CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With school districts trying to figure out if they’ll be able to offer in-person educational instruction this fall due to the coronavirus, parents are doing their homework, trying to come up with the best options.
And one of those options is homeschool.
As of the 2018-2019 school year, more than 20,000 children are educated at home in our state. That’s according to the South Carolina Homeschooling Connection online resource newsletter.
Two homeschool families in the tri-county explain why they choose this educational arrangement, how they make it work, and most importantly, how their kids like it.
Like students all over the state, Peyton, her sister Faith and their brother Wesley are on summer break.
But they aren’t home from school. For them, home is school. Their parents started homeschooling seven years ago to simplify their lives.
"After a long day of work we would come home and still have two hours as a first grader of school work and that would include our extra reading and extra homework and things of that nature. We would all go to bed just crying, so something needed to give," Heather Faas said.
The Faas family lives in Berkeley County.
Homeschooling has grown.
So that means in communities all across South Carolina, you’ll find homes where the classroom might be the dining room, the family room, or any room in the house where learning takes place and education is front and center.
In North Charleston, quality family time is a big reason Tonia Stoney and her husband decided to homeschool their niece Gabrielle.
“So by the time you come home and they have other activities, then you have time to eat and then you know, you have a little social time and then it’s time for bed. You get up early in the morning again and do the cycle all over again,” Stoney said.
Homeschooling provides three plans or codes of law to fit different family needs. Stoney uses the most hands-on program called Option Three.
She handpicks and teaches most of the classes Gabrielle is required to take to meet state standards.
Faas started out using that same method. But after she opened a gym and needed to be out of the house more, she switched to Option One. Her children are now educated through Connections Academy, the state’s free online school.
But at home, education doesn’t mean kids are stuck at home.
"My children can come with me, bring their laptops and they can do all their schooling wherever we are. So if we have to go run errands they can take their computers with us in the car," Faas said.
They all like the flexibility, and there are other benefits.
“If I needed to, I could work ahead if I had plans for tomorrow. I could work ahead and do tomorrow’s work and then not have to worry about getting behind like before,” Peyton Faas said.
“I like that you can always see the grades that you have, versus in public school you have to wait til your report card,” Faith Haas said.
Faith says she was worried about missing friends in her public school, and Gabrielle shared that same concern. But coops offer students who are educated at home, a chance for face to face interaction with others.
“They usually have different people teaching you, so it’s not always my aunt teaching me, and I can stay in other schools and I have these different classes like I took Spanish and STEAM and art and computer coding and stuff like that,” Gabrielle Frasier said.
Homeschooling gives her aunt the chance to run her home-based business as a piano teacher, and still have plenty of time with Gabrielle.
"So one thing about homeschooling is I, we grew closer together. You know, cause we're with each other all of the time" Stoney said.
Gabrielle says there are other pluses to homeschooling.
“Some days you get to stay in your pajamas and do school and then sometimes you get to go different places like Starbucks and do school, the park and libraries, stuff like that.”
Faas says all members of the family have to do their part for homeschooling to be effective and parents have to listen to their children to help them be successful.
Depending on which option or code of law you utilize, children who are homeschooled may opt out of standardized testing. But they must show they are learning the state required material and there are accountability systems in place to ensure that.
If you’re curious about sports, homeschool students don’t miss out. They can join a public school teams in their district, and homeschool organizations offer everything from soccer to archery to double dutch.
There may be fees to join an association that is designed to guide you and make sure you are meeting standards and accountability, based on state education requirements.
Want to know more about homeschooling, check out the homeschool online newsletter for more details at South Carolina Homeschooling Connection