Home school ‘adventure’

Learning at home works for Marshall family

Submitted photo Jennifer Rabaey talks with her son Gregory about his math work. She spends an hour a day working one-to-one with each of her children.

MARSHALL — When deciding how to educate their children, John and Jennifer Rabaey embarked on a home school path.

They home school their seven children at their home west of Marshall. They have a spacious, well-furnished school area, which they created from what used to be an unfinished farmhouse basement. One of their older sons even has his own study are underneath the basement stairs.

Their backyard has plenty of playground equipment appropriate for children of all ages.

“We have to know how to structure where and when (they play),” Jennifer said. “We want to do everything we can to meet our children’s needs. It’s an adventure.”

Jennifer takes charge of home schooling while John works for the Schwan Food Co. in Marshall.

Their oldest child is 17, and their children have successfully participated in Marshall Public School activities. They’ve been part of robotics, orchestra and math league.

They have both horses and sheep at their acreage, which means the children have a combination of animal chores and school assignments.

“I usually spend an hour a day working one-to-one with each of my children,” Jennifer said. “On school days, they spend the day working on school assignments.”

She added that home school families are required to meet state guidelines designed to ensure that their children get a well-rounded education. She attends a statewide convention every year for home school parents.

Besides finding state and local resources, she said home school families are dedicated to working with each other to create learning opportunities.

“We plan group activities on a regular basis,” Jennifer said. “It’s very important to us that our children have a chance to interact with other families.”

She considers home schooling a serious investment of time and effort, one that every family should carefully consider. In many ways, it’s simpler for parents to send the kids to school each day.

“Home schooling is not for everyone,” Jennifer said. “They need to approach it as a serious commitment.”

She said public acceptance of the home school option often depends on awareness of how home school families function.

“It varies,” she said. “Most people who know a home school family are impressed by what we do. People who aren’t familiar with it are more likely to be skeptical.”

One of their sons, Mark, said he’s enjoyed having his mother as his first and most important teacher in more ways the one.

“We have a lot of assignments,” Mark said. “We always have school work.”

Marshall-Lyon County Library children’s librarian Mary Beth Sinclair said home school families in general are among the best library users in the Marshall area.

“They’re very good library users,” Sinclair said. “Both the parents and the children are interested in what we have available. Sometimes if they’ve wanted something that’s not in our collection, we’ve found a way to get it for them.”