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Home school becoming increasingly popular

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AMARILLO - School safety, bullying, lice, religion in schools; those are just a few of the issues that have more  area parents thinking about home schooling.

President of the Panhandle Christian Home Educators Association Charliene Neal says she's heard many of the same complaints from area parents, but that doesn't mean home school is the solution.
 
"Our biggest reason is we wanted a Christian education for our kids," Neal said.

Neal teaches her four children at home. The youngest is in kindergarten and the oldest is a junior in high school.

She says having a fear of bullying, school shootings, or lice alone is not a good reason to start home schooling.

"That's not going to keep you motivated on those long home school days," Neal said. "I think there has to be a list of reasons, and your motivation really needs to be a good education for your children."
     
6th grader Bella, 4th grader Jake, and kindergartner Avery are smart, well-mannered children. They are aware of the stigma that home school kids are "odd..."

"Lots of people do think it's weird and it gets annoying sometimes. But it's not weird," Bella said.

"It's just different," Jake said.

But they hope that stigma will go away with the growing number of families heading in that direction.

"We have just seen tremendous growth in the home school community," Neal said. "Maybe everyone tends to know a home schooler now. Where as in the past that's been kind of an odd. People weren't familiar with home schoolers or they had this preconceived idea of what home schoolers look like or acted like."

PCHEA has almost doubled in members in the last four years, and 18 people have joined since January.

Neal says most people who decide to home school do so because of frustration with standardized testing, or curriculum in public schools. Since the state of Texas recognizes home school families as private schools, those families can choose their own curriculum, as long as it falls within state requirements.

For more information on home schooling in Texas, you can contact PCHEA or the Texas Home School Coalition.

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