Homeschoolers socialize through education

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Homeschooling, also known as home education, has become a more popular program, with approximately three percent of children in the United States homeschooled during 2011-2012 school year, rising to 2.3 million students as of 2016.

The Beloit Area Home Educators is a homeschool program with members including the Mitchell and Lincoln counties, but several members are also from other surrounding areas such as Cloud, Osborne and Smith counties. 

The Beloit group recently held an educational field trip to Jordan's Barefoot Farm, east of Tipton, where they learned about milking cows and producing ice cream and cheese from the raw milk. They also learned about growing a garden in a high tunnel greenhouse with everything planted into the ground.  There, vining tomatoes are used to grow upward for more production and a longer growing period extending into December. 

The most stigmatized view on homeschooling from critics is that the children lack necessary social skills. 

The Beloit Area Home Educators feel the field trips held, not only allow students to socialize but they also learn everyday survival skills.

"I think just giving the kids the opportunity to see where their interest are is important to us," said attendee Ashley Cooper.  "There is less focus on test scoring and more on actual knowledge and know-how with hands-on activities, including chores around the house and being self-sufficient."

Ashley is from Lincoln county and is a mother of four children, ranging in ages one, four, seven and nine. 

"Socialization through homeschooling varies from adult level all the way down," said Rachel Dyke of Miltonvale. "Home schooling is all at one level."

"Our group tries to get together a couple times a month," said Jordan's Barefoot Farm co-owner/homeschool educator Andrea Jordan.  "We do one educational field trip and then at least one or more fun activity together. We will meet at the park to play and we also do service oriented activities like taking cards to the nursing home."

For the past several years, Beloit Area Home Educators have held co-op classes. They meet in the fall, once a week for six weeks. In the past, there have been about 15 classes offered and each child can choose three classes to participate in. Classes offered include music, art, foreign languages, sewing, and a community activity video game Steam program, things that not all kids may have access to at home. The Educator's classes held last September through October had almost 100 kids participate from six counties. 

"Every family is unique in the educational material that we use," said Jordan. "There are hundreds of companies that make curriculum specifically for homeschool's."

Jordan is a mother of six children. The family farm produces milk products in which the children help with.  

"My favorite thing about homeschooling is getting to see, in person, how each of my children learn differently, and encouraging their learning with everything we do each day," Jordan said.

According to Harrington Harmonies website, Homeschoolers in Kansas must name their school and are then registered with the department of education under non-accredited private schools. 

Homeschooling is legal throughout the United States. Each state is free to create its own legal structure for home education, so one state's laws may look very different from another's. Homeschoolers need to follow the law from which state they are physically present. 

To homeschool in Kansas, one must meet three requirements, by filling with the Department of Education and include:

1. Must meet for a time equivalent with what the public school system requires. 2. Teachers (Educators) must be competent. 3. Private schools must register their existence when initially established with the Kansas Department of Education. 

There are no other requirements of homeschools in Kansas. However, if a child is removed from a public or private accredited school, they must be reported as changing of schools, otherwise the child can be reported a truant.

There is no set standards of learning or curriculum in Kansas, as long as the hours required are met. 

Homeschoolers are obligated to notify any school districts of their intent to homeschool.  

The Beloit Area Home Educatiors will be meeting at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson for a field trip this week. 

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