Homeschooling Is Growing in Central Texas
By Era Sundar
Central Texas students will be heading back to school later this month. But for some it’s not a trip to a traditional classroom.
Academic expectations, scheduling flexibility and religious convictions are among the reasons that parents have made the move from public or private schools to a home classroom.
Sofia Martinez uses what she calls alternative schooling. While students of traditional schools are preparing to enter the classroom in August, she and her family will be on a camping trip. She says there’s plenty of education for her three children in real-life activities.
“They help plan food sometimes or help us cook, and we talk about, we’re driving through these great examples of geology, and we talk about how that happened and who used to live here and who still lives here,” Martinez said. “My younger son likes to play math games in his head, so that’s part of what we do when we’re driving. And as for where we go, anywhere that’s within driving distance with three children and cooler than here. So it’s New Mexico and Colorado.”
Fourteen-year-old Alyssa Wixson has been homeschooled for 10 years. She enjoys the flexibility it gives her, including a wide range of online subjects.
“I take a writing class online, and I’m also taking a literature course on line and Latin,” Wixson said.
Leona Heikkala is considering homeschooling for her daughter who’s now preschool-age. She was motivated by her own experience.
“I was homeschooled part of my childhood because I was about 15 in high school and not doing so great myself in school, and my parents decided to pull me out,” Heikkala said. “So it’s just been such a great experience for me to lead my own education.”
Freedom from the traditional school schedule allowed Heikkala to travel to Guatemala and immerse herself in the study of Spanish.
Paul Hastings of the Texas Home School Coalition says Texas leads the nation in homeschooled students.
“We have approximately 300,000 homeschooled students and then the number of families that are homeschooling children is around 120,000,” Hastings said.
He estimates that the number of homeschoolers in Texas increases 6 to 8 percent each year.