POSTED: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 7:36pm
UPDATED: Monday, April 15, 2013 - 4:23pm
The number of homeschooled children in the U.S. has grown dramatically over the past four decades.
The numbers are even more telling for those children in the lone star state ... and even right here in East Texas. .
Tyler mom Kelly Hall homeschools all three of her children: 9-year-old Josh, 12-year-old Joey, and 17-year-old Katy.
The hall's are just one example of the more than 2 million students in the country who now go to school at home.
"I just think it fits the needs of people better," said Kelly Hall. "And people enjoy being with their family."
The increase may be for good reason.
The Texas Homeschool Coalition reports when it comes to testing, home school students score 30-35 points above national averages.
Hall believes part of that success comes from the freedom to choose how and when.
"Things that are good for good for one kid are not good for another kid," Hall said. "They are not cookie cutters."
Texas leads the nation in this growing trend, with more than 300,000 homeschooled students statewide.
It's a popular option for East Texans, too.
The THSC estimates roughly 2,200 students are homeschooled here.
"I think a lot of curriculum our public schools choose is not what always promotes Christian or conservative values, and I think that has a lot to do with it," Hall said.
Many of those students come here to Calvary Baptist Church in Tyler.
The homeschool ministry here partners with East Texas families to not only offer classes outside of the house, but to also serve as a home base for extra curricular activities as well.
"We have families from Van, Mineola, Hawkins, Big Sandy, Henderson, Canton, Fruitvale, Jacksonville," Hall said.
Wendy Baker is the director of Venture at Calvary Baptist, one of the many co-op programs for homeschoolers in East Texas.
Through co-ops, parents can pay for students to take certain classes they might not be comfortable teaching at home.
A typical Wednesday night at the church is a haven of sorts for homeschooled families.
"We're trying to unite the homeschool community so one day a week, they have a place they can go that's beyond what we can provide at home," Baker said.
The span of classes available is vast ... from computer robotics, to choir, sports and everything in between.
Bill Beggs and his wife Gina homeschool all seven of their children.
When his boys grew out of pee wee athletics, he started the Tyler HEAT, a Christian sports program specifically designed for homeschooled East Texans.
"It gives them the opportunity to participate in a competitive team sport where they get the experience of working with someone," Beggs said.
It's one of the many local outlets Beggs says, that helps homeschoolers socialize, interact and thrive just like any regular kid.
Which brings us to one misconception you might say these families want to set straight.
"A lot of people think that homeschoolers are lazy, and we just stay home in our pajamas all day or we don't have friends," said Katy Hall.
"My kids ... I have a hard time staying home," Kelly Hall said.