For these students, school continues at home

For these students, school continues at home

By Hailey Verdick, Iowa City HS, Iowa City, Iowa

Just like so many high school students, Mary Arch ‘17 wakes up in the early morning hours to the sound of her alarm clock buzzing. She manages to crawl out of bed and drive to City High with her brother, Joseph Arch ‘14. Then she studies at City for three periods. But unlike other freshmen at City High, when third period ends she and her brother continue their studies at home.

Why did the Arch family make this unconventional decision? Mary says it allows her parents to have more control over the education their children receive.

“[My mom] just wanted to have more one on one time,” Arch said. “And also when you’re home schooled you can get things done faster because you don’t have to wait for everyone else in the class to finish their tests and all that other stuff.”

Throughout elementary school Arch was fully homeschooled, but she joined the South East cross country team in the seventh grade. This year, she takes band, art, and has continued to run on the cross country team at City High.

Arch likes homeschooling and thinks it’s a good way to get an education. Her mother majored in math, which, coincidentally, is Mary’s least favorite subject – but both say the situation lets Mary get the best-fit education for her.

One advantage of homeschooling is being able to fit family needs. Families are able mold the time to best accommodate them. Ellen Rethwisch, a City High mother of six, has experienced this first-hand. She homeschooled each one of her children throughout elementary school, and then part-time in the Junior High level.

“It gave the family more flexible time, individual attention for each child, and emphasized individual interests and talents, such as music,” Rethwisch said. “It was great for multiple siblings to homeschool together and work together to help each other.”

Homeschooling has become a more popular form of education within the past few years. It has increased 75 percent since 1999 (NCES), and the data show the numbers are still rising. Still, only 4 percent of children are homeschooled.

Sydnie Harris ‘13 has been part of that 4 percent. She attended public school in elementary school, but when seventh grade rolled around she began homeschooling to experience something new. It was something her mother had started with Sydnie’s younger siblings and Sydnie thought it would be worth trying out. Although Harris switched to a home environment, this didn’t mean she would be able to slack off when it came to her studies.

“You get all your work in, you write it, you make sure you cross everything off in your planner and get it graded, you study for tests and quizzes,” Harris said. “You do pretty much the same thing you do in school.”

She continued this routine for seventh and eighth grade and then began school at City High on a regular schedule, with the exception of several online classes throughout her four years.

Both Harris and Arch agree there are many stereotypes about homeschooling. Harris acknowledges that generalizations about homeschooled kids being antisocial can be true, but it’s not fair to say that about all homeschooling families. Hers specifically, stays involved with sports, music, and other social activities. Another assumption about homeschooling is the lack of structure. What most people do not know is that homeschoolers still have to wake up in the morning, get ready for their day, and do homework.

“We have grades too, and you can’t just flunk your grade.” Arch said. “It’s like in school, if you don’t turn in a paper or something you’ll get a bad grade. So it all adds up to what college you want to go to.”

Like all teachers, parents who homeschool their children have many resources to teach from. As a mother, Rethwisch had her curriculum provided for her by the Seton Home Study School of Arlington, Va. As well as having her lesson plans sent to her, Rethwisch is able to send in completed assignments to be graded. The children also participated in many activities through the Sacred Heart Homeschool. This group is made up of over 40 Catholic Homeschooling families that get together and host activities. The kids partake in everything from spelling bees to monthly homeschool Masses.

“A key misconception of many people is that homeschooled children are isolated and don’t socialize with other children,” Rethwisch said. “This has not been our experience. Because of our homeschooling group and many activities, the children constantly socialized with children of all ages and adults in different settings.”

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