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For so many parents, school isn’t really something that they consider a choice. When their children reach school age, they are signed up for the local public school, and that’s that. However, in America, we have so many options for education that it is always worth investigating and exploring to find the best fit for one’s family.
Take the Klaussen family for example. Alva Klaussen started out her education in a public core knowledge school but, dissatisfied with the way reading was taught, her parents moved her to a Montessori school early on. That school closed when she was 10 and, Klaussen said, “rather than finding another school, (my parents) decided to homeschool me.
Alva’s parents both primarily attended public school and didn’t enjoy their experiences there, so they knew that they wanted something different for their daughter. Her mom was homeschooled from the age of 16, so she was starting as a teacher having had some experience as a student. They decided to take the leap and, in homeschool, Alva thrived.
Despite misconceptions about homeschool, this educational model provides students with rich educational and life experiences. “The great thing about being a homeschooler,” said Klaussen, “is that you get to consume the world in a different way than public, or even private, schoolers. For me, and many of my friends, we did a lot of our school work on our own.
This means that you have to be able to teach yourself out of a book…I think that teaching yourself helps you learn to pay attention to more of the world around you. I love movies, books, and tv, and as a teen, I spent a lot of time consuming them. While most people don’t think of such things as school, I learned a lot from them, many things that have helped me immensely in college and in work places.”
It’s not all about academics, though. In addition to the regular curriculum, the less regimented timetable in a homeschool setting means that there is more time for extra-curricular activities. “I took piano lessons, ballet, archery, art classes, held jobs, and completed an internship and volunteered while in high school,” Klaussen said, “Lessons were easier to fit because I didn’t have regular classes to worry about, and getting work experience didn’t mean bad grades. I have a much stronger resume than the majority of my peers and I have more real world experience.”
As she was shy growing up, homeschooling gave Klaussen an environment in which she could “learn and grow in a safe setting with close friends,” she said, “This resulted in a confidence in my abilities that I think a lot of public schoolers lack.”
She is also aware of the misconceptions that surround homeschooling. She’s noticed that many assume homeschooling is chosen for religious reasons but, she said “the majority of homeschoolers I know were homeschooled for academic reasons.” Another common misconception is that homeschooled students lack socialization skills. “I was part of a homeschool group,” she said, “that spent a lot of time together and a lot time taking classes, volunteering, working and so on. Most homeschoolers I know have amazing social skills. Everyone one of my homeschooled peers has excelled and thrived when they go on to work, and to college.”
Klaussen herself has now made that transition, and is a student at Fort Lewis College, where she is working towards her BA in business management. Although the college admissions process can be different for homeschooled students, it is still fairly straightforward. After high school, she initially attended a community college which waived her high school transcripts. She simply had to take the placement test which was required of all students. Klaussen is looking into postgraduate programs now, and is preparing for a future in business.
As for the future, Klaussen is keeping her wide open. She is dedicated to a career and “a bit of a workaholic,” but family would always come first. That migt someday mean homeschooling. “I would love to homeschool my kids,” she said, “I was briefly in the teachers-ed program and I enjoy how creative you can be when homeschooling your children. I also think it is a very good way to create a strong family bond, which I believe to be important.”
The story of Alva Klaussen’s education is a story that should be more common. Her parents made thoughtful decisions about where she would go to school and, when an option didn’t work out, they weren’t afraid to try something else. This is the essential component about educational freedom- that freedom to choose, and to be mobile. Students are all different and they all learn differently. Why not let families make educational decisions, when those decisions will impact them for the rest of their lives?
Featured image is a stock photo from Shutterstock
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