My Turn: Consider homeschooling or cooperative options for your children |

My Turn: Consider homeschooling or cooperative options for your children

Sabrina Gentner
Special to the Sun

KINGS BEACH, Calif. and#8212; The dynamics of a changing economy impact every aspect of our community. Our schools are no exception. North Shore public schools revamped teacher allocations to deal with declining student populations. Some classrooms doubled in size to accommodate fewer teachers. Incline Village public schools embraced the International Baccalaureate program, a strong initiative to fill empty classroom seats. However, it divided the community. Private school options lend themselves to a mainstream approach with a premium. Families are actively searching for viable educational alternatives suiting their childrenand#8217;s learning needs and#8212; leaving choice for education in high demand.

The most important life lesson Iand#8217;ve learned in my 17 years as an educator is and#8220;education is profoundly individual.and#8221; The mainstream classroom may not be the best choice for every child. Charter schools lend themselves to less mainstream settings grounded in experiential, language, and science options.

Some embrace a nurturing approach like the Montessori model or reflect the individual childand#8217;s sense of self expression like Waldorf schools. “The idea behind charter schools is that a group of individuals would be given enough flexibility to create an innovative strategy” (Waiting for Superman, Karl Weber). Unfortunately, flexibility for innovative thought is not as pure as one may expect since a charter is a branch of the public system controlled by the same entity.

Want innovation in education? Consider learning at home and private cooperative settings, like the Kings Beach Parentsand#8217; Cooperative. While homeschooling and cooperatives are far from the mainstream and misunderstood, they compliment each other to create salient learning opportunities, deliver high achievement results on standardized tests, and the doors for formal acceptance into colleges and universities across the nation are a growing trend for these young adults.

There exists a strong bond between parents and their children in a homeschool setting, one that leads to small, cooperative learning environments. I discovered this several years ago in my search for the best academic environment for my son. I discovered a simple formula. Educational goals bound by unity and that maintain purity are successful learning outlets for children. Small classrooms with collaboration between parents and licensed teachers, in a homelike environment strengthen the potential to yield independent, high achieving children who earn choice for higher learning opportunities.

I value the choice for education that evolves from my involvement with homeschooling and KBPC.

The two compliment each other. Parents who homeschool without an educational background seek support for how to teach. KBPC incorporates the logic behind teaching a child. Both are ultimately dependent on parents who are the driving force for defining ethics for education, while teachers act as guides for learning experiences. There is no denying these two educational powerhouses provide real life experiences as they are dependent upon and#8216;home,and#8217; community, and the outdoors for their classrooms. Parents rely on each other for transportation to explore and regard education above any simple standard. They are the epitome of innovative thought that has realized success for children.

Homeschooling and cooperatives innately incorporate the idea of developmentally appropriate learning environments. While valuing standards for learning pinnacles, these smaller settings have the advantage for fostering deeper understanding of concepts, encouraging children to achieve at their own developmental level by nature of their learning environment. Essentially, more time is devoted to concepts because these settings have time to spare. Developmental levels naturally evolve into multi-age, cooperative environments, where children share leadership and learner roles.

Grade levelsand#8217; are blurred, based on research stating not every child is successful at the same rate and may be more successful in one discipline over another at any given time. The cooperative setting is a flexible one, easily extending into the community and outdoors for real life application of concepts regularly. Quite different from a one time field trip.

The classroom is real life. KBPC embraces multi-age, life learning experiences. Science is Lake Tahoe and hiking to explore concepts. Co-op children participate in local issues; i.e., saving the beavers and exploring effects of the proposed biomass plant. Social Studies is explored through programs like the Young Chautauquas. Math and Language arts are applied in activities outdoors.

Choice for education is here. For a complete reading of this article visit KBPC online at

Sabrina Gentner is co-director of the Kings Beach Parentsand#8217; Cooperative.

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