Family says virtual school valuable tool
Last summer when Steve and Randi Lutz talked about enrolling their children in the Basehor-Linwood Virtual Charter School, Randi Lutz was hesitant.
She had been home-schooling her children since 1995 and had developed a system that worked.
"I finally agreed to try it as long as I could use the same textbooks we'd been using," Lutz said.
Lutz, who has a teaching degree in secondary education, said starting a new program wasn't as daunting as originally deciding to home-school her children.
"I was terrified when I initially started it," she said. "I didn't know how to teach small children."
But she went ahead, in part because of health problems her children had. Now, five years later, her sons, Anthony, 11, Matt, 10 and Joseph, 6, are doing well and are making above-average scores on their assessment tests.
One afternoon last week as Matt designed a picture of the solar system, Joseph studied slides under a microscope and Anthony studied his geography lesson it was business as usual at the Lutz household.
Their sunny basement classroom is where the students and their mother go to school every day during the school year.
"We have numerous friends that home-school," she said. "None of us have classrooms alike. For instance, we have a classroom in the basement, other people do it around their kitchen table. With some families the kids study in their bedrooms and the mother moves from spot to spot."
Even though the children spend their school days at home, they still find time to socialize. Lutz's children are involved in 4-H, a home-school choir, athletic teams sponsored by the recreation commission, a science club and Sunday school and church.
Looking back at her first year with VCS, Lutz said she's glad that her children enrolled. They can follow the program through the 12th grade, study at home and still graduate from an accredited high school.
Also, her children can take assessment tests through the district, which saves money for the family. The VCS links parents with professional educators. "Lots of times they can give you the support that you wouldn't think of," Lutz said.
But even with assistance, homeschooling isn't easy.
"They don't do it for you," Lutz said. "They're only there as a resource if you decide to home-school, you're still going to have to find your own way."