Home Schooling Produces Spelling Champ

The state spelling champion lives on the coast and attends school at home. Thirteen-year-old Joshua Hanssen is home schooled.

Home schooling is becoming more popular. Some parents choose home schooling in order to give their children more attention and a better overall education. Others are concerned about keeping their kids safe from potential school violence.

Rich and Rhonda Hannsen of Latimer chose to teach their three children at home. They wanted to instill good family values in their kids, and include religious instruction as part of their education.

The state spelling champ studies a biology lesson at the kitchen table. Joshua Hanssen and his two sisters go to school in a ranch style brick house at 10504 Oak St. in Latimer.

"We wanted to have the most impact on our children's lives," Rich Hanssen said. "That was a big part of why we began. It's something we prayed about because it is a decision. And it's a commitment."

The Hanssen children are quite comfortable with that commitment. Joshua says the benefits of a close knit family make learning a lot easier.

"We don't have to face the peer pressure every day. And we don't have to try and be like what everybody else is. We can be ourselves," Joshua Hanssen said.

Home schooling provides freedom for teaching values and religious beliefs. There's also a bit more flexibility for family time.

"Last year, we decided to go on a mission trip to Germany. So, for two weeks we shut school down and went on a mission trip. But that means this summer we will have to go further into the summer than most kids," said Rhonda Hanssen, who's the primary teacher of the three children.

That's just fine with the Hanssen kids. After all, school is convenient for them, and rewarding for their teacher.

"Seeing them grow up and being able to experience day after day, watching them learn, and grow and change, makes it most rewarding," Rhonda Hanssen said.

Some critics of home schooling say the children lack opportunities to interact with other children. The Hanssens say that's not the case. They're involved with a home schooling group that organizes monthly field trips. The children are also heavily involved with church activities.