by Jessica Frierson, Dec 21

How long, Lord, how long? Is there anyone who has not asked that soul-wrenching question? How many of you are asking it at this very moment? 

One of my favorite segments of the Christmas story is not even in the part usually read and dramatized at our Advent celebrations. And yet, it illustrates so beautifully the very essence of the Advent season.

Our story takes place 40 days after the birth of Jesus, as Joseph and Mary bring their new baby to the temple for his dedication. (I love the incredible irony here – “to present Him to the Lord.” They are bringing the Lord to present Him to…. the Lord!)

Waiting on the sidelines until his cue to step onto the stage is a patient old man, “just” and “devout” and “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Simeon has been waiting…waiting for the Consolation of Israel, referring to the comfort promised in Isaiah 40 that Messiah would bring to His people. All of Israel was looking for the promised Messiah, but Simeon was waiting for the fulfillment of a personal promise.

“It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Who knows how long this man had been waiting. Scripture does not tell us when he received this revelation. It may have been years or even decades.  We do know that he is now an old man because after finding the baby Jesus there in his mother’s arms, he prays, “Lord, now You are letting your servant depart in peace…”. Apparently he has been ready to die but waiting to see this baby, the Christ.

Isn’t it curious that this occurs 40 days after the birth?  Why wasn’t he on the birth announcement list?  Lowly shepherds were heralded by a multitude of angels and this devout man, covered by the Holy Spirit, awaiting the Messiah so he could depart from this life has to wait another 40 days?  Didn’t he deserve at least a little hint, “Simeon, the baby has been born and you will get to meet him soon.” No, he waits another 40 days until Joseph and Mary bring Him in to make the offering required by Jewish law for the first-born male.

Have you ever felt that way, that you have waited long enough for God to reveal Himself to you? That the time has really come for Him to move? Have you ever waited so long that you are beginning to doubt it is ever going to happen? Maybe you are feeling that way now. Perhaps you are in the midst of a situation where you really need God to help you, to guide you, to fix the desperate circumstances you face.  Do you feel like David who cried out in Psalm 13:1, ”How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide Your face from me?”

Did Simeon ask these questions? I think we all do from time to time. King David certainly did.  We have quite a few of his psalms that repeat the question, “How long?”.  And then we have psalm after psalm that declare God’s faithfulness and goodness.  These psalms show us that it is natural to have those feelings and to encourage us that God does hear and He does see.

How many times did Simeon come to the temple in anticipation that today might be The Day? Perhaps even as he was awaiting the fulfillment of the Messiah promised in the first two verses of Isaiah 40, he was also remembering the rest of the chapter, the part we so often hear quoted today: “But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Patient Simeon, waiting on the promise, his strength renewed each day to make his trek to the temple to see if the Christ would be revealed….and this morning, “he came by the Spirit, into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Christ child, to do for Him according to the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God…”

This is what faith does in us. It pulls us out of bed when we don’t feel like we can face another day. Faith keeps us going back to that place of expectation, again and again, because Today. Just. May. Be. The Day. When we have nothing to hold in our hands or set our eyes on, the evidence we have that God is at work is our faith. Faith is “the divinely implanted principle of inward confidence, assurance, trust, and reliance in God and all that He says” according to the editors of the New King James Spirit-filled Life Bible.

Do you need an implant in your heart today? When it seems that God has held back the fulfillment of His promise…

When you feel like He has hidden His face from you…

When you have prayed… and prayed… and prayed …

Remember the hope of Christmas:
– a shepherd king crying out his own doubts and fears and answered by his own great-great-great…. great grandson
– an old man waiting on the sidelines (for an extra 40 days, no less!)
– 400 years of silence broken by a baby’s cry
– a young mother fulfilling the requirement of the law by bringing in the very One who was the complete fulfillment of the law itself
– the long-awaited Messiah, the Promised One, the Hope of Israel.

“Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24

We are part of a powerful, growing state and national homeschooling movement. And that was the case even before the coronavirus! Now, more families than ever are homeschooling and benefiting from this life-changing choice. North Carolina is second only to Alaska in percent of the population homeschooling (statistics), and our freedoms here are some of the best in the nation

We are also at a time of significant cultural change in our nation. There are those who value our constitutional rights, traditional family structures, the sanctity of life, and the authority of parents in the lives of their children and there are those who don’t. There is also a growing belief that the government should make decisions about how our children are educated. This divide is affecting what is being taught in public schools and many parents are homeschooling because they don’t want these things taught to their children. In this video, our executive director, Matthew McDill talks about how home education provides a wonderful opportunity to preserve our values. 

COVID was interesting in that it brought our children home from schools to online experiences where parents became unavoidably aware of what was being taught and what their children were and were not learning. In essence, remote learning shed light on what had been largely beyond parental view pre-COVID. Homeschooling Facebook pages were full of parents’ exclamations of shock at what their children did not know, as well as statements of frustration with things they were being taught that were elements of social indoctrination. 

In North Carolina, there have been places where young students have been taken in for private interviews without parental consent or presence where they have been asked about things like family views on race and gender (article). In Charlotte, teachers have been encouraged to engage students in identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community and give them instruction on how to be activists without their parents knowledge and consent (article). Many families also recognize that the social distancing and masking of children is detrimental to their health and development as is being borne out in research (article). Other parents want masks to be mandated to protect their children from COVID.  It is in the turmoil of societal values that we have seen record numbers of people turning to homeschooling as a means of deciding what their children learn and how–a means of preserving values that are important to their families.  

We believe that every family should have the right to homeschool their children and pass on their own values to them. As an organization NCHE stands firmly behind the following: 

  • Parental Authority: The authority and responsibility of educating and raising children belongs to parents. 
  • Home Education: Home education is effective for establishing academic success, preparation for life, strong family relationships, and moral character. 
  • Biblical Christianity: We operate on the basis of biblical principles, affirm the Nicene Creed, hold to the authority of Scripture for doctrine and practice, and seek to support Christian parents in helping their children to follow Jesus Christ. 
  • Service to All: We serve and welcome all who support home education, regardless of race or religious affiliation. 

In short, NCHE is there to assist you as you preserve your family values with regard to the education of your children. But we can’t do it alone! There are over 112,000 homeschooling families in our state. We want to reach as many of these parents as possible to help them homeschool with confidence and joy, protect their right to homeschool, equip them with information and encouragement, and connect them with other homeschoolers to mentor and support them. NCHE is taking on a monumental task!   

We are a member and donor supported non-profit. We depend on you to help us preserve the rights and values of our members and all NC homeschoolers. Right now, we have a shortfall of roughly $20,000 to meet our budget by the end of the year. 

Do you want us to continue the work to protect and support you in your freedom to homeschool in NC? Then please support our effort by donating to North Carolinians for Home Education today! 

But don’t let it stop with you! Share this letter with someone in your corner who believes in your right to preserve family values. Maybe it’s your parents or siblings. Maybe it’s a neighbor, friend, co-worker, or fellow homeschooler. Ask them to donate out of support for you in your homeschooling journey! 

Standing with you,

Diane Helfrich
NCHE Development Director

P.S. It is critical to receive your support before the end of December. Prayerfully offer your best gift today! 

P.S.S.  There isn’t much that is more important than your freedom to raise your children according to your own convictions. With one simple choice to donate to NCHE, you will be doing the most important thing you can do to ensure that no one takes that freedom from you in NC. 

 

by Matthew McDill, Nov 21

Hopefully, you’ve already discovered The Homeschool Show! This is our most recent project to help parents homeschool with confidence and joy. This week we released episode 9, and we’ve already had guests on the show like Dr. Brian Ray (NHERI), attorney Dan Beasley (HSLDA), Yvette Hampton (of the Schoolhouse Rocked documentary), Tim Lambert (THSC), Dr. Kathy Koch (Celebrate Kids), and more! We’ve discussed current legislative issues in NC and offered lots of homeschool tips. 

Would you consider helping us with the show? Here’s what you can do:

1) Watch it.

We release a new episode of the show every Monday by 9:00 am. You can watch it on the show’s homepage or on YouTube. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

2) Share it.

Help us spread the word! When you see our Facebook and Instagram posts about the show, share them. Also, please take just a moment and share a link to the show with friends and family that you think will be interested.

3) Give us feedback.

Please let us know if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to address. And as you watch the show, if you have any ideas for how we can improve it, please email us at thehomeschoolshow@nche.com

4) Submit videos for the Homeschool Reality Moment.

The Homeschool Reality Moment is a segment of the show when we take a look at what is going on in real homeschools in NC. This segment shows video clips of parents sharing stories and experiences from their homes that are funny, moving, and inspiring. Please record your video horizontally (not the normal way you hold your phone). We want videos about 1 to 3 minutes long. It could be just a video of you telling a story of something that happened or a conversation you had. It could be a project idea or homeschool hack that you show through the video. Remember to keep it real. Don’t forget that this will also be shared as a podcast, so be sure you are giving narration as you show something. Send your videos to thehomeschoolshow@nche.com.

5) Advertise on the show.

If you own a business (or know someone who does), please consider sponsoring or placing an advertisement on the show. You can read all about it here. The Homeschool Show is produced in the News Talk WSIC studio and broadcast at 8:30 am on Mondays in the northern Charlotte, Lake Norman, Statesville and Iredell County region. We then upload the video and audio recordings of the show to YouTube and our podcast channels. The Homeschool Show is promoted each week through our social media channels (more than 27,000 followers) and email list (more than 13,000 subscribers).

6) Donate to NCHE

If you are grateful for what NCHE does, please consider making a donation. Our mission is to help parents homeschool with confidence and joy by protecting your right to homeschool in NC, equipping you with information and encouragement, and connecting you with other families and groups.

We are currently facing a budget shortfall for 2021. Our goal is to raise $20,000 by the end of the year to close this gap. You can help us continue to serve homeschoolers, like producing The Homeschool Show, when you make a generous donation.

by Diane Helfrich, November 2021

Beginnings

You have made the jump and decided to homeschool. It’s exciting and scary all at once. You have so many questions: Will I fail my child? Can I manage all of this? What if I don’t do it right? What curriculum should I choose? Will my kids have access to the things I loved when I was in school? …and a hundred more questions. You are swimming in a sea of uncertainty, and, yet, you are certain that you want to move forward with homeschooling. What is my best recommendation for you? Join a support group!

When we began to homeschool, a woman at the library encouraged me to join a group. I only knew of one group which she told me about. I wasn’t sure I wanted the interruption to my week and the added commitment it would bring. Hesitantly, I jumped in; we signed up for a class that met for an hour every other week for one semester! While the commitment wasn’t significant, I almost immediately saw the value of my choice. Over time, our co-op became the source of many parts of our homeschool.

What’s in It for Me?

One would assume that the best part of joining a co-op or support group would be friends for your children. What I didn’t expect was what was there for me. I, too, needed like-minded friends on a similar journey. I was surprised at how quickly friendships formed and how much I looked forward to seeing these parents. Throughout our homeschooling time, I clung to the words spoken by parents with more experience. There were discussions of curriculum, competitions, testing, the SAT and ACT, high school transcripts, college, scholarships—endless conversations about things I needed to know over the years. Parents talked about the things they wanted their children to have, their issues, and how they dealt with them. I gravitated toward parents who had values and families I admired, and I found myself morphing to homeschool more like them over time. I needed this mentorship. I needed these friendships. My support group and my involvement made me an infinitely better homeschool parent than I would have been without them. 

What’s in It for My Kids?

Of course, my kids found friends through our group; that almost goes without saying. In addition, our group provided things I was weak in (math is NOT my cup of tea!), opportunities that only work with groups such as competitions, and all sorts of enrichment activities other parents organized. We did many competitions: Math Olympiad, MathCounts, spelling bee, geography bee, science fair, National Latin Exam, Envirothon, team policy debate, and speech. We had choirs, proms, a wonderful graduation ceremony, a yearly fall barn square dance, and a multitude of field trips. My kids were on yearbook teams, gaining considerable leadership and time management skills; there was money involved and deadlines to meet. I taught classes that fit our needs and wants like philosophy, biology, chemistry, and dissection classes. These benefitted both my family and many others. Nothing was missing from our choosing to go away from traditional schooling. It was, in fact, a very learning-rich environment.

The Greater Community

It was through my support group that I became aware of NCHE and the sports offered. We went to the Thrive! Conference yearly. I was filled to the brim at these events, and I became connected with a larger pool of homeschoolers. When you walk into the Benton Convention Center filled with homeschooling families, you know you are part of something special before you even start listening to speakers! This larger community is as important as the local community. NCHE is where I became aware of the legislative support that happens for all of us without us having to do much. I now know that we have lists of groups. I happened into a great support group and co-op, but there are many, and NCHE provides a place to get connected through lists of groups. We participated in volleyball through the NCHE Athletic Commission (NCHEAC); I coached, my son was an assistant coach, and my daughter was a player. The sports gave us the final thing I was looking for to round out our experiences. Being a member of NCHE became more and more important to me because of the support for homeschoolers I witnessed.

Getting the Most from Your Group

Now for the part that many shy away from–the investment you make. Support groups require leadership and efforts from many hands to make them work. If the team you want isn’t available, COACH! If the class you want isn’t being taught, TEACH! If the prom or yearbook doesn’t exist, ORGANIZE. There will be other parents to help. As always, we get out of something what we put into it. We don’t have to know how to do it all; we can learn as we go. We have gifts to offer others, and they have the skills we need. Together, it all works. Yes, it takes time and commitment. But, through that commitment, you demonstrate to your children that nothing good comes without investment, and that is a fundamental lesson they need before they leave your nest. Serving the greater good is always something of worth to which we should aspire!

In closing, joining a group that fits your needs is the best gift you give yourself as a homeschooler. It’s a huge responsibility, and none of us does it best alone! In the world of best practices, this is a big one. So, find a group and jump in. You will be glad you did!

By Spencer Mason, October 2021

The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) recently sent out an email to randomly selected homeschools in North Carolina requesting that they attend a virtual record review meeting. The way the email reads, it would be easy to understand this request as a legal requirement. It says, “Please note that DNPE encourages you to participate as the NC Statutes governing non-public schools (Chapter 115C Article 39; § 115C 547 – 567) require all non-public schools to make available their records upon request. An invitation to attend a record review meeting is such a request.”

It is important to note, however, that later in the email it states, “If you do not have Microsoft Teams or you prefer not to meet virtually, you may either email or mail a copy of your 2020-21 attendance chart and standardized test results to DNPE.” We know from talking with DNPE representatives that they view the meeting request as voluntary. However, they do not view the request to mail or email your records as voluntary. 

The statute states, “For one year after the testing, all records shall be made available, subject to G.S. 115C-174.13, at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina.”

According to our understanding of this law, the only way that the DNPE can request to view your records is by coming to your home (“the principal office of such school”). Therefore, it is important that you understand that you are not required by law to attend the virtual meeting or to send in any records by mail or email.

While it is the decision of each homeschool administrator as to how to respond to these requests by DNPE, NCHE advises cooperation. Government officials are charged with maintaining the integrity of the law. It is important that one’s relations with government officials remain civil. NCHE encourages homeschools to be in compliance with the law, and to assist government officials in carrying out their task, within the bounds of the law. It is NCHE’s view that the current regulations on North Carolinians for record maintenance are not over-burdensome, and that DNPE has demonstrated itself to be in support of alternatives to public-sponsored education. Lack of cooperation may raise questions by some regarding the integrity of the law and validity of the practice of home education. In contrast, a working, cooperative relationship with government officials communicates respect for civil governance and the common good.

In summary:

  • You are not required by law to attend the virtual meeting or to send in any records by mail or email.
  • The law DOES require that we maintain attendance, immunization, and annual testing records.
  • It’s important that homeschoolers recognize that we’re in danger of having more regulations added if there’s a perception that we’re doing a poor job or there’s a lack of sufficient oversight.
  • We at NCHE believe cooperating with DNPE on these inspections is the best way to protect our present freedoms. DNPE understands homeschools and has supported our mode of education from the beginning. On the other hand, the Department of Public Instruction is not supportive and would be a disastrous substitute.
  • So, if you’re doing a good job teaching your children at home, as NCHE trusts you are, you have nothing to fear from these inspections.