Luther—As we hurtle toward Back to School time, Oklahoma public schools are scrambling to develop policies, practices and protocols to try to educate during a pandemic.
In Luther, the public school is working on what school will look like – traditional, online or a blended version for the 2020-21 academic year.
Luther also has a vibrant community of home educators. Parents are getting calls and sharing their experiences, tips and challenges over coffee meetings, emails or calls. There are many online resources available as well, see below for a roundup for a few of them.
One piece of information that surprises many is that Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to homeschool.
Oklahoma Constitution, Section 4, Article 13
Section 4, Art. 13 of the Constitution of Oklahoma guarantees the homeschool exemption by stating that the legislature “shall” provide for the “compulsory attendance at some public or other school, unless other means of education are provided of all children in the State who are sound in mind and body, between the ages of eight and sixteen, for at least three months each year.“ Homeschool Oklahoma
Home Education: You Can Do it
The group Homeschool Oklahoma has several resources including videos from the group’s popular annual meeting that was held online because of the coronavirus crisis. This resources also answers several questions and offers free lessons and support.
In Luther, Kasey and Lindell Wood home educate their three boys, Dalton, Rhett and Luke. Kasey Wood said lots of people seem to be intimidated by home schooling, but she said they should not be. “We live a great area to be homeschooling. Lots of parents have homeschooled exceptional kiddos and have been able to offer out of the box opportunities for their children,” she said.
“The most valuable thing you can give to your children during this time is a love for learning. If you are used to a public school structure then your children are used to being taught for tests. This is an opportunity to approach education in a much more life-long learning perspective,” Kasey said.
Seasoned home educating parents emphasize that no education model is perfect. Jennifer Edmunson notes she went to public school, and sent her oldest child to private school. She and her husband have spent the last ten years home schooling their two sons. In addition, she will tutor Latin, economics, history and science for junior high and high school for local homeschool coops.
“The hardest thing about that first year was learning to be around each other all the time. Our first year I had a sixth grader and a second grader. We read good books, did math, and then just did what they found interesting. And it was enough when we were also figuring out that new life,” said Edmunson.
Home school parents note that a flexible schedule, building relationships with their children, pursuing interests including running a family business together and learning along side their kids were unexpected benefits.
Education in a traditional public school, private school or at home, will look different for everyone during the pandemic, as it did last spring. The crisis itself presents learning opportunities about public health, reading graphs and data, studying the past, logic and civil discourse, to name a few.
Edmunson says she is often asked about athletics in home education, and notes that programs are growing for many sports including football, baseball, basketball, golf, cross-country and track, pom and others.
“I would love people to know that you don’t have to sacrifice sports when you homeschool. It was what my husband was worried about – but when I did my research, the sports my boys played (baseball and basketball), I found that the homeschool teams play a very competitive 4A, 5A, 6A schedule. It was a harder schedule than if I had left them in private or sent them to public school. I’ve graduated one, sent him to college with a good ACT and on an athletic scholarship. I have another leaving in a little over a year with the same goals,” she said.
Granted, athletics and all activities are looking different during the coronavirus crisis, as is public activities in all aspects of life, including parents’ employment. While home education is an option for students to keep up with learning during a global health crisis, it might not be a long term solution for everyone, and that’s okay.
With many options, it can be difficult to know where to begin, but there really isn’t a right or wrong. It might start with a cup of coffee with a neighbor.
Home School Resources
Website: HOMESCHOOL OKLAHOMA
Article: Once I Started Homeschooling My Four Kids, I’ve Never Looked Back by Jenni White.
Article: How To Hybrid Homeschool This Fall
Blog and Podcast: Triumphant Learning
Blog: Homeschooling for Newbies AKA “I’ve decided to homeschool…now what?” Robin’s Torch