Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Social Interaction Is Concern for Parents Who Home School

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Social Interaction Is Concern for Parents Who Home School

Article excerpt

A group of sweaty teen-age boys are in the middle of a drill.

They jog in a wide circle around the gymnasium, dribbling balls and filling the room with thuds. Below each basket, they take aim, shoot and move on.

Coach Ken Woodward blows his whistle. "OK team, give me 17 sprints," he shouts. His words are met by a united response - groans. It's a typical after-school sports scene, except for one thing: The 11 boys on this team go to school at home. They spend the majority of their days interacting with their parents and siblings rather than their peers. "I never really get to see most of these guys very much," says Luke Kroon, 13, wearing a new pair of black-and-white high tops and his team's blue Raptors T-shirt. "But I like hanging out with them here." Creating extracurricular and social opportunities is a concern for most families who home school. To fill that need, there are several activities set up exclusively for home schoolers that mimic some of those at public schools. Besides Woodward's basketball team, which plays in the city's Parks and Recreation League, Kroon can choose from a home school choir, a Boy Scout troop and a theater group, which put on "A Tale of Two Cities" last fall. Just as home school parents typically want to control the way their children are exposed to academics, they also want some say in how they interact with other children. Some, like Woodward, want their children to meet other children in an environment that is closely supervised by at least one parent. "Kids can be cruel," he says. "A lot of times when you get into a school situation, if a kid's not athletic, then the other kids make fun of him. "But parents aren't going to tolerate kids ridiculing each other," he says. "I think if kids are around adults more often, it helps them to act like adults." Rita Fleishmann and Yngve Digernes say they want their son, Karl Martin, to play with children from a variety of cultures and ethnicities. Last summer, they threw a birthday party for Karl, who is turning 6, and invited families with children from Egypt, Malaysia, China and Russia. …

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