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Teaching children takes lots of time

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Between working with one of her sons on college applications and helping another with his reading skills, a Greenwood mom spends about 50 hours per week involved in her four children’s education.

That was the goal of Tricia and Matt Hogan when they decided to home-school their oldest son, now a senior, when he started kindergarten. For the Hogans, blending the building of Christian character into the education process was a leading motivator in their decision to home-school.

“We did it more so to be a big part of the character development of our children,” Tricia Hogan said.

What that means is that one or both parents spend time with the children every day, including the time when other families’ children typically go away to school. And the Hogans will be the first to say that home schooling takes up a large chunk of their time and that it isn’t for everyone.

Over the past 12 years, Tricia Hogan has home-schooled their four children. Now Abe is a senior and applying to universities. His sister Olivia is a sophomore, and younger brothers Sam and Ben are in eighth and fifth grade, respectively.

Tricia Hogan, who previously taught at public and private schools in Illinois, was not worried about educating her children at home. But the family also wanted to be sure their children got a quality education and social development, which is why she connected with local home-schooling groups.

“Academics are a definite concern, but there are so many resources available, and I’m certified at secondary education instruction, so I knew I could meet those challenges,” she said.

She doesn’t believe a parent needs to be a certified teacher to successfully home-school, but she warns that parents shouldn’t try it unless they understand the commitment level required.

“I feel like it’s a calling on my life,” she said. “The one-on-one interaction is what has been critical for my children both academically and in their character development. But it’s a large commitment. It’s not for everyone.”

She estimates spending about 50 hours a week on her children’s schooling, including lesson planning, instruction, grading and editing, preparing for and teaching an algebra class at a cooperative, keeping up on new educational materials and transporting children to two cooperatives and home-school sports activities.

This doesn’t count Sam’s horseback riding lessons or Ben’s vision therapy. And each day, she spends about an hour preparing for her students’ lessons, such as setting up science supplies or finding a literature assignment.

That also doesn’t count the time over the summer she spends at a home-school convention, reading articles to research curricula, keeping up to date on Indiana education standards, and then ordering and going over the curriculum to be used for each child in each course.

“We don’t have somebody telling us to order this book and this material,” she said. “I have to research all of that.”

While it is more time-consuming to select material for each child, a strength within home education is the flexibility to adapt the academic plan for each child’s individual characteristics and strengths, Tricia Hogan said.

“I thought with Abe I would buy all this stuff and every child would use the same thing, but that didn’t happen. As I learn each child’s strength, we can find the right fit. I love the ability to pick and choose for the children,” she said.

On a recent morning at their Greenwood home, Abe was seated at a computer in the kitchen, working on applications to multiple colleges. Sam, 13, was working through a grammar and composition textbook. Olivia, 15, was in a family room calculating chemistry problems, and Ben, 10, was in the dining room with his mother, working on focusing.

Ben has a learning disability related to dyslexia. His intelligence and eyesight are both strong, but his brain has difficulty processing what his eyes are seeing, which affects

his reading.

Ben visits a vision therapist weekly, but as part of his education, Tricia Hogan goes over therapeutic exercises twice a day with him. On this day, he is looking through a kind of bull’s-eye, reciting symbols on a paper to the accompaniment of a metronome. ‘

Tricia interjects encouragement from time to time, before telling Ben his time on one portion of the exercise is his fastest ever.

Ben moves on to reviewing sounds, and Tricia checks on Abe’s work with the applications. He is planning to study nursing in college and is applying to more than 10 schools. As her son works to earn scholarships and find the right school, his mother works to meet the requirements of each. Colleges require notarized transcripts from home-educated students.

“That is also unique to us (as home-schoolers),” she said. “We have to prepare a transcript. I don’t have a school system sending that out. One day last week I spent six hours on that alone, just trying to get the right format, researching grade scales and what all to put into it.”

Tricia also wants to spend a significant part of her time with her younger children, since her two high school students are receiving some of their instruction outside the home.

 Olivia is enrolled in two cooperatives that provide instruction in higher-level courses, Southside Educators Encouraging Knowledge (SEEK), which offers a general range of college prep courses, and Worldview, a four-year program in Indianapolis specializing in philosophy, literature, writing and history. Abe also completed coursework at both of the cooperatives, both of which are expressly Christian programs.

The programs utilize the expertise of home-school parents. Tricia Hogan teaches algebra at SEEK for other students, and Olivia takes courses in subjects such as Analytical Grammar and Chemistry from other parents. At Worldview, she is currently studying “The Iliad,” by Homer, and learning to compare the philosophy of the classical Greek author with a more traditional Christian viewpoint.

“We’re learning about other worldviews and getting a taste of them. It helps us deepen our defense of what we believe,” Olivia Hogan said.

Abe is taking an online financial course at home, plus writing and anatomy and physiology courses at Franklin College.

He believes the time his mother has invested in him has helped him begin the transition to college-level coursework.

“I feel confident because in my situation I’ve been able to start going to college already,” he said. “In the classes I’ve taken so far, I’ve felt very well-prepared. The freedom I had in doing school with my mom gave me time to get my work done but also accountability. She gave me a structure that really helped me to stay motivated.”

Structure is important to Tricia, not just as a means of managing her own responsibilities, but in preparing her children to manage time well in their lives.

“I want them to be in the habit of doing a proportionate amount of work each day, not just waiting until (the night before) to do all of their school work,” she said.

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