Family Matters: More kids in home schools

    The number of families choosing to home school their kids has skyrocketed in recent years.{}{}{} What used to be seen as mostly a religious decision is gaining new cultural acceptance., with parents making the choice for a variety of reasons.{} {}We met an Edmond family with experience home schooling five kids.{} The day starts early at the Dutcher house, with their 15-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son tackling math, grammar, and spelling all before lunch.{} And there's also a 2-year-old to keep entertained."It might seem organized," said Susie Dutcher. "But it's organized chaos." It's nothing new for the Dutchers.{}{}{} With their two oldest kids now in college, Susie and Brandon{} made the choice, initially, for religious reasons. {}"Then the further into it we got, we realized academically it's so beneficial, said Susie.{} "And for our family it was the best thing." Their kids{} are among the nearly 1.8 million home-schooled American children, according to the Department of Education. That's more than double what it was two decades ago. {}The reasons parents are making the choice are shifting. "It's becoming more varied over time," said Brandon.{} "Where people are saying academic reasons, school safety reasons, or some are even saying socialization." A recent survey found concerns about the environment of schools to be the number one factor pushing parents to home school.{} Some estimates put the number of home schooled kids in Oklahoma at around 25-thousand, but it's impossible to know for sure, because our state doesn't regulate home schooling.{} In fact, it's protected in our state constitution. {}Critics say lack of oversight leaves some kids vulnerable to abuse and neglect.{} But the Dutchers say it's about giving parents freedom."The courts have said you have to be doing a comparable job to the public schools," said Brandon.{} "You can't be doing nothing.{} And if you don't,{} you're subject to criminal prosecution as it is." Their decision to home school has required sacrifices.{} "It's difficult.{} It's time consuming.{} And you have to sacrifice one income," said Brandon.But for them, it's worth it.{} "It's such a reward," said Brandon.{} "So much fun to be with our kids and see them grow up and learn this way." The Dutchers say their best advice for families wanting to home school is that there's no one-size fits all.{} What works for one family might not work for yours.

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