Thousands of home school families from around the Northwest are making their way to Puyallup for annual educators' convention. It's a chance to share what works, and some new ideas for what has become a mainstream way to educate your kids over the last three decades.
Debbie Jurasek remembers the early days of home-schooling in Washington. The days right after the law passed in 1984. There were angry and confused looks. The school districts were wary.
"It was a scary time," Jurasek says. "We kind of felt isolated. Things have changed so much and today no one really cares about saying 'I'm a home-schooler.' It's not a stigma."
There are more than 20,000 Washington families that choose to educate their kids at home, and what the parents can't provide, school districts are more than willing to help fill the gaps, whether it's classroom time or facilities.
"We have the legal right to access the public school on a part-time basis so some people even choose to have their kids attend a math class at the public school, or a science class, or P.E."
Jurasek says the public schools get seat-time funding for the partial-time home-school kids that are in their classes. So the districts don't miss out entirely on the funding for those kids filling a seat at home instead of in a school.
"I feel like we've got a better relationship now and the public schools are looking at home schooling as a viable option for education more than in years past," says Jurasek.
Home school teachers will be sharing the ways to work with districts and help new home-schoolers get started at the annual convention, which gets started Friday morning at the Puyallup Fairgrounds.