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Is Home Schooling for You?

October 5, 2009
Times Observer

I have been home schooling my children for eleven years. One of the most popular questions I am asked is “Why do you home school?” I tell people I want to teach my children different values than the ones offered in public school. I want to teach my girls how to be keepers at home. I never learned life skills because my mom did everything for me when I was at school. I also want to be a strong Christian witness telling others I take my faith seriously. I want to insulate my children from the world and focus on God.

While my children were still small, I was influenced by friends and family. I saw how they were raising their children and I wanted the same. However, like many, I lacked the confidence. I did send my oldest to kindergarten. After a few months in school, I knew I would choose to home school. But before I even started to home school, I prayed to God for guidance and wisdom. Once I was convinced, there was no turning back.

Then the next step is to ask your husband. It will not succeed if you do not have your husband’s blessing and support.

Of course, it is best to start at kindergarten. If not, sit down with your children and discuss your decision.

Read as many books on home schooling as you can. Talk to home schooling families who have done it for some time.

One of the greatest benefits of home schooling is the bond I have with my girls. We live and learn and work together day by day. What better teacher can children have - one who knows their child’s weaknesses and strengths.

Socialization is one of the best reasons to home school. Too much time with peers is damaging to children. They learn many bad habits from each other.

Academically, tutoring is the best method of education. Home schooled children learn skills in an appropriate setting, in a home with a family and observing how it applies to real life. Learning becomes a way of life. I encourage my girls to read things they enjoy or want to learn more about. Academics are tailored to the individual because every child learns in a different way.

Every home schooling mom must contact her school district superintendent to inform them of their desire to home school. A letter of intent must be in by July 1st or within so many days of withdrawing from school. Before August 15, an IHIP (Individualized Home Instruction Plan) must be sent in. Then four quarterly reports must be submitted through the school year which indicates school work accomplished.

It is helpful to join a home school support group. In Jamestown, our local group is called LEAH (Loving Education At Home). We have a parents meeting at Levant Wesleyan Church at 7:00 pm on the second Thursday of the month. Every month a topic or speaker is scheduled. As a group, throughout the month we participate in gym, Keepers of the Faith (like 4-H or scouting), roller skating and field trips. We also have science, French, art and other classes available. This year we are starting a teen group.

Before you buy any curriculum materials, do some research on the Internet, request catalogs and ask others what they use. There is so much to choose from and it can be overwhelming! Some choose to go the route of copying a school format and using text books for every subject. I use the unit study approach for history and sciences. It allows different age groups to learn together. It is a hands on approach and much literature is used.

If you choose to home school, do not believe lies some moms believe. “No, everyone else’s kids are not better than your own.” “No, everyone’s house is not cleaner.” “No, not everyone else’s children are more disciplined and more spiritual than yours.” And do not believe one of the big ones - “Everyone else is more capable than you.” (Wilson, Todd. Lies Home Schooling Moms Believe) You are the best person to teach your children.

One of my favorite benefits of home schooling my children was hearing each of my daughters read for the first time. It was the greatest joy and I cried every time.

You cannot do it all as far as activities are concerned. Pick and choose what you want to do. Children need the essentials and they can live without the non-essentials like music, sports, dancing, etc. Every family is different. It is okay to say you cannot add anything else. I know, my three girls do ballet a total of nine times a week! I cannot add anything else except church. (Yet, I still add to my school day music, science and French!)

Would I do it over again? You bet! I cannot tell you it was easy but the rewards outweigh the struggles. I had to encounter many obstacles and interruptions and you will also. Things like: birth of children, moving, death of parents and even a husband going to Iraq. All these can present some challenges.

Cynthia Corbelli is the mother of four girls ages 16, 13, 11, and 8. She is home schooling three at present. Her oldest is a Junior at Bethel Baptist Christian Academy. In her spare time she enjoys reading, scrap booking and quilting. Cynthia has helped out over the years at her two week church camp and is now head cook. This summer she delighted in teaching the Summer Story Time at the Fluvanna Community Library.

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