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Home + school = 1 place

Cindy Stevens' three children study at the kitchen table, but it's also where they get their daily lessons about math, science, history — you name it — from their mother.

Their day starts at 7:30 a.m. and is usually done by 2 p.m. The family does this five days a week.

The Stevens family is one of a few families in the Austin area that homeschool their children. Stevens said she became concerned about her children's behavior while her two oldest children, Olivia, 12, and Nathan, 11, were in preschool. A conversation with an elderly woman who homeschooled her grandchild offered Stevens a view that led her to homeschool her children.

Open house

On Saturday, Stevens and a few other area homeschoolers will hold an open house at the Austin Public Library to discuss the subject.


According to Austin Public Schools' Educational Service Office, 62 students in 26 families are homeschooled within the district's boundaries. There were 15,256 homeschooled children in Minnesota last year, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.

Glory Kibbel, supervisor of school improvement for the department, said homeschooling is one choice parents have, along with online learning, charter schools, magnet schools and alternative schools.

"There are a whole host of reasons. A lot of it is parents who want control of the curriculum," she said.

Stevens sees a problem with the way schools teach such subjects as history, since they don't teach it from a Christian perspective. She also likes the flexibility homeschooling allows her, since she can tailor her daughter's coursework to her daughter's goals.

She said she teaches both the theory of evolution and creation to her children to allow them to choose for themselves.

"I can't force them," she said.

She has to turn in a required, one-page report form for each of her children each year.

"I have total control over my curriculum," she said.


Not isolated

Stevens doesn't want her children to depend on their peers but doesn't want them isolated, either. All three children are in 4-H. Nathan is in Austin Youth Baseball and Austin Youth Football. Olivia is in the school band at Ellis Middle School. Both children say they've met plenty of people through those activities. Olivia even goes to Austin's homecoming celebrations with the friends she's met through band. Nathan and Olivia say they get asked about being homeschooled and say their friends in public schools like the fact that Nathan and Olivia get done with school earlier in the day.

"There's no one way to homeschool. It's a way of life," said Stevens.

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