Sarah Bogle calls hers the “accidental homeschool mom.” When the Dallas mom noticed that her oldest child, Madeleine, was excelling beyond the educational material at school, she knew she had to do something to keep the 6-year-old interested. School was becoming unenjoyable to a child who was once intrigued by science. “They should love learning,” Bogle says. “They should love going to school. They should love doing projects.” She knew Madeleine needed a curriculum that matched her intellect.
After a bout with public and charter schools and even trying to enroll at a private school, Bogle made the decision to start an at-home education program for both her daughters; however, the kids weren’t the only ones who were making a switch. The transition from working mom to homeschooling mom was easier than Bogle anticipated, thanks to people and programs that guided her through the process. Bogle breathes a sigh of relief as she reflects on her decision for Madeleine. “She never wanted to go back to a traditional school,” Bogle reveals. “There were too many wonderful activities.”
The mom laughs as she lists all the activities her daughter participates in: 4H, two foreign languages and archery, to name a few. After all, homeschooling offers a slew of typical school activities—football, art, choir, prom, graduation. And the practice has been on the rise since 2007, according to the National Center of Education Statistics.
Previously stereotyped as a religious choice or a surefire way to isolate your kids, homeschooling is becoming less taboo and more popular for the modern family. Parents turn to homeschooling because they can select a curriculum to suit their kid’s needs, whether their child needs an accelerated path, more flexibility due to health-related concerns or just an environment that matches their learning style. Technology lays a foundation that lets kids have a hybrid model of learning at their convenience with online classes and databases that house a wealth of knowledge. This allows for students to have a unique educational experience from the comforts of home, or to join co-op groups in which teachers guide different educational programs.
That is why Jube Dankworth, COO of Texas Home Educators, believes that homeschooling is the best way to give kids a meaningful educational experience. “These kids are out in the community taking classes at the Perot Museum, learning a manual trade,” Dankworth explains.
One reason parents might choose homeschooling is because their child has a particular talent like music or sports. They can receive more tailored instruction to accommodate and nurture that talent, Dankworth says. “It is a pick-and-choose model, and it makes it all the better for the children,”she explains.
Sometimes it is not a child’s academic needs that spur the switch to homeschooling, but the child’s emotional health. Dankworth started educating her own kids at home when she found that traditional schooling just wasn’t a good fit for her child who had trouble focusing in classes. “If your child is not thriving in school, then definitely look into an alternative education,” Dankworth says. “Let them find themselves within a loving environment because they only have one childhood.” Dankworth observed an uptick in numbers of children turning to homeschooling when safety at school became a household concern. While parents may look into homeschooling after a school shooting, it’s longterm issues like bullying that spur a change. “Public schools have a lot of kids whose needs are not being met,” she says.
THE NEXT LEVEL
With the right support, homeschooled childrenare just as prepared for college as their traditionally educated peers—and perhaps even more so. Sixteen-year-old Haley Taylor Schlitz is finishing up her bachelor’s degree from Texas Woman’s University this month. The Keller teen attributes her success to being homeschooled (and, of course, supportive and openminded parents). She graduated from a homeschooling program three years ago because the at-home program let her advance based on skill instead of age.
While attending public school, Schlitz lost her focus and motivation because her gifted mind was not flourishing with the provided curriculum. “My mind was on my peers, boys, and my outfits,” she says. She needed more, intellectually. When she made the decision with her family to homeschool at the end of fifth grade, Schlitz found the motivation she needed to refuel her passion for learning. “Homeschooling is more than a curriculum at home. It’s a mindset,” Schlitz explains. This mindset included finding her passion for justice—later this year, she will start law school at Southern Methodist University.
Studies conducted by the National Home Education Research Institute suggest that homeschoolers outperform their peers academically in college and are more likely to graduate in four years. Dankworth claims that more colleges are seeking homeschooled children because they are also more apt to be involved in campus life, more independent and more involved in school decisions. Schlitz chuckles as she remembers her dad driving her to a college campus when she was13 and waiting for her until class was finished. “I was nervous; we all were,” Schlitz laughs. “But I was ready to take this huge jump.”