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For Goodies, home schooling works well

April 10, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Textbooks and art supplies replaced the lace tablecloth and candlesticks on the dining room table.

It was school time in the Goodies' Hagerstown home.

Dissatisfied with public schools, Lisa Goodie started home schooling her daughters, Ashley, 11, and Katlin, 9, four years ago.

It's one of the most rewarding things she's ever done.

"I feel like our family has such a bond now," said Goodie, 34.

She said she never thought her parental duties would expand to include teaching academics to her kids.

While her husband, Lenny, supports the family financially, Goodie nurtures her children's educational needs in an environment she called flexible, relaxed, healthy and controlled.

These are attributes she couldn't use to describe the public school atmosphere.

Ashley's first-grade experience in public school persuaded the Goodies to make a change, Lisa Goodie said.

She described a dangerous, chaotic scene as buses, cars and walkers cluttered the school parking lot in the morning and afternoon.

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Ashley kept bringing home illnesses caught from other children, Goodie said. Even a common cold could prove fatal to the Goodies' young son, Matthew, who has Down syndrome.

Goodie said school officials refused to act when Ashley asserted that a male classmate stuck his hand up her skirt.

She said she and her husband noticed the Christian values they had tried to instill in their daughter being corroded by poorly behaved classmates.

Goodie said such an atmosphere bred unhappiness in her daughter, a serious child who loves to learn.

"I didn't want to kill that fire in her, but we felt like our hands were tied," Goodie said. "We pay city and county taxes and we couldn't send our child to school wherever we wanted," she said.

The Goodies enrolled Ashley in a private Christian school, but had to consider withdrawal for financial reasons, Lisa Goodie said.

The family decided to investigate home schooling.

Goodie said she talked to her sister, a home-schooling parent. She made inquiries at the Christian school, which offered a curriculum to home-school families.

And she read a lot of books on the subject.

Goodie said such resources as Debra Bell's "The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling" made the transition smoother. Catalogs offering every home-schooling material imaginable made Goodie realize the program's potential.

Statistics supporting the success of home-schooled children motivated the Goodies.

That first year was a learning experience for the entire family, Lisa Goodie said. As they gained comfort with home schooling, the Goodies branched out beyond the Christian school curriculum.

Lisa Goodie began networking, and designed lessons more suited to her daughter's, and the family's, individual needs.

"There are so many options for parents," she said. "And it doesn't cost a lot of money."

Now four years into the program, Lisa, Ashley and Katlin Goodie have established a routine.

But not too much of one.

"You want a relaxed learning atmosphere," Goodie said. "Katlin is more comfortable on the floor, and there's nothing wrong with her doing her work there."

The three begin their three- to five-hour school day by cooking a meal together, or completing the mandatory daily math or language lessons, Goodie said.

Sometimes they wake up early. Other days they sleep a bit later. Both girls said they enjoy this flexibility.

"We get to take breaks," Katlin Goodie said.

"We don't have to get up early every day," Ashley Goodie added. "And I get to be around my mom and my brother and my dog."

Goodie added that opportunities for socialization abound for home schoolers. Her children are involved in church youth groups, dance lessons and the 4-H Club.

For several years, they participated in the Sunshine Club, a special group for home schoolers that organized field trips and idea exchange sessions for parents.

Frequent excursions outside the home also give opportunities for interaction beyond the family.

The girls help choose the topics for each week's science and history lessons, often visiting the public library to find books relevant to the topic.

Math skills are practiced in the grocery store, Goodie said.

Art projects and research papers accompany many lessons, and hands-on activities are stressed, she added.

Reading is integrated into nearly every activity, Goodie said. As she read from a book about porcupines, the girls interjected with facts they'd learned the day before.

The students then performed an experiment with plain and barbed toothpicks to feel firsthand the texture of a porcupine's quill.

Then, it was off to the dining room to learn cartography skills.

Goodie said the girls' work is placed in binders, which they take before the county Board of Education twice a year to demonstrate their progress.

Goodie said looking back through the years of home schooling work in those binders fills her with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

But she said the greatest rewards are felt when she witnesses her children's respect and kindness in their interactions with others.

Bell wrote that fostering in children the pleasure that comes from academic achievement is important, but positive character development is paramount.

Goodie couldn't agree more.

"I want my kids to think learning is fun, and that it doesn't end in the 12th grade. But more than that, I want them to be good people," she said.

"We've given our girls a good foundation," Goodie added.

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