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Home schooling lets parents personalize their kids education
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Sandra Cantrell and her son Jackson, 9, study books Tuesday afternoon at the Clermont library in downtown Clermont. Cantrell has home-schooled her children for 10 years.

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Each weekday morning, thousands of Hall County kids climb out of bed, brush their teeth, grab breakfast and their books and set out for a day at school.

But some kids don’t have to go too far — school is right there at home, and their parents are also their teachers.

Robin Collinson of Gainesville said home schooling provides a chance to incorporate her family’s values into her kids’ education.

"My children don’t have as many negative influences," Collinson said. "It’s still out there, because you get it through the media, but it’s not as prevalent when you don’t hang around people that … have negative attitudes or actions."

Collinson has four children: Michael David, 14, Josie, 11, Victor, 7, and Destiny, 8 months.

Of the four, Michael David and Josie are home-schooled.

"We try to get up and get going by 8, at least, and start our school. The first thing we do, typically, is a Bible study, to start our day off. And then we just dive in," she said.

Collinson added that being able to incorporate biblical teaching into her kids’ day is an important part of why she teaches them at home.

"We like to implement a biblical world view in our education, and the public school does not do that," she said.

Michael David and Josie’s daily schedule also teaches them self-discipline, Collinson said.

"I write down what I expect them to do throughout the day, and then I let them work on it in any order they want to, so it’s a very independent type of education," she said. "You’ve got to learn to be self-disciplined to do what you need to do."

For some subjects, Collinson said she takes Michael David and Josie to the ENRG 4 Christ Clermont Co-Op, a home school group that teaches classes at the Clermont Gym.

The co-op offers classes like pre-algebra and science, and hosts field trips, most recently to the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.

"The first reason we started doing it was because of the socialization. A couple of days a week, they get to be with their friends," Collinson said. "Secondly, it’s a good supplement to the education that I provide, because sometimes you feel like you can’t get to the history and science because you spend so much time on the math and the English, so that was the first thing that I was interested in for them, especially the history."

Jennifer Collins of Clermont teaches agriculture and science classes at the co-op.

Collins said the classes and the co-op’s field trips give kids hands-on learning opportunities that are a good addition to parents’ at-home teaching.

"It’s a Christian co-op, so all of our curriculum is Christian based," Collins said. "And it also gives the kids more specialized time with the teacher.

"The classes are offered Mondays and Wednesdays, so then the other days of the week the children are at home with their parents."

Collins, who has a master’s degree in agriculture education, recently completed a project with her class that helped kids learn where their food comes from.

"We learned how to make butter ... We tasted different types of cheese," said Collins. "We talked about different types of livestock and then at the end, they all made their own virtual farm out of Legos or toothpicks, however ... and whatever animal they were interested in."

Collins said the co-op’s small class sizes — sometimes ranging from four to 10 students — allow kids to work at their own pace.

For Collinson, the co-op is also a place to network with other moms.

"I’m planning on doing it the whole way (through high school.) There’s a friend of mine in our co-op that taught her kids all the way through," Collinson said. "She’s got one that’s about to graduate, so she’s a good resource for me to say, ‘Hey, how do I do this?’"

ENRG 4 Christ also has a Yahoo group (groups.yahoo.com) designed as a question-and-answer forum for parents.

"That way the parents can talk back and forth about the home schooling, and if someone needs advice on what book (others can) recommend, that also helps us," Collins said.

Collinson said it’s not just the students who benefit from the socialization ENRG 4 Christ provides.

"Sometimes I go and stay with them when they’re in their classes there, and there are other moms there too, so it gives me time to have mom time with other women. So that’s good," she said.

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