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Heights family gets the best of both educational worlds

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Jodi Perry/HERALD

Sarena Tait holds 1-year-old Pippi while she home-schools her sons, Eddie, 8, and Toby, 10, on March 2 in their Harker Heights home. The room in their house is dedicated to school lessons. The Taits spend part of their week learning in their home classroom but also get lessons from a professional teacher at Providence Preparatory School in Belton.

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Sarena Tait of Harker Heights made the decision to home-school her children after they had been enrolled in public schools for a while.

The Taits are part of more than 1.7 million students now home-schooled in the United States, according to the Department of Education. Parents cite many reasons for choosing to home-school their children rather than send them to traditional schools.

“I am the biggest influence in my kids’ lives and their education is my responsibility,” Tait said.

A military spouse and mother of five, Tait has two younger children and three she is currently home schooling — Seri, who is in seventh grade, Toby, in fourth grade, and Eddie, in second grade. Tait has dedicated a room in her home for schooling.

“I never thought I would home-school my children. I sent them to school like everyone else in America,” Tait said.

Then, she wanted to take a bigger role in their education. Tait said she was nervous at first about her ability to home-school her kids, and then found Providence Preparatory School in Belton.

The school teaches on a blended-education model, which means the students’ learning time is split between a professional educator in a classroom and their parent-teacher at home.

“It is the best of both worlds,” Tait said. “Providence sets the curriculum and provides the lesson plans and I just follow them.”

Tait admits it can be difficult to teach three grade levels, but the support and guidance of the Providence Preparatory School makes teaching at home much easier. On their home-school days, Tait said she has a schedule and the children know “the sooner they finish, the sooner they get to play.”

Tait also said the children remain very socialized, thanks to their friends at Providence and their church.

The Tait children all have different things they like about home schooling.

“I like that I can move ahead in a subject when I am ready,” said Seri said, while Toby said he can spend more time with his family.

Eddie likes the freedom they have at home. “I like that when we are learning at home, we can take a break if we need to.”

According to the National Centers for Educational Statistics, the flexibility for things like field trips, real-world instruction, and family vacations is one of the reasons that many families choose to home-school their children.

“What started as a change in my kids’ education has become a shift in our beliefs and our family as a whole,” Tait said.

8 images

Jodi Perry/HERALD

Sarena Tait holds 1-year-old Pippi while she home-schools her sons, Eddie, 8, and Toby, 10, on March 2 in their Harker Heights home. The room in their house is dedicated to school lessons. The Taits spend part of their week learning in their home classroom but also get lessons from a professional teacher at Providence Preparatory School in Belton.

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