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Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Homeschooler Bryce Whittington, 7, looks through some of the coursework he does on the computer at his house on Laurel Avenue Friday. His mother, Mandy Whittington, is his teacher.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Homeschooler Bryce Whittington, 7, looks through some of the coursework he does on the computer at his house on Laurel Avenue Friday. His mother, Mandy Whittington, is his teacher.

Archived Story

The Dart: Family begins first year of homeschool

Published 12:01am Monday, September 23, 2013

NATCHEZ It is often said that the home is the first school.

In some homes, that never changes.

When The Dart landed on Laurel Avenue Friday afternoon, it found Mandy Whittington and her three children, Bryce, 7, Cadance, 5, and Ashtan, 4, just on the finishing end of a day of homeschooling.

This year is the family’s first to educate through home-study programs. They had used another area school in the past, Whittington said, but ultimately felt that homeschooling was the best option for their family at this time.

But just because they are breaking with the traditional method of schooling doesn’t mean that they don’t take it seriously, Whittington said.

Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Cadance, 5, from left, Ashtan, 4, and Bryce Whittington swing in their backyard during a break from schoolwork Friday.
Justin Sellers / The Natchez Democrat — Cadance, 5, from left, Ashtan, 4, and Bryce Whittington swing in their backyard during a break from schoolwork Friday.

Before they ever started their studies, she did lots of research.

“I went through just about every homeschool program there is,” Whittington said. “I broke them down between affordability, what they actually teach and what the kids liked about them.”

Finally, she settled on the Time 4 Learning curriculum, a computer software-based program that Bryce likes because it lets him exercise his interests in computers and creative writing while also having math and science components. The family supplements the Time 4 Learning curriculum with workbooks they’ve purchased.

“I really think that school should be fun,” Whittington said. “Some people think that education should not be fun or about what your interests are, but I do.”

Whittington said she also likes that homeschooling lets her children learn at their own pace — Bryce is ahead in some areas and is studying third grade math — and that it gives her a chance to be that deeply involved in their educations.

“It is not the easiest thing in the world, but I have enjoyed it more than just being mom, being both mom and teacher,” she said.

Bryce said he loves homeschooling.

“I really enjoy the language arts,” he said. “I am going to be an illustrator and writer.”

Whittington said the family keeps the children active in the community through church attendance, youth activities, sports events and music lessons.

As for herself, Whittington said her new favorite activity is homeschooling itself.

“It is the high point of my day — I have loved every bit of this with them,” she said. “I can’t think of anything more fun than this.”