Homeschooling In Texoma On The Rise

While 4.5 million Texas students are kicking off the start to a new school year, another 300,000 are staying home.

Homeschooling in the Lone Star state is on the rise and as Newschannel 6 Lindsey Rogers found out, the same is true in Texoma.

In the last five years, the number of Texans choosing to homeschool has grown about 20%.

"We see a couple dozen new families joining our community every year," homeschool mom Kathleen Griffin said.

The organization Home Educators Around Texoma, or H.E.A.T., estimates anywhere from 250 to 300 families homeschool in our area.

That could be as many as 800 students.

Across the state, some families are opting to homeschool because they can no longer afford private school.

But Duncan said, in Texoma, she hasn't heard families give the economy as a reason.

"We believe home education is the best academic option for our students. Also the flexibility of scheduling and the freedom to choose the curriculum and design a course of study that fits the needs and interests of the individual students," Duncan said.

In Texas, parents who homeschool are not required to register with any agency or to get their curriculum approved.

They just have to have a curriculum that teaches reading, spelling, grammar, math and good citizenship.

"It gives families more time to share and teach values and faith," Duncan said.

One of the main reasons Duncan decided to homeschool her seven children was because they were constantly moving.

We found that's the case with many Texoma families.

"We were military so when we moved to Idaho in 5th grade my parents didn't like the schools and by the time we moved here we were just used to being homeschooled," Megan Griffin said.

She is a 16 year old senior and has been taking dual enrollment classes at Vernon College and when she graduates she'll have enough credits to be classified as a sophomore in college.

"We moved faster and my mom was able to push us harder than the schools were. That was the biggest difference for me," she said.

Other parents may choose to homeschool because of safety, peer pressure concerns or even medical reasons.

"I have asthma and it was easier for me to be homeschooled because my mom could like help me," homeschooled student Katie Jenkins said.

While there are many benefits to learning at home, critics point out the lack of social interaction.

We found Wichita Falls homeschoolers have a variety of extracurricular activities and cooperative group classes where they can meet new friends.

They offer everything from sports and theater to music and social functions.

"There are things I feel like I'm missing out on but there are other things I can do. A part of me wants to go back to public school but it would be hard to get back into the routine and I've made friends through the homeschool group," homeschooled student Anna Griffin said.

If you're new to homeschooling or interested in more information Homeschool Educators Around Texoma will be hosting a forum on September 16th.

It will be at Lamar Baptist Church in Wichita Falls from 6-8 p.m.

Lindsey Rogers, Newschannel 6