While a group of metro-east youth are being home-schooled, they are still able to fulfill their physical education requirement because St. Clair Bowl created a program to do just that — and it just started up last week.
“It’s such a back-to-school feeling right now with leagues starting back up and our new home-school bowling league we just started,” said Nancy Chase, a St. Clair Bowl representative.
The program has about 20 kids get together twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays to fulfill his or her P.E. requirements that normally they would have covered at a public school, but home schooling must be supplemented.
“It’s a really robust group, they interact and socialize. It’s really good for them,” Chase said.
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Run by the St. Clair Bowl Youth Director Mike Imes, who also coaches junior high and high school bowling teams, the program allows for the students to also have their siblings involved to a certain extent, according to Chase.
“It’s a good activity also, for instance this one girl who is taking a lesson for her P.E. requirement, but her siblings are just bowling for fun. So, it’s the kind of environment where the family can come in, like the moms sit, chat and have coffee together,” she said.
O’Fallon native Megan Terrell — mother of two, Jessie, 10, and her brother Seth, 6 — said she loves to enrich her children, not just by hitting the books, but also involving them in the local community with events and programs just like the youth bowling league.
“It’s really neat they started this up. We had a group a couple of years ago, but they must have gone other ways, but we’re glad to have it back,” Imes said.
Imes has been the girls bowling coach since 1997 when it started at O’Fallon Township High School, and the boys coach since 2003.
“There’s two classes, which is nice because we aren’t always available on the same days every week when we look at both the kids’ schedules,” Terrell said.
Each week, Imes will go over different skills, techniques and rules with the children.
“This week he is teaching the kids about lane etiquette,” Terrell said.
Terrell sits with three other mothers who home school their children; Laura Glover and Caron Russel, both of O’Fallon; and Talia Christopher, of Maryville.
Glover said she loves home schooling because every kid learns at his or her own rate, and it offers her the ability to tailor his education to his needs.
“We master and then we move on; we don’t have to keep up with other classmates who may be on a different level. Our goal is mastery not memorization and competency,” Glover said.
Particularly, Glover said the bowling program offers the kids the benefit of being around kids of all ages, so the younger kids can look at the older kids for examples of how to behave properly and then the older kids subsequently end up benefiting from learning to be more patient.
“The home schooling community in O’Fallon is really growing,” said Russel, who is in her second year of home schooling her son Lucas, 10.
Russel also has a daughter who is a junior Alexis, at OTHS, which she said can sometimes be a challenge when planning fun family-friendly activities geared towards Lucas’ education.
“Sometimes I don’t know if I should plan on a trip to say a museum or something on a Saturday so she can join, or during the week so he can have that one-on-one educational interaction with me and other experts, but then over dinner we talk about how much fun it is, but we don’t want her to feel left out,” Russel explained. “So it’s different and sort of challenging.”
When Russel considered taking Lucas out of public school, she said, she did quite a bit of research.
“I didn’t want him to be isolated from other kids his age and programs like this ensure he isn’t,” Russel said.
Terrell said there is a large population of home-schooled children in O’Fallon.
“Jessie said she wanted to be home-schooled when she was in the first grade because she was being bullied,” her mother said. “We gave her an option to finish, so we said ‘let’s try one more year, and if it doesn’t get better we’ll try something different.’”
Her son Seth went to preschool in O’Fallon, and Terrell said it was a wonderful experience, but if she was going to home-school one, then she was going to home-school both kids.
“Years ago there wasn’t much for kids who were home-schooled to do, but now I go on Facebook and other websites, and there’s just so many options for his schedule,” Russel said.
Terrell, an OTHS alumni, said her parents have dubbed her kids the “never home schoolers because there’s so many options for us that we have to pick and choose.”
For example, Jessie participates in a local archery program, while she is doing that Terrell said she is working on something different with Seth, and then there are other days when Seth has gymnastics, so sometimes they make due by going mobile with home-schooling in the car.
Group lessons to fulfill the home school P.E. requirement are at 2 p.m. on Mondays and 10 a.m. on Thursdays at St. Clair Bowl in Fairview Heights. The cost is $6 per child per week for eight weeks.