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Jeanie Groh: Home school provides flexibility and one-on-one attention

I once asked my mom if she would take me out of my school to home-school me.

I was in the second or third grade and I had just begun competitive figure skating. I was waking up for early morning practice sessions with my coach and was looking at the possibilities of more private sessions and practices.

My mother promptly told me “no” because “we’d kill each other.”

Looking back, I see the wisdom in my mom’s decision. We were, and are, close – and yes, home schooling probably would have ruined our relationship.

While it wasn’t the right decision for my family, I’ve seen first hand how it can work perfectly for others.

Nearly all my best friends were home-schooled for at least part of their academic career.

I was jealous of their later start times, ability to stay up late on school nights, and they got to wear pajamas to class. Sometimes even their extracurricular activities seemed way cooler.

In high school, my home-schooled friends began taking classes at the community college, earning both high school and college credit. They were also able to work in the day, raking in more hours, money and promotions than I could with my limited after-school availability.

The local home schooling co-ops also produced a close-knit group of friends.

While I often hear arguments that home schooling can be disorganized, lack accountability measures and produce students who don’t know how to socialize, I’ve never seen any of these issues with my home-schooled friends.

One friend used all her extra time for violin lessons and orchestra practices. It’s paid off. She recently graduated from a competitive violin performance program.

Other friends of mine decided to home-school their children because they knew they’d be moving several times over a few months as they prepared for a final move overseas. Home schooling provided the most consistency with each move.

All my friends who home-schooled have turned out pretty well. They were all accepted into the four-year accredited colleges of their choice, have graduated and have (more or less) lucrative jobs that they enjoy.

Dennis Welch, president of the Rowan County Home School Association, and his wife, Laura, are seasoned home-school parents.

Despite the fact that they both work, Dennis as the care pastor at Life Church in Salisbury and Laura as a nurse at Carolinas Medical Center Northeast, they’ve made the conscious decision to home-school their four kids

The reasons behind the decision to home-school has “evolved over the years,” Dennis said.

When their oldest began school, they decided to go the home-schooling route because they wanted their faith to be an essential part of her curriculum.

“She has done amazing,” Dennis said, adding that the 12-year-old is at or above grade level in every subject.

The Welches also have three 7-year-olds – an adopted set of twins who are nearly 8, and their biological child who is eight months younger than the twins.

As Laura began to home-school the three younger children, however, it became apparent how beneficial the one-on-one time home schooling provides is.

“They are not on the same level,” Dennis said. “They do not learn the same way.”

“The individual attention is vital,” he added.

Although the twins are older, their younger brother is actually further along academically.

“We’re able to take them along at their own pace,” Dennis said.

The Welches especially appreciate the flexibility home schooling adds to their schedule.

Snow days, holidays and teacher workdays don’t affect them, Dennis said. “Doesn’t have to be 8 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon.”

Right now, the family is fostering a child, which requires frequent trips to Statesville for visits with the mother. While these trips could complicate things with dropping the children off at school or picking them up in a traditional school setting, the Welches are able to take school with them.

Dennis said socialization was one of his initial concerns when they decided to home-school their daughter.

“I found that to truly be a misconception,” he said, adding that the Rowan County Home School Association has been a valuable asset.

The children are able to go on field trips and attend fun events such as field day through the group.

Contact education reporter Jeanie Groh at 704-797-4222.

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