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There’s No Place Like Homeschool

Lance and Lois-Lynn Deuel take a break from his studies  PHOTO FROM GEORGE DEUEL

Lance and Lois-Lynn Deuel take a break from his studies

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but not Mom, if she happens to be your home-school teacher. Apple is a symbol for Macintosh computers today, but we old-timers know it also represents teachers or teaching. I recall that some of my Fern, Puuhale and Kalihi Kai elementary instructors would receive crispy, shiny, red apples on special occasions. However, it’s no secret my fondest teacher was my momma. She was a true-blue homeschooler by nature — a woman who was a strict disciplinarian but whose heart was filled with compassion.

My education began at home. After all, it is where we begin to learn about truth, honor and virtue, and the value of education. She prescribed to a saying: “Nothing can take the place of raising your children in a home filled with love, and no other success can compensate for failure in the home.”

Lois-Lynn Deuel, Ph.D, has taken it to heart, and it’s the very reason she gave up a lucrative career as a psychologist to home-school her 11-year-old son Lance over the past two years. I first met Lance at the Kailua Fourth of July parade. The only child of an active-duty military member, Lance gave me a patriotic welcoming salute and walked the parade with me.

Lance has a dedicated home-school room, but much of his education takes place outside of the classroom, as he travels the world.

“We took a six-week trip to the Mainland and rode a train around the country. Was so cool. We studied American history and geography,” says Lance, who has more energy than any kid I know. “In South Dakota, we visited Crazy Horse and learned about Native Americans. We also went underground to the Minuteman Missile site and heard stories about the Cold War. In North Dakota, we visited Teddy Roosevelt National Park — he’s my favorite president.”

Lance learned about the presidents at Mount Rushmore, and about oil exploration and “fracking” in Montana. (Fracking is the process of injecting liquid at high pressure into subterranean rocks, boreholes, etc., to force open existing fissures and extract oil or gas.) He followed the Lewis and Clark Trail from North Dakota to Oregon, and studied all about their mission to explore the Louisiana Purchase.

A U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2013 report shows that the number of home-school students has grown by almost 300,000 nationwide since its last report in 2007. Lance Deuel is one of them. The math behind home-schooling for the Deuels is that tuition is free. “Financially, we have lost family income because I’m his teacher at home. However, the costs of books, curricula, materials, private lessons, admission to events, and travel have been higher than anticipated but well worth it,” says Lois-Lynn.

He does more than just read about sharks and manta rays. This summer, Lance went diving in a shark cage to be up close and personal with jaws.

Swimming with manta rays on Hawaii island was another unforgettable field trip he embarked on with his parents. You can see Lance’s thrilling adventures on Hawaii Life, a reality TV show to be aired on HGTV, The Home and Garden Network next season.

One of the boy’s special projects included mummifying a chicken.

“When we study something in history, we usually create a piece from that time period like mosaic art, Egyptian crowns, Roman shields and Chinese lanterns. Once, Lance mummified a real chicken just like the Egyptians did,” says Lois-Lynn. Lance often brags about the chicken tomb housed in his garage. The Deuels are avid travelers and use international settings as Lance’s classroom.

“Looking at the future with a global perspective, we want Lance to have the desire, social skills and social experience to be a productive member of many communities. We want him to relate to people who are incredibly diverse,” she says.

Outside of a traditional classroom of some 30 same-age peers, Lois-Lynn says her fifth-grader has more opportunities to develop and maintain relationships with children and adults of all ages in a variety of settings, with different purposes.

“Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to design a customized educational experience for our child,” she adds.

One downside about educating her son in the confines of their own home is that when the 11-year-old misbehaves during school hours, Lois-Lynn can’t send him to the principal’s office, and she sparingly uses the term, “Save your drama for your mama!”

If you are interested in homeschooling, you may file a notice of intent with the principal of your local public school. For more information, log onto hawaiipublicschools.org.

Keep in mind the DOE requires homeschooled students to attend high school for a minimum of three full years to meet the graduation credit requirements and receive a diploma. If a home-schooled student does not meet the minimum requirement, they must obtain their diplomas from adult community schools by attaining a satisfactory score on the General Educational Development (GED) test.

Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”

In other words, school-children also can benefit from the greater lessons taught at home by their parents.