Homeschool Families Starting Back To School, Too

Daily Globe Staff Reporter

SHELBY - William Fordyce, who prefers to be called Will, is enjoying 3rd grade at home under the instruction of his mother, Allison Fordyce, this year. This is Will's second year being homeschooled.

Will has a schedule that he follows every day, and has a "short Tuesday" and a "fun Friday" where schedules are a little more flexible and life skills are learned through everyday tasks. A typical school day, however, consists of calendar time, reading comprehension, spelling, writing, math, lunch and recess, and several special classes or learning sessions. Will also attends swimming lessons and loves to draw, and he surely is quite the artist.

Will's special talent in drawing has created a bag full of "special characters" that he has drawn, animated, and laminated for all kinds of uses during his learning. Each character has facial expressions and meaning, and some even interact with each other. "Sour Cream" and "Guacamole" were specifically drawn to aid each other in the practice of argument. Each feels they are better than the other, and their facial expressions and body language indicate they are ready to argue their reasonings.

Will also has special classes with his grandparents. Grandma Lynn Cooke stops by once a week dressed as a different character, ready to tackle Will's favorite subject - science.

"She works all week on a lesson and brings it over to do with Will. Last week she appeared at the door dressed as a crazy cat caper!" This year, grandpa Fred Cooke is doing a weekly farm school with Will. "Both of my parents used to be teachers, so this comes very naturally to them," Allison explained.

Families decide to homeschool for many reasons, and Allison and her husband Jay decided homeschooling was the best option for Will. Their daughter Olivia attends public school. Allison enjoys homeschooling her son, which allows him to work on subjects as he is able. For example, Will's reading comprehension and spelling are two grade levels separated, but at home, Allison can cater to that range efficiently.

"It really doesn't take much (supplies) to homeschool. We have more than we need," she commented. "The paperwork to get started was very minimal and we have help available when we need it."

Jay noted "there's always someone to ask when we have a question. I feel great about homeschooling Will." The Fordyce's have found great resources and advice through teachers at Shelby City Schools.

Allison noted Will still has homework, or night review, as she refers to it. Will sits down and reads with Jay for 45 minutes Monday through Friday. The family is excited to start the social studies curriculum this year, which will focus on the 50 states. "Will loves geography and is good with facts. He loves anything he can memorize," Allison noted.

While homeschooling is labor intensive, Allison said "there has been such a huge shift in dynamics for all of us. I'm always looking for new ways to engage, but it's not hard and it's not expensive."

Jay noted, "People ask us questions all of the time. I think they are generally interested in homeschooling." Allison added "The most important thing is to know your child and find the best educational fit for him. I think it's just ingrained in people that public education is something that you're supposed to do, but I found that sometimes you just have to be brave and do what you think is best."

Another Shelby family, headed by Pastor Brad McBee is also homeschooling their children this year. McBee had previous homeschooling experience when he lived in West Virginia, schooling his elementary aged children.

Recently, McBee and his wife Tammy have decided to homeschool their children, grades 3, 2, 1, and preschool, this year. "We made the determination that we would like to homeschool our younger girls. Our main reasons were to spend more time with them on their education being able to spend more one on one time with them," he said.

McBee also believes that "homeschooling can be better academically. Colleges go out of their way to recruit homeschooled children," he said. "People sometimes think this is an unusual way to learn, but it is very natural and has been the primary way that children have learned forever. Abraham Lincoln was homeschooled. In much of the world, this is the way most children learn, through homeschooling."

To comply with state requirements for the arts and physical education, the McBees attend dance classes and are avid artists. "We will visit art museums, and my wife is very craft oriented," McBee noted. "They (the girls) have been getting probably more than most children along those lines. We also do piano lessons and listen to classical music. We have plans on attending orchestral concerts this school year," he added.

Tammy added, "I look forward to spending more time with them, instilling more of our values and being a big part of their education. It will be a big challenge teaching four little girls in four different grades, but I love my children and love to watch them grow and learn."

Families interested in exploring homeschooling can contact the Shelby City School district for information on requirements and filing deadlines, which are usually in early August for the school year. Shelby currently has 18 homeschooling families, with at total of 26 students being homeschooled.

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