A California couple was recently sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of several charges relating to the abuse of their 13 children after one of them escaped the home to notify the police.
The father claimed to have been homeschooling his children.
Here locally was another case of abuse with homeschooling as a cover: the Ciboros were also sentenced to life after being found guilty of child abuse charges, including shackling a young girl in the basement of their Noble Street home.
The father claimed to be homeschooling the girl and her siblings.
So, is the stigma surrounding homeschooling all accurate? What do some area families who homeschool actually look like?
“I think there's going to be outliers amongst any group of people,” Jess Slack, a homeschooling father said. “There's going to people who do bad things wherever you go - whether it's homeschooling, or people who do private school, or in regular school - bad things are going to happen in different groups."
Slack said the concept of homeschooling isn't always represented in an accurate light. For his family, homeschooling was the answer to more time together.
“One of us needed to be at home - we were both working a lot and not seeing our son,” he said.
So Jess retired as a pharmacist to tackle education at home with his wife, Maria, for their son and future children.
“I really researched what the foundation of education is and how our son might best grow in his education, and really we thought homeschooling was the best fit for him and our family,” Maria said.
Both of the Slacks had gone to public school themselves - just like Erin Grieger.
Grieger even taught at a public school as a math teacher, but chose homeschooling for her own children.
“You don't have a whole lot of freedom [in public school]- and if you are following one path, then you may be missing this group of kids over here,” Grieger said. “Whereas, at home as a teacher, I get to explore different paths. If there's something that they're interested in, then we can forget the lesson for the day and go do whatever it is they're interested in.”
Grieger's second grader is a fan of being homeschooled.
“When you're at home, the subjects are shorter than regular school so when you're done with stuff you can just play,” Adelynn said.
Adelynn’s sister Ellie, a fifth grader, agrees. And she said doesn’t feel like she’s missing out on school, because most of her friends go to public school.
“They thought it [homeschooling] was cool and I still get to see them when they're done with school in the day so, it's nice,” Ellie said.
Grieger said juggling the different grades her daughters are in can be challenging at times.
“We do some of the stuff together and some independently, especially math and English, but when I'm doing independent work with one, the other two will play together," said Grieger.
There are many different homeschooling approaches. For the Doan kids, a lot of the learning is set to music.
“It's really fun because somehow the songs just get in your head better,” Lily Kate Doan said.
As for homeschooling requirements, it varies depending on the state. According to the Ohio Department of Education, to homeschool, you just need to:
- notify the superintendent in your school district each year
- notify your district you'll be giving 900 hours of instruction on the required subjects
- be ready to give a year-end assessment or have a state assessment test given.
For the Meyers, homeschooling is a team approach. Derek is a Sylvania firefighter and paramedic and Katie works at a hospital
“It's your kid and you're trying to be a teacher too, so trying to find that divide I guess has been a learning curve,” Derek said. “But, I'd say for the most part, it's been really positive actually.”
There was some negative reaction.
“I said something to one of my co-workers and they go, 'that is really nice that your willing to take the time to make your kid completely socially awkward,” Derek said with a giggle.
For these families, a lot of the socialization is at church and when the homeschooling families meet up at least once a week. But many homeschool families say socialization concerns are misconceptions
“What is socialization and do you want your child acting exactly like all the other children in school?” Slack said.
“It's not for everybody. That's fine! But if you're trying to do something for your family, as moms especially, we are all trying to do best for our family,” Grieger said. “We all want the best for our kids. It's going to look different across the board.”