by Spencer Mason, September  2021

If you have had a North Carolina homeschool open for more than eleven years, you may have received a postcard from the North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE). These cards were mailed to 25,000 homeschools to determine if they are still in operation. The card makes this request, “Please log into your account (www.ncdnpe.org) to update your enrollment and contact information or to close the home school if it is no longer operating. You can contact our office at 984-236-0110 to close or confirm your home school status. Your homeschool will be CLOSED if we do not receive a response from you by September 15, 2021.”

Please note that you may update your enrollment and contact information and confirm the status of your homeschool online or by phone. If you call, you will probably have to leave a voicemail message. If you don’t receive a return call from DNPE within a week or two, call again and leave another message. 

By law, DNPE must be notified when a homeschool has a change of address or is no longer operating. Unfortunately, a large number of homeschools fail to comply with these legal requirements. We encourage all homeschoolers to log into their DNPE account once a year to insure that your address is correct and you have at least one student enrolled. 

Although not required by law, we also encourage you to provide the other information requested. It is very important that you update your address when you move, and for the good of all homeschoolers, please close your school when you have no students. 

If you have homeschooled eleven years or more and did not receive this post card, you may want to check and make sure your homeschool has not been closed. The DNPE can close your homeschool if

  • the homeschool street address on record is invalid,
  • the homeschool has moved out-of-state,
  • a homeschool does not administer a national standardized test annually,
  • a homeschool reports no student enrollment, 
  • a homeschool does not operate on a regular schedule for at least nine calendar months of the year, excluding reasonable holidays and vacations. 

If you find that your school has been closed, don’t panic. You will find that DNPE is homeschool friendly, and they can help you get your school reopened. 

 

by Matthew McDill, September 2021

We are excited to announce the debut of our brand new weekly program: The Homeschool Show. The show will be available via radio (WSIC), podcast, and video.

The first episode will be available this coming Monday, Sept 13! Visit the webpage for the Homeschool Show on Monday to watch and find out how to subscribe as a podcast and on YouTube. Join us for information and encouragement through segments such as homeschool news, homeschool conversations (interviews), tip of the week, member questions, and the homeschool reality moment (a peek into real homeschools).

Here is a sneak peek into the first few minutes of the episode 1!

 

by Matthew McDill, August 2021

The NC Senate debated House Bill 324, Ensuring Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Schools on Thursday. While this is an important and interesting story about the teaching of Critical Race Theory concepts in public schools, a little side discussion about homeschooling was born through the debate.

In the midst of the discussion on education, Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford, stated that Sen. Paul Newton, R-Cabarrus, was not an educator. Newton later responded on Twitter, “In an exchange on the Senate Floor, Senator Robinson accused me and my wife — who successfully homeschooled our children — of not being educators. Is it the @NCSenateDems position that homeschooling parents are not educators?” 

Later, the N.C. Senate Democrats tweeted in response, “Surely you cooked your family dinner over the years. We still wouldn’t call you a chef.”

 

The implication is clear. Teaching  doesn’t make you an “educator.” An “educator” is a trained, state-certified professional. This attitude has caused many to question the credibility and effectiveness of home education. How can parents who are not trained educators effectively educate their children? Now that homeschool parents have been teaching their children for several decades, I would like to propose another question. 

Are trained, state-certified, professional “educators” more effective at teaching their students than homeschool parents? 

Here are a couple of things to consider as we answer this question. 

Homeschool students score higher on standardized academic achievement tests than public school students. 

Dr. Brian Ray, president of National Home Education Research Institute, did a nationwide study in 2010 of the academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students.* In this nationwide study of over 11,000 homeschool students, homeschool students scored, on average, over 30 percentile points higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests. For the purposes of this discussion, it is important to note that 89% of the homeschool parents in this study had never been state-certified teachers. In fact, homeschool students who had parents who had never been certified teachers scored slightly better than the students for whom either parent had been a certified teacher.

Research does not demonstrate that teacher preparation and/or state-certification results in student academic achievement.

In a 2017 review of research, Dr. Ray concludes that “research continues to find minimal correlations between teacher preparation and/or teacher certification and students’ academic achievement in public schools (Center for Public Education, 2009; Richardson, 2001). That is, after 116 years of state/public schools teaching the majority of U.S. schoolchildren and about a century of teacher certification systems, scholars are still finding it difficult to argue that formal or state teacher training and certification is necessary to children in institutional schools’ learning well.”**

It seems that we can conclude that “educators” are not more effective at teaching their students than homeschool parents. Maybe we shouldn’t identify “educators” solely by whether or not they are trained, state-certified professionals. An educator is simply someone who effectively educates others. Homeschool parents are wonderful educators! Thanks to all those parent educators out there who are investing in their children’s lives by teaching them and preparing them for life! 

* Ray, Brian D. (2010, February 3). Academic achievement and demographic traits of homeschool students: A nationwide study. Academic Leadership Journal, 8(1). https://www.nheri.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Ray-2010-Academic-Achievement-and-Demographic-Traits-of-Homeschool-Students.pdf

** Ray, Brian D. (2017). A review of research on Homeschooling and what might educators learn? Pro-Posições, 28(2). Retrieved June 11, 2020 and November 21, 2018 from http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1980-6248-2016-0009
References:
– Center for Public Education. (2009, December 17). Does highly qualified mean highly effective? Retrieved February 5, 2016 from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/How-good-are-your-teachers-Trying-to-define-teacher-quality/Does-highly-qualified-mean-highly-effective.html
– Richardson, V. (Ed.). (2001). Handbook of research on teaching, fourth edition Washington, DC: American Educational Research Association.

by Christina Brown, August 20121

Back to school is different for kids who go to traditional schools: backpacks, locker chandeliers, and the school list that we spy moms trying to fill at the local Walmart. These traditions don’t always work for those of us who school in our PJs.

I wanted my girls to look forward to back-to-school. Here are some ideas I found that got them excited, and me too!

1. Take pictures on the first day. Go outside. Pictures always look better outside. Don’t be a perfectionist. Try to catch your kids’ personalities. Tell them in advance so they can plan what to wear. Don’t rush. Let them pose. Be silly—no rules!

2. Put together back to homeschool bags for the first day of school. My kids look forward to this every year. I use pretty or colored gift bags, but you could use backpacks or paper lunch bags as well. Ask your kids what they would like for school.

For preschoolers to high schoolers, here are some ideas for things you can include in the bags: gum, candy, sharpened pencils, markers, crayons, their own paper, a journal, stationary, glue sticks, colored pencils, erasers, games, sharpeners, Legos, hair clips, Pez candy and dispensers, Lifesavers, chocolate, socks, pocket knife, snacks, notebooks, calculator, cool pens, punching balloons, shaving cream, a special razor, crafts, coupon for classes they want to take, makeup, nail polish, dollar bills, coupon to a coffee house or coffee, homemade coupons, special drinks, and that little something you usually do not let them have. My youngest wanted vitamin water. Who knew?

3. Write a letter to your child. You can mention things you are looking forward to this year, character issues you are proud of and ones that need work, a Bible verse for encouragement, thoughts on the new school year, and anything else you would like your child to remember. I have done this every year, and what memories they hold! Many of these I would have forgotten.

4. Confer with your kids to find out what they would like to study during the year. Buy a book or check one out from the library on the subject and incorporate it into your studies. For example, we saw a shark at the beach one summer, and my youngest was interested in sharks that year. Investigate things that align with your child’s bent. And start slow, don’t do every subject the first week.

5. Ask your kids what they would like to do for the school year. What would they want to accomplish or try? This is like creating a school year bucket list of goals: field trips, mission trips, theater productions, movies, games, sports, 5Ks, camping, friend dates, etc. We keep these on large index cards and go through them throughout the year to see if we hit our goals.

6. Plan a special lunch or breakfast for the first day. Sometimes I need a kick start to get inspired. My girls had their ideas about what kind of meal would be special for them.

7. The best way I have found to get my kids looking forward to back-to-school is for me to look forward to it. Get organized. Pray. Make it special. Mention it often. We are so blessed with this opportunity to homeschool; it is infectious to show gratitude (by our actions and the words that come out of our mouths), for just how blessed we are!

Here is to a successful, prosperous, and most excellent year! Cheers!

Christina Parker Brown is a homeschool momma of three (two she graduated) and the author of AKAHomeschoolMom.com, Yard Sale Secrets for Buyers and Sellers, Alphabet Smash, and My Adventure Book. She loves pictures, is a hopeless logophile, and always brakes for yard sales. Christina has homeschooled over twenty-one years and co-moderates the largest online Christian homeschool support group in Charlotte, CCHNET. Christina’s passion is to encourage others to intentionally connect faith, family, and fun.

by Matthew McDill, August 2021

My dad always used to tell my sister and me: “You’ve got to learn to get along with each other. You two are best friends.” We would often make faces and deny this, but in the end, my sister and I were very good friends. This is the spirit in which my wife and I have raised our kids as well. Public school kids, like my sister and I, can certainly develop strong relationships. But there are some extra benefits and opportunities for strong family life and relationships when we homeschool. 

Homeschool families usually develop close relationships because they spend more time together. They learn together, work together, play together, and eat together more than the average family. Spending more time together also presents its challenges. There is often yelling and fighting between siblings. I have heard some parents say that they put their children back in school because they could not get along with them. They said it was hard enough to be their parent; they couldn’t be their teacher as well. This is understandable because it is very challenging to spend a lot of time with people, living and working with them. But if we do not give up but grow through these challenges, we can learn how to love one another and enjoy strong relationships with each other. It is worth it!

We’ve had plenty of fights at our house between siblings and between parents and children. One of the lessons we have learned and taught our children is how to resolve conflict in a healthy way. Instead of lots of yelling, hitting, and tattling, we teach them another way. There are three simple steps: 1) Ask nicely; 2) If he won’t listen, warn him that you are going to tell a parent; 3) If there is still no response, go tell a parent. 

If there is any yelling or hitting at our house, the one yelling and hitting gets in trouble no matter what the other offense may be. The most important issue is that they learn to talk with each other about their problems. When a child tells on a sibling, my first question is always, “Did you talk nicely to him or her about it?” If not, I will not listen to the child’s complaint. If they have, then I handle it in the fairest way possible. Sometimes I even have to call witnesses. The children quickly understand what the rules and expectations are. They learn not to come to parents if they haven’t tried to work it out among themselves. They learn what is right and wrong and only bring issues they believe to be right. They learn to listen to each other. 

When families learn how to love one another and live life together, there is such wonderful fruit in the relationships that are built. I was recently able to enjoy this relational fruit when my family went on a camping trip. My oldest daughter and her husband and my two boys in college met Dana, me, and the six kids still living at home at a campground in the mountains. What a fun time! We had enough people to play volleyball as a family. We played in the lake, ate lots of food, roasted marshmallows, sang around the campfire, laughed, encouraged each other, and had lots of one-on-one conversations. I love seeing my little boys look up to their older brothers as their heroes and seeing my older boys play with and talk to their little brothers. I love seeing brothers hug their sisters and encourage them. I love seeing my teens talk to their older siblings and ask them for advice.

This kind of fruit comes by working through a lot of difficulties and many years of investment and growth. The years go by so fast. We captured that reality on this trip when my oldest daughter and son recreated a picture that we took almost twenty years ago in the exact same campground.

We are so thankful to God for our children, for homeschooling, and for the strong family life and relationships we have been able to build over the years.