Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 13, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
Snow and ice didn’t halt learning for some area children this week.
Although the county’s public school systems called off classes, the treacherous roads didn’t faze parents who home school their children.
“The weather doesn’t stop us,” Bevin Fink said Wednesday after going over a human anatomy lesson with her children. “I think sometimes public schools do have a disadvantage as far as that goes.”
Fink said teaching her three children Sara Lynn, 12, Noah, 11, and Seth, 8, from their Cleveland residence allows flexibility in scheduling.
“I think one of the great things about home schooling is that life still happens and I think that children have to learn that,” she said. “Not everything is going to fit in a Monday through Friday schedule from 8 in the morning until 3. Things come up.”
Gordon Furr, who home schools his high school son Kelse, said although he generally follows the public school’s schedule, he also conducted class Wednesday. He said home schooling gives him more options.
“We do have flexibility to revise schedules and do interesting things like take trips, go to events, libraries, planetariums, etc,” he told the Post in an e-mail. “The flexibility is something valuable in an otherwise rigid and too much of a ‘mono-view’ society.”
Mary Wilhelm, director of the countywide home school co-op, said she follows a strict schedule, only nixing class in extreme circumstances.
“The only time we’ve ever canceled school due to weather is when it involves a power outage,” she told the Post in an e-mail. “That definitely disrupts the school day.”
Wilhelm said a few disruptions kept her boys from finishing their work early enough Monday to play in the snow. But in the past they have gotten up early to knock out their school work.
“We have always had a full school day, but knowing they could play in the snow gave them the extra incentive needed to stay focused and get their work completed early so they could enjoy the benefits of a snow day without losing instructional time,” she said.
Fink, who serves as vice president of the Rowan County Home School Association, said she can fashion a lesson out of almost anything, including a snow day.
“In our family we do take one or two snow days just to enjoy the snow,” she said. “You can still get some learning in while they’re out playing. Children like hands on things.”
Sara Lynn said she’s been “running around throwing snowballs” with her brothers. The boys said they’ve mastered building an igloo and snow fort.
Tammy Brown, president of the county Home School Association, said this week hasn’t been “totally business as usual” for her children, Chandler, 10, Gabrielle, 8, and Cameron, 5.
“All children enjoy playing in the snow and my children love going to see grandpa and sliding down his big hill,” she said.
Brown, who has more than 15 years of experience in the education sector, said finding “teachable moments” is at the heart of every experience her children encounter.
“I think in home school every day is a lesson,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle of learning, so it’s taking anything that comes up that is part of nature and seizing the moment to teach.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.