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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2007 Shaunna Howat
695 words


By: Shaunna Howat

Like most people my age, I am the product of public school. The only alternative in my hometown was a Catholic girls’ school, and we knew that’s where the BAD girls went. Never mind that the reputation wasn’t rightly earned, just rumored by children who didn’t know anyone going there.

Once I had children I discovered that parents were availing themselves of all sorts of educational options for their children. Folks were either happy with their public schools or eager to look elsewhere. Finally, by the 1990s, parents were finding out that education didn’t have to happen in government schools alone. They found out that the capitalistic idea of competition actually does bring excellent options to education as well as to business.

So our family began the journey in education for our three children as we made decisions, one year at a time, for their educational needs. We took advantage of public, private, and home school at various points along the way. And we found out that home schooling parents, long considered tire-tread-sandal-wearing religious nuts, actually break all sorts of molds as they creatively educate their children.

They are resourceful. They network with other home school families and set up cooperative classes in all areas: physical education, art, writing, science, music, and more. They pool their money and hire professionals. In locations all around the country, retired public school teachers, college professors and other professionals meet with home school students to teach a wide range of classes.

They are creative. When a public school doesn’t accept a home school student in a specialized class he might want or need, home school parents find a community college or private school with an open spot. They organize sports teams. They shuttle their children to other communities whose schools are more willing to work creatively with home school families.

They are problem solvers. An Ohio mom wanted her children to learn from professionals, so she began an extension program with a few of her friends, totaling about 30 students. Soon teachers heard of her program and asked to come on board. More families joined. Now, six years later, the 7th-12th-grade program includes a satellite location in another city and totals over 110 families—almost 200 students! Students can fulfill every requirement for a high school diploma there. It promises to grow again next year as more families find out about it. Some drive as much as an hour to attend classes.

They are college-bound. Colleges and universities are finding that these students score high on standardized tests. One study suggests that home schooled students coming into college score “significantly higher” on ACT tests than their peers who attend private or public school (

They are not only “socialized”—they are downright decent. While teens in any population can be decent, kind and caring, teachers who first teach home school students are blown away by their mature demeanor. They actually thank their teachers at the end of class. One former public school student, upon completing her first week of home school extension classes, remarked that the teacher can actually teach instead of continually asking students to quiet down so she could be heard. She never wants to return to public school.

They are global thinkers. Some programs operate on the internet, conducting real-time classes to students using conferencing software. One offers classes to students all over the United States and around the world. Students share cultural differences with their peers and open the world in new ways to one another.

They are independent thinkers. These students are taught to think independently. They learn to explore a wide range of ideas and primary texts. They have the freedom not offered in public schools, to compare intelligent design and Darwinian evolution side-by-side to reach their own conclusions.

Students learn that there are options not available to their parents when they were growing up. They learn that when one system fails you—the public school system, for example, which drains more money each year but shows little to no improvement—creative people get working on excellent alternatives. And in cities and towns all over the country, home school alternatives outshine the competition.


"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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