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Mom, can I stay home today? You bet.

Some children in the United States are lucky enough to have a school teacher called mom.

For such home schooled students, there’s no rush to make it out the door in the morning, nor any bells dividing the day.

A little trouble at school?

It might mean a trip to their room rather than a jaunt to the principal’s office.

According to Beth Rozenzweig, a home-based instructor, there are currently 20,000 K-12 students in the state of Washington who study at their family kitchen table or living room couch rather than a classroom with other kids their age.

Rozenweig homeschooled her children, and she recently started a travelling workshop that educates parents on how to start homeschooling. The workshop is called Great Expectations.

The next class will be Nov. 14 and 15 at Sylvan Way Baptist Church in East Bremerton.

“One of my sons had learning disabilities,” said co-coordinator Alice Wescott. “I knew he would probably not learn how to read if he was in regular school.”

Because he was homeschooled, Wescott’s son Jim didn’t have to dwell on whether or not he was up to speed with his classmates. His self esteem wasn’t marred if he picked up things a little slower in some subjects.

In other subjects, he rose far above par.

Homeschooling benefits both students with learning disabilities as well as ones who pick up and retain information better than their peers.

“My son was reading at age 2,” said Rozenzweig. “By the time he was going to kindergarten he was correcting my spelling. At the age of 7 he was doing algebra.”

As a proud mother, Rozenweig is quick to point out her son’s accomplishments. She chose to homeschool him because she could make his learning schedule faster than if he were in public school.

For the last few years, Wescott and Rosenzweig have travelled the state to give the workshop Great Expectations for Homeschoolers.

The workshop focuses on how to qualify to homeschool and what kind of annual tests must be administered.

Their program is unique because they survey an area to find out how many interested parents there are, and then they bring the workshop to them. They are accredited instructors through Cascade Bible College.

Homeschooling was legalized in 1985.

“Prior to that there were people who were only homeschooling if they could escape the long arm of the truancy officer,” Rozenweig said.

Currently, Great Expectations rings in between 13 and 43 parents at a workshop.

“There’s been a whole generation of homeschoolers that have been so successful in college,” said Wescott.

“Most of the Ivy League schools are romancing the homeschoolers to come,” added Rozenweig.

Early on, when Rozenweig was homeschooling her children James and Anna, she said public school parents expressed worry that her children weren’t getting adequate social time with children of their own age.

But that is a myth, she said.

When a parent homeschools, they have an opportunity to network with other parents doing the same thing.

Their workshop is advantageous because it offers parents a chance to get to know each other.

Sometimes, parents can teach in groups. If one parent is specialized in reading comprehension they can lead the class. If another is adept at mathematics, they can play group teacher for the day.

“That’s one reason it is good to take a class where you live,” Wescott said.

Additionally, they hand out numerous fliers and pamphlets about home-based instruction tips.

“Each state has unique laws,” said Rozenweig.

In Washington State, a home-based instructing parent is required to follow certain annual guidelines.

By Sept. 15 of the school year, parents must file a letter declaring they plan to continue homeschooling their children.

Each child must take an annual standardized achievement test, approved by the state board of education. All tests and immunization records must be saved to complete a child’s permanent record.

When a child graduates from 12th grade, a parent compiles a transcript to send to colleges.

Besides the fact that the parents can tailor their child’s education, Rozenweig said that parents often tell her what they most appreciate is getting to know their child in a deeper way than they might if they were in public school.

Call Beth Rozenzweig at (425) 697-4021 for more information.

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