Meet… The Ballards
The kitchen table is a busy one each morning at the Ballard household just southwest of Egan — not hard to imagine in a small country home with six children ranging in age from 16 to 7 months of age.
But it’s a different type of busy for the young family that’s only recently relocated to South Dakota from Washington state.
Each of the children, minus the two youngest, pulls out their laptop (after chores) and very respectfully sits down to the day’s school lessons.
“For us,” said their mother, Debi, “it was either private or homeschool for education with a biblical worldview being key. We knew, wanting a large family, that private could be a financial strain. So we chose homeschool. We’ve done private, public, part-time co-ops for our older two boys in transitions, but have settled on homeschool.”
While they may be new to the area and school at home, there is a good chance you’d recognize the family.
Ben (16) and Gauge (15) play football for Flandreau, work at the local Subway and City Pool, help out with May Construction and are part of the local FCA group. The younger boys, Brooks (13), and Grey (11), participate in Flandreau Public School’s sports programs as well.
“Participation in activities has been part of certain districts in SD, but just after we moved here, in 2021, SB 177 passed allowing all homeschoolers to participate in school sanctioned activities. We want our kids to be part of our surrounding community, and sports is a great way to do that!” said Debi.
Lilly, at just 7 years old, has just started horse riding lessons at Benson Equestrian Center.
Mom and dad (also a Ben) and their youngest, Holland (7 mos), are usually nearby cheering on the older children in whatever it is they might be doing. Debi is also involved with a local homeschool co-op and enjoys attending the local Christian Women’s Connection events when she’s able.
What was it that had the well-traveled family settle in Moody County?
During the beginning stages of COVID, Debi said that they wanted away from the strict mandates that Washington state had in place. South Dakota, for many reasons, was appealing and a visit to the area in June of 2020 sealed the deal.
They moved initially to a home in Sioux Falls but Ben wanted an acreage.
“Living in the city with no projects was not very fulfilling for him. Even though we had just purchased a home, we kept looking. We found a place up here in Egan. He fell in love and it was done! We’ve been here since May of 2021,” Debi said.
The older boys said their favorite part about South Dakota is being able to work and drive at an earlier age. At Subway they were able to work day shifts and make up school work at another time.
Ben and Gauge also enjoy the fact that for a foreign language, they can take Hindi. The two recently started taking lessons through Rosetta Stone.
The younger boys say their favorite subject to study is the Bible, and 7-year-old Lilly is learning the basics right now including reading, writing, math, and crafts.
“Our style has always been pretty simple and basic. If they can read, write and do math, they can learn anything. We also want them to be independent learners. They are so smart and capable. If there are things they don’t understand, I’m always here to help. Obviously, the younger years are much more hands on,” said Debi.