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It’s back to the books this week for me and my children

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 11:19 a.m. CDT

My children are homeschooled. It was a decision we made long before I even knew we would be moving to Newton.

It had nothing to do with religion. It had nothing to do with academics.

It had everything to do with health.

My daughter, Hannah’s, last year of public school was nearly a disaster as a result of multiple cases of the flu, colds and other “bugs” she picked up from other students. After all of that, we decided it would be better if she stayed where she was less apt to get sick all the time.

One year in, and we’re hooked on homeschooling.

Hannah can now read almost anything I put in front of her. Although, if I were to check, her free reading list probably includes a pile of books about horses, both fiction and non-fiction.

This past weekend, while visiting family in my hometown, Boone, Hannah picked up a back issue of National Geographic magazine at my grandparents’ house and began reading a story about the revitalization of the Sioux Nation in South Dakota. She read the story from start to finish, and then proceeded to tell my grandfather the breed of every horse in each picture that accompanied the story.

Last year, her brother, Jayden, decided he wanted to “go to school at home,” too. So, we started him on pre-K and kindergarten learning materials a year early. We bought each of the kids a Nabi 2 tablet, which has aided them in their learning, as well.

Done properly, homeschooling requires parents to be prepared to demonstrate what is being taught each day. So, in many ways, my wife and I are both hitting the books along with our children. We’re learning right along with our children.

When we moved to Newton about a year ago, I surprised by the number of homeschooling families in town. They have provided a number of wonderful opportunities, both for our children to go on group field trips, and for group social events.

In fact, some of you might be surprised by the number of homeschool families that are “dual enrolled” in order to participate in Newton Senior High School athletics. Cardinal “Red Pride” runs deep, even in the local homeschooling community.

Some homeschooling groups are forming their own teams, as well. For instance, the reigning Iowa state championship mock trial team is a homeschool group from Marion.

I recently had someone tell me they thought homeschool students weren’t getting a “proper” education. I’m not sure what that person meant, but the curriculum we use was developed by someone with a degree in education.

But, if my children are going to fail as a result of their homeschool education, I guess they’ll be in esteemed company. Here’s a few people who were homeschooled over the years:

• U.S. Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt, among others;

• U.S. military leaders John Paul Jones, Robert E. Lee, Matthew Perry, John Pershing and Douglas MacArthur;

• U.S. Supreme Court Justices John Jay, John Marshall and Sandra Day O’Connor;

• Scientists George Washington Carver, Albert Einstein, Michael Faraday, Blaise Pascal and Pierre Currie;

• Inventors Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Eli Whitney, Guglielmo Marconi and Orville and Wilbur Wright; and

• other famous people, including Louis Armstrong, Ray Kroc, Joseph Pulitzer, Ansel Adams, Clara Barton, Will Rogers and Frank Lloyd Wright.

I think each of these people had fairly successful lives, and I don’t think their homeschooling hampered that in any way.

• • •

If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading this in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine.

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