ESCANABA, Mich. (WLUC) - While most kids take the bus to school each morning, 11-year-old Caitlin Van Court settles in at her kitchen table. She's a homeschool student.
“Caitlin can work at her own pace,” her mom, Jennifer Oslund said. “So if she's further ahead than say, the other 28 kids in a class, she can keep going and keep learning something. If she's behind on something or doesn't understand it, we can spend more time focused on those subjects or the areas that she needs a little bit more work in.”
Fewer than 4 percent of students in Michigan are homeschooled, but they learn the same core subjects: English, science, math and social studies. Homeschool parents do, however, have much more flexibility with the rest of the curriculum.
“Our primary reason was just so that we could be more in control of what our kids were learning,” said homeschool mom Kathy Millin. “We can focus on education, and some religion as well.”
Homeschool students aren't in class all day with peers, but proponents point out that in the working world, people rarely interact with only people their own age.
And kids do have chances to socialize. In the Upper Peninsula, several homeschool organizations hold regular meetings, outings and field trips.
“People think homeschoolers are in their little boxes, but I think that homeschoolers can be a little more outgoing because they're not [with] a bunch of people all day that are judging them,” said 13-year-old homeschool student Olivia Millin.
Rather than choosing between the extracurricular activities a school offers, homeschool students can take classes in virtually anything. For the Millins, that includes piano and violin lessons. For Caitlin Van Court, it's extra biology.
“Science experiments,” she said, wriggling her nose. “We have to dissect a frog, a lamb heart and an earth worm this year.”
Depending on what materials you buy, the cost per student can range anywhere from $20 to thousands of dollars a year.
In Michigan, there is no required standardized testing for homeschool students.
In part three of this education series airing Wednesday, November 16, on your TV6 Early News, we take a look at parochial schools.