In Kids & Family

The Flood family is a homeschooling success story.

Local families choose homeschooling

(page 2)


Sometimes home-schooled children are taught in small groups by other homeschooling parents. Sam Flood, for example, spent three years studying Shakespeare with a group of homeschoolers. He says the experience allowed him to develop friendships with kids and adults of a variety of ages. He says it also inspired him to study theater in college.

Over the years, Margie Flood kept records of her kids' learning progress. These records, along with SAT scores and a personal interview, were the basis for Sam's and Ariana's admission to Lawrence.

Ken Anselment, director of admissions at Lawrence University, says home-schooled applicants can be very appealing.

"We'll often see home-schooled applicants who are intellectually curious and have worked through a curriculum that not only satisfies their curiosity, but prepares them to be quite capable college students, fully equipped with the independent drive and motivation that helps them take advantage of all (that) a place like Lawrence has to offer," says Anselment.

Margie admits that, at times, she was concerned that she wasn't teaching her kids everything they needed to be successful. However, she realized that when she started to worry about whether or not her kids were learning enough, the homeschooling process became more stressful and less successful. Eventually, Margie learned to trust herself.

"I sometimes worried if we were doing enough," says Margie. "But by the time the kids were in high school, I knew it had worked."

Sam admits that he studied less math than his peers, but it wasn't a big deal. "I took a calculus class, and I realized I never studied trig," he says. "So I spent the first three weeks of school teaching myself trig and then I was fine."

Lemoine says not being bound to school schedules allows her family more freedom which reduces the amount of day-to-day stress.

"We are close as a family and enjoy living in a slow rhythmic way," says Lemoine, 42. "We enjoy spending time together and watching and helping our children learn, and we don't want to give that up."

Some families choose homeschooling because they believe it fosters lifelong learning.

"I like the idea that learning happens all the time, wherever you are, rather than just 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday, nine months out of the year," says Kay Ehlers, who plans to home-school her 4-year-old son. "Essentially, I want Henry to see education as a part of life and not something done only during certain periods of time, because he has to, and just for external rewards."

Mary Evans sends her kids to a Milwaukee Public School, but she is part of a growing movement called "afterschoolers." These parents are usually knowledgeable about homeschooling -- they either considered it or were involved in it for some time -- and teach their children that learning is not finite. Other parents naturally do this, unaware that they are a part of a group or movement.

"My kids attend conventional public school during the day, but from the time they get home, we employ homeschooling and unschooling practices," says Evans. "Learning for us is fun and ongoing. You don't have to 'turn your brain off' to relax and enjoy life."

Unschooling refers to educational practices that allow children to learn through their natural life experiences, including child-directed play, game play, household responsibilities and social interaction, rather than through the confines of a conventional school. Unschoolers do not use any form of curricula.

Lima Gima is the mother of 5-year-old twins, and, for now, she is unschooling her children.

"For us, this means seeing what our kids are passionate about and giving them as many books, educational toys, videos and field trips related to those topics as we can find. By doing this we cover all academic subjects," says Gima. "For example, my son loves trains more than anything. We can use trains to teach math, physics, history, economics, geography and of course reading. Because he loves 'Thomas the Tank Engine' videos and movies, we research how they are made."

Most homeschooling parents say that reading books helped them make their decision to home-school, including "Better Late Than Early" by Raymond S. Moore and "Unconditional Parenting" by Alfie Kohn.

The Flood children say they do not feel like they missed out on anything -- including prom -- because they were homeschooled. Sam said the only time he questioned his decision to be home-schooled was when he could not play eighth-grade football because he was not a student at the school. He decided, however, that homeschooling was more important to him than being on the football team.

"We all make choices," says Margie.

Homeschooling is not for every family. Some parents do not want the responsibility of providing their child's education or they need to pursue full-time careers and / or other interests. Some parents simply need time and space away from their children.

"Our choosing to home-school could be seen as a critique on those who are not choosing homeschooling, but it's not," says Margie. "Homeschooling is just a different choice. It's a life decision for the whole family. It's a commitment to a way of life that's off the beaten path, but can be richly rewarding."

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Talkbacks

HSCollegeGuide | Dec. 23, 2009 at 2:26 p.m. (report)

Great article on homeschooling, keep it up! http://HomeSchoolCollegeCounselor.com

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CoolerKing | Dec. 23, 2009 at 7:30 a.m. (report)

A friend from high school homeschooled his kids because he felt the rural area he lived in didn't offer much for education. The kids still had a good social life with their public-schooled neighbor kids and went on to really kick ass in college. One's an engineer, the other is studying law. Both applied for and received scholarships.

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rob | Dec. 22, 2009 at 11:04 a.m. (report)

Great article Molly. Well written and thanks for sharing this info wit us.

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