Helping home-schooled kids get creative - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Helping home-schooled kids get creative

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Home-schooled students will often partake in extracurricular activities through local organizations. But thanks to a Brattleboro-based home schooling program, families can now access art classes for less.

The New England Center for Circus Arts has opened its doors to a unique group of home-schoolers.

"She was thrilled when we found this. It was the perfect fit for her," said Jennifer Falvetta, parent.

Through a partnership with Oak Meadow, an internationally recognized home schooling curriculum program, NECCA offers weekly classes for home-schooled students like Jennifer Falvetta's daughter at their Brattleboro studio.

"Oak Meadow reached out to me initally to see if it was something we could even do with the underwriting. So I was really excited to think of that as something we could do," said Dana Batchelor, NECCA

NECCA isn't the only one. There are a number of local arts organizations in Brattleboro both performing and studio that are working through Oak Meadow to offer families of home-schooled children classes at a discount. This is the first year of the Oak Meadow program.

"Here at our Oak Meadow offices we certainly do not have a gymnasium here. We do not have a theater here. But we have all of that right here in downtown Brattleboro," said Michelle Simpson-Siegel, Oak Meadow executive director.

According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are approximately 2.2 million home-educated students in the United States. Up to 600 Students enroll in Oak Meadow each year. Oak Meadow serves kindergarten through 12th grade in 39 U.S. States and 36 countries. In Southern Vermont, Simpson-Siegel says that about 200 home-schooled students use Oak Meadow resources.

The arts classes offered at the local studios here in Brattleboro are not just for Oak Meadow families. They are for all home schooling families throughout the region.

Simpson-Siegel says that many home-schooled students live busy lives. They have other commitments that take up a majority of their time and school work has to be completed wherever they are.

"There's still a myth out there that home-schoolers are somehow isolated or sitting at their kitchen table doing work all day long. When really a home-schooler in the 21st century tends to interact with people in many different generations throughout the day instead of being siloed with only their age group. As kids in public school might be," said Simpson-Siegel

Falvetta has been home schooling her children for about 10 years. She says the financial break helps.

"She's super excited every time we get to come here. It's changed our lives," said Falvetta.

NECCA teachers say the home-schoolers' classes are completely full.

"It's really interesting to have home-schoolers come in because they bring such a unique energy to the process," said Batchelor.

Oak Meadow follows the Waldorf concept, meaning that students learn by doing. And these art classes encourage students to step out of their comfort zones to help stretch their creativity.

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