Home Education is a Growing Trend

 

Home EducationAs back to school sales mark the approach of another school year, a growing number of both secular and religious Floridians is choosing to educate their children at home. From 2003 to 2012 the percentage of children who are being home schooled has gradually increased from 2.2 percent to about 3.4 percent. Home schooling parents are still a small minority, but they are a vocal minority. The reasons people choose to home school are different for each family, but the most common reason cited is the environment the children are expected to learn in. Another reason stated very well by a nine-year old in Hernando County, Florida, (www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXbnSChF_6k) is that the new standardized tests cause public schools to be geared more toward rote learning and less toward creativity. Many parents believe creativity, motivation and innovation are the hallmarks of a good education; education is not simply the recollection of facts and figures. Christians have further reason to consider home school: the Scripture commands parents to teach their children about God, his laws and precepts, and his actions on their behalf. (Deut. 4:10, and Psalm 78: 9)

 

Requirements

Home schooling children, contrary to popular belief, is not difficult if the law is observed. The law in Florida essentially states a child should be registered with the state as a home schooled student, must have a portfolio of school work evaluated by a qualified teacher each year and have it available for a representative of the state to view. For a more detailed explanation of the law and a guide on how to get started, visit the Florida Parent Educators Association (FPEA) website at fpea.com/about-homeschooling/requirements. Materials for home schooling can be found in a variety of places, from sponsored book fairs to thrift stores and garage sales. Sometimes another parent who is home schooling will barter for or sell books for a reasonable cost as well. One may also consider a web curriculum: Liberty University has one at http://www.liberty.edu/onlineacademy.

 

Curriculum

Some parents will choose to take the same approach with each one of their children; others will vary the approach to account for differences in personality, skill, interest and talents. In addition to the FPEA website, excellent advice on beginning to home school can be found at the Home School Legal Defense Association’s website: www.hslda.org/earlyyears/Checklist.asp. This checklist covers everything from researching home schooling to support groups. The different approaches are well covered in the links provided, from the Classical approach to the ‘ unschooling’ approach. It also covers the legal aspects and tips on how to handle the paperwork involved for state requirements.

 

Test results

As time passes, more of the advantages to home schooling become evident. This is clearly seen in the scores on both the ACT and the SAT. Home-schooled students score an average of 67 points above the national average on the SAT. Their scores on the ACT college entrance exams tend to be considerably higher as well. Brenda Dickenson, president of the Home Education Foundation, suggests preparing early for such tests, “Let your children take standardized tests beginning around the fourth grade to get them used to taking timed tests. It would be good if they could do this with other students and with another teacher to get them used to the conditions under which they will be taking tests in high school.” Being used to the conditions a test will be taken under is a great benefit to the student. Better test scores are one of the reasons many colleges and universities actively seek out home school students. (www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html) The education of the parents is not apparently a factor in the child’s success, nor is the economic status.

 

Support

There are many home school support groups for Christians as well as some for families with parents of differing faiths. One South Florida group, South Florida Home School, permits all home school parents to join, and the cost is free. Find them at www.southfloridahomeschool.com. Other groups are listed at their site as well, including Palm Beach County Home Schoolers, Inc., which also accepts members from northern Broward County. The East County Homeschoolers are also inclusive, accepting all faiths. Christians who prefer to be in a Christ centered group have many options in Palm Beach and Broward County. Some are affiliated with a specific congregation: Park Ridge Baptist and Calvary Chapel both have groups in Broward County. Others, such as Boca Home Schoolers and the Broward Parent Home School Support Group, may meet at various churches. There are even special programs to assist single parents in home schooling here in South Florida: Broward County has the H.E.A.R.T.S. Home School Support Group and the Classical Conversations group both have help available for a single person who wants to home school. Fellowship and support are available at each of these groups.

 

Penni Bulten is a homeschooling mom who is fascinated with the Founding Fathers and their faith. She can be reached at [email protected]

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