By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Public school kids and teachers aren’t the only ones gearing up for the 2018-19 school year. Home schoolers alike are preparing for one hundred and eighty days full of learning and fun. Tucker County alone has numerous families who choose a different route for their education in the form of home school.
Of these students, many different approaches are taken. Some utilize the Montessori school in Davis, some participate in online or virtual components, and others use a more traditional curriculum administered at home. Parents choose to home school their children for many different reasons, such as religion, geographical location in proximity to the school, medical reasons, and more.
Recently there was a new law passed in the state of West Virginia pertaining to the requirements of youth wishing to choose other forms of education. In March of 2016, former Governor Tomblin signed House Bill 4175 which helped the home school community drastically. A formal Notice of Intent has to be submitted to the Board of Education in the county you reside. This notice must include the child’s name, address, and age, assurance that the child will receive at least reading, math, science, social studies, and language studies, and that the child will be annually assessed. Copies of these assessments must be provided to the Board of Education by June 30 of each year during grades 3, 5, 8, and 11. The person initiating the education must provide proof of their own education, which must be at minimum a high school diploma or equivalent. Even though some county websites provide additional forms for those wishing to home school, this notice of intent is all that is required by law.
When it comes to the assessments, students in West Virginia have a few options. The student can take the same standardized test administered in the county public school system within the school, or they can take a national standardized assessment test, similar in nature, but administered in the terms set forth by the publisher. Another option is a portfolio review. Samples are taken from the work done by the student in each subject and filed in a binder and submitted to a state certified portfolio reviewer. The reviewer analyzes the students work to ensure growth has been made at the appropriate grade level and provides useful feedback to the student and their educator. A copy of this report must be submitted to the county Board of Education for the grades mentioned above. The final option for assessment is the only one requiring pre-approval from the county. This assessment must be agreed upon by the county and the educator as what would be deemed acceptable. Most often, this option is utilized by a student with special needs or under special circumstances.
There are numerous home school curriculums available ranging in price. This can be a trial and error task for the educator to determine the best fit for their students’ interest and learning styles. The parent or educator can even request to use materials from the public school system if they are available. Once the curriculum is chosen, all that is left to do is choose what kind of schedule will work best for the family and dive right in. Local home schooling mother Sonya Bible said, “Home schooling is what works for us. I have to be able to take her to get the services she needs”. The flexibility is a key factor for this family and their individual needs. “The only thing I dislike is the lack of support from the public. Others are so quick to negatively judge”, she added. There are times when home school gets a bad reputation, assuming they aren’t receiving a proper education, however statistics show otherwise.
Leah Hansen, mother of four, is just now starting her home school endeavor. “The reason we choose to home school is because we wanted to give our children a Christ centered education”, stated Hansen when asked why her and her husband are choosing to home school. “I am planning on home schooling as long as they want. I was home schooled until eighth grade and had a desire to go to school after that”, Hansen added.
Another bill that was more recent in Charleston labeled as House Bill 4007, more commonly known as the Tim Tebow bill. This bill was in consideration to allow home school students the opportunity to try out for school sports. Even though the bill passed both the House and the Senate, Governor Justice vetoed the bill. When Hansen was asked how she planned to handle the instance of her children wanting to play sports but was still being schooled outside of the public system, she said, “So far we haven’t had any trouble with that yet, so hopefully he will be able to be involved with what he wants. His (her oldest son) love is soccer and it’s not a sport they offer here yet”, she added.
Christian Home Educators of West Virginia (CHEWV) posted an article with facts regarding home school students going to college. According to this article, home school students not only tend to score higher on their ACT and SAT tests, but they also commonly enter college with more credits already complete. Homeschoolers consistently have a higher grade point average and are more likely to attend college when compared to public school students.
In the end, there is more than one way to successfully school your children, and every parent or guardian only wants what is best for the child. What works for one family may not work for another, which is the glory of having the opportunity to decide. It doesn’t matter which route is taken, what matters is doing the best for the students. Here’s to a successful school year for everyone!