Home schooling has been on the rise for the past five years, and at the end of 2007, 1.5 million children were learning at home.
That’s a 74 percent rise since the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics started keeping track of the number in 1999.
Shaun and Beth LePage are among the parents who have decided to home-school their five children, ages 1 to 9.
“We just began to meet families who were home schooling and at first we thought they were freakish and had no idea why they would do that,” said Shaun, senior pastor of Community Bible Church in west Lawrence.
They were living in Texas where they first met families who home-schooled their children. They moved to Lawrence three years ago.
“The more we came into contact with more families, the more we started seeing a lot of things we liked in the kids and just in the closeness of the families,” he said.
Now the LePages’ children Hannah, 9, Abigail, 8, and Josiah, 6, are home-schooled by Beth. She teaches lessons Tuesday through Saturday, which is based on when Shaun is working. Beth cooks breakfast while her children do their assigned chores. School starts with Bible study and then hits the core curriculum subjects.
“We’ve tried different things every year, but this year we’re using a curriculum that has a lesson plan laid out for us, and we just follow that,” Beth said.
She said home schooling was intimidating at first.
“It just gets easier every year,” Beth said. “It’s not that it’s never challenging or anything, but it’s certainly more and more fulfilling, and I’m just loving it more every year.”
The 2007 report found that there were a number of reasons for home schooling. Those included moral or religious reasons, family time and finances.
The LePages chose home schooling for several reasons, such as an individualized curriculum and socialization skills.
“There’s those who think the best socialization is the traditional school model where you have a bunch of kids together and then a few adults,” Shaun said. “Our experience has been that home-schooled kids will typically interact with parents or adults better, as well as younger kids and kids of different ages.”
Jeff McPheeters kind of fell into home-schooling his children. He retired so he could help his wife, Priscilla, with the administrative work in her Mary Kay business.
“I didn’t think that would be enough for me to keep me busy,” he said. “My degree was in education and I like teaching, so I suggested to her we consider home schooling.”
McPheeters has graduated two of his sons, Isaac, 21, a junior at Kansas University, and Paul, 18, who will be enrolling there in the fall. The third and youngest son, 13-year-old Benjamin, keeps his father on his toes and just might head to a bricks-and-mortar school for his last years of school.
“We have to be a lot more creative in what we do because he has benefited with the older boys being with him in school and helping him,” McPheeters said. “It may be that he’ll go into a more traditional route before he graduates. We’ll just have to see.”