Sound Off: Home-schooling family shares their views

Well the school year is ending and graduations are in the air. In my last On the Record Column I asked for people to write in about homeschooling, cyber schooling, and private and public schools.

People were expressing interest in finding out more about the pros and cons of the varied choices.

This very comprehensive letter was submitted by Carol Donahue from Morgantown.

Dear Carol,

I am writing in response to your most recent On the Record column regarding schooling. We are a home-schooling family who would like to share our views with you and your readers.

My husband and I made the choice to home-school when our youngest was still in diapers. We both liked the idea, but had to decide if it was the right decision for us. I began by reading the book Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. It encouraged me to pursue home-schooling as a reasonable option for our family. We then attended a home-school convention in Pottstown called Search of PA (www.searchofpa.org). There were both speakers and vendors at the convention. I found it to be a great encouragement in taking on the difficult, although rewarding, task of home-schooling.

There are so many different ways to home-school. Just a few are cyber-school, home-school co-ops, and homes where small classes are offered. We personally select our curriculum from what various publishers offer in each subject.

After reading the book The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise, we focused on a classical approach to home-schooling. In a nut shell, this is an educational approach more closely akin to our country’s earlier educational philosophy that includes the three stages of grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

We made this choice because we felt strongly that we are to be the primary instructors of our children. We enjoy seeing them learn and grow in their knowledge and understanding. We feel that we know them best and that the curriculum we choose for them will best suit their needs. We look forward to seeing them taking high school classes while also earning college credits. This way they will graduate from high school and be well on their way to earning their degree.

But if they don’t choose college, then we can find apprenticeships where they can begin to master a trade in which they are interested. There are many opportunities for home-schoolers to be successful in their future endeavors.

You asked what are the home-schooling pros and cons. For us some of the pros are being able to prepare them to be responsible people and citizens. Part of this is teaching them how to function in our society (shopping, cooking, budgeting, voting, volunteering), allowing them to help others and to grow in their Christian faith.

In our area there are a large number of home-schoolers. Getting together and spending time with them, supporting and encouraging each other, is another pro.

The cons are home-schooling does require some financial sacrifices. In our situation, I quit my full time position in order to home-school. Because we choose our curriculum, there is the cost of books, materials, supplies, evaluations, and testing. Pennsylvania does have standards that home-schoolers must follow too.

There is also the commitment of time involved in homeschooling. Much the same as occurs in regular school classrooms, there is lesson planning, grading, and field trips. In addition, home-schoolers must organize their work for an evaluation and prepare a portfolio for the school district.

So for us, home-schooling is a rewarding adventure, which we take very seriously. We are excited to be on this journey of learning with our children. I would like to add, Twin Valley School District has been supportive and pleasant to work with. In closing, we are thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to make these choices in our children’s education.

Carol Donahue from Morgantown

Carol Quaintance is a correspondent for the Tri County Record. In addition to writing about local happenings and people, Carol writes a monthly On the Record column. Email at quaintancecarol@gmail.com or the editor at editor@tricountyrecord.com visit us on the web at www.berksontnews.com. Join our facebook page at www.facebook.com/TriCountyRecord.

Editorial Policy: Letters must be signed with a first and last name with a town of residence. Anonymous letters or letters signed with incomplete names will not be published. Personal attacks on individuals will not run. Elected officials and other public figures are considered not as individuals but as the institution they represent. Editor reserves right to cut words, sentences or paragraphs.