Home-schools gaining more students in Mississippi

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - Instead of sending their children to school every morning, more parents in Mississippi are choosing to teach them at home. In the 2010-2011 school year, 28,126 Mississippi children were home-schooled. The year before, there were 26,275 children who learned at home.

One Long Beach mom has been home-schooling all five of her children.

"Let's get the computer started and get your textbook out," Brita Wren told her teenage daughter Destiny.

Wren runs a one-room school house. She is teaching her three children who are in different grades. Wren started home-schooling ten years ago, when her two older children were in the fifth and third grades.

"I think I had higher expectations sometimes than the schools that they were in to begin with, that we expected them to do their best," said Wren. "There's no peer pressure, no bullying; there's no busy work."

Wren also named faith as a reason. She incorporates bible-studies in her curriculum.

Wren had no teaching degree or experience. She went on-line to order books and other resources. She also checks public school websites regularly to see what courses and credits are required for graduation.

Although her children spend the entire day together, they do get opportunities to socialize with other children.

"We got different activities with our church and our home-school group. In our home-school group, there's field trips," said Wren. "We do have some group classes in our home-school group. In fact, I've taught a couple of writing classes for middle school and high schoolers."

Her children get to learn at their own pace and their schedules are flexible. And, they seem to enjoy this personal educational setting.

"We get to hang out with the family more. I don't have to worry about people being mean at school you know," said ninth grader Destiny Wren.

When asked if it gets frustrating with mom always around, Destiny smiled and responded,  "Yes, when I have to write papers."

Wren's hard work seems to be paying off. Her oldest son Dylan got a 34 out of 36 on his ACT, and he received a full scholarship to Mississippi State. Her older daughter Delaney got a 31 on her ACT. She graduated a year early and received several scholarships to Ole Miss.

Wren admits teaching her own children requires a lot of patience.

"Yes, I think it would for any parent," said Wren. "But in the end, they know we're doing it because we love them, and we want their best."

The Wrens belong to a home-school group with about 100 families from Harrison and Hancock Counties. There are other home-school organizations in South Mississippi.

Anyone can home-school their children. All parents have to do is enroll with the attendance officer at their child's school district by September 15. You do have to provide the child's information, along with a simple description of the type of education he or she will receive.

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