Abilene Family Transitions from Public to Home School

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB) - It's estimated that 350,000 children in Texas are getting an education at home, that's according to the Texas Home School Coalition. There are a variety of reasons why families opt for this type of learning.

"I get dressed, I brush my teeth, I eat breakfast. I do some chores. And then I come in here and read a book, maybe," says Clark Harris, a 4th grade student.

It's regular start to the school day for 10-year-old, Clark Harris.

"We have the freedom to do just what kind of works for us," says Clark's Mom, Shanas Harris.

Shanas Harris is not only Clark's Mom, but she's also his teacher.

Harris adds, "It was very stressful to get out of the house. We were yelling and it was just crazy. It was like, you know. What if we did it differently? What if we don't start school until like 9 or 10?"

Clark attended public school for a few years.

"It wasn't a bad situation. We didn't have a problem with the teachers, says Harris.

However, Harris felt being at school was a bit more stressful than it should be for her son, "Clark couldn't sit still and had a hard time paying attention. I just felt we were working so hard to teach him to just sit still and pay attention."

Clark adds, "Public school is way harder than homeschool. Here, I can have a couple of small breaks here and there."

The Harris family is one of at least 200 local families doing it their way. The Big Country Home Educators is a support group for homeschool families. Although it's not required to be part of of one of these groups, BCHE estimates there are around 500 local families opting to teach their students in the comfort of their own homes.

Harris is not only teaching third grade but also kindergarten for her son, Emmitt.

"Well after reading, I do like math and handwriting and then I do spelling, history, and science and then the day's over," adds Clark.

"If he gets that if I sit and do this work, I'm done for the day, this kid will focus like you've never seen. He'll be done and he'll go outside and play," says Harris.

After-school fun begins much earlier for the Harris boys compared to public school students who get dropped off by the bus late in the afternoon.

At the end of the day, there are aspects of public school that the Harris family misses.

Clark says, "I miss having more friends and talking a lot at lunch."

Harris says, "I say, yes but you remember all the work that you have to do there. It's not a social thing. You see them, so that's hard."

Clark may say homeschool is easier, but as any teacher knows, there are good days and bad days.

"There are days I want to send him back. I'm like, okay I can't do this. It's just too much but overall it felt like the right thing to try for him for awhile, adds Harris.

Clark is involved in after-school activities like martial arts and soccer. The Harris family plans to continue homeschooling but will take it one school year at a time.


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