Homeschooling decision pays off for LaPlace family

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 22, 2000

DANIEL TYLER GOODEN / L’Observateur / January 22, 2000

LAPLACE – The Labiche household is almost like any other in LaPlace. PaulLabiche Jr. is an MRI technician at Tulane University Hospital and coachesat Reserve Christian Academy. Donna Labiche is a housewife and a motherof four.

However, added to their list of responsibilities has been the education of their children, Paul III, Josh, Jessica and Matt. For the last seven yearsthe Labiche family has taught their children at home instead of enrolling them in school.

The question to ask would be why would a family, while paying parish school taxes, desire to educate their children at home? It started when Paul Jr. and Donna decided to enroll their children atReserve Christian School. The school allowed the parents of kindergartenchildren to teach their kids at home, though they were responsible to the school.

Donna found she loved teaching her kids. By the time it was Jessica’s turnfor school “I felt like I needed to homeschool,” Donna said. When sheapproached her husband he gave full support, admitting he had been praying she would.

“We decided to do it for one year and see how it goes. We did that year byyear and I’m sold on it now,” Donna said.

The responsibility of homeschooling and her children’s future has not gone unthought of by Donna. When confronted by an educator and asked how sheknew she was qualified, Donna was able to express her certainty.

“I know my children more than a teacher,” she said. “I know their needsbetter than a teacher.”Donna felt she could pay more individual attention to her children’s learning than a teacher with 32 students in a classroom would have time to do.

As her children studied their course work, she studied them.

“I learned about their learning styles,” she said. “Josh learned betterauditorially,” while Jessica understood better as she wrote out her work.

Donna tailored the course work to the way her children learned in order to teach them more efficiently.

Their course work is well rounded. Along with the three R’s, they studyalgebra, geography, science, history, home economics, art and more. Forphysical education they swim laps in their pool, ride bikes, Donna and Jessica go to the gym and Matt plays football and baseball.

Jessica uses the computer all the time, said Donna, and the internet has become a great tool for their studies. They also use video tapes andnormal textbooks designed for home educational use.

Paul III and Josh have gone back to school in the last few years.

“They wanted to play sports, and Paul and I supported them in that,” explained Donna.

Having gone to elementary school, the two made the adjustment back easily. They had no problems making new friends, said Donna, and theirgrades are really good.

But they both enjoyed their experience at home, too. Josh would continueto home school if he could still play ball, Donna said.

Another question and one voiced often to parents of homeschoolers is of socialization. How can homeschoolers function in public if they don’t growup around kids their own age? Donna said the kids have friends in and outside of the homeschooling community.

Matt, along with playing ball, is an active 4-H Club member. Last year, in achicken raising project, Matt was one of the top 20 out of 700 state contestants in Baton Rouge.

Jessica goes to all the basketball games at Reserve Christian School and produces a newsletter for and with the other homeschooling families.

Also, monthly field trips are arranged by the Christian Home Education Fellowship. CHEF, led by board members Emory and Kelly Putman, is agroup designed to support River Parish families in their homeschooling efforts.

“I’m the only one without a social life,” said Donna, who added, once a month fellow homeschooling mothers gather at her house for “Mom’s Night Out.” The mothers invite guest speakers and talk over coffee about their household organization, life after housework, educational toys and such.

The state of Louisiana does not hinder parents in their choice to educate their children at home, but it does require a registration as a home educating family or as a private school.

The Labiche’s opted for the latter, and though they are not required to participate in yearly assessment tests they do in order to keep track for themselves.

Neither Jessica nor Matt desire to go to high school. Jessica plans to moveon to college in a year or two, and Matt is happy finishing out his education at home as well.

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