Homeschooling is declining nationally, but not in Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii is bucking a nationwide trend when it comes to homeschooling.

Across the country, the practice has seen a slow decline since 2012. But in Hawaii, the numbers have gone up slightly.

And one Honolulu family says while homeschooling isn't for everyone, it's allowed their children to flourish.

Recently, parent Nicole Guiles and her children joined other parents and homeschooled kids for a field trip to the insect museum at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Hands-on, unique experiences are a critical part of homeschooling, Guiles said.

And her children's "school" is their one-bedroom condo in Maikiki.

Guiles has taught each of her three daughters there: 16-year-old Celeste, 13-year-old Natasha, and 11-year-old Lulu.

'It's been such a joy for me to watch them learn and figure out a way to teach them to figure how they can learn the best," Guiles said.

According to the state Education Department, there were 2,999 students being homeschooled in Hawaii last year. Three years ago, the figure was 2,888.

Suzanne Mulcahy, DOE assistant superintendent, said parents choose homeschooling for a variety of reasons.

The state doesn't require parents to submit their curricula for review. And homeschoolers don't receive high school diplomas.

But they do have to meet graduation requirements and undergo testing.

And it seems to be working well for the Guiles.

Last year, when she was 15, Celeste started at Kapiolani Community College.

She's now there as a full-time student, and also tutors other students in math.

"It was really strange the first semester but I think I adjusted quickly and it became normal," Celeste Guiles said. "What was strange about it? Actually being in a classroom with other people."

Her mom says it's wrong to assume that homeschoolers aren't connecting with other students.

"I do think people have a misconception that homeschool means you're sitting at home and that's all you do. That is a myth," she said. "We're quite busy. And the kids' friends are from not just homeschool. They're friends are from public school and private school and home school."

And in addition to lessons at home, there are field trips and daily dance lessons.

And one of the biggest positives? "To me, the biggest advantage is getting to spend that time with my kids. I can't even put a value on that."

Copyright 2017 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.