OSCODA – Home schooling in the United States is on the rise.
Forbes magazine reports parents are choosing to pull their kids out of public education due to the COVID-19 pandemic, wanting more flexibility to shape their child’s learning experience, and wanting their child to have more one-on-one attention.
In March of 2021, the US Census Bureau reported around 3.3% of American households home schooling. That number went up to 11% by the fall of 2021.
Director of the Oscoda Parks Library Director Robin Savage said she noted an uptick in the amount of home schooled children in the state.
In September 2021, parents in Oscoda approached her to see if she could help be a supplement to their children’s curriculum.
“Local children come to the home school group because their families have chosen this avenue during these uncertain times (with the pandemic),” she said. “Many home schooled children go undocumented so it is unclear as to how many in the county have chosen to home school but numbers are certainly up. This supplemental home school group is not intended to replace any kind of curriculum, simply to supplement it in the areas of science, language arts and fine art. We work on group projects as well as individual studies, all based on the content expectations presented by the state.”
Every first and third Thursday of the month, between 10:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., Savage works with children of all grades to get them learning.
On Thursday, Jan. 20, she and three kids sat down to proofread sentences. One sentence, which was incorrectly spelled, read “that Hot Rod is the noisier vehicul on my Block.”
“What do we need to do here Abby?” asked Savage.
“Capital T?” asked Abby Oberdick, a fourth grader who attends the study hour with her brother Collin Oberdick.
“You got it! Capital T in ‘that’,” replied Savage.
This was only one assignment of the many they covered in this compressed amount of time. Savage covers a broad range of topics with the students who attend. Subjects range from anatomy to math.
Before working as the director for the Parks Public Library, she taught in public schools for over 10 years, including starting a specialized classroom in Detroit for kids on the spectrum.
She has an undergraduate degree in teaching from Western Michigan University and a Master’s degree in Education from Wayne State University. She is a certified teacher in the state of Michigan, Kindergarten through 6th grade as well as art education and the humanities K-12.
Savage is also a PhD candidate in human behavior.
Savage said the Home School Group (HSG) provides a perfect environment for students to partake in small group discussions, take on and learn from hands-on projects, as well as providing opportunities for in depth one on one instruction when needed.
One on one instruction is something Savage emphasizes, since to her, no child is the same or has the same requirements. Something like the home school group, with its small class size and individually-geared study is a great place for that kind of thing.
They even go on field trips.
“We went to the poop plant. We got to see them make poop cookies,” said Addie Abbott, a 6th grader who also attends the HSG.
This was a homework assignment where they went to the Tawas Waste Management plant to discover what happens to water when it goes down the drain.
Abbott said that field trip is why biology is now her favorite area of study.
One interesting thing about Michigan Home School requirements is there are very few laid out in the law. All a parent needs to do to enroll in home schooling is to declare it to their local school in a written letter or a phone call. Most schools don’t even follow up.
Parents do need a curriculum for their students, and many are available for all types of needs, but for the state of Michigan at least, there aren’t any standards or very much oversight set in place.
Savage said there is still a curriculum every student needs to follow and parents need to make sure their kids stay on track with where the state of Michigan expects them to be at their age regardless of how they’re enrolled in education. The state of Michigan still mandates all kids get an education regardless of the source.
“I think we need to take a step back and first evaluate the content of what we are teaching in the schools, which according to the state benchmarks and expectations, I concur with (for the most part),” she said. “What I can say for certain is that there isn’t much ‘wiggle room’ for teachers these days when it comes to curriculum. Every minute of every day is dictated by a hefty curriculum. This is why it is so important for educators everywhere (and this includes the home school population) to stick to the benchmarks created by the state; so that a child who attends the Detroit Public Schools (for example) and one who attends a more rural school are receiving the same content.”