Hitting the books: The homeschooling debate


DETROIT – You may be like me and think you know about homeschooling. Perhaps growing up you knew some kid in your neighborhood who was homeschooled and they seemed a bit awkward or you have wondered do these homeschool kids really get socialized if they are inside their house all the time?

Before you ask those questions, take a look at how homeschooling has evolved.

Megan Preston never ever thought she would be homeschooling her children. After one year of public school kindergarten for 5-year-old Hannah, the Troy mother had a few concerns.

Preston wanted a more Christian education but couldn't afford private schools and thought there had to be a better way to educate her child that didn't leave her so tired all the time.

"It was just a long day switching to full day kindergarten from part time half day preschool was a really huge adjustment," Preston said. "When she came home from school she was crashed out on the couch."

So, the 34-year-old mom decided to try homeschooling.

"It can seem intimidating but it is also a natural thing, because they are already looking for us to teach them the next skill set," said Preston.

Preston bought a curriculum she liked. "It comes with a teaching guide, the curriculum is planned out. It tells me what to do on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. It is spelled out. If you can read, it's simple."

She not only started homeschooling Hannah, her preschooler Rachel and even her toddler Josh joins in.

Preston says she likes the flexibility of homeschooling -- they have class four times a week. The fifth day is filled with swimming lessons, dance, and trips to the grocery store.

"I give them each a grocery list and they are in charge of finding whatever their items are," said Preston.

Hannah doesn't only take her classes at her dining room table. She is like many homeschoolers in the area who attend. It is a Homeschool Connection Campus. It looks like a school and sounds like a school, but it different.

"It started with just a few kids and a few teachers one day a week, and now we have 5 campuses, and 500 students."

Tarla Gernert created Homeschool Connections 13 years ago when she started homeschooling her children.

"I wanted my kids to take biology and I wanted it to be a rich experience, but I didn't want to deal with the mess myself," said Gernert. "I didn't know enough myself. So several of us got together and we found a microbiologist that would take his lunch break every other week to teach our kids biology."

Classes range from gym, to science, to art and so much more.

"It's fun to learn together so what we did we find teachers who are passionate about what they know to teach our kids," said Gernert.

If you want your child to be advanced in life, you have to put them in advanced situations.

Ptolemi Pruden uses the program for all five of his homeschool children. "I want to make sure my child is seeing, on the right trajectory I know I'm not trying to put them in a bubble."

Prudent said the homeschool connections gives his children not only classes he and his wife may not feel knowledgeable teaching, but also gives his child the socialization of a school classroom.

Dentist Rebecca Him, 34, was a homeschooler.

"When they first hear it yes, they are shocked because there are those myths out there or perception that homeschoolers are strange or different," said Him.

Now Him runs a dental office in Livonia and credits her success to homeschooling.

"I think homeschooling gives you a great opportunity to learn at a pace that is accelerated or maybe a little bit focused on what your desires are or interests are," said Him.

Halston Herrera, 26, was also homeschooled.

"A lot of my homeschool friends are doctors; they work in the government they are in the military," said Herrera.

Herrera is now a senior online editor at ClickOnDetroit.com. She says too many misunderstand homeschoolers.

"Homeschooling teaches you to be independent and a go getter," said Herrera.

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