(Rick Hickman / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, September 14, 2013 8:20 PM
Home-schooling has grown over the past decade with the National Center for Education Statistics Institute reporting an increase from 1.1 million students receiving their education at home in 2003 to 1.5 million in 2007.
Amber Caillouet of Sulphur, who was home-schooled as a child, chose to educate her children at home as well.
“Culturally, for me, I always thought it was the right thing to do. When I married my husband (Joel), he had gone through public schools so it was something we had to discuss. We decided it was the best thing for my family. We waited until our oldest was nearly old enough to start school to decide. I had to sell Joel on it because we were raised very differently. We came to an agreement that we would do it in a certain way, that our kids would not be in a bubble. We would teach them about things outside of our home.”
Caillouet gave up her job and began research as soon as the decision was made.
“I had been working at a bank, I had to quit to give the children my time,” she said.
“I sought a good curriculum, I researched a lot for what would work for me and my family. We are going the classical route. There are a lot of curriculums out there. We are going very deep into history, art, classical music and all that. Teaching them how to write. We do something called Classical Conversations, a classical curriculum. There are seven or eight different methods to home school. We had to research each one and decide what path we wanted to take. I like the idea of going back to the way our forefathers learned, they obviously did something right. It is very deep and pushes them deep into the roots of our nation and God. I like the idea of them learning all about the classical artists. It is an exciting way to learn, they really love it.”
Caillouet said she has learned to change her teaching method over the years.
“I think my style has changed, mostly because I have four children,” she said.
“The first one learns much differently than the third one. I have grown a lot, to learn I don’t need to be so strict on them. I try to separate teacher from parent. It is real personable, we sit and talk and discuss different things. They know its different when I am teacher as opposed to mother. We get up, do our chores and have breakfast, then start school at about 8:30. We go into the school room and start with our Bible, then go into our different subjects. They are in different age groups so I take time out with each one separately. I teach all the subjects — history, English, science, geography, Latin and math.”
Caillouet said she had to answer many questions when people learned she would be teaching her kids at home.
“One of the main questions I get is ‘Why do you think you are qualified?’,” she said.
“My response is that I am the most qualified. I am their mother. Even people that went to school (for teaching) need a curriculum to guide them. I was home-schooled and I learned a lot. I am not qualified with a piece of paper that says I am a teacher, but I am qualified to teach.
“Another is they are not getting enough socialization. We give them plenty of opportunities to socialize. We have church, we have other home-schoolers that we spend a lot of time with, we belong to several home-school groups. We have play dates and go do field trips together.
“The group of us that does Classical Conversations meets once a week and works together, learns together. We go over all of the subjects and it gives the kids a chance to present their work in front of their peers. It gives them an opportunity to speak in front of others and do research. That is one thing I have enjoyed about Classical Conversations, it gives them that chance to speak in front of others and socialize. There are four families in the group in Lake Charles and 13 in the group in Sulphur.”
Caillouet said being parent and teacher is demanding but rewarding.
“I have noticed the bond I have with my children, and the opportunity I have to be an influence on them, are the biggest benefits, also the learning trips that we have been able to go on,” she said.
“I think there are some negatives to it. We are working 24 hours a day and sometimes it gets exhausting. We do not get upset or complain about it because it is the life we chose, but it does get challenging. I have enjoyed being able to bond with my kids and see them grow, to see the light come on with them learning. It is an awesome gift.”