Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Many of you have already read about the Harvard Summit that will discuss regulating home education. This is a disturbing development as we observe a growing agenda by some to increase government oversight of home education. I wanted to take a moment to provide a response from North Carolinians for Home Education.

NCHE supports parents’ rights to raise their children without government oversight. 

The lives and well-being of children are precious. Therefore, national and state laws against abuse and other crimes must be enforced in all American homes. At the same time, parents should be free to raise their children by making their own religious, educational, and medical choices. This, of course, includes the right for parents to homeschool their children in whatever way they see fit. 

The homeschool law in NC is one of the best in the nation, which is why our state is such a great place to homeschool. We believe that any additional oversight of home education by the government would be a compromise of parental rights and the quality of home education.

NCHE is working to protect your right to homeschool in North Carolina.

Our mission is to help parents homeschool with confidence and joy. We do this by protecting your right to homeschool in NC, equipping you with the information and encouragement you need, and connecting you with other families and groups across the state.

Currently, there is no specific threat in NC regarding our freedom to homeschool. Our law and policy director and committee are keeping an eye on any NC legislation that would affect homeschooling in NC. We regularly stay in touch with NC legislators to maintain a good relationship with them and make sure they remain aware of our community. Every other year we host Capital Fest in Raleigh, which allows homeschool families to be informed and engaged in our state government. 

You can help.

You can help keep home education free in NC by partnering with us. You can become a member of NCHE (or extend your membership) by making a donation of any amount (min. $5). If you become a member, then you will receive our weekly email, which will keep you informed of homeschool opportunities and concerns in NC. We will be sure to let you know if it becomes necessary for you to take action. 

In addition, your donation allows us to continue to work to protect our right to homeschool in NC. If you are already a member and would like to make an additional donation, you can do so here. Our next Capital Fest will be next spring (2021), so keep a look out for that information so you can join us in Raleigh to represent home education in NC!

If you have any comments or questions, please leave a comment below or contact me directly at matthew.mcdill@nche.com. Let us know how we can serve you!

So many are schooling at home now! Welcome to the family! Some of you are not only helping your kids with school now, but also trying to work from home. I know it must feel challenging and frankly overwhelming at times. While choosing to homeschool is in some ways vastly different than schooling at home due to the virus, let me offer a few tips that might help.

First, if you are a believer, trust that the Lord has you, your family, and this whole situation in His very capable hands. This was not a surprise to Him and just as He is with you in every area of your life, He will enable you to educate your children at home during this time if you ask Him for wisdom and guidance and choose to walk in faith. Remember that through all of this, we are modeling for our children how best to respond to a difficult time. May our children see us trusting Him.

 

Tip #1: It Doesn’t Have to Look Like School

Learning doesn’t only take place at a table or desk. Children learn so much just by living life. Make recipes together, helping them learn about math and fractions (what if we doubled or halved this recipe?). Read books that you have at home on topics that they are interested in. Research things online about subjects they suggest (teaching them as you go on the “how-to” of looking things up). Make blanket forts over your table and snuggle in there while reading with them and talking about what you read about.

Don’t discount the value of kids just playing, imagining, and having downtime with no screens to distract them. Older kids can make videos about things they are learning, or just videos. (Some of my kids loved to team up to do this, recreating Lord of the Rings or something they were reading or watching.) Write letters to those in nursing facilities that are quarantined, family members, or others the Lord brings to mind or the kids come up with. Have children start a diary of their daily experiences and thoughts during the “Great Quarantine of 2020” 🤪 to share with their own kids one day. 

Do things around the house that have been neglected in our busy lives. Teach valuable life skills to your kids in the process of household management – organization, gardening, maintenance, repair, etc. Look up fun experiments you can do at home with household items. Take a hike and observe nature; make a nature notebook. Sleep in, snuggle; and read; stay in your jammies if you want 😳. Play in nature whenever possible. Limit screens, live life, breathe, repeat. Really our founding fathers had it right. Get in the 3R’s each day and you are good to go. Much of schooling can be accomplished in daily life especially with younger children. Allow yourself and your kids to have some fun in this new adventure in learning.

 

Tip #2: Temper Your Expectations

Homeschooling by choice is different than schooling at home in a crisis. You don’t have control over the curriculum, pacing, or content. But when possible, can you change the delivery and still accomplish your school’s objectives? Does everything have to be written down or can younger kids dictate to you and you write it down for them to speed the schooling process? Can you read texts with your kids, learning something new yourself? Interacting with your kids and their learning, versus just handing their work to them and asking them to do it, will make the experience more fun for all. Consult your child’s teacher for what is acceptable.

I am just guessing here, but I imagine you may have already noticed by now that being together all the time provides ample opportunity for friction among family members? It’s to be expected. The daily possibility of “rubbing each other the wrong way” provides many opportunities to live out what we learn from God’s Word about how to treat one another and to disciple our kids in the process. For the record, your house will look like people live in it all day and learning is taking place. That’s ok and it’s to be expected; just schedule clean up times periodically in your day and make it another family activity.

So many incredible learning resources are available to families right now! Whether you’ve been homeschooling for ten years or ten minutes, here’s a list of some of our favorites.

5 in a Row
5 in a Row is offering a free mini unit and some sweet scavenger hunts.

Konos
Konos is offering free, online video lesson plans and online homeschool mentoring.

Google is offering virtual tours of the most famous art museums on the planet!

YouTube
Take daily art classes with some of your favorite children’s book authors, including Mo Willems when you tune into their YouTube channels.

Disney
The Walt Disney Parks Blog invites you to be their guest as you learn to draw your favorite Disney characters through online tutorials with Disney imagineers.

Demme Learning
Founded by Steve Demme, an NCHE Thrive! Conference featured speaker, Demme Learning is an independent family-owned and operated publishing company based in Pennsylvania and includes these products: Math-U-See, Spelling-U-See, Kindertown, and Building Faith Families. 

Classical U
Classical U is offering 3 weeks free when you use the link above and code: 3weeks.

Andrew Peterson
Beloved author and musician Andrew Peterson is offering a Facebook Live read-along of the WingFeather Saga beginning Friday, March 20.

Institute for Excellence in Writing
If idioms aren’t your jam and hyperbole is the absolute bane of your entire existence, you’ll be glad to see that the Institute for Excellence in Writing is offering free language arts instruction and support for parents.

SPED Homeschool
Parents who are suddenly home with children who have special needs or learning differences will appreciate this post (and online meet-ups for moms!) from SPED Homeschool.

Simple Homeschool
Can education really be this simple? Learn a great way to find your homeschool rhythm (aka, when to do what!) at Simple Homeschool.

HSLDA
HSLDA has started a Facebook community for families, parents, educators, and students who are having to change their education routines due to the coronavirus… because education isn’t a place–it’s an experience that can happen anywhere! 

Playful Learning
Playful Learning is offering free resources PLUS a free webinar on how to create playful spaces in your home. Join them Friday, March 20, from 11am – 12pm EST.

Chess.com
Play chess, solve puzzles, and learn for free every day.

Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com
These two sister websites have fun, free quizzes and short lessons to build your vocabulary and strengthen your knowledge in all things related to language.

If you are a parent of a school-aged child, there’s a good chance that you have just been launched into the exciting, and sometimes scary, world of home education. I would like to be the first to say, “Welcome!”

Unlike those of us who researched, planned, and prepared for some time for this endeavor, you had no say in the matter as the COV-ID19 pandemic made the choice for you. We at North Carolinians for Home Education are here for you. We believe that whether it is for the next few weeks or for years to come, YOU can homeschool with confidence and joy! We will support you with the information and resources you need at this critical time.

One thing that many people are asking is how to set up a homeschool. While that may be a decision you eventually make, if your child is already enrolled in a public or private school that is temporarily closed, it is not necessary to open your own homeschool at this point. In fact, you may find it impossible to withdraw them during this time, so it is best to look at your situation more along the lines of distance learning. However, it is a great opportunity to have a trial run at something that many of us have grown to love: pursuing education with our children.

So from my 20+ years of homeschooling, what would I say to you if we could sit down for a chat about this surprise you’ve been given?

  • Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and relax. You can do this! I want to encourage you today to look at this as a blessing in disguise. The next few weeks can be a wonderful time for your family to reconnect, recharge, and perhaps learn some new skills together.
  • While you are in relaxation mode, consider relaxing some of the rules. Let everyone sleep in a little; perhaps consider loosening the screen time limits. Have breakfast for dinner, or have family movie night in the middle of the week instead of Friday. Invite your children to take turns leading a family devotion time each afternoon. Work to instill an atmosphere of peace and joy in your home.  
  • Bring out the games! There are so many ways we learn as we play board games. Money skills, arithmetic, logic, strategizing, vocabulary, etc. These are just a few of the strengths that games such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, and Ticket to Ride can bring out in your child. They may even realize they like learning about them as they play. You might even want to check out some new games to order from a small business near you to support others. 
  • Check out all the resources that are being offered to help families stay active, positive, and informed through virtual connections. From zoos giving daily visits with their animals to virtual tours of Buckingham Palace, fitness classes to ballet lessons, historical videos to famous actors doing an evening story-time, the wonders of the Internet can be a fun way to enhance the lessons your child may be getting from their school system.
  • Don’t try to recreate your child’s classroom at home. Your home is just that – a home. It should be comfortable, personalized to your family’s needs and style, and reflect those who are a part of it. Don’t feel pressured to meet anyone’s expectations. Find what works for you. And be warned that, as is always true with parenting, what worked yesterday may no longer work today.  
  • Have a family meeting. Work together to organize a family chore plan, meal plan, and a routine for the day.  Having everyone’s input helps your children understand that they are a valuable part of the family unit, and feeling heard goes a long way in getting them to help out with a positive attitude.
  • Speaking of attitude, let’s have grace for each other including ourselves. Our worlds have been shaken, whether we are a child who has suddenly lost their anticipated field trip and been cut off from their friends or an adult who is concerned about losing their job, finding toilet paper, and keeping their family healthy. Everyone is going to have moments when stress gets the better of them. Give each other space when you need it and a listening ear when someone needs to share their heart. Anticipate meltdowns, and be ready with a shoulder to cry on or a fun diversion to break the tension.  
  • Take advantage of this extended “vacation” to pursue those things that tend to get put on the back burner in our typically busy lives. Take walks in the woods, learn how to bake bread together, finally finish that crochet project, or start a spring garden.  
  • Look for ways to serve the community around you. This is one of the most important lessons we can teach our children. They can make cards to mail to the elderly who are shut-in at a nearby nursing home, call (yes, there is still such a thing, kiddos!) grandparents or other senior citizens to check in on them and cheer them up. Do yard work for a neighbor. 

I realize that not much of this has to do with classroom learning. There is a time and place for that, but as veteran homeschoolers will tell you, the learning that sticks with you through life is the learning you acquire through living it. Do those worksheets that the teachers will email you, and watch the online instructions form their virtual classrooms. Those are the meat and potatoes of your new diet, waiting to be spiced up with the vast array of options available to you. 

You have been given an amazing gift that is a rarity in our modern times. You may not have looked at it that way when it was given to you, and it may be a struggle to see it that way as time goes on. But for today, take a moment to feel gratitude for the chance to be together and let inspiration fill your soul.  

We are here to support all families in North Carolina as they step into the brave new world of home education. So whether you are here for the short-term, or you decide you like what you are tasting and want to stick around for the long-term, North Carolinians for Home Education is here every day, working to protect your rights to homeschool, equipping you with the information and encouragement you need, and connecting you with other homeschool families in your community and across the state. 

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments or contact our Homeschool Helps Director, Amanda Wares, amanda.wares@nche.com. Let us know how we can help you today!

Should I homeschool my children? More and more parents all over the world are asking this question. Many parents in NC are answering “Yes!” As of the 2018-19 school year, there are over 90,000 homeschool families in North Carolina. 

Why do people choose to homeschool? There are many reasons: academic excellence, scheduling flexibility, special needs, and freedom to individualize a student’s pace and interests. Parents also want to remove their children from bullying, unnecessary exposure to immorality, and worldviews that are contrary to those of the parents.

You are the only one who can make the decision to homeschool your children. It is an important choice, so you’ll want to take the time to consider all your options, pray about it, and discuss it with your spouse. Here are three practical steps you can take in your decision making process.

1. Research.

Make a list of all of your questions. Most likely, some of them are:

In the list above, you’ll find some helpful links to get you started on finding answers to these questions. Then keep digging until you get all the information you need.

2. Talk with experienced homeschoolers.

Plenty of people will have views and opinions about home education. There’s no harm in hearing everyone out, but I recommend paying close attention to experienced homeschool parents. Talking with real homeschoolers might prompt you to ask even more questions:

  • What does a normal homeschool day look like?
  • How do you take care of little ones while educating the older ones?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Will my kids be able to go to college?

Keep writing down your questions, doing research, and asking experienced homeschoolers for their perspective. You can also talk with the NCHE liaison in your region.

3. Attend the Thrive! Homeschool Conference.

This year the conference is May 28-30, 2020 at the Benton Convention Center in Winston-Salem, NC. We have been equipping, encouraging, and connecting homeschool families through our conference for 35 years. You’ll find:

  • Knowledgeable and Inspiring Speakers
  • A Huge Vendor Hall
  • Fun Teen Activities
  • An Engaging Children’s Program
  • Encouraging and Inspiring Workshops
  • Experienced Mentoring
  • An Entertaining Talent Showcase

If you are still deciding about home education, one of the most important aspects of the conference will be the workshops that are especially geared to making this decision and getting started. Another will be the vendor hall, which is full of curriculum, books, and resources. There is also a mentoring table and plenty of experienced homeschoolers all over the place you can talk to. 

What is your most pressing homeschool question? Let us know in the comments!