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Archive for Thursday, June 3, 1993

June 3, 1993

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Parents who educate their children at home give different reasons for doing so.

But in general, their reasons fall into three categories: quality of education, teaching values and removing children from negative peer pressure.

Cathy Barfield said she and her husband, David, chose to home-school their two daughters for a combination of reasons. The couple coordinate the home-schooling support group TEACH, Teaching Effective Academics in Christian Homes.

``When you home-school a child, you don't necessarily have to spend an hour to teach math, because it may take only 15 or 20 minutes,'' she said. ``I know that when you work with a child one-on-one, it's advantageous. You can work a lot faster and you can make sure the child understands something before you go on.

``Academically, home-schoolers do pretty well on the standardized tests. They usually rank in the 75th percentile,'' she added, noting that public school students average around the 50th percentile.

Barfield said another reason she home-schooled was that she wanted to spend time with her daughters and have an opportunity to teach them Christian values, something public schools can't do.

The couple plan to teach their children at home until they finish junior high, when they will decide to either put them in a public high school or continue with home education.

``Junior high can be a pretty bad time for kids,'' Cathy Barfield said. ``There's just so much peer pressure and things are changing so quickly. It can be a pretty terrible time.''

Like most parents who home-school, Beth Anne Mansur and Richard Heckler agreed that peer pressure in a traditional school setting could be a detriment to children's learning. Mansur said their children, Rose, 10, and Taj, 7, had developed strong self-identities by getting their educations at home.

``The children have a real sense of who they are,'' she said. ``They have different interests that they're able to cultivate. They know that everybody doesn't have to be the same.''

Heckler added that he felt it was a very healthy atmosphere to live in.

Barbara Michner, who puts out the newsletter for the home-schooling support group LAUGH, Lawrence Area Unaffiliated Group of Home Schoolers, said she chose to teach her two children at home because she thought it would be a better learning environment.

``I think watching children learn in their own peculiar ways -- which is usually not at all how things are laid out in school -- you realize how much time is wasted in school,'' she said. ``Kids are highly motivated to learn, so why slow them down?

``And it just turns out that all the home-schooled children are incredibly bright.''

Michner admitted that among people who didn't home school, the first concern usually was that children at home wouldn't develop adequate social skills.

``The answer is, no problem,'' she said. ``Actually, we find that there is a lack of negative socialization.''

Dick Hamel and his wife, Nancy Sonnenschein, have their sons Fletcher, 11, and Colin, 8, in home schooling. Hamel agreed that being in a group situation at school wasn't ideal for all children.

``I feel like peer pressure is sometimes so great,'' he said. ``I felt it myself -- peer pressure was so great that I underachieved so as not to stick out.''

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