A lesson in homeschooling: A smart move for a Halifax family
HALIFAX -- Halifax mother Kimberly Charron doesn’t worry whether her homeschooled teen is at the same level as her peers in high school -- she’s more concerned that her daughter learns and improves everyday while pursuing her passion to perform on stage.
It’s not common for a school-aged girl to participate in a dance class at 11 a.m. on a weekday, but 16-year-old Minuet Charron does just that. Her homeschooling schedule allows her the flexibility to register for daytime instruction at the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts during traditional school hours.
“I start my day off with a dance class in the morning,” says Minuet, who’s enrolled in professional-level lessons.
It’s a dance for Minuet’s mother too, who from the beginning of her children’s education has been somewhat of a choreographer, and outlined a path to ensure Minuet and her older brother Connor fall into step.
“Usually homeschooling only takes a couple of hours in a day. When you don't have a whole classroom to manage it doesn't take seven, eight hours,” says Kimberly. “So they've got all that time so they can really hone those passions and get ready for what they want to do in their lives and what they want to pursue as a career.”
Kimberly is the main teacher and principal. Her ability to work from home as an online business manager has facilitated the homeschooling lifestyle for the family.
“We spend a lot of time together,” says Minuet, referring to her mom. “I feel like that relationship between us is a lot closer than those that have parents that work nine-to-five. And the kids are at school all day.”
As for other friendships, Minuet doesn’t feel excluded from the social aspect of public school.
“I don’t think I miss out on it at all,” she says. “I’m involved in a lot of dance communities and I go to a lot of acting stuff, so I meet a bunch of people.”
Outside of her busy dance schedule, Minuet studies a variety of subjects, including history, science, math and literature. She moves at her pace, and is unencumbered by a school board curriculum.
When Minuet was younger Kimberly was much more hands-on, but now the teen is at the reins, and only checks-in with mom to make sure she’s on the right track.
“The best thing about being homeschooled for me is having the time for myself. I like having that time to work on things myself and I like having time to dance more,” says Minuet.
While Minuet is quite self-sufficient with her studies, Kimberly steps in occasionally to help, but admits she doesn’t always have the answers -- she just knows how to find them.
“It's the perfect time to homeschool because everything is at your fingertips on the internet,” she says, noting that “almost every university has free courses online and a lot of homeschoolers use those for high school.”
Homeschooling wasn’t a given for the Charron family. Kimberly says she and her husband Patrick -- both products of the public school system -- debated whether it was a good fit for their kids, but after their son Connor’s first year in elementary school, they knew they needed to make a change.
“He was bored. He was miserable. He was grabbing onto the car screaming when I was trying to bring him to school every morning,” recalls Kimberly.
The following year in 2005, the Charrons started homeschooling Connor and have never looked back. By Kimberly’s estimation, it was the right move for her son, who’s now 21 years old and works in the film industry.
Now with her sights set on Minuet’s dreams, Kimberly is in the home stretch of her homeschooling responsibilities.
For simplicity’s sake, Minuet is at a Grade 11 level, and while neither she nor mom are concerned with that label, universities and colleges require some records for admission.
In the case of homeschooled students, some post-secondary institutions will ask applicants to write an entrance exam -- a formality that doesn’t frighten Minuet in the least, as she plans to continue her education after her homeschooling is complete.