Vicki and Bailey Schweizer do everything together. “He’s my co-pilot,” says Vicki. Vicki, 33, has been homeschooling her son Bailey, 11, since 3rd grade. Vicki pulled Bailey out of school when she became concerned about his reading ability. After completing 2nd grade, Bailey could barely read at a kindergarten level. Bailey began 6th grade in 2013 and, according to Vicki, was doing much better with his schoolwork.
Bailey attends a homeschooling co-op in Fairmont, W.Va. one day a week. At Learning Out Loud, Bailey takes classes on spelling, computer programming, and writing. Bailey also attends a geography class with other homeschoolers, is a 4H member, takes music lessons, is a bee keeper, ice skates, and skis – and every step of the way Vicki is by his side.
Vicki and her partner, Tim, own multiple rental properties in Morgantown, W.Va., allowing Vicki to work from home and set her own schedule. The ability to set her own schedule make it possible for Vicki to teach Bailey at home and for him to participate in multiple activities. It also means that the family’s schedule is a hectic. Vicki and Bailey are constantly on the move from on activity to the next. Vicki admits that in the shuffle Bailey’s schoolwork suffers, as it is the first thing to be pushed aside. “I don’t make the time or prioritize with his schoolwork the way I should,” she says.
Bailey struggles with staying focused and on task with both his schoolwork and his many extracurricular activities, and Vicki tries different programs to keep Bailey focused and learning. Recently, Pop Bottle Science was added to the curriculum. Despite the program’s hands-on approach, Bailey’s focus often wavers during the lesson, as it does during most. “We struggle to get him engaged in it [his lessons], but once he does it’s good,” Vicki says.
Adding another element of chaos to the family’s life is their weekly commute to Preston County, W.Va., where Vicki and her partner Tim own adjoining farms. The family commutes to the farm every Friday evening and returns to Morgantown on Monday. On the farm, Bailey is responsible for the chickens, but he also spends time in his hayloft clubhouse and roaming the farm on his four-wheeler.
Patience is sometimes in short supply in the Schweizer household. Vicki is sometimes overwhelmed by Bailey’s difficulty staying on task. She is attempting to do better at keeping on task by being firmer with him and restricting his computer time when he fails to listen. However, the punishments seem to have little effect on Bailey’s behavior. According to Vicki, he has lost his computer privileges so many times that they are now gone indefinitely, a restriction that she finds difficult to enforce.