Hundreds of families in Tulsa are choosing to home school their children instead of sending them to public schools.
Lindsay Elliot and her husband were both home schooled. Now they've decided to keep the tradition going with their three daughters, ages six through nine.
"This day and age, it's so easy to home school because there are so many opportunities," said Elliot.
Elliot said one of the most challenging parts to being a home school mom is learning how to keep everything in balance.
"Whether you're a working mom, a stay-at-home mom or a home schooling mom, it's all the same thing. We just juggle a lot of things," said Elliot.
Elliot said she likes what home schooling has to offer. More time to focus on the individual child, and knowing exactly what's being taught. And on nice days, Elliot said it's easy to pack up for a spontaneous nature field trip.
"So I'm going to be able to zero in on their interests, I'm going to be able to help them in areas that they struggle like no other teacher would be able to do," said Elliot. "That doesn't mean that there aren't days when I think saying bye, I'll see you in eight hours doesn't sound great."
In the end, Elliot believes the attention she can focus on her children ensures they'll get the best education possible.
"Does that mean that I'm the most qualified teacher, or that I have Master's degrees in all these subjects? No. But I truly believe that I have their best interest at heart," said Elliot.
Veteran home school mom Valerie Rose has seen four of her six children graduate from home school and move on to college. Rose said her two remaining daughters, Sarah, 15 and Abby, 17, have come to the point in their education when they can schedule and learn on their own. Rose has moved from teacher to monitor, helping her daughters to stay focused and on the right track."
"I wouldn't trade it for the world. I love being with my children, even in the hard times," said Rose.
Rose said the benefits to home schooling are endless.
"The close family relationships," said Rose. "The flexibility to pack up and leave when we need to, or take advantage of a beautiful day outside or on a cold day have a fire going while we do school at the kitchen table. You just can't beat it."
The word home school can be a bit misleading. While a good deal of time is spent at home, the home school community is a big one, and they work well together.
Today's home schooled children can participate in sports leagues, co-op classes and Classical Conversations, or CC.
CC is a weekly time for home schoolers around the area to come together for a little classroom-style learning. Mary Smith, a tutor with CC said it's a great way for kids to meet friends and learn to work as a team on projects.
"Students challenging each other. You've got a lot of positive peer pressure," said Smith. "A lot of support and encouragement."
Whatever it is home schoolers are doing, it seems to be working. Recent studies suggest, home schooled children are more likely to attend college classes. And those that do tend to graduate college at a higher rate.
Molly Rodriguez is one of those home schooled children turned college graduate.
"Overall, I really don't think I missed out on anything," said Rodriguez. "I had a really good social development, I was involved in athletics and things."
Now a Registered Nurse at St. John Hospital, Rodriguez said her home school education prepared her well for the big world of college.
"As far as education goes, I was very prepared. I really didn't feel like it was a hard jump at all," said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said it took some time getting used to the big classes at college, but she feels she adapted well.
Moms like Elliot said home schooling isn't always easy, but for all the pain, all the frustrations, the rewards are far better. And the time they spend with their children is something they'll treasure forever.
"Because I know I'm going to look back in a few years and my house is going to be clean, my house is going to be quiet, and I'm going to be crying because my kids are gone," said Elliot.
To learn more about the home school studies mentioned in this story, click on the attached links.