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LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 11.16 39 ARE HOME-SCHOOLED. WHY? noted that Kentucky officials knew of two home schools the previous year and that that number had climbed to 14 (five in Jefferson County) a year later. By 1995 the statewide number was 5,200. Today, the Kentucky Department of Education estimates that there are 15,000 to 20,000 home-schoolers in Kentucky. Nationally, the estimate is more than two million, and the percentage of students who home- school increased from 2.2 percent in 2003 to 3.4 percent in 2012, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Home-schoolers I've met share the sen- timent that home schooling has become mainstream compared to when they start- ed out 10 or 15 years ago, that in response to telling someone they're home-schooled they no longer get as many questions like, "How do you make friends?" ey're more often told, "I wish I could do that." e home-school page on the Ken- tucky Department of Education website reads: "While professional educators urge extreme caution to those proceeding with this often overwhelming challenge, it is imperative that parents and guardians opting for a home-school environment equip themselves with the knowledge, in- formation, contacts and legal obligations pertaining to the establishment and daily operation needed for compliance." To home-school in Kentucky, par- ents are supposed to record attendance and maintain a portfolio of work and a record of courses taken. Core instruction should be in English, which can disqualify non-English-speaking families. School should happen over a minimum of 1,062 hours in at least 170 days out of the year. Subjects should include "reading, writing, spelling, grammar, history, mathematics, science and civics," the website reads. While parents are supposed to send a letter to the superintendent each year declaring that they are home-schooling, the district would not know if someone had not sent a letter and therefore would not keep a tally of such students. at is, unless a concerned neighbor or family member calls the district to report that a kid isn't in school. None of the families I met for this story have ever had that hap- pen, and JCPS director of pupil personnel Brent Lynch says he rarely gets a call like this. "Parents come in all the time and say, 'I've signed up to home-school. Where's my curriculum?'" Lynch says. "Well, no, you're the home-schooler. It's up to you to decide." "I can remember him twiddling his thumbs and playing with a pencil for the first month or so and just constantly saying, 'No, Ian, don't do that,'" Toya says. With daily one-on-one instruction, they were able to break those habits. Toya says that after that there was no question — home schooling is what works for their family. Apple was already home watching Sesame Street and picking up books, so Toya started more formal home schooling with her when she reached kindergarten age. "ere were times I was just at the end of my rope. I thought, is is not working," Toya says. Times when she felt Apple was lacking or being lazy, she'd say, "Listen, you're gonna go to public school if you can't do this, if you can't get it together, if you can't focus." Apple