Homeschool up 4.7 percent in Florida

In light of the dissatisfaction of the federal mandate of common core standard, homeschooling is on the rise in the state of Florida.  In the last two years, reports from individual school districts show a rise of 4.7 percent increase year over year from the school years of 2011-12 and 2012-2013.

The subject of homeschooling may be controversial to some; it is quite complex and as adequate as any formal school education, according to a number of parents who have children studying in a homeschool program.

“It’s no picnic,” says JoAnn Byrd, a knowledgeable grandmother of a 15-year-old homeschooled youngster. “I’ve been closely associated with my daughter and her son over the years, and there’s a lot of work for both the parent and the child.

“It’s most effective when there’s a great deal of motivation,” she continued, “and I mean for both the child and the parent.”

Katie Byrd, a homeschool parent teaching her 13-year-daughter Tristan, calls attention to the effectiveness of homeschooling when it’s done right with both academics and accountability. “A child in a homeschool program has to be tested from time to time by an outside person, a teacher or another certified education-related person,” she says, “and strict records must be kept to show the child’s progress.”

Addressing the economics of homeschooling, Byrd says it depended on what kind of curriculum parents acquired. “The gamut goes from zero to costly study material,” she said. Many families share curriculum to help with costs.

But homeschooling is as enriching as you make it and the way you conduct it, she says.   Byrd says there’s a homeschool band, a swim team, and various other activities, like field trips, to address the social aspect for children who do not attend regular school. “And there’s an organization available for homeschool parents. It’s the West Florida Homeschool League, which serves to link programs and families. 

Carla Cross is not only a tutor in the homeschool program; she has three homeschool students of her own. Even with one a senior, one a fourth grader, and a first grader, she is organized so it’s not as difficult as it seems. Cross mapped out a number of organizations that serve as common denominators for homeschool parents and professional guidance. These groups meet regularly and are an outstanding resource for those engaged in a homeschool capacity.

In addition to the time it takes, parents have to weigh the cost of homeschooling. Newer curriculum and teaching tools can be very expensive; however there are other costs such as project material, stationary, books, computer software and field trips most likely actually make homeschooling more expensive than the traditional and conventional teaching method classroom training.  Some homeschool families tend to teach with a shoestring budget, creating their own tools of the trade and utilizing methods of training their children come into contact with every day, says Cross.

Patience, motivation, and dedication are traits that come in handy when deciding to homeschool. While it’s true some students do not have a motivation problem, some might be more interested in their studies if they had conventional classroom competition that comes from person to person interaction in a regular school classroom, says Cross.

Sometimes early and late schedules affect the attitude and physical fitness of a child. Homeschooling eliminates the early school bus ride or the late afternoon challenges many regular school children have to encounter. And homework is also eliminated since more time is spent on a subject in slightly longer sessions. Sometimes, says Cross, a homeschool student may have such dedication to a subject, a student might learn in a day what it would take a week or more to accomplish in the conventional classroom.