Home School: Take a trip to the park and learn outside the box

October 16, 2001|By STEFANIE GREENBERG, Staff Writer

Get up early, ride the bus to school, go to homeroom, tutorial and recess, ride the bus home, do homework, go to bed and wake up to start the day over again.

A typical day for all students in the Valley?


While many youngsters in the Valley may be studying their school subjects — math, science, history, English — each day is not a "typical" school day for some students.

On Monday they might take a trip to the park for recess. Another day might mean a field trip to the library for a hands-on lesson about the Dewey Decimal System.

These students, taking a different path to completing their education, are homeschoolers.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, homeschoolers are "growing at the rate of 7 percent to 15 percent per year." The institute states some 1.3 to 1.7 million children in kindergarten through 12th grade were home-educated during the 1999-2000 school year in the United States.


The California Homeschool Network defines home school as "an increasingly popular educational alternative in which children learn outside of conventional schools under the general supervision of their parents."

Lindsay Danesi of El Centro is listed as CHN's contact, or ambassador, for Imperial County.

Danesi has homeschooled her four girls, ages 7, 8, 12 and 15, from the beginning of their education.

"Basically in homeschooling you just continue parenting your children as individuals instead of going with some premade ‘You gotta do this at a certain time,' made up by whoever really made it up," she said. "And that's really the difference."

Education at home allows her children to learn at individualized paces.

"Babies all eventually sit up, but they don't all sit up at the same age," she said. "And babies all eventually walk, but usually mothers don't say, ‘Oh, you better get him walking now; he's 10 months old.'"

Homeschooling also gives parents the ability to contour the education toward specific needs and interests.

Danesi said her oldest daughter, Serena, learned to read with horse books because that was her interest when she was 5 years old.

"I bought her all the horse books," Danesi said, "which she still has."

She said while some families have a school day schedule comparable to public or private schools, other families take alternative approaches, allowing for flexibility in the school day.

Parents use books with "scope and sequence" material as a reference to what is taught in each grade level at the public and private universities.

Danesi said for her family, the school day is different for each child.

The family typically will start the day with "morning time" of meeting together, reading Scripture and working on memorization. The two older children start working from a list they have of what is to be completed for the week. Danesi sits down with her two younger children to guide them through the rest of the day's learning.

In the afternoon, she said, there is an hour of reading time included in the studies.

Danesi's 12-year-old daughter, C.J., said the flexibility is her favorite part of homeschooling.

She said if she has plans for the afternoon she can do her work later in the evening or the next day.

Danesi's 8-year-old daughter, Julia, said her favorite part of homeschooling is, "being with all my sisters."

Barbara Windler of Imperial said one benefit to home school for her two school-age children was the ability to introduce a new definition of what defines "success."

Her definition, she said, is the kind of human being a person is — "Where your heart is," she said.

Her 9-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, went to public school for kindergarten and first grade.

Jacqueline said she likes how the lessons at home are explained until understood. She said she is learning about the Wright brothers in her history lesson. She added her favorite part of homeschooling is "being with my Mom."

Rachel Knights, 10, of Imperial said her favorite part of homeschooling is, "you get to spend more time with your family."

Homeschoolers are not only busy with their course work, but extracurricular activities are just as important, said Danesi.

From sports to 4-H, music lessons and theater activities, homeschoolers must find time to balance fun and work.

Rachel said she enjoys acting and is a Munchkin in an upcoming "Wizard of Oz" performance. She also enjoys photography in her 4-H club.

C.J. said she spends some of her afternoons taking care of her goat for her 4-H club.

While homeschooling may have been unfamiliar to parents in the past, Danesi says it is not so today.

"Everybody's pretty much heard of homeschooling now," she said.

"And across the board it's positive comments, even from my children's friends."

She added they usually say, "Oh, I wish I could home school."

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