Fewer students being homeschooled in Richland

Fewer students being homeschooled in Richland
RICHLAND, Wash. -- KEPR learned fewer kids are being homeschooled in the Tri-Cities. But we dug a little deeper and found what defines homeschool may really be at issue here. We looked at how some growing programs are impacting the number of kids who spend their full school hours at home.

Four Richland moms have different lives and different backgrounds. But their love for homeschooling brings them together.

"It gives my children more flexibility and more options and we get to tailor the education to their individual needs," said homeschool mom Christina Maughan.

But it's a different type of homeschooling. It's assisted by the HomeLink Program. It's a program where students can be taught at home but still have a classroom setting for certain courses. So Christina Maughan's three kids are still able to interact with others.

"They aren't spending all their time at home, they spend a lot of time with their friends and their peers either at HomeLink or in Scouts or in music lessons or church activities."

Richland schools say this is what they are seeing more of - students who are still technically enrolled in school, but through the HomeLink program. They are not factored into the homeschooled group. Which is likely the reason the number of homeschooled kids has dropped by almost a quarter since 2011.

"I have one that I homeschool and one that I'm not and the experience is very different," said another homeschool mom, Julie Harris.

She says it's hard to meet both her kids' needs when they are receiving their education so differently. But as long as her son keeps straight A's...he's allowed to stay in public school. As for the other children I spoke to, their love for being homeschooled is unanimous.

"When I went to a public school in California, schools were really de-funded and I learn more in an hour at home school than a week in public schools there," said homeschooler Linnea Walter

The parents say it's a lot about working on their time.

"They can pick out when they want to do their recess and set their priorities," said Sheryl Walter.

As for the other districts, Kennewick has been pretty steady in its homeschool numbers, sitting at 206 students this year. Pasco has a combined 465 independent and HomeLink students.