Story last updated at 8:13 PM on Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Homeschooling a full-time job for family of 10

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff writer

If there’s a drum beating a cadence for the Coe family, it’s beating double time. Like any family, this is a busy household. But, on top of the expected day-to-day bustle of home life and work, Dan and Nancy Coe have personally assumed the educational responsibilities for their eight children: Sarah, 17; Hannah, 15; Rachel, 13; David, 11; Rebekah, 9; Daniel, 7; Josiah, 5; and Chloe, 3.

  Photo provided
The Coe family is a school unto themselves, with the help of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District's homeschool program, Connections. The family includes parents Dan and Nancy Coe, and Sarah, 17; Hannah, 15; Rachel, 13; David, 11; Rebekah, 9; Daniel, 7; Josiah, 5; and Chloe, 3.  
When do the Coes, who own Handpainted and sell the one-of-a-kind handpainted furniture they create, squeeze in a day’s worth of homeschooling?

“Between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. on any given day,” Nancy Coe said.

Putting together a day’s schedule starts the night before, with final touches added first thing in the morning. Three family members have driver’s licenses and they own two vehicles, which is a good thing since shuttles must be made between home, the family’s business, Kenai Peninsula College-University of Alaska Anchorage’s Kachemak Bay Campus, Homer High School for algebra classes, Harbor School of Music for keyboard and guitar classes and the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center for swimming in the pool whenever possible.

School lessons also are worked on at home and in the shop. Road trips are perfect for math and spelling drills.

“Everyone is looking forward to the new library. Maybe some study and reading time there will be fruitful,” Nancy said.

For fun and exercise, the family squeezes in hiking and sledding.

“Often, we are grocery shopping late in the evening, but we keep a full freezer after dipnetting and halibut fishing,” Nancy said. “Everyone helps out at mealtimes and our three teenage daughters plan, shop and cook their specialties.”

In addition, Sarah builds furniture, Hannah beads, Rachel paints and David practices graphic art.  The other siblings are developing interests in art and athletics. As might be expected, the most called upon skill in the Coe family is the willingness to bend.

“The biggest challenge is staying ever flexible for ever-changing times and schedules and relying on God for every step of every day,” Nancy said.

Therein lies the reason the Coes made the decision to homeschool.

“We’re called by God to ‘train up a child in the way that he should go,’” Nancy said. “The statistics proved academic success and we had friends and family whose children were learning beautifully.”

When Sarah exhibited an interest in reading at an early age, Dan and Nancy, armed with a handful of books and coached by friends, gave her the tools she needed. They have done the same for Sarah’s brothers and sisters. This year, Sarah is beginning her first year of college studies, focusing on business courses.

The family chose the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District’s Connections program for homeschooling because of its link to local instructors in music, art and physical education. Tutors and advisers also are available, and the program provides a budget for supplies.

“The principal, Lee Young, and advisers Nancy (Kleine) and Janet (Szajkowski) were very helpful with paperwork and met with us personally to answer questions and encourage us,” Nancy said.

Connections has a materials library at its Homer offices near Paul Banks Elementary School. Computers, microscopes and science supplies can be used for a small fee for insurance. A resource center in Soldotna also is available.

Dan and Nancy also make sure their children have time with others their age

“The children have many friends who homeschool and children in the neighborhood and the shop neighborhood in Homer who use public and charter schools,” Nancy said.

Their church environment also provides numerous activities for the youngsters to spend with others.

Is homeschooling for everyone? No, Dan and Nancy said. But they encouraged parental participation in whatever schooling option families choose.

“Most of all, pray and lean on God who is our ever present source of help, love and guidance,” Nancy said

There are approximately 763 students enrolled in KPBSD’s Connection Program. Approximately one-third are in the Homer area.

The Homer office is staffed with two full-time advisers and one support person. It is open from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch.