Home-schooled students don't break when the bell rings

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Home-school student Zach Perrego's summers are like most other teens in Steamboat. He has a summer job, he hikes and fishes, but his parents make sure school lessons are included in all his activities.

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Home-schooled students Jon, Zach and Olivia Perrego spend their summers like any other kids, but their parents make sure school lessons are incorporated into their summer activities.

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Home-schooled students Jon, Zach and Olivia Perrego spend their summers like any other kids, but their parents make sure school lessons are incorporated into their summer activities.

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Home-school student Olivia Perrego spends her summers riding horses at Sydney Peak Ranch, but her parents make sure school lessons are included in all her activities.

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Home-school student Jon Perrego spends his summers on an ATV, riding horses and practicing archery like many other youths in Steamboat, but his parents make sure school lessons are included in all his activities.

— Zach Perrego's summer is like those of most other teenagers in Steamboat Springs.

The home-schooled junior took on a summer job, hangs out with friends and spends loads of time in the outdoors. But unlike many of his peers who shelve their textbooks once school lets out for summer, the 16-year-old's formal education doesn't end with the ring of a bell.

"I've spent this summer mostly preparing for next year and preparing for college because we are new to Steamboat and are trying to explore," said Zach, who has been home schooled since the second grade. "But we sit down and do reading lessons every day around lunch time."

His 8-year-old brother, Jon, and 6-year-old sister, Libby, join the summer-school lessons between slumber parties, sports practices and horseback riding. The family currently is reading "Treasure Island," which was inspired by watching the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie. Zach helps lead the discussion with his two siblings.

Teresa Perrego said summers for her children are full of fun, sports and the outdoors, but the flexibility afforded by home schooling has enabled the family to continue education through the summer.

"We make it where we don't feel like we are at home learning," said Teresa Pereggo, who moved to Steamboat in April with her husband, Mike Pereggo, from a 35-acre farm in Elbert County.

Area home schooling

Annie Reuer, activities coordinator with the Northwest Colorado Homeschool Association, said it's difficult to estimate the number of home-schooled students in the Routt and Moffat Counties, but the Craig-based organization's enrollment has increased in recent years to 30 families.

"We think there is actually triple that in the area," said Reuer, who also home schools her three children. "It's a huge movement in this part of the country, and we are working to get more families organized together."

She added many families choose to end lessons for the summer like traditional schools, while others choose to continue education through the summer.

"What's wonderful about home schooling is that you fit it to your needs," said Reuer, who planned a morning lesson for her children, followed by soccer practice.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the number of home-schooled students increases between seven to 15 percent every year. Reuer said the number may be even greater due to the difficulties in tracking the number of families who choose nontraditional education.

No formal umbrella organization for home-schooled students exists in Steamboat, but the Pereggo children are enrolled in the Greeley-based Colorado Heritage Education School System. Teresa Pereggo said the family enrolled in the private Christian school for home-schooled students, to which the Pereggos do not have to report test scores, because CHESS provides transcripts and college prep counseling.

Misconceptions

"Everybody who does home schooling is a little bit different," Teresa Pereggo said. "I make sure they get their math in, but at the same point, I see what we can do, especially in the summer, that isn't opening up a book and have some fun."

She said the biggest misconception about home-schooled students is that they are locked in a house all day, without socialization and recreation time.

"Socialization's not a problem if you look for it, because it's there," she said. "They spend the summers running around the neighborhood just like everybody else's kids."

Mike Pereggo added that his children essentially have a summer break, despite the reading lessons and college prep classes.

"I mean, we live in Steamboat and it's the summer - we're not going to be sitting around a house all day reading," he said. "But any opportunity to ask questions, we take advantage of."

Teresa Pereggo said a recent hike to Buffalo Pass turned into a nature education class, while trips to the Denver Zoo or the Denver Museum of Nature and Science are field trips, rather than family jaunts.

"Sometimes I think they are thinking, 'Mom, stop asking us questions,'" she said. "But we keep it fun by having it less structured. We just think that it isn't the responsibility of the government to teach our children. What you do at home and what you do at school are not two separate things."

Comments

love2read 7 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for this article. I appreciated the Perrego's point of view. We also homeschool. My kids are 7, 8 & 10. We love the flexibility, and the ability to tailor our kids' education to their needs and capabilities. It is a challenge, for sure, but we're doing it with the hope that it is best for our kids. Good luck, Perrego's! Keep at it!

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Magpie 7 years, 5 months ago

One thing that I don't understand is how come there aren't good numbers on how many people homeshcool. The laws about schooling and homeschooling are clear on the Colorado Department of Education's website at: http://www.cde.state.co.us/choice/homeschool.htm#homelaw

Based on this, every family that homeschools need to notify their local district. If not, the child is truant. So why doesn't anyone know how many families homeschool?

I think it is a great option for some families. I am glad that you ran this article, but I have always been perplexed that no one knows the statistics.

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JazzSlave 7 years, 5 months ago

Magpie -

I'm sure if you looked long enough, you can find the numbers. An ex girlfriend of mine homeschooled her kids. She said at the time that the number of homeschooled Amerian kids was in the neighborhood of 1.5 million. This was about 6 years ago.

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Magpie 7 years, 4 months ago

Jazz- That's what I mean. This from the article: "Annie Reuer, activities coordinator with the Northwest Colorado Homeschool Association, said it's difficult to estimate the number of home-schooled students in the Routt and Moffat Counties, but the Craig-based organization's enrollment has increased in recent years to 30 families.

"We think there is actually triple that in the area," said Reuer, who also home schools her three children. "It's a huge movement in this part of the country, and we are working to get more families organized together.""

Why don't homeschool associations look hard enough so they have the number to quote? Or why don't reporters call school districts and get the number?

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JazzSlave 7 years, 4 months ago

Because the number is evidently not all that important to a local or state association. If it's important to you, the info shouldn't be too difficult to track down.

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Magpie 7 years, 4 months ago

I think the number gives them a lot more credibility. Just about every homeschool article I read mentions that they don't know how many families home school but they always believe it is far greater than the estimate. When you are trying to gauge a movement, the size of that movement is an important statistic and having the home school supporters constantly say that they believe their numbers are greater than estimate makes people doubt their legitimacy.

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JazzSlave 7 years, 4 months ago

I think the ex girlfriend I referred to earlier is a fair representation of a lot of home-schoolers. They could give a rip about what you or I or anyone feels about their "legitimacy." Their only concern is their kids' education.

If YOU are concerned about accurately gauging a "movement", more power to you. For parents who homeschool, it simply isn't relevant.

Nonetheless, as homeschoolers are required to undergo local & state administered testing and evaluaton, I'm sure the Dept of Ed has some more concrete numbers, should you care to go looking for them.

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Mike Perrego 7 years, 4 months ago

Two Parter comment due to text character limit:

Thanks for the nice comments "Love2Read", we are very blessed with our choices for our family and its really proven out wonderfully. Our oldest Zach had an interview at a well respected Denver area College and they were extremely pleased at his education, articulate nature and maturity. Much more so than when I was at that age and I thank The Lord for that! They loved his educational transcript that he's been working very hard at. Their comment to us was that more prestigious colleges today take homeschoolers as serious as any other schooled student due to a focused work ethic and a desire to learn.

The umbrella school mentioned in the article does a fantastic job in guidance and education for us. They are run by homeschoolers as well.

There was a misprint in the article (besides our last name at times [Perrego] and my daughter's nickname should've read Livvie, not Libby) that stated we "do not" need to provide test scores. This was incorrect. We DO provide this information so that the umbrella school can track, record and validate short and long term items for our transcripts, such as a GPA for one.

More to follow on the next post now... Mike

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Mike Perrego 7 years, 4 months ago

Continued from last post:

As for the "numbers" of homeschoolers, the comment on not caring about them is accurate from our point of view. We chose to homeschool because of the freedom to do so and not have government control over our choice of curriculum (ours is Christian-based). As well, where we moved from on the Front Range it seemed about 30% of the neighborhoods were homeschooled and that helped with socialization. The networks there are pretty well organized so we had quite a bit of support around us.

A final comment regarding the numbers question may be attributed again to government and negativity towards homeschoolers. I know that our taxes help pay for the public school system while we are not afforded any portion to use for our children's education outside of that "entitlement". We fund homeschooling entirely out of our pocket. I used the word 'entitlement' specifically as its been our direct experience that when we have gone and registered with the local school district as homeschoolers the reaction was mostly unpleasant. While we are entitled ourselves to utilize those public facilities and in-school programs we have found it at times uneasy, unwelcoming and occasionally made all out inaccessible to us. We were specifically informed by one district that since we were homeschoolers we were taking allocation monies away from them (they would now not get the full tax amount from the State of Colorado) and therefore we could not utilize the public school. We were in effect decreasing their "entitlement" to our monies, and again funds that I could not even use for my children.

Yes, it was our family choice to homeschool and as I interact with my children I see every day the benefit it has afforded us. It may not be for everyone but it sure has been an excellent choice here.

Our children each learn at their own pace, not the pace of a group. This promotes quality learning. We do not practice social promotion to a higher school grade due to a change in our childrens age; we do so when they are ready for it. They follow the appropriate educational testing schedules and including SATs/ACTs.

The quality of our home education is more important than anything, such as numbers, legitimacy, a movement ... that's a concern for administrators of the whole and if they'd like to hear more from us they are free to contact us. We know our schooling program, and friends that do so, and its successes well and that's what matters to us.

We were glad to relay our experience via this article to show others it does really work and is receiving respect from higher education institutions/colleges.

As you could see the kids were sure happy to be in the paper for their efforts!

Mike

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dundalk 7 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Perrego:

I have strong reservations with regard to home schooling. While your children appear to be well rounded, I am curious as to how children in a home schooled environment mature in the arena of socialization with other peer groups. During your experience with home schooling, at any time did you find your children attempting to seek out peer acceptance beyond sports, religion or after school activities? Do you think that children need a group dynamic in order to learn the talents of debate, critical thinking, etc.?

I ask only as my curiosity has been piqued to this topic.

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