By Liesl Den
Over the past five years, the number of homeschooled students in Virginia has steadily increased from 23,730 in 2003-2004 to 35,858 in 2013-14, according to Virginia’s Department of Education reports, which include both those who register as homeschoolers and those who request religious exemptions. Prince William itself has well over 1,000
Why do people homeschool? The reasons for homeschooling vary from family to family — academics, religious reasons, athletics, peer pressure, school bullying, the school environment, a child’s special needs or disabilities. Other parents would like to send their child/children to private school but can’t afford it. Stories I’ve heard from area homeschoolers include:
- They love the family bonds that homeschooling creates.
- For a military family, homeschooling allowed for a consistent, unbroken education wherever they were stationed.
- They couldn’t afford the private school tuition.
- Their son was being bullied and was extremely unhappy and unmotivated in school.
- After homeschooling their son during second grade because he needed more one-on-one attention with reading, he caught up and returned to public school above grade-level. He’s in 10th grade now (in public school) and doing well.
- Her daughter started competing on the national level in gymnastics. Homeschooling allowed her to travel and train while still providing a rigorous education.
With its growing popularity comes a network of resources that enrich the experience for child and parent alike. In Prince William homeschool families can participate in homeschool theater, art classes, band and sports classes. There are also homeschool classes and co-ops, where families join together to learn from one another, as well as organized field trips in the community and beyond.
For example, there are homeschool PE classes at the Freedom Center in Manassas, swim lessons at Chinn in Lake Ridge and soccer at Courage Sports in Woodbridge. Homeschoolers can also take parkour at Urban Evolution in Manassas and classes at Apollo Gymnastics in Woodbridge. Additionally, homeschoolers can get together to bowl at the AMF Dale City Lanes, go to a weekly roller skating session at the Skate-n-Fun-Zone in Manassas, learn hockey and skating skills at the Prince William Ice Center or take horseback riding lessons at Silver Eagle Stable in Nokesville.
Other locally available resources:
- Classical Conversations (CC) is both a curriculum and an organized co-op that meets once a week; there are a number of CC groups in the area.
- Homeschool Melting Pot organizes field trips and activities.
- REACH is Christian-led, but open to anyone, and focuses on field trips and conferences.
- WHEAT (We Home Educate and Train) offers classes, testing, field trips, co-ops and parent support.
- Compass Homeschool Enrichment offers supplemental smallgroup enrichment classes in science, technology, languages, history, art, music and more.
- Edgemoor Art Studio offers homeschool art classes.
Of course, in this area, there are also many museums and other cultural and historic sites which often host special events just for homeschoolers at various points during the year.
Liesl Den homeschools her three children and writes about their activities and adventures. Visit her blog at homeschoolden.com.