This week, as I was giving my son a haircut on our front porch, I had an epiphany.

While I was trimming, we were talking about when his dad and I were his age. That’s when it occurred to me: both my husband and my sister homeschooled for just one year. Of course I knew these facts separately, but I had never made that connection in my mind. The idea that homeschooling for a single year had been so beneficial to their educational and emotional development really resonated with me.

They came from different socio-economic classes. They were different genders. While my husband had attended private Christian schools before homeschooling, my sister had attended public schools. My husband was a struggling reader, but my sister was academically gifted. Yet they both needed a break. And for both of them, the year that they homeschooled was necessary to recalibrate. It was a time to recover from a hard year. It was a time to draw closer to their friends and family. It was when they became more independent and confident. To this day, my parents, my in-laws, my husband, and my sister look back on “that crazy year we homeschooled” with amazing memories and tons of laughter!

So my question for you is this: what is stopping you from giving homeschooling a chance for just one year?

This time next year, you may find that homeschool is the perfect educational option for your family long-term, or you may find that it was the perfect fit for your family for a season. Either way, homeschool immersion may be just what your family needs to move from floundering to flourishing. So what if 2020 wasn’t just “that crazy year that we didn’t have any toilet paper?” What if 2020 is “that crazy year that our family took a leap of faith and started our wonderful homeschool journey?”

What do you think? Could taking this approach be just what you needed to give homeschooling a chance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

My 13 year old son said he wanted to go live in the woods for 24 hours. He built a fort he plans to sleep in. The temperature is 43 degrees and it is pouring down rain. You can imagine mom had a few questions and concerns about this adventure. I did too. But I also understand it. We told him that in a few days it would be sunny and warm. Why not do it then? But he had his heart set on it and he wanted the “extreme experience.” He packed his books in ziplock bags, made some sandwiches, got his sleeping bag and went on his way. His self enforced rule is that he can’t come back to the house for 24 hours. 

At one point I realized that he was asking me for permission to take this adventure. In one sense, that is appropriate because he has home and school responsibilities that he’s got to meet. On the other hand, no matter how fool-hardy I think the plan is, he needs to have the freedom to make his own decision. In the end, I did not give him permission to go or not. I told him to make sure he meets his responsibilities. Otherwise, he can make his own decision about going.

I think this is an important distinction. Nathaniel is my middle child and I can’t say that I made this transition smoothly with some of my older children. I am referring to the transition to adulthood. In this transition, it is important for them to begin to make their own decisions . . . and suffer the consequences. There are decisions that would severely harm my children that I would not let them make. I also help them understand that when they demonstrate maturity and responsibility, they earn more trust and freedom. At the same time, children must be given the opportunity to develop wisdom and discernment from the experience of making choices. 

I laughed out loud to myself when, a few minutes after Nathaniel left the house, torrents of sideways rain arrived. He may or may not regret going on this adventure. He will definitely be very cold and wet. But I’m pretty sure he won’t come back for 24 hours, because that’s the point. It’s not supposed to be easy. I’m proud of him. 

Change: whether you love it or hate it, change is inevitable.

Sometimes change is good! We see a radiant metamorphosis, or new growth, fruit, and reap a bountiful harvest. Other times change is detrimental. There is withering, decay, or destruction.

Recently our family helped remove a tree. It was large, and its limbs were loaded with thick green leaves. From the outside, the tree appeared to be strong and healthy. It even stood above many of the other trees around it. But when we cut it down, we were shocked to find that this beautiful tree was almost completely hollow. It had been devoured by termites from within.

This was such a great visual representation and reminder of how everyday habits, left unchecked, can rapidly take out decades of growth. Things that took years to build may still appear normal on the outside, but if we look deeper, we will see that we are actually deteriorating because of an attack from within.

In the homeschool classroom, these problems often look something like this:

  • a lack of consideration for routines or schedules (internal) manifests as goofing off or acting rowdy (external),
  • a lack of respect toward others (inward) manifests as yelling, whining, or complaining (outward,)
  • a lack of attention to our studies (inward) manifests as apathy, laziness, or avoidance (outward.)

As we come into summer and school slows down for a bit, now is a great time to step back and assess if any unwanted habits have crept into our homes. Talk to your children. Ask hard questions. Be honest with your kids about how you are working on your bad habits. Together, families can reshape habits, eliminate the elements that are hindering our growth, and begin flourishing where we were feeble.

One of the first steps to take when beginning to homeschool is to choose a name.  To register your homeschool with the Department of Non-Public Education, you will have to submit a name that will be assigned to your school for its entire duration.  This is important to keep in mind as you make your selection.  According to the rules that govern homeschools in our state, you may never change your school’s name.  Even if you close your school at some point and reopen it at a later date, NCDNPE will still use your original school name.  

Having the proper perspective that your homeschool is a legally recognized school in every aspect can be a good guideline for choosing a name for it.  Consider it from the perspective of an outsider whose respect you wish to earn.  The manner in which you type it on the state website becomes the official name.  They will not correct your spelling or punctuation errors.  It might be wise to write it out and have a friend or family member double-check it for you, then carefully type it on your application.


Guidelines for Choosing a Name

Remember these grammar rules:

  • Always capitalize the first and last word of any title.
  • Capitalize nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.
  • Do not capitalize articles, prepositions, or coordinating conjunctions.
  • Use an apostrophe to show possession. 

Here is an example that follows all four rules:  Johnson’s School of Fine Learning.

I find it helpful to picture your potential name as it might one day appear on a high school diploma, college or job application, military enrollment, or other “adult” type of paperwork.  As cute and cozy as a name like “Happy Campers Homeschool” might sound for your kindergartner, it hardly gives a solid impression of a 18 year old to a Marine recruiter. I have known many people who never thought they would homeschool past elementary or middle school grades and ended up going all the way through high school graduation.   

Other things to avoid when selecting a name are:

  • Using your child’s name (ie. School for Sam)
  • Numbers used in place of words (ie. A Place 4 Learning) 
  • The use of symbols (ie. Learning @ Home)
  • Names that don’t give the impression of a school (ie. Strong Faith or Ferguson)
  • Names that are “cute” (Cozy Nest, Ponytail Academy)

Rules that NCDNPE has regarding naming your school include:

  • The School Name must not exceed 30 characters in length (including spaces and punctuation).
  • Do not use the following words in your school name:  Charter, college, elementary, grade, grammar, high, incorporated (or Inc.), junior, kindergarten, lower, middle, primary, public, residence, schooling, secondary, seminary, senior, the, university or upper
  • Do NOT use the name of your curriculum in your school name, even if you are registered with an accredited distance learning program.  Example of names NOT allowed:  ABEKA, BJU, Bob Jones, Keystone, Liberty.
  • Do not use A or THE at the beginning of your school name


So What Makes a Good School Name? 

Here is where you can let your creativity flow.  Many people utilize their last name, the name of a significant person, or a name associated with where they live. Others use words that represent a virtue they value or a word that symbolizes an aspect of their vision for their school.  The jury is split on using words such as Academy or School that make a definitive statement on the purpose of the name or letting the name speak for itself. So here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing.  The Murphy family lives on Live Oak Lane in foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Their vision for their school is a place where their three children will learn the fundamentals of a solid education from a Christian worldview, becoming well-prepared to be productive citizens as well as strong believers. They are fans of Thomas Jefferson and their most famous ancestor is great-grandfather George W. Sheldon, a circuit rider and missionary. Some possible names they might consider are:

  • Murphy Center for Learning
  • Live Oak Academy
  • Foothills Preparatory School
  • World Changers Day School
  • Thomas Jefferson School
  • George W. Sheldon Academy
  • Solid Foundations
  • Blue Ridge Lyceum

Proverbs 22:1 tells us that, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches.”  Hopefully your homeschool journey will start with a good name and will yield many great riches as you and your children discover the many wonders of learning together!

Since 1998, NCHE has awarded over $150,000 in college scholarships to over a hundred graduating homeschooled seniors. The NCHE Scholarship Program was instituted to encourage and reward excellence in homeschooling in North Carolina. Scholarship categories include:

  • academic
  • arts
  • community service
  • scholar athlete, and
  • missions and ministry*

This year, there were some truly amazing applicants! Although it was not easy for our committee to choose, after much prayer and consideration we selected the following students. On behalf of the scholarship judges on the NCHE Activities Committee, it is my privilege to inform our members of this year’s award recipients.

Apologia Missions & Ministry Scholarship:  JOSIAH BRINSON of Holly Springs, son of Clifton and Christi Brinson. Josiah plans to study physics at Wake Forest University before going on to earn engineering degrees where he can use his creativity to invent and design. He is among the top 2% of under 21 chess players in the U.S.

Apologia Missions & Ministry Scholarship #2:  WILLIAM SANDFORD of Burlington, son of Bill and Cheryl Sandford.  William has been involved in the Civil Air Patrol for four years including serving as Squadron Commander; participated in four domestic missions trips and been a music/worship leader in his church for six years.  He is on-track to receive his Associates degree from Alamance Community College this spring where he started and led a Bible study for approximately 25 students on campus.  He plans to attend Liberty to major in Bible Studies and Music with the anticipation of entering the ministry upon graduation.

Arts Scholarship:  ADAH FREEMAN of Kernersville, daughter of Karl and Mary Freeman.  She has a 35 on her ACT.  She plans to attend either UNC-Chapel Hill or NC State University in their bio/pre-med program.  She has “a passion for biology, mental health, and any kind of art.”  She  “may become a doctor, a dermatologist, a Physician’s Assistant, an art therapist, or even a medical illustrator, but whatever I do will involve service, science, empathy, and creativity.”

Molly Nichols Memorial Academic ScholarshipELI MAYFIELD of Wake Forest, son of Jeffrey and Adrienne Mayfield.  Eli, one of nine children, has a goal of becoming a nurse through the nursing program at UNC – Chapel Hill. Subsequently, he expects to go to grad school to become a nurse practitioner or PA.  Eli has a 35 on his ACT, is nationally ranked in speech and debate through NCFCA, loves his family and loves the Lord.

Community Service Scholarship #1SOFIA LONNECKER of Knightdale, daughter of Gregory and Jacqueline Lonnecker.  Sofia has served as an officer in her honor society, been active in her church, run cross country, worked with horses, and filled many positions in theater, including designing and making historically accurate costumes; see the link below. She wants to lead young girls through horsemanship.

Community Service Scholarship #2BEN McKAY of Youngsville, son of Trevor and Janet McKay.  Ben is very well rounded and academically gifted.  He has an ACT of 33 and will complete his AA degree via dual enrollment this spring.  He has held leadership positions in his honor society and with NCFCA; earned the President’s Bronze Award (2 years) for community service and participates in guitar, voice, ballroom dance and musical theater.  He plans to attend Grove City College to study Computer Science. Because of his breadth of interests and abilities, he doesn’t have a single career in mind but says, “I don’t need to see to know that the Lord sees. Whatever happens, I trust Him.”

Scholar Athlete ScholarshipJACOB HUTH of Raleigh, son of Brandon and Cheryl Huth.  In addition to high scholarship, he has a wide range of extracurriculars that include his church, trumpet, “for fun” classes (that weren’t on his transcript) in CPR, personal finance and auto repair among others.  And then there’s his sport: fencing.  He is nationally ranked as a competitor at the National Junior Olympics as well as serving as a fencing coach and referee. He plans to attend NC State University to study biomedical engineering, having been inspired by one of his fencing coaches who has a prosthetic leg following an accident.

Scholarships are funded by supporters like you.  If you would like to donate to this scholarship fund click here.
*The Missions & Ministry Scholarship is sponsored by Apologia.

Evelyn Bickley
Activities Director
North Carolinians for Home Education