Photo by Erik Hernandez
by Frida Valdés, Feature Editor
Imagine waking up at 7 a.m. everyday and getting homeschooled. Now, imagine all of the sudden having to wake up at 6 a.m. and getting ready to go to high school. It may seem like an abrupt change, but that is what Christie Ambrose, freshman, had to get used to this school year.
Ambrose was homeschooled, and so was her older sister, Audrey Ambrose, junior, from 6th through 8th grade. This is C. Ambrose’s first year in a public school
According to C. Ambrose, her parents gave her and her siblings the option to attend a public school.
“They let me chose, but I didn’t want to miss high school; it seems like a good experience for most people, and I didn’t want to miss out on that,” C. Ambrose said.
Friends of the Ambrose family influenced Ambrose’s parents’ decision to homeschool their children.
“We have a lot of friends that are homeschooled and we wanted to try something new,” C. Ambrose said.
According to C. Ambrose, one of the advantages of being homeschooled is learning material at one’s own pace and having a more flexible schedule to work with. She also went on more field trips.
“We did a road trip to Wyoming and we stopped like in the Badlands, Mt. Rushmore and everything. I would do all my school work and get it done for the day and the rest of the day do fun stuff, so we were a lot more flexible because now I go to school, do homework and then go to school,” C. Ambrose said.
Ambrose did “co-ops,” which are methods of combining classroom-based education with practical experience.
A typical day for Ambrose consisted of math, English, history, and science for a total of about eight hours, although classes were not timed. Ambrose could get ahead in subjects that interested her the most, and she had the freedom to study more in depth a variety of subjects.
She currently participates on a baseball team, where she has practices for three days a week outside of school, and she will join the softball team at WHS.
Some of the disadvantages of going to a public school, according to Ambrose, are having less time, the schedule not being as flexible, waking up earlier and seeing the same people everyday.
Because of the time flexibility, Ambrose used to play the drums, but she does not do so anymore because she does not have the time. Mike Hurley, English teacher, and Melanie Hurley, wife of Mr. Hurley, homeschooled their two daughters and currently homeschool their son in seventh grade. He plans on coming to WHS instead of continuing being homeschooled. When both daughters enrolled at Harper College, they were around age 17.
“Harper didn’t know what to do with them, because Harper had very little experience, and so when we tried to enroll them, they wanted to see their transcripts, and so we showed them our list of classes and work that we had done with them and they said, ‘Well, we can’t accept this; this is an unofficial school.’ You know, state law says anybody can start taking classes at 16; you don’t have to be home-schooled. Once we ironed all that out, they actually became very supportive and wanted to find more home-schooled students because homeschooled students tend to perform at a pretty high level,” Mr. Hurley said.
According to Mindy Hurley, daughter of Mr. Hurley, she feels she had opportunities she would have missed if she had attended a public school.
“I loved being home and the diversity of activities that it allows as opposed to sitting in a classroom all day,” Ms. Hurley said through e-mail interview
According to Mr. Hurley, most of the material is self-taught.
“A lot of it doesn’t take tutoring, especially at the lower levels of school. Now, when they were in, let’s say 8th grade, 9th grade or around there, math got harder, and I’m not a math person, and my wife is not a math person, so at that point, we said, ‘You know what? We need to find a math person who can really walk them through,” Mr. Hurley said.
Family relationships develop as a result of homeschooling, according to Mrs. Hurley.
“My girls were the best of friends, and I was incredibly close to them as well. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. We had the opportunity to travel and do a lot of fun things that we wouldn’t have been able to do if they were in public school,” Mrs. Hurley said.
Another positive aspect of homeschooling is that the education provided to the children is more personalized; students learn what they want to learn and at their own pace.
“We can also personalize their education so that the learning is occurring in a way that best communicates to that particular child. One of our daughters enjoyed a more literature-based curriculum, while the other preferred more of a workbook and test-taking kind of experience,” Mrs. Hurley said.
Homeschooling provides a one-on-one time with every single concept a child takes until he or she completely understands and masters it.
“Why would we turn the math page until they completely understood the page we were on? Homeschoolers have the luxury of time with a small amount of students that teachers do not have either in public school or private school,” Mrs. Hurley said.
“I learned how to teach myself, which is key to success in college, when your class loads get heavier and class sizes get much larger. You learn how to internally motivate yourself,” Ms. Hurley said,
Both Mr. and Mrs. Hurley agree that one of the most difficult things about homeschooling is dealing with parent-child conflicts; however, it also helps them solve problems better.
“There are days when they don’t want to do school, and days when I don’t want to do school either. But it has to be done. So we learn to persevere and love each other on the tough days as well,” Mrs. Hurley said.
“There are certainly days that aren’t enjoyable: difficult subjects, conflict with parents or siblings, etcetera. But overall, for me the benefits most definitely outweighed the downfalls,” Ms. Hurley said.
Ms. Hurley took a few classes at Harper her senior year, “the great thing about taking classes in high school is that it’s called concurrent enrollment and you receive simultaneous high school and college credit for the classes you complete. I felt totally equipped to tackle my classes. That first year I took chemistry, speech, and microbiology and excelled at them all. This also enabled to start the classes for my chosen major (nursing) sooner” Ms. Hurley said.
Although some may think homeschooling “jeopardizes” social skills, Ms. Hurley says it has enhanced them.
“Being in a high school, you are surrounded almost entirely your peers all day long every day. And that isn’t good preparation for the real world. Once you graduate and get a job, you will rarely be in a position that you are interacting solely with people that are within 3 years of your age,” Ms. Hurley said.