Education

Thousands of Bay Area families homeschool their kids

There is a growing trend of parents pulling their kids out of traditional classrooms and opting to homeschool.

With so many established resources available across Tampa Bay, parents are finding it easier and more convenient to educate their kids at home.

"I could be out of my house everyday doing things - field trips, hiking, hands on labs at the Florida Aquariums," said Denise Mestanza-Taylor, who is now homeschooling her son.

Denise pulled her son out of traditional school when he started falling behind academically because of learning disabilities like dyslexia.

"It's crazy how much you can do that you can't do when you're constrained to a classroom -especially with a dyslexic student who need that hands-on learning, and need that real-world experience because they can't learn in a a traditional setting," she said.

Mestanza-Taylor's son is now excelling academically and socially.  "He has made amazing growth," she said.

The world of homeschooling nationwide and here in the Tampa Bay Area is expanding with onsite programs and virtual ones. 

"There's chemistry, geometry, everything you could possibly want and it's usually taught by teachers, and they are really creative and they make it fun for the kids, and there's no homework." said Rosemary Nickel who also made the decision to pull her children out of traditional school and opted for homeschooling.  Nickel herselfis so enthusiastic she shares all of her knowledge online through Home Schooling 101.

Her son is doing so well he is now duel enrolled in high school and college, and has experience incredible opportunities outside of the classroom from participating in speech and debate clubs to understanding etiquette that will help him one day navigate the business world.

Nickel shared the following recourse so other parents can do her research like she did before making the decision to home school.  She explained that many homeschool programs can be layered with what's already offered by the state of Florida, like Florida Virtual School.  The online education program is free.

The Khan Academy is another free resource that can be accessed online, but she encourages parents to explore support groups that take you outside of the classroom.

A local resource she points to is one run by Dunedin's Melissa Wild.

Many colleges also support homeschool programs like Stanford Online High School.

The 2019 Homeschool Convention is taking place May 23 - 25 in Orlando.


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