring and summer, provides a multitude of ideas. There people talk to other families and to the curriculum vendors to decide what might work best.

Another way to get valuable advice, meet other families and have some fun is to join a local home schooling group. There are many in our area that offer an abundance of low cost field trips, because they can buy tickets at a reduced group rate, and opportunities for home school families to get together. Home school clubs share different methods of teaching and have some fun outings at the same time. They may relay information about upcoming home school conventions and other useful events to make teaching easier.

Home schooling offers families a chance to be active participants in what their children learn. All types of learning styles can be addressed on a child by child basis. This alone is making home schooling more and more popular around the nation.

Children who have been home schooled often say they did not feel left out of the social activities enjoyed by their school-going peers, due to all the things they have time to engage in with their shorter school work days. Being able to work at their own pace gives them plenty of time to join sports leagues, take dance and music lessons and join theater groups. Many home scholars are active in church, Boy and Girl Scouts, and volunteer groups. And not only are the kids involved, their parents are more involved in their lives as well.

Local homeschooled children shared their feelings on the subject. Elise, age 15, says, “I like home schooling because I get to spend more time with my family. My dad is a great teacher. He’s really interested in my personal success.” Five year old Anna agrees, saying, “I like home schooling because I don’t have to spend all the time with a teacher, instead I can be with my mom.” Matthew, 9, feels that, “Home schooling gives us more time with our families, and because you are with your family it’s easier to work.” Quality family time is at a premium these days, and home schooling allows these families a chance to spend more time together.

Flexibility is another added bonus families enjoy when home schooling. Fifth grader Michael likes that he doesn’t always have to stay home, but goes out for some of his lessons and is able to be a member of a home school band. Eleven year old Duncan is also involved in a group he loves. “I have the most fun home schooling when I do Home School Theater Troupe.” Area YMCA’s and sports centers offer a wide range of classes during the day for home schooling families. Kids can get physical and meet new friends. Parents enjoy a break from being the sole teacher, and the kids get a chance to interact with other adults.

Another added benefit of home schooling is summed up by 13 year old Nick, “I like being home schooled because I get to work at my own speed. When I was in school, I sometimes got confused, especially in math…I never felt like I knew what I was doing, but I do now.” His sister Lauren, 8, agrees, saying, “At home I can do as much math as I want, and I don’t have to wait on anybody else to catch up.” Parents are able to help each child with their strengths and weaknesses without having to worry about a classroom full of other children. This individualized attention creates an environment for learning where the children feel like they can succeed.

While methods are varied, the sentiments about home schooling are similar. No matter which method a family chooses, home schooling can be a way for families to create closer bonds with each other, explore educational opportunities, and create a personalized learning environment for each child. Dedicated, loving parents can make fantastic teachers. There are so many resources available to you that you can enrich the lives of your children in our own way while be certain they are receiving the education they need.

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Pouches' Community Corner

Trains, Planes and Automobiles Kids' Race Series


From a small beginning, Cathy Weise of the Ron Rosner YMCA has developed an ambitious three-race series for kids for this summer, with the help of The Great Train Race, Shannon Airport, Dominion Raceway & Entertainment, the Fredericksburg Area Service League and Race Timing Unlimited.

Great Train Race Director Jennifer Taylor was one of the first on board.