Homeschooling Class Provides Alternative Education

Tyler Clemons, Amanda Huff & Ben Pressley

The Ayers children are smart.

None of them are 10 years old yet – Olivia and Molly are nine, Mason is six, and Owen is five – but they can list the endings of the singular third declension of Latin nouns and explain the history of the Holy Roman Empire.

And none of them have ever seen the inside of a traditional classroom or had a traditional teacher.

The Ayers family is part of a growing national trend of parents taking direct control of their children’s education through homeschooling.

An estimated 2 million American children were homeschooled during the 2008-2009 school year, according to the National Home Education Research Institute. That number continues to grow at a rate of 5-12 percent each year.

The Ayers’ decision to homeschool wasn’t an easy one. They planned to put the girls in the Memphis public school system for kindergarten. But then a series of factors came together to convince them to homeschool.

“They made a lot of changes in the school system that year that we didn’t feel were best for the children,” mom Dawn Ayers said. “Then (my husband Michael) changed jobs and happened to be on the road with a homeschool father and was able to learn a lot about it. So we really felt like God placed all those scenarios in line for us to decide to homeschool.”

Dawn oversees every aspect of her children’s education, from science to grammar to math. She feels homeschooling is beneficial because it allows her to integrate education into every aspect of the children’s lives.

“When we go to a museum or we go on field trips or we go on family vacations, it all just works together and makes a bigger picture for them that we don’t live in small little boxes—that everything’s all integrated together,” Dawn said.

That approach appears to be working. Nationally, homeschoolers score significantly higher than their public school peers in every subject area, according to a study by education expert Brian Ray.

The Ayers are part of the Oxford Christian Home Educators (OCHE), a support group for homeschool families in the Oxford area. Through OCHE, the Ayers can connect with other families to share curriculum information and other tips as well as fellowship.

Now Oxford homeschool families can connect in a new way. Through the Classical Conversations program, families can bring their children together to learn the basics.

Dawn founded the Oxford chapter of Classical Conversations this year. Participating families meet at First Baptist Church on Monday of each week to get the framework of their lesson plans for the next week.

“It’s great because it’s kind of like half-way homeschool and half-way with the school, so it’s kind of like you have the best of both worlds,” Julie Holeman, a participating homeschool mom, said. “On Monday they have the classroom setting, but then the rest of the week we can do the homeschool stuff at home.”

Joshua Locke homeschooled through all 12 years of school. Now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force stationed in England, Locke testifies to the benefits of his homeschool experience.

“Homeschooling really prepared me for college and helped me be very studious,” Locke said. “When you can learn to teach yourself, that’s the epitome of learning, because then you’re limitless.”

That fact motivates Dawn on the difficult days.

“My most common comment from moms is, I just don’t know how you do that. I wish I could homeschool,” she said. “And it’s not easy; I don’t do it because it’s an easy thing. I put in all the hard work and the hours and the sweat and the tears of raising them, and I didn’t want somebody else to go enjoy the fruit of all of that when they came to the point that they were fun to be around.”

She’s just one mom producing uncommon results through unconventional methods.

Are you smarter than a homeschooler? Take our quiz to find out.

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~ by tylerclemons on November 18, 2009.

2 Responses to “Homeschooling Class Provides Alternative Education”

  1. A school where personal growth comes first? What a concept! I’ve been reading a book lately called Lives of Passion, School of Hope. It’s written by Rick Posner. These alumni can actually take care of themselves, have meaningful relationships in their lives and the turn around and give some credit to their school experience! How many public school graduates can say that?

  2. This was a fun learning experience for our family. The kids think they are famous now! I would just like to clarify from my last quote that my kids were fun before we started homeschooling, but it’s easier to engage them in discussion and take them on learning adventures now that they are a little older. We feel blessed to be able to navigate them through their learning years and to show them the world that the Lord created for us to enjoy.

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