Posted 9/08/10 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
All parents of school-aged children know that back-to-school time can be a very busy and stressful time. But for some area students going back to school is a lot easier, especially when they don’t even have to leave home.
“We used to just do school at the kitchen table,” says Lisa Barkie, a Watford City home schooling mom. “Then as my daughter got older, there were a lot more books to drag out to the kitchen, so we made a school area in our home. Now everything is easily accessible.”
Lisa isn’t a certified teacher, but if you ask her daughter, Anika, who her teacher is, she’ll point to her mom, Lisa.
“My mom is my teacher,” says Anika proudly. “She’s always been my teacher and I’ve never wanted to go to public school.”
“The only thing about public school that she has ever wanted is to ride the bus,” adds Lisa.
Watford City has at least 10 families who home school their children. But Lisa expects that with the influx of new people into the community, that number has probably grown.
“We have a large home school network here,” comments Lisa. “It is really nice to have a lot of home schooled families, because we have a good support system and the kids are able to interact with other students.”
While most of her schooling happens in her school corner of the family’s living room, Anika participates in physical education classes, art classes and field trips outside of her home with other home schooled students in the area.
“People often ask if we are worried about Anika not being socialized,” says Lisa. “That is something that her dad and I have never worried about, because she socializes with people of all ages on a regular basis. She has classes with the other students, visits with family at the Good Shepherd Home and she is also involved in church and dance, which puts her with other fourth graders.”
For some students, it may be strange to attend school in your bare feet while chewing gum and drinking a Diet Coke. But for Anika, that is her reality.
“I like being able to have a snack at my desk or wear my pajamas for school,” adds Anika. “It is also nice that we’ve found curriculum that teaches things the way I like to learn.”
According to Lisa, Anika is a kinesthetic learner, which means she learns best by doing things rather than answering questions or working out of a workbook. And that is what makes home schooling a really great option for her.
“When we started kindergarten, we used curriculum from the same company, and as the years went on, we started using different curriculum to offer what Anika liked,” says Lisa. “Being able to teach her in a way that she responds well to has made her schooling much more fun, while allowing her to learn even more.”
Of course, like all schools, there are rules and regulations that area home schoolers have to follow.
“She has to take the state tests just like the kids at the public schools, and we have to be teaching her the things that other fourth graders are learning,” says Lisa. “I’ve always worried that we would miss something and that is where my homework comes into play. As a home school teacher, I have to research and make sure that I am teaching her all of the appropriate things.”
Both Lisa and Anika agree that the freedom of home schooling is one of their favorite things.
“It’s great to be able to go someplace and still have Anika in school,” says Lisa. “We also like that as long as we get in four hours a day for 180 days each year, then we’ve met our requirements, so we can take longer vacations and start school in August or September.”
Just like other students, Anika has days where she is tired of sitting at her desk. But with home schooling, she has other options. If she wants to lay on the floor with a pillow and do her reading or go outside to do her science, she can.
“Home schooling has been a great experience for us,” says Lisa. “I think part of that goes back to the wonderful support network we have here in Watford City. But either way, I can’t imagine her learning any other way.”