Taking Education Into Their Own Hands

Inside the home-school schoolhouse. By Mitchell Franz

three McGregor children who live on Milwood Circle seem to lead average adolescent lives. But unlike their neighbors, they don't attend public school. Their mother, Deanna, wears a second hat of responsibility as their educator. Over a decade ago, she and her husband, Bruce, withdrew their first-born, Bruce Jr., now 17, from first grade at a Liverpool public school. Now, the couple has two more children, Mandy, 14, and Shane, 12, whom they also homeschool. "I just knew it was something that we had to do. If it didn't work, we'd go back to public school," Deanna says. "That was eleven years ago."

They chose homeschooling for many reasons, but among them were flexibility, the learning process, and faith. The environment allows for a non-traditional education style, which enables the children to receive personalized teaching methods to fit their individual needs. "I think you get closer family bonds. It's intergenerational—they interact on a different level," Deanna explains. "You focus more on their strengths and build on those. It's not just classroom time. It's more trying to live what they're studying."

Deanna says she struggles with embodying the roles of both parent and teacher some days, wishing a big yellow bus would pick her kids up for school. "It's not always easy," she says. "With the homeschooling, you work on the whole relationship and how to cooperate even if you don't want to." Unlike some public school students who scramble to complete homework on the weekend, the McGregors are motivated to finish everything during the week. Even when Deanna clocks out as teacher, she makes sure her children's education continues. "Learning doesn't take place inside a building from 9 to 3," she says. "It doesn't stop when you are done with school."

Photo Credit: Mitchell Franz