‘It Is An Option That I Wish More Parents Would Explore:’ Homeschool Community Succeeds In Lansing, Michigan

Christian Home Educators’ Support System (CHESS), was initiated some 24 years ago by Kim Winter and her husband. The goal back then, which is still the same, was to help and train parents for the role of homeschoolers. There are over 300 homeschool families in the Lansing area who all rely heavily on CHESS.

Winter says that the group organises many outings and social meeting for both parents and students, many field trips are offered and day out events abound. So much so, that parents must be disciplined to make sure that enough time is spent at home as well!

With over 1000 homeschool kids in the Lansing area, Winter says that they always have a chance to meet other kids their own age, and are never socially inept, as if often thought with homeschooling.

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“You really have to work hard at saying no to things because there are so many opportunities and you really have to figure how to actually be home so you can homeschool and not on all the field trips being offered or all the co-ops and enrichment activities and classes,” Winter said. “There is so much offered to them.”

“Their family can become more the primary influencers in their life rather than peers,” Winter said. “Their parents and their siblings, we just love watching the relationships grow in homeschooled families. It is pretty cool to see families who really love each other and get along.”

Kyle Greenwalt, the Associate Professor at the Michigan State University (MSU) says that many years ago, homeschooling was the only way kids were taught. In fact, kids were not even taught all through the year, at some times it was convenient to teach them, while at other times, work came first, and education second.

“I think that if you go back, prior to let’s say 1900, most schooling happened in the home,” Kyle said. “It was not compulsory. Compulsory schooling is a relatively new thing. Of course, many kids did go to school prior to that time but many kids did not or they only went for certain grades or they only went different parts of the year. There was a variety. It was much more, obviously, dispersed at that time.”

Greenwalt says that homeschooling has now evolved from something that everyone did, to something that no one did, and then to the position where it needed court approval to be accepted legally.

“It kind of evolved from something everybody did to something that nobody did to something that then through the courts became legal,” Greenwalt said. “It was a pretty contentious process for those families that had to win the rights to homeschool. Today I would characterize it much more as a cooperative relationship. It is more not as contentious now that all families have the legal right to do this in the United States.”

Many people think that homeschooler will not be well prepared for college, but Jessica Doerr, who grew up in Lansing, Michigan, says that this is just not true. Jessica though college was easier than school because she was so well prepared for it. Her study habits were already set in her mind and she loved that she had time to learn more.

“Preparation for college I think is some kind of misconception that they are not going to get a good enough academic education to prepare them for college and that just is not true,” Winter said. “Most homeschoolers are highly recruited by colleges and end up being even more prepared in terms of having learned independent study skills.”

“In homeschooling it is very easy because it is an individualized education so you can take time in things that do not come easiest to you and really take time to learn it and understand it,” Jessica added. “Things that you excel in, you can go ahead in. We always joke that homeschoolers do not know what grade they are in because if they are actually eighth grade age, they will be doing like 12th grade math and maybe seventh grade history or something like that.”

Winter adds that she really wishes more parents would consider homeschooling their kids. Many parents think that they are just not good enough to do it, but with so much support available, there is no reason why any parent could not work out a way to individualize a child’s education program. As an optional education system Winter says that it is a very good one.

“It is an option that I wish more parents would explore for their families and their kids because the benefits are so many,” Winter said. “So many parents just think that they could not do this. There is no reason even working parents today could not figure out a way to individualize their children’s education more and gear it to their children’s particular strengths and weaknesses. I just wish more people would consider it as an option because it really is a great one.”

Source: Spartan Newsroom