Thursday, March 30, 2017

From the Homeschool Front …Why Homeschool? by Colleen Hroncich

I never expected to homeschool my kids. Growing up, I only knew of one homeschooling family … and let’s just say they were considered a bit odd. My oldest was in 6th grade and my youngest was in kindergarten when we decided to make the switch. We had a bit of a bumpy start, but 5 years later we’re still at it. 

I love the freedom and flexibility that go along with homeschooling. We control our own schedules. We set our own school calendar. Learning is woven into every part of our lives, not relegated to “school” hours. When people hear I homeschool 4 kids, they frequently say that sounds stressful. Strangely, in many ways our lives are less stressful than when the kids were “in school.” No more packing lunches, hectic mornings trying to get to the bus stop, or chaotic nights trying to finish homework. 

One of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is that each child can work at his or her own pace – slowing down or speeding up depending on the material. This individualized pacing is difficult to replicate in the classroom, although technology is bringing more flexible options to “brick and mortar” schools, too. 

Educating our children at home also lets us expose them to many points of view. We want to raise critical thinkers – adults who see through talking points and challenge conventional wisdom. We don’t want parrots … even if they’re parroting our own ideas. This variety of viewpoints, and the freedom to question them, is essential to developing critical thinkers.

Homeschooling certainly has its challenges. I’m the teacher, disciplinarian, bus driver, scheduler, cafeteria worker, and more. The house is messier than it would be if they were at school all day. There is a lot of togetherness (which can be a pro or a con, depending on the day). But the benefits – to our family as a whole, to each child individually, and to us as parents – strongly outweigh the costs. 

Our kids know they can stop homeschooling if they want. The fact that they stick with it tells me I’m doing the right thing for them.



Colleen Hroncich loves that homeschooling allows her to learn right alongside her children. A published author and former policy analyst, Colleen’s favorite subjects are economics/public policy and history. She has been active in several homeschool co-ops and is a speech and debate coach.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Spring Trip! by Mike Siekkinen

What do you do with your Spring Break? For years I spent mine with my children but as they have gotten older and moved on, I was left with an empty nest and a wife who worked. So several years ago, another teacher asked me if I would consider doing a Spring Trip for students. I was skeptical at first but agreed and we got with a company called Worldstrides and planned a trip to Washington D.C.

Advertising for the trip was not hard and we ended up having 57 students who signed up for the trip. We had to get several other teachers to come with us for that crowd! It ended up being a wonderful (and tiring) experience. Students were well behaved and the trip set up by the company was excellent. We visited so many places and even with a few snags (a broken tour bus in South Carolina, a couple sick kids, etc.) it was still an enjoyable experience.


We all committed to doing it again as long as we were all still enjoying the kids and the trips. I am doing my 5th Spring Trip this March. This year is snorkeling in the Keys and visiting the Everglades. I am still enjoying the kids, the trips and it is a wonderful way to spend my Spring Break! Worldstrides has been a great company to work with and has made it very easy with regards to planning the trips, providing needed materials for advertising and the people they have as guides and drivers have been nothing short of excellent! I highly recommend the company.

Dr. Mike Siekkinen, a retired U.S. Navy submariner, became a teacher as a second career. He teaches history at St Marys Middle School as well as Adult and Career Education at Valdosta State in Georgia.