More parents in Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties opted to teach their children at home this year, concurring with a recent statewide report that found a record high in the number of students being home schooled in North Carolina.
“Homeschooling is becoming a more viable option for some families as resources and support are increasingly available,” said Anna Henderson, member of the Great Smokies Christian Home Educators.
In Haywood, the estimated number of students being homeschooled rose from 598 last year to 657 this year. Jackson County’s number went from 266 to 322.
Parents might choose homeschooling because children receive greater individual attention with lessons tailored to their needs and because schooling can be adapted to each family’s schedule. Homeschooled students may also grow closer with their parents due to more time spent together.
However, possible disadvantages of homeschooling include lack of socialization, lack of expertise and equipment for some subjects, as well as the need for one parent to set aside a career. Henderson said that homeschool co-ops, where students from several families meet together for lab work or a group class, could help overcome two of those three disadvantages.
“It provides time for kids to work together, learn, play, and even hang out afterward,” she said.
Parents who are new to homeschooling can find guidance from more experienced homeschoolers and homeschool associations alike.
As for the last downfall of homeschooling, she added that even though a parent must sacrifice a career, home schooling is “an intellectually stimulating and emotionally rewarding challenge.”
Henderson emphasized that one of the benefits of homeschooling is that it does not have to be conventional. “Don’t try to look just like a public or private school,” she said. “You are free to be more creative.”
Some homeschoolers have done exactly that by following classical methods and introducing their children to Latin and Greek early on, while others emphasize educational games and play.
“Learning should not be boring — at least, not always,” said Henderson.