'The reasons parents choose to homeschool are as varied as the families themselves," says Gail Sohns, part of the Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) Homeschool Committee. "Some homeschool for religious reasons, some because they have a special needs child who isn't being served well in the public school system. Some feel they can do a better job with their child because they know him or her best, and some because they just don't like the influences their child will be exposed to in a regular school."
Any parent homeschooling a child will tell you it involves far more than just handing him a book and sending him off to read alone. The Colorado Department of Education requires that a parent, grandparent, legal guardian or adult relative actively teach a child core subjects for at least four hours for at least 172 days per year. With parent or legal guardian consent, a tutor may provide the required hours, but must be certified or licensed to teach in Colorado. (State homeschool law has no provision for hiring a full-time tutor or teaching other people's children.)
Whatever the motivation for homeschooling, the children usually work with fewer students than in a traditional classroom. So to guard children against isolation, and to help parents obtain proper academic materials, the PPLD Homeschool Hub offers online resources to link families with homework help, local groups and even social events like the "Homeschool Lunch Bunch."
"We've been really excited about the turnout we've had for each of our programs," says Sohns. The monthly newsletter reaches about 500 families, while September's Homeschool Tools and Resources fair drew more than 200 people.
Local school districts will help connect parents to other homeschool resources, and some districts go further. In District 20, the Classical Academy offers a free language-arts, art and phys ed curricula, through its"Cottage School." Students attend one day or two half-days each week. Its "College Pathways" program offers college preparatory and early college options in partnership with Pikes Peak Community College. The Homeschool Academy, also in D-20, provides a free enrichment program for K-9. Attendance is required once a week for arts, athletic and academic education. Additional resources include field trips and access to Rosetta Stone language software.
Many other less formal resources are available online, including two large groups for Colorado Springs families. The secular "Colorado Springs Homeschool Support Group" mainly functions as a Yahoo! group found at SCOHomeschool@yahoogroups.com. The "Colorado Springs Christian Homeschoolers," a group of 49 families at meetup.com/coschool, organizes fairs, activities and field trips for those seeking a Christ-centered education.