Nov 15, 2010 8:44 PM by Katie Stukey (Great Falls)

Homeschooling the right choice for Great Falls family

It's a common afternoon scene in kitchens across the country: a teenager sitting at the kitchen table doing homework.

But for 8th-grader Ryan Keith in Great Falls, the kitchen table isn't just a place to do homework - it's his classroom.

Ryan appreciates the home-school environment, saying, "I get a little more one on one attention with subjects I struggle with."

His mother Teri grew up in public schools, but the self-proclaimed "late bloomer" says school was riddled with bullies, and she wanted to control her kids' social environment.

But her oldest child wasn't on board at the beginning; Teri said, "When she was in 1st grade and I told her we were going to be home for school she said, 'Well mom...what if we leave something out?' I thought, this kid is concerned about gaps in her education?"

But Teri admits the idea made her a little nervous too. Her solution? A century-old program that offers a complete home-school curriculum. Teri chuckled, "This is called school in a box."

At $128 a month, she gets an entire year's education in one box, complete complete with textbooks, lesson plans, and even notebook paper.

"I don't have to do a lot of thinking. I don't have to go someplace else to fill in the curriculum. It's very complete," Teri said.

Now, ten years after settling into the home-school program and establishing a routine, the Keith's are proud to say that the choice was the perfect fit for them.

Ryan agrees, telling us, "I'm good at spelling and writing and reading. I love science."

And Teri commented, "I'm pretty confident that my kids are on par or better than par with their peer group as far as their education is concerned."

What's next? Ryan's older sister recently made the move into a traditional classroom, and he's about to follow in her footsteps.

We'll explore that transition with the Keiths during Tuesday evening's newscast.

UPDATE, Tuesday evening: 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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