On the rise

Published: Friday, February 21, 2014 at 04:00 PM.

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. 

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