Home schooling

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(HOST) Long before homeschooling became an eductional buzz word, commentator Edith Hunter chose that option for one of her sons. It was a decision, she says, that worked out well.

(HUNTER) Thirty-five years ago I took our youngest son, Charles out of school and taught him at home for two years. We had moved to Weathersfield the year before and he attended the local school for one year. I volunteered to help his 6th grade produce a school newspaper, and things had gone relatively well.

But there was serious friction between the principal and the faculty that I felt affected the children’s education. It was important to me that Charles have a good two years at the junior high level, so he could follow his two older brothers to Exeter Academy for high school.

When school opened in the fall, the situation seemed even worse and I came home from the first PTA meeting determined to take Charles out and teach him at home. I immediately notified the local school, the school board, the superintendent, and the State Department of Education.

I worked out a curriculum and sent a copy to Montpelier and said I would be sending in monthly reports. In those days there were no state-approved procedures for home schoolers.

Charles had two passionate interests: art and railroads. An excellent and avid reader, he had taught himself to read at five by reading gas station signs – Texaco, Esso, Gulf – advancing to “We Honor All Credit Cards”, and so forth.

Math was not a strong point, so son William supplied me with the first year algebra text book used at Exeter. I never learned so much algebra in my life. Charles also learned, some.

Mornings were intensive study and afternoons he read the newspapers, did seasonal chores, skied. We took an extended train trip for which Charles mapped the route. In preparation for the trip, he wrote a little booklet, profusely illustrated, with researched information about the cities we would pass through. During the second year my husband and Will started our weekly newspaper and Charles wrote for that.

I sent in my reports to Montpelier and received no response. I made an appointment at the end of the first year to visit with a member of the State Department of Education. She approved of our program which we continued a second year.

Charles was accepted at Exeter, and after major adjustments to his new academic environment, had a wonderful four years. I went on to serve on the local school board for six years.

When son William was elected to the Legislature in 1974, he helped develop legislation for home schooling. There is now, adequate, without being intrusive, oversight of participants, and real cooperation between most local schools and home schoolers.

People have a variety of motives for home schooling. It should be an acceptable option for all.

This is Edith Hunter on the Center Road.

Writer and historian Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield Center. She spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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