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December 01, 2011Homeschooling in Indianapolis! One of the most important decisions parents can make is how to educate their children. So many alternatives are available in today's society, deciding on a method can sometimes be a daunting task.
Today, more and more parents are opting to homeschool their children. According to the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI), there were 2 to 2.5 million homeschooled students in grades K-12 in 2007-2008 and home education grows about five to 12 percent each year.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and most have few laws regulating the practice, so families are free to teach and learn in whatever manner best fits their individual needs. The law requires that Indiana children be in school from ages 7-17 and that they attend school for at least 180 days each year. Required subjects for homeschoolers are equal to the curriculum required in public schools.
According to the Indiana Association of Home Educators, The Indiana Appellate Court has held that the Indiana law allows the operation of homeschools, stating that a homeschool is essentially a private school. The court defined a school as "A place where instruction is imparted to the young. We do not think that the number of persons, whether one or many, make a place where instruction is imparted any less or more a school."
Parents have various reasons for choosing to homeschool including flexibility, control over curriculum, catering to the special needs of their children and safety concerns. "I first started to homeschool when my oldest child was about to begin Kindergarten," said Michelle Anthony, mother of 11 children. "I wasn't ready to put her on a bus at 5-years-old and send her off for most of the day. She seemed far too young."
Nanette Hollman began homeschooling because the public school was not following through with her daughter's Individualized Education Program, a program that exists for children who may have some degree of learning disability. Both she and her daughter love the flexibility and freedom they have with homeschooling. "We can school when and where we want and learn anything we want," said Nanette. "I don't see any disadvantages to home education. I just hate that we ever bothered with public school at all."
Stephanie Meyer decided to homeschool her children because as a child, her family moved a lot and she attended many different schools. "I cannot tell you the number of elementary schools that I went to personally," she said, "I figured that homeschooling was a stable environment, without too many changes. Then I added in the factor that my beliefs in Christianity call me to disciple my children, not to push them off on someone else who may or may not have the same faith as myself or our family."
Tracey Rollison, the Marion County contact for the Indiana Home Educator's Network, decided to home school her children before she even had them. As a college student, she was taking a pre-law course that required extensive research on education in America.
"Through my research, I learned that homeschoolers ended up better-educated than graduates of government or even private schools," she said. "And that was in the late 80s, when there were not so many curricula designed especially for the one-on-one teaching demands of homeschoolers or that could take advantage of the unique aspects of homeschooling."
Homeschooling has often gotten a bad rap and the myths and misperceptions about homeschooled children have been perpetrated by both media and public opinion. The most common misconception being that homeschool children will not be properly socialized. Homeschool families agree that this notion is preposterous. "Our kids learn to interact with people of all ages, backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes as they go about their days," said Rollison. "They get used to playing with kids years older and younger than themselves at support groups, park days and gym days. Socializing can happen as frequently as you can handle it! Especially in the Indianapolis area, there are multiple things happening daily." Rollison's children participate in a wide range of activities including sports, 4-H, Scouts and involvement with various homeschool co-ops.
"[My children] have interaction on a daily basis with adults, and kids younger and older than they are," agrees Meyers. "When we do school, we don't have the distractions of other classmates and can concentrate on our work. When we're not in school we can have fun together as a family and hang out with kids who aren't in our grade, and its OK."
What are the cons of homeschooling? Surely there must be some. "It does take patience and organization," said Miller. "At times I struggle with the sense of doubt questioning if I'm doing enough of the right things. But every year we reevaluate our homeschool and when I've offered [my children] the choice of public, private, online or homeschool they've continually chosen to stay home and learn. This tells me I must be doing something right."
Rebecca Todd is a freelance writer and the author of the book "What's the Point?" Visit her at rebeccatodd.wordpress.com.