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E d u c a t i o n f o r A m e r i c a ’s children begins at home

© Frenc |


By Andres R. Bodon sits


Photo by Andres R. Bodon



the table on a

Monday morning eating breakfast. The father gets up, kisses the kids and mother good-bye









states in the United States. The reasons for this

and leaves for work.

are varied according

The mother says “Get

to the NCES, such as

your books kids, it’s time


for school.” But instead


of rushing out the door


to catch a school bus;

and, for many the

they go to an area of

most important, the

the home that is set up Laura Paulsen, 40, and Sarah Paulsen, 1, like a classroom, with watching “Baby Signing Time” which has begun


two desks, chairs and a


development of Sarah’s communications skills.

to the National Center for

chalkboard. According to


New York


Department of Education, for more than 20,000 this is the norm. Nationwide, according




number has increased from 697,000 in 1999 to 898,000 in 2003.

This increase

environment, with




provide religious and to




However, skeptics question how homeschooling affects children, and




ask, how do homeschooled

curriculum twice, once with

by the structure of the

children compare to their

oldest daughter Stephanie,

classroom setting. With

peers who have attended

19, and once with Bobby,

regard to the “high-school



17, and disagree with the

experience” Bobby Paulsen

learning? In addition, many

stereotypes. In fact, mother

said “all I missed out on was

misconceptions with regard

Laura Paulsen feels that

beating the crap out of a few



“homeschooling is a great

kids and having a bunch of

Some of the most prevalent

option, although it may not

slutty girls throw themselves

are that it is illegal, that

be for everyone. I love that

at me, to be honest.” He





feels he came out

“When you have a child you start teaching them from the moment they are born. Why does that change when they are five/” —Laura Paulsen

will not be afforded the same college educational opportunities traditionally children

that schooled



that children who are homeschooled



more mature and, although his reading skills could have been better, he was prepared for college. His sister Stephanie agreed

develop social skills. Other

we live in a country that has

that academically, she

common ones include the


was adequately prepared


is just one of them.”




Homeschooling By

for college through her

expensive to homeschool

exercising that option, the

homeschooling experience.

children, it is only available

Paulsen children both agree

The misconception of lack

to the wealthy)—and the

that they did not miss out on

of socialization is a fallacy


much with regard to public/

in her mind. “I didn’t have

private school experience.

to go to school to have a



simply does not compare to a traditional one). The Paulsen family, of Slate

Both Paulsen children

social life. I went to proms,

felt that through the

I dated, and I cheated on

Hill, NY is one that breaks

homeschooling experience,

tests. I got the ‘high-school’

the stereotypes. The Paulsen

they were prepared for

experience, it just wasn’t the

parents have already gone

college, although Stephanie

commonly accepted one.”

through the homeschooling

felt that she was hindered

For these two graduates

of homeschooling, the

an era when two income

“normal” high school

families are common, his

experience wasn’t

wife could stay home to

something they missed.

teach. He worked two

But skeptics still

jobs, but does admit that as

question if parents have the

the children progressed he

qualifications necessary

became more involved. In

to properly educate their

addition, when he was home

children? Legally, there

he would also fill in and

are no credentials needed

teach for the younger grade

to begin a homeschooling

materials, check homework

program and Laura Paulsen

in the evenings after work

feels that “when you have

and would always be up for

a child you start teaching

a field trip.

them from the moment

Since there is no state

they are born. Why does

law setting a curriculum

that change when they are

and one was not provided,

five?” The Paulsens, devout

Laura Paulsen set her own

Christians, didn’t take their

curriculum and purchased

decision lightly to educate

the materials for it. Her

their children at home. In

children were given the

fact, according to Paulsen,

yearly standardized tests to

the decision to homeschool

see how they measured up

was made only “when God

and were tested regularly

laid it on my heart” to do

on what they learned. “We

so. And Laura felt that she

did many projects, but I

managed to get her children

can remember one year we

ahead of the curve.

had lots of science projects

As for expense involved

going at once. It really

with homeschooling, Robert

ignited my son’s curiosity

Paulsen, made sure that in

for our local animals and

Angie Schott is a stayat home mom from Rock Hill, NY who has been married for 10 years and has four children ages 9,7,5, 3. Schott wanted to be able to cater to the individual needs of each of her four children. Recognizing her children’s strengths and weaknesses, she was able to tailor the lesson plans individually to each child’s needs and understanding. She felt that her children would not have gotten this in a normal classroom setting where the teacher may not have been able to stay tuned to a topic because one child could not understand. Schott admits that right now, she does not know where her children stand with regard to their peers academecially as New York State does not require standardized testing to begin until a child enters a fourth grade curriculum. However, her oldest daughter is just about there and is due to take the tests at the end of the current “school year.”

insects. His curiosity was so contagious that my daughter

in the kitchen.” Paulsen also feels that her

would ask them when they returned. She feels that her

would go out ‘hunting.’ They children were not only ahead

children developed great

came in with a spider one

academically but, “socially

social skills allowing them

day, and it looked poisonous,

and morally as well.” While

not only to interact with their

so they spent some time

in line at a local Wal-Mart

peers, but with adults as well.

researching on the Internet,

she was questioned about

She admits that she may lack

only to find out that it was a

her decision to homeschool

academic qualifications in

harmless, indigenous spider.

and how the children were

terms of teaching degrees,

They went out and collected

managing socially. Paulsen

but that once people meet her

a few more after doing more

responded that her children

children, they realize that the

research and I had a large

were on missions trips with

misconceptions are just that.

bin with leaves, sticks and

groups in two different parts

Paulsen Family Interview

spiders sitting on my island

of the world and that she

A study taken by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association showed that academically, homeschooled children overall fared better than their peers by an average of 15 to 30 percentile points.


Family profile of homeschooling.

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