AL mother says homeschooling is key to children's success


PHENIX CITY, AL (WXTX) - A Phenix City mother is defying the myths of homeschooling. She not only hits the books with her 10 children, but makes sure they are not social misfits.

In this special report, Roslyn Giles takes a look at her recipe for raising well-rounded home schoolers.  Homeschooling for the Woods starts with splitting up the kids into two groups.

Ian, Joseph, Patience, Olivia, Hanna and Sarah make up the "B" Team. The "A" Team consists of the older siblings Caleb, Rebecca, Chase and Keyzia. Two of the older children were not present for the interview.

"I've got some close in age and I'll group them and that way, some subjects we can learn together," said their mother Joyce.

Joyce, 49, says the decision of homeschool versus public school started in 1994 with their first child. Twenty-two years later, homeschooling has evolved into a lifestyle from the youngest to the oldest.

"At first I was with the idea and I like really thought about it my husband and I flipped flopped," Joyce said. "You know once we started, we knew we weren't just trying it."

The journey of homeschooling the kids whose ages range from three to 22 years old hasn't come without its challenges.

"I would say trying to manage things unreasonably, it can't be rigid," Joyce said. "It has to go the way that works for us.  I've learned and accepted that. I can't feel the children are missing anything."

Joyce says there are no state required tests for home schoolers in Alabama. She relies on educational benchmarks from the internet indicating what students should know according to their age.

Alabama does require attendance records and progress reports from homebound students.  Unlike Alabama, home-schoolers in Georgia must take a standardized test every three years.

Although both states require 180 days of attendance, Georgia also demands the following subject areas: reading, math, science, language arts and social studies, while Alabama does not.

Even though it appears Alabama's home schooling guidelines are less strenuous than the Peach State's, Joyce covers all subjects when educating her children.

"We're up in the morning and we do chores, school, lunch extend the day for older children, and basically their free time until bedtime," Joyce said.

To get the job done she uses the internet, workbooks and current event articles as teaching tools in a relaxed environment.

"There are toys, things we watch, the things we like to do, homeschooling for us is a lifestyle," Joyce said.

Rebecca Woods, 18, recites a story she wrote in Dutch and her younger sister Hanna translates in English.  Rebecca taught herself to speak Dutch, something she believes would have been highly difficult to achieve in public school.

"Harder to integrate it I think dealing with homework after school and trying to achieve that it would have been too much going on," Rebecca said.

Rebecca recently finished up her high school studies.

"I want to be a teacher, early childhood education is my major and I want to continue to be active in my community wherever that might be," Rebecca said.

Helping her mom teach her younger siblings motivated Rebecca to become a teacher. She plans to attend Chattahoochee Valley Community College in the fall, the same junior college her brother Chase graduated from in May.

Chase says going from home to class was an adjustment.

"Learning to utilize my professor and not having this feeling to where I am on my own," Chase said.

At CVCC, Chase was the student government president and during graduation, he was awarded the Christopher Clark Patterson Award for community service and leadership skills.

Now he's headed to Auburn University with hopes of becoming a veterinarian, and vows to keep the lessons he learned from his parents at the forefront.

"Just staying focused, the work ethic, not getting into taking too much free time," Chase said. "One thing my father always taught me was work before pleasure."

Brother Caleb, who's away at summer school, is also cutting his own footprint of success at Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, AL.  Joyce says Caleb has been on the President's List for the last two years.

For the Woods family, homeschooling is paying off with all 10 kids succeeding above and beyond the average public or private school education. As for the social aspect for homeschoolers, the Woods are not lacking in that area either.

The children participate in 4H competitions and have received awards in public speaking, building projects and for volunteering. They also take field trips and recently visited the Coca Cola museum and the Federal Reserve Bank in Atlanta.

"I've enjoyed it, it's been a blessing, definitely, would not do it any other way," Joyce said. "If I had a chance, I'll do it all over again. "

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