Home school group reaches out

— So you have a child.

But you're uncomfortable putting them into the public school system.

And you're afraid they might become disconnected from other children if they stay at home.

One option might be contacting Moffat County's Northwest Colorado Home School Association.

The home school group meets twice a month to hold classes, organize P.E. games and do other activities with children ages 17 and younger.

It is a Christian organization, but anyone is welcome to join as long as they approve of the values the group looks to instill in the children, said Annie Reuer, Home School Association public relations officer.

"We want to get our name out there as an organization that serves the community more," Reuer said.

In addition to cooperative classes, the Home School Association, which has about 20 member families, conducts local and out-of-area field trips, holiday potlucks and community outreach projects.

The group plans to gather at 5:30 p.m. today at the Moffat County Fairgrounds pavilion for a potluck open to anyone interested.

Outreach project objectives are two-fold. They serve to make the area more aware of the group and teach the youth to care about their communities, President Michelle Peters said.

"I just believe it is important to teach kids the value of helping the community and serving people," she said. "This year, we also really want a focus to be on support for the families and the (parents who are teaching). We're home educators and domestic engineers, so we've really taken on a lot."

Peters also plans to hold monthly support meetings for parents where questions can be answered and advice can be given, she said. She hopes to have guest speakers such as representatives from Christian Home Educators of Colorado and friends who have home-schooled their children.

Reuer has three children from 8-years-old to 8 months, and has home-schooled or plans to home-school all of them.

She started with her oldest son because his severe food allergies made it very difficult, if not impossible, for him to eat school food, she said.

She continues because she thought it would be the best situation for her children.

"Everybody has their own opinions about what schools should be," Reuer said. "Speaking as a Christian mom, I just think the values I want to see in my kids I don't see in the public schools."

Though religion is a part of the organization, it is not their only focus, Reuer added.

"We're not better than anyone, but we do have our values," she said.

Parents shouldn't worry about their children losing touch with their own generation, Peters said. Home-schooled children learn to socialize with other children of all ages, not just those within a year or two of them, she said.

"Come and hang around us for a week," Peters said. "You'll see our kids are much more social than even I was at their age with people from 1 to 99."

Parents also should not be concerned about their children's future in higher education, as colleges continue to look more at home-schooled students, Peters said.

"Whether a college considers a home-schooled student is largely up to that college," said Mark Stevens, Colorado Department of Education communications officer.

The Colorado State University Web site maintains it does not discriminate against students who earned an alternative education, but it makes clear that when applying to the university, students must address their home school experience in depth, including coursework and achievements.

CSU requires applicants take either the ACT or SAT test, but do not have to present a GED for consideration.

In Colorado, the state requires parents wishing to home-school their children notify their local school district at least 14 days in advance of their child not taking classes to avoid truancy action.

Parents must provide the child's name, age, place of attendance and hours of instruction per day. There must be at least 172 days of instruction with an average of four instructional contact hours per day.

The state does not provide any high school diploma, and local school districts are prohibited from awarding diplomas to students who do not complete their curriculum.

Parents interested in home-schooling, hearing more about the Home School Association or wishing to attend the potluck can contact Peters at 620-0283.

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