Nov 16, 2010 8:03 PM by Katie Stukey (Great Falls)

Homeschooling in Great Falls (part 2)

The choice to homeschool can be driven by any number of factors, and one of the them is flexibility. That was definitely part of the appeal for the Keith family of Great Falls, although they're about to give it up in exchange for some lessons which can only be learned through experience.

Practicing your sport mid-day & mid-week isn't an opportunity afforded to most 8th-graders, but thanks to his home schooling, Ryan Keith has become an avid BMX racer.

The same goes for his musical talents; practice sessions and private lessons are a priority during his school day. At the age of 13, he's accomplished on five instruments.

Ryan noted, "It makes it easier to travel when you can take school with you and do it in the car."

But next year, the flexibility afforded by homeschooling will give way to a more formal learning environment, as Ryan joins his older sister Annissa in high school.

Teri explained, "They wanted to go to high school. They wanted to be in the social environment of high school, probably more than the academic environment of high school."

Annissa, 15, is now in her second year inside a traditional classroom; she said, "I get there and it's actually like, 'Oh, I actually know this stuff. It's not new. I'm not behind.'"

And now Ryan is ready to follow suit, saying, "I'm pumped. I'm just ready to go."

As their social environment moves beyond mom's control, Teri hopes that all those years at home set up a solid framework.

She noted, "What happens in the world's gonna happen in the world. And hopefully their reaction to that will be a good one, or more capable one. And that has proven true with Annisa. She just told me the other day that she's great. She didn't miss a thing."

FOLLOW-UP: One number we shared during Monday's story about homeschooling seemed to strike a chord with viewers.

We reported that the homeschool program the Keiths use is about $128; that's just over $1,500 dollars per year.

Many homeschool parents contacted us to say they spend far less to teach their children.

In comparison, the Great Falls Public School District will spend an average of $5,998 per student this school year.

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