By Keith Smith, Editor and
Carolyn Reid, Reporter
In today’s world parents are on the go running from one item on their to-do list to work to the next item on their to-do list. For a growing group of parents in our society and in Pendleton County, their decision is to spend quality time with their children by becoming the education leaders for their children.
“The greatest benefit to me and my wife is establishing that connection with our boys. It is the best moments of my day when we are engaged in meaningful learning with them,” said Jeff Herron about education his two boys.
His wife, Darah, handled the elementary years while he went off to work. Those roles have switched now as he provides the educational focus through the middle and high school years while she goes off to work.
They have followed state guidelines in determing the subjects to make sure their boys are learning while being able to add what they feel are vital things for young people to learn today.
“We get to control the curriculum and offer things not offered in public schools or most private schools. We focus on critical thinking and logic. We believe the main skill to learn is to think critically,” said Jeff.
He offered as an example Google search.
“It is an exciting time in history. All human knowledge is accessible if you have an Internet connection. It’s a very cool moment in history,” he said while adding they use those critical thinking skills to determine the credibility of sites and information they are reading online.
The oldest Herron boy started in a classroom setting but after some issues concerning behavior at home that was concering to the parents, they felt the boys needed something else.
Herron and his wife started a private Facebook group for parents that are homeschooling simply called Pendleton County Ky Area Homeschoolers.
It gives a place for parents homeschooling their children to meet and share experiences and resources as well as support.
That is vital as Jeff points out, “You cannot home school effectively in isolation. It’s a community.”
While the Herron family provides community through Facebook and other resources, they usually work as a family to cover curriculum; others, however, work with other families to teach curriculum. A person who is strong in the sciences, for example, may work with several home-schooled children in the sciences while another parent who is strong in social studies works with the group in that area. These situations may happen once per week rather than daily, but the experience works to give home-schooled students depth in areas where some parents may not feel as confident.
This is just another of many methods home schoolers use to ensure their children receive a solid education without benefit of a certified teacher.
Classical Conversations is a resource that many home schooling families use. According to their website www.classicalconversations.com, their purpose is to lead the home-centered educational movement by teaching parents and students the classical tools of learning.
“We enable parents everywhere to equip their children with a Christ-centered worldview and the classical “tools of learning” in order to impact the world for God’s glory.”
In other words, options are available to those who wish to experience the joy of watching the bursts of learning happen with their own children.
While transportation costs for public schools are expensive and limit the ability of teachers to take their students out into the world, Herron says that field trips provide experience and a hands-on model. He shared the experience of being able to visit a robotics company in Cincinnati and spending a day touring the company and seeing robotics in a real world setting.
His boys used to follow the agrarian school calendar of summers off but has moved to a yearround schooling that is a real world model.
“We are not raising children but raising adults. We are developing acquired skills today for them to be successful in today’s world. We want them to develop habits that are important to follow.”
He added that while socializing in a public school setting, children are around kids and are learning how kids act.
“Having kids around adults that are modeling acceptable social behavior (is important),” Herron emphasized. He explains he is raising not children, but adults.
The emphasis on real life learning was no more evident than the use of their 80-acre farm for life sciences, study of the woods and ponds as well as raising the cows, chickens and bees they own.
“The pandemic has been a great opportunity for parents to look at other options. Home schooling has worked for us as a family,” Herron said.
The Kentucky constitution established the prerogatives of the parents to choose the formal education for their child and the Kentucky Department of Education points out, “They take complete responsibility for educating their child. The parent/guardian selects the curriculum and educational materials. There is no state financial assistance for families who choose this option.”
There are also requirements for the parents. They include:
Notifying the superintendent of the local school distrrict in writing within 10 days of the beginning of the school year of their intent to homeschool their child(ren).
Create a “school” name for their district that will be used for future records and diplomas.
Record and maintain scholarship reports of each students progress in all subjects at the same intervals as the local public schools.
Keep accurate attendance records of pupil attendance.
It is required that all core instruction be offered in the English language.
While the diploma earned is not recognized by the Ky. Department of Education, the supporters point out that their diplomas are accepted by colleges and universities.
Pendleton County Superintendent Joe Buerkley pointed out that many careers require a certified diploma from an accredited high school or a GED, and parents and students need to be aware of this as they begin to seek employment; however, the Home School Legal Defense Association may be helpful with this situation if it should occur. The association works to defend the rights of home schoolers and their children through graduation and beyond, and they may be consulted in the event that such a denial takes place.
State law only requires the public school district to allow opportunity for a student to participate in extracurricular activities if the student is enrolled in the public school district. Pendleton County schools does not allow participation in extra-curricular activities, including athletics.
No Pass/No Drive for home-schooled students is the same as for students attending public schools.
For a home-schooled student to qualify for a college or career school education, he/she must complete a high school education in a homeschool setting approved under state law.