Leo Heska of Batavia can think of several reasons why literature groups are beneficial for homeschooled teens.
That’s why he’s been hosting a group for five years. Heska cites data from the U.S.
Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress showing only 35 percent of public high school 12th-graders read at a proficient level. Heska compares that number with his group of teens who almost all read at the proficient level.
And while Heska said literature groups in public schools tend to be devoid of boys, he now has eight boys and two girls signed up for the group.
“The kids who are in lit group really love it,” Heska said. “They tend to stay in it for years.”
Besides these benefits, Heska said the teens have about a half-hour of “hang-out” time, which is usually novelty for homeschooled students.
“We are well aware of the need of our children to socialize,” Heska said.
The students also sometimes travel to places that relate to their reading such as the Ernest Hemingway Home in Oak Park.
Despite the sometimes lack of socializing with their peers, Heska sees many benefits in homeschooling overall.
“People generally do it for academic excellence,” Heska said.
Although, most homeschooled students are taught by their parents, Heska said local community colleges will admit 13 and 14 year olds for more intensive course, such as calculus. And he’s not worried about the teens being in the company of young adults rather than their peers.
“The behavior in public schools is generally more immature than community colleges,” Heska said.
Heska’s 14-year-old son is homeschooled.
Information about Heska’s homeschool literature group can be found at www.hlitgroup.org. He designed the Web site, which includes statistics supporting homeschool lit groups and a list of novels discussed in his group.
“I don’t diss the public school system. They have a mission, and they do it the best they can. It’s just not for us.”
“I do homeschooling partly for moral reasons.” Heska said, adding he is not coming from a religious background, although, some religious communities make homeschooling easy. “Not everything from pop culture is good for kids.”
BOOK Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn”
GENRE Historical fiction
PART ABOUT LIT GROUP “The teens. They’re just fantastic people to be with.”