TULSA — Homeschoolers are getting ready for back to school in Oklahoma.
There are between 4,000 to 5,000 families in the Tulsa metro area, according to the owner of Bibliomania Homeschooling Materials.
"This is the season when everybody is hitting the ground running, getting enrolled for co-ops, getting signed up for their sports teams," says Susan Stenberg.
Her consignment store is filled with books and learning tools for homeschooling parents. It's the only shop of its kind in Tulsa.
"It is very, very busy. Most of our homeschool moms begin school year in August, some wait after September," says Stenberg.
She says the homeschooling community keeps growing every year in the metro area from only a few hundred in the 1990s.
Stenberg attributes the growth to many factors, including lifestyle changes, kids' health issues, special needs, philosophical differences and school environment.
"With homeschooling, you have the flexibility to teach the way the child can learn, and be able to do it and switch gears if something's not working," says Stenberg.
Homeschooling parents make their own teaching hours and curriculum. Some teach year-round, and others follow a similar calendar year as public schools.
While there are no laws governing home instruction in Oklahoma, the state Department of Education has several recommendations for parents. This includes teaching students subjects required in the state-approved curriculum such as reading, writing, math and science.
The parent doesn't have to be a certified teacher, but the instruction "must be supplied in good faith and must be equivalent to the education required by the state."
Some parents fall into the path by accident like Jennifer Ratts, a mother of two young children in Owasso.
"We were not going to be in a district that was highly rated, and so we started looking at alternatives to that," says Ratts.
She enjoys the flexibility of teaching them individually at their own pace and getting to spend more time with them at home.
This is her second year teaching year-round for her four- and six-year-old at home after taking one month off in the summer.
"For me, it was nice to know that we started young and in Kindergarten. If I totally messed it up, it's only Kindergarten, we can send them to public school," says Ratts.
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