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Before she started home schooling her two children, Andrea Roseman of Jackson was "adamantly opposed" to the idea. But when her son, Grant, turned 1, she said she felt God telling her it was the right thing to do.
She fought it for about a year. "At the time, I didn't know anyone else who was home schooling. I found out there were four other ladies in my church [Lynwood Baptist] who were home schooling," Roseman said.
Her son now is 10 and her daughter, Merideth, is 8.
Her children are involved in Boy Scouts, 4-H, Upward sports, baseball. They're involved in church, they read to first-graders at Clippard and they take art classes once a month. Her daughter is involved in an American Girl Doll Club, and they take piano lessons.
Roseman teaches piano to other children as well. The American Girl Doll Club, which has 13 members this year, meets in the home of home-school mothers. The dolls are from different periods of history, and the girls learn what people ate during those times. There also is a woman who teaches crafts to the girls.
"There are so many things offered for home-schoolers, even during the day, so you have to be careful because you'd never be home," Roseman said.
The state requires home-school teachers to log 1,000 of school work a year, 600 of which have to be core -- history, science and math -- and 400 noncore, areas such as foreign language and physical education. "You have to do lesson plans" and keep work samples, Roseman said.
She first started teaching her children her home's basement. But there were no windows, so they moved upstairs. Now the dining room table and living room couch are their headquarters.
"Any kind of reading we do is on the couch. They'll go to their rooms to do individual reading," Roseman said. "Our kitchen walls have been transformed with maps and dry erase boards" and displays of her children's work.
The reasons she would not put her children back in public school are she disagrees with the emphasis on standardized tests and she dislikes Common Core standards being implemented at districts around the state and nation.
She stressed she's not a home-school parent who believes everyone should follow in her footsteps.
"It's a personal decision. Seek the Lord's guidance and pray to Him and stand firm in that decision. Don't feel like you have to defend that decision or your family's choice," Roseman said.
According to the Common Core Standards Initiative website, the initiative is a "state-led effort that established a single set of clear educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts and mathematics that states voluntarily adopt. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared" to move on to two- or four-year colleges or enter the workforce.
With home schooling, Roseman said she can slow or speed up her teaching, depending whether her children understand the curriculum. But the main thing she likes is they use "real books" vs. textbooks. "We use biographies and autobiographies; fiction books that are history-based. It gives them an appetite to learn about that time period," she said.
She also takes her children on field trips. For example, someone who attends her church speaks about the Civil War, so they met him at Fort D several weeks ago for a presentation. As a family, the Rosemans go on trips and look for places the children can experience learning.
"In many ways, I feel they're better prepared to interact with people of all ages," Roseman said.
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education doesn't monitor home schooling in Missouri, DESE communications coordinator Sarah Potter said. Parents who home school don't need to report to the state they are doing so, they don't need any certification to teach their children and there's no standardized testing required.
However, home-school teachers must keep records as to how many hours they teach. And according to the state law, the parent, guardian or other responsible person must file a declaration of enrollment with the recorder of deeds or chief school officer where the child legally lives.
Roseman said home-school teachers keep transcripts and issue diplomas. Students then can take college entrance exams.
Potter said it's unknown how many youngsters are home-schooled in Missouri. "It's really set up that way on purpose," she said. "It's freedom.
"It's the same way with private schools: We don't know how many private schools there are," Potter said.
Angie Laws has four children ranging in age from 2 to 9. She home schools the 8- and 9-year-olds, and the 4-year-old sits in sometimes. Her two sisters-in-law began home schooling before Laws did, and they inspired her.
"I guess I just felt that their safety and being at home with me ... I could control what they're learning," Laws said.
Laws has a teaching degree from Southeast Missouri State University. "But as they're getting older, I wanted to make sure they weren't missing anything, so I started Heart of Dakota this year," she said.
Heart of Dakota Publishing's home-school curriculum, Laws said, offers English, Bible, poetry, science, history and other subjects.
"I also take them to the River Campus [of Southeast Missouri State University]. They have art classes on Tuesday. Two days a week, we're involved with classes with other children around and we do play dates, too," Laws said.
"You can spend all day with your children and have fun and still learn. We live on a farm, so we're able to do a lot outside and incorporate it into the classes," she added.
Sara Moll, one of the founding board members of SEMO Homeschoolers Co-op, said her group provides support for about 65 families. The co-op, established about four years ago, has had people come from the Missouri towns of Ste. Genevieve, Perryville, Benton, Advance, Zalma and other locales.
Member families run the gamut in terms of faith and teaching styles. People in all occupations home-school their children as well. "You get the people who take it completely seriously" and then there's "unschooling," where children do whatever they enjoy, which could include taking apart the family TV, Moll said.
Not everyone in the area is a co-op member, because churches, for example, may have their own support groups. From co-op members and people she and her board members know, it's estimated there are 250 families who home school their children within a 45-minute radius of Cape Girardeau.
"I think it's very important [to] let people who are like-minded get together and share stories, share opinions about curriculum and share problems," Moll said.
Plus, she said, many people still have the idea that home-school children are unsocialized, which isn't true. From what she sees, the majority of home-school children are oversocialized. "We're out in the community doing things. It's hard to stay home and get the book work done."
For people who don't know much about home schooling, the co-op lends credibility to the practice, Moll said. Parents whose children are not school age sit in on meetings to learn and decide whether home schooling is right for them.
"I manage the website, and I get two calls a week of people who are looking into home schooling," Moll said. " ... A lot of times it is because maybe the child has more special needs than the school can deal with, or handle, or provide what the child needs. I totally get that. I think it's amazing what our teachers do."
But one-on-one, "when there's one parent to one student, they can really be looking at that child ... really tailor that child's education," Moll said.
Missouri's home school statute
Missouri Revised Statutes
Pupils and Special Services
Aug. 28, 2013
Home school, declaration of enrollment, contents -- filing with recorder of deeds or chief school officer -- fee.
167.042. For the purpose of minimizing unnecessary investigations due to reports of truancy, each parent, guardian, or other person responsible for the child who causes his child to attend regularly a home school may provide to the recorder of deeds of the county where the child legally resides, or to the chief school officer of the public school district where the child legally resides, a signed, written declaration of enrollment stating their intent for the child to attend a home school within 30 days after the establishment of the home school and by September first annually thereafter. The name and age of each child attending the home school, the address and telephone number of the home school, the name of each person teaching in the home school, and the name, address and signature of each person making the declaration of enrollment shall be included in said notice. A declaration of enrollment to provide a home school shall not be cause to investigate violations of section 167.031. The recorder of deeds may charge a service cost of not more than one dollar for each notice filed.