Correction: Due to a reporting error, formerly this article stated Barbara Cameron was formerly an elementary school teacher. However, she was formerly a middle and high school teacher. The article has been updated to reflect these changes.
Although Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are highly ranked among other North Carolina public schools, there is a large community of families in the area that choose to home-school instead.
There are 762 home-schools in Orange County, according to a report by North Carolinians for Home Education. Families and students list flexibility, accessibility and social involvement as reasons they prefer home-school.
Barbara Cameron, a board member of Chapel Hill Homeschoolers, said home-schooling families choose the alternative because of religion or dissatisfaction with traditional public or private schools. Cameron also noticed a growing number of families in the Triangle area choose home-schooling for secular reasons.
“To be honest, I think there as many reasons to home-school, almost, as there are home-schoolers,” Cameron said.
Cameron, a former middle and high school teacher, said she didn’t plan on home-schooling her child at first. Initially, Cameron made the decision when her daughter entered kindergarten because she thought her child was too young to be out of the house for an extended time period. Cameron has home-schooled her child for the past 11 years. Cameron explained that there are some challenges that accompany home-schooling.
"Home-schooling your kids is a huge commitment," Cameron said. "Because in most cases, one parent has to be unemployed in order to home-school the kid, and in our case, in my family, it’s me. It’s like parenting sometimes — it’s hard."
However, Chapel Hill provides resources to make home-schooling accessible and efficient, Cameron said.
Michele Metzger was home-schooled from first to 10th grade, and said she saw pros and cons to both traditional and home-schools. Metzger said she had a positive home-schooling experience, and she thoroughly enjoyed her education because she had more flexibility in class choices.
However, Metzger said home-school has unique challenges. She had to work hard to get involved in community clubs and sports since she wasn’t allowed to join the school soccer teams or participate in school theater. It became harder to continue home-schooling in high school because of the classes she needed.
“If your parent doesn't know biology or chemistry, that’s kind of hard to teach out of a book,” Metzger said.
Home-school parent Normia Vázquez Scales said Chapel Hill Homeschoolers, along with other networks in Chapel Hill, made home-schooling a gift for her.
Scales thinks home-schooling should become the new mainstream form of education.
“I think it’s very efficient, and then you have thousands of options to choose from online and textually based (resources),” said Scales.
Traditional teachers and home-school instructors share legitimacy, since the teachers that are training the children are both academically qualified, Cameron said.
“I think it’s a piece of the same puzzle really, because it’s a highly educated community and so people are really interested in well-educated children,” Cameron said.
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