There’s no place like home for a group of Garvin County kids who turn to their parents and even each other when it comes to their homeschool life in the classroom.

Classes for a new term returned last week for the children and their parents involved in the Garvin County Homeschool Co-op.

Like public schools all over the co-op, meant to add to the curriculum kids receive at home, was hit hard by the virus pandemic.

With about 40 or so students ready to tackle the new semester, those co-op numbers increased in a big way after the pandemic subsided enough to return to the classroom in 2020.

“Last year we had 80 students,” said Amanda Carlile of the co-op.

“We were double the size because some people were not wanting to put their kids back in school. We grew too fast and had to cap it. Now we have a waiting list.

“Some of the parents started putting their kids into public school,” she said as the co-op numbers returned to pre-pandemic levels.

When the pandemic arrived in a big way in March 2020 one of the other co-op parents, who also served as a teacher, tested positive for the virus. Like other schools the co-op was forced to shutdown in-person classes.

Those classes returned the following September but shutdown again two months later. They returned this past January.

Homeschooling was something Carlile and her husband Brock were already doing in Enid before moving to Pauls Valley five years ago.

Once here Carlile started asking around to see what kind of interest there was around Pauls Valley to homeschool children.

“I started talking to people who homeschooled their kids. We got together and started this co-op with 10 people,” she said, adding some were new to homeschooling.

“There are some people who want to homeschool their kids. Homeschooling is a lot easier when you have a network of support, which we have with this co-op.”

The co-op formed four years ago as the idea is for parents and their kids to be fully involved partners in the educational process.

The way it works is students get most of their instruction at home, while still coming together one day out of the week for a whole variety of other classes.

With Brock Carlile the pastor of the local Crossroads Church just west of Pauls Valley, that’s where the classes are held, which include a flat fee of $25 for each student.

“This is not a drop off program,” Amanda said. “Parents have to stay and help. If they’re not teachers they help in other ways.

“The core curriculum is to come at home,” she said, referring to reading, math and science.

“They do their core classes at home. We do the hands-on stuff – the exhausting things and the much messier things.”

That comment is more about classes like art, gardening, baking and survival.

Other classes offered this semester are music and choir, life science, bird study, yoga, physical education, life skills, exploring electricity, sewing and computer programming.

“Students have their choices of classes and rank them by interest. Then we create the schedules.”

According to Carlile, there’s a “wide spectrum” of ways to homeschool with some trying to pattern the structure after public schools, while others seek more “freedom to go and explore a lot more.”

“A lot of people think homeschool kids are weird and anti-social. You have some of those in public school. You have those everywhere. Homeschool kids are just normal kids.”

Carlile is convinced a key to homeschool success is the time students get with their parent/teacher.

“My freshman daughter reads at a senior level,” she said. “One advantage we have is we can slow down and spend more time on one thing or we can speed it up when we need to.

“I think we can be so successful with the kids because of the one-on-one time.”

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