CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Chemistry class is underway in the Hampton family kitchen and Rylee’s teacher is her mom Patrice.
“I like the way I’m being homeschooled better,” says Rylee. “I don’t want to go back to public school because...I don’t want to have to experience what I had to experience again."
At 11 years old, Rylee says public school became increasingly tough due to large class sizes, safety scares and bullying, “mostly because of my skin color and hairstyle.”
Patrice says, “the last time she came home crying, my husband, we were both done. We were done with it. She wasn’t going to continue this anymore. It wasn’t good emotionally for her and it wasn’t worth the anxiety that she’s having.”
Patrice decided her daughter was better off at home. She went to the homeschool room, a local homeschooling store and put together a curriculum.
“When I first started it was overwhelming,” says Patrice, “I went through several days where it was very structured and very clinical and it felt like real school. Now we don’t need to do that.”
Nancy Gavin’s kids have never been to public school. She chose to homeschool them after her own negative experience in public school.
“I want to instill a love of learning in my kids so that they’ll continue to learn throughout their entire careers. I don’t want my kids to be taught to a test," she told FOX 46.
They’re just two of the nearly 90,000 families in North Carolina, deciding to ditch public school and go at it themselves.
Nationally, the homeschool movement is growing at a rate of eight percent a year. While some parents do it for religious reasons, these moms say they got tired of the one size fits all approach in public schools, as well as staggeringly large class sizes, and school safety.
Rylee had three lockdowns in a single school year. Each time, it was a terrifying experience not only for her but also for her parents. Patrice recalls, “it was just panic. Uh, just sheer panic. I did not know what to do.”
Safety is also a major motivating factor for Nancy. She says, “I don’t like that there are metal detectors in elementary schools. I think that at some point us parents have to be proactive about it and if that means I’m homeschooling my kids, I’m going to bring them home with me and teach them the best that I can.”
Her 14-year-old daughter Olivia is happy with her mom’s decision. She says she prefers being able to focus on reading and science, while Rylee gets to devote more time to STEM subjects.
"The school I was going to before homeschooling didn’t have stem at all. There was no stem, there was no science. There was little technology," Rylee said.
Thanks to homeschooling, she has the freedom to take a class at the Microsoft store that focuses on stem topics, while Patrice gets a break.
“So she’s still in a classroom setting. And she gets a teacher other than mommy.”
There’s another big bonus to homeschooling: freedom from schedules. Patrice says, “we get to control our day. We don’t have to do eight hours of school.”
By no means is homeschooling easy. First, there’s a lot of pressure on mom and dad to make sure their children stay on track.
Then there’s the financial aspect. When it comes to textbooks and other materials, those come out of the parents’ pockets.
Despite the cost, Patrice says, ”I feel like I’m spending money that I would spend any way doing field trips and things like that.”
Finally, critics say homeschooling deprives kids of vital socialization that only schools provide.
Nancy says that’s not a concern at all.
“My kids are totally socialized. You talk to either one of them and they’ll talk your ear off.”
These moms are open about choosing a tougher road when it comes to their kids’ education. However, they say it’s been worth the work and the hardship. They say their kids’ love of learning is proof it’s the right decision.
Olivia agrees. "Its way more fun to learn this way and I feel like I’m actually learning and not learning to a test. I’m actually learning to help myself.”
Patrice and Nancy say they, too, are having fun.
“We can choose activities based on what she’s interested in,” says Patrice. “and so I like that. It feels really good.”