Homeschooling takes off in Pasco

TRI-CITIES - Taking your child's education to the home. KEPR learned more parents in Pasco are choosing to homeschool their children.

It's a choice with two sides -- individualized education for a child and the possibility of pulled funding for our districts.

Skimming through texts and taking time for handwriting. It may sound like a typical agenda for school-aged kids. But for the Diaz family, it's all done at home.

"They have been a lot more benefits than we realized," said homeschooling parent Julie Diaz.

Julie Diaz started homeschooling her children 15 years ago. Her two oldest have graduated. She now teaches her two youngest in elementary school.

"The great thing about homeschooling is that kids can socialize with kids their age and socialize with adults and younger kids," added Diaz.

For Julie and her husband, it wasn't that they didn't like the local school districts. It was about more time for family.

"They'd do music and they'd do sports and so by the time they were finished with that and their homework, they really didn't have a lot of family time," explained Diaz.

It's why she wasn't surprised to learn the number of homeschooling students in Pasco is skyrocketing. There were just about 100 kids back in 2005. Since then, that total almost doubled. In Kennewick, it's a much smaller increase. Over in Richland, the number of registered students is down about 20 percent.

Local districts offer alternative schooling for families that don't want to homeschool fully. These include Three Rivers HomeLink and the Mid-Columbia Partnership. Carrie DeForest leads MCP based in Kennewick.

"If their child is stuck on a concept or is not quite mastered a skill, then that''s why we meet with a certified teacher to help give ideas," said MCP Principal Carrie DeForest.

She says the program allows students to individualize their education with those certified teachers, offering even more options. Because of this, money still comes into the districts to support a child's education.

It's part of a growing culture of homeschool that more parents, like Julie, are finding a good fit.

Three RIvers HomeLink is based in Richland and the Mid-Columbia Partnership is in Kennewick. Pasco has yet to form a similar program but kids from Pasco can still attend the Mid-Columbia Partnership.