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Parents get talk on home-schooling

April 10, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Many people would think the Travises, with their six children, would have their hands full after school and on weekends, when the kids are home.

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But when Bob Travis leaves for work at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., his wife, Kim, is already busy teaching their kids - at home.

Sometimes household chores have to be put on hold while the children are being taught, Travis told about eight parents attending her talk at Saturday's home schooling conference at Tri-State Fellowship.

The daylong conference offered workshops on home-schooling laws in the four-state area, curriculum resources, socialization, learning styles, pulling a child from school and stressed-out moms, said organizer Barbara Martin.

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Kris Gillaspy is still a few years away from the start of school for her 8-month-old daughter, Grace, but Gillaspy already knows she wants to home-school her and has begun preparing.

"I think that there is strength in numbers and there's wisdom in learning from each other," said Gillaspy, 27, of Waynesboro, Pa. By attending conferences and learning about home-schooling now, Gillaspy hopes to avoid becoming overwhelmed in a few years.

Travis, 33, of Marion, Pa., told Gillaspy and others about her experiences home-schooling six kids, including two foster children, whose ages are 14, 9, 7, 5, 4 and 3.

When a friend told Travis nine years ago that she was thinking of home-schooling her daughter, Travis said she thought the friend was crazy.

That all changed when Travis took her son to kindergarten in public school to find a teacher screaming at 30 children and no assistant in sight.

She sent him to private kindergarten before teaching him at home.

Home-schooling also became appealing because her oldest son was having trouble in school. But with home-schooling and one-on-one attention, he has blossomed, Travis said.

Travis said she often reads out loud to all the children and then they do different exercises from the reading based on their skill level. Now she is reading "Johnny Tremain" to the kids.

Reading is the key, Travis said.

If the kids can read well, they can learn anything, she said.

When her 14-year-old son was reading Shakespeare, her 9-year-old son picked it up and loved it. He's read three Shakespeare plays, works that he wouldn't have been exposed to in public school at his age, she said.

While the older children are reading and working on more advanced assignments, the younger children play with "school toys" such as LEGOs, blocks, puzzles and coloring books, Travis said.

Travis said she doesn't always sit down and teach the kids in the traditional classroom setting, but she helps them when they come to her with questions.

She doesn't teach them alone, either.

Travis takes advantage of co-ops and outside programs so her oldest son can learn more science and play volleyball.

Parents who home-school their kids don't have to stick to the same methods every year.

Home-schooling at the Travis household can change from year to year, month to month or week to week to accommodate the children's progress and the family's activities, she said.

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