Youth centers open to homeschoolers
Nancy Mahan, an art instructor from Harford Community College, works with Jamie Colopietro, a senior home school student, at the APG North (Aberdeen) youth center Feb. 27.

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Homeschoolers who are eligible for Child, Youth and School Services programs can use APG's youth centers for free.

Homeschoolers are allowed to use the centers between 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., when public school is in session. The day and time the youth centers are available will depend on the availability of staff, so parents must notify the center before they intend to use it. Students must be registered with Outreach Services' registration office, Parent Central, to use any CYSS facility.

Director of Outreach Services Myria Figueroa said that staff will not be responsible for the home schoolers' activities and supervision, so parents must plan to stay at the center, or leave their children in charge with an adult that will take responsibility for the homeschooler.

"Homeschoolers are welcome to use the gym for exercise and sports activities and the computer lab for research projects, tests and more," she said.

Currently a small home school co-op called the LIONS, which stands for Learning in One's Natural Style, meets at the APG North (Aberdeen) youth center every Wednesday for art classes.

LIONS co-op coordinator Jeanne Colopietro said the group shrank in size--from about 30 students to only a few--after several homeschooling Families moved away. She said that she would like to see the group grow so that more classes could be offered at the youth center. Parents volunteer to teach classes that are a particular interest to them.

"We offered Latin, health, gym, music, literature, physics and more," she said, noting that co-ops build unity, networking power and resources. "I would love to grow the program back to where it used to be."

Colopietro, whose husband is retired military, said she thinks that homeschooling is a good option for military Families that frequently move.

"It can be difficult for children who frequently change schools, because every school system is different," she said. "Homeschooling brings stability."

Kathleen Santana, whose son Joseph has participated in the co-op for five years, said the small student- teacher ratio has improved her son's education.

"It's important that children have a chance to interact with peers in a small environment," Santana said. "They get individual attention from the instructors."

Colopietro said unlike most homeschooling co-ops, there is no fee to join the LIONS because use of the facility is free. Parents are responsible for buying books and materials. The art class, taught by an instructor from Harford Community College, is offered to students for a small fee.

Colopietro's daughter, Jamie, is a senior and said participating in the co-op helped prepare her for taking classes at Harford Community College and for college interviews.

"It was a way that I could demonstrate that I can work in groups and that I can listen to teachers who are not my parents," she said.

Renee Main, the facility director for the APG South (Edgewood) youth center, said although no home school co-op group meets at the APG South facility, she is willing to accommodate any homeschoolers who wish to use the center, with prior notice.

Parent Central is located in Bldg. 2503. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. for walk-in registration, and 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for appointments only.

For more information, call 410-278-7571/7479 or visit www.apgmwr.com/family/youth_outreach.html.

For more information on the LIONS co-op, call Colopietro at 443-243-2861.

Page last updated Mon March 11th, 2013 at 11:32