With a little effort and research, Tom and Cheryl Littlejohn have found ways to give their children a well-rounded education and avoid the homeschool stigma
Although homeschooling certainly has a longer heritage than formal education, it remains a sticky subject in crowds. The phrase often conjures visions of hyper-religious families worried about the indoctrination of their children or socially awkward pre-teens sleeping in until noon, sitting at a table with barely competent parents and doing homework in their PJs.
Not so -- at least not for the Littlejohn family. Derek, a high-school senior, and Carrie, an 8th grader, may be allowed to sleep about an hour later than most teenagers, but part of their homeschooling schedule requires showering, dressing and eating breakfast before school starts -- and it begins at 9 a.m., sharp. The structure, their mother said, makes all the difference, and it's one of the two keys to the success they've had.
Cheryl Littlejohn and her husband Tom have been homeschooling for five years. Before that, Derek and Carrie were attending a local private Christian school affiliated with their former church. When changes in the church and school made them uncomfortable with the children's educational situation, they began looking into homeschool programs.
The parents had two major questions: Would homeschooling be an effective choice in their education, and would they miss out socially? In the end, they decided to give it a try. "When considering our educational choices, in light of the changes in our lives, we felt that homeschooling was best for our family," Cheryl said.
At first, the children were a little resistant. Both Carrie and Derek missed their friends. Because both children were active in sports, Carrie continued to play soccer with St. Francis, and Derek immediately signed up for a homeschool basketball team. Cheryl and Tom pictured a few parents with whistles, but were pleasantly surprised and impressed when they showed up and found a highly professional organization and a great coach.