St. Joseph News-Press
On Twitter: @SJNPAnderson
When Julie Casey started home schooling her children 11 years ago, it was a trend still considered on the fringe and resources were hard to find. But these days home schooling is almost mainstream, and thanks to her new website, resources can be easily found by clicking a mouse.
The website, www.theconnectedhomeschool.com, includes information on everything from home-school laws to a kids’ page full of educational games. And it comes at a time when home schooling is the fastest-growing area in education, she says, increasing an estimated 20 percent a year. Exact figures are hard to come by since Missouri does not require home-schools register with the state. But individual groups are watching numbers going up.
Midwest Homeschoolers is one of the eight area home-school groups listed on Mrs. Casey’s website. It holds an annual conference and curriculum fair with more than 60 workshop presenters and 120 exhibitors.
Mrs. Casey has an advantage over many of those who get into home schooling, although it may seem like a paradox. She and her husband, Jonn, are certified public school teachers. Mr. Casey teaches science at South Holt High School, and Mrs. Casey has a teaching degree in elementary education.
“We don’t home-school because we hate public schools,” she says. “In my case, I enjoy teaching, but I would rather teach my own kids.”
The decision to home-school was made easier when their oldest child was identified with a learning disability in math. His I.Q. was too high to qualify for funding or extra help. One of his teachers suggested home schooling.
“They couldn’t spend the extra time because there was no funding for it.” Mrs. Casey says. “It seemed like the best alternative for us.”
One thing she discovered while home schooling her children is that they learn faster with games. That’s why on her website you’ll see numerous links to educational games on the kids’ page. A favorite is Free Rice, a nonprofit website run by the United Nations World Food Programme. You pick a subject in humanities, English, chemistry, geography, math, languages, sciences or SAT testing. For every right answer they donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme. You can watch the rice fill up in a wooden bowl.
“It’s really kind of addicting, even for adults,” she says.
A game called HTWins.net is equally fascinating. When you get on the site, it doesn’t look like much. But after clicking on one item, it shows you all the sizes in the universe, sliding smaller to larger from an atom, to the universe itself. Even though this could be shown in a book, it’s more dynamic online.
“We still do some ‘paper school,’ but more of our time is spent on educational links,” she says. “They are so much more excited about learning.”
Visiting museums, libraries and nature centers are equally a part of the curriculum, so you’ll see a calendar and list on her website under local resources with information on events in the area appropriate for home-schoolers.
“There are so many events, we can’t keep up with them,” she says.
If you have events or resources you would like to add to the website, e-mail Mrs. Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sylvia Anderson can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPAnderson.Content © 2012. NPG Newspapers Inc, St. Joseph News-Press & News-Press 3 NOW. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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Read more here: New home-school website for Northwest Missouri