I’d like to tell you a story about what happened with one of my high school students that points to several important homeschooling principles:

  • In NC, parents decide what is required for a student to graduate, not the state or any other organization. 
  • If your student is headed for college, you must determine his high school courses and build a transcript that meet the prospective colleges’ requirements.
  • Many colleges (especially community colleges) offer dual enrollment for high school students. Students can take college classes and earn credit for both high school and college. 
  • Home education provides fantastic flexibility to meet your students’ individual needs and timing.

At the end of my oldest son’s sophomore year, we went out for coffee to plan for his junior year. Boy, was he prepared! He presented a very persuasive argument for only completing one more year of high school. He was not interested in going to college; he was older for his grade, and he was eager to work more and learn business. So, I created an especially difficult “final” year of high school; he completed it diligently, and he graduated. 

Can you do that!? Yes, you can. In NC, the parents decide what is required for a student to graduate, not the state or any other organization. You can require more, or less, than what public schools require. You can choose the same subjects or different subjects from those used in public school. 

For the next two years my son worked very hard, saved up to buy a very nice used car with cash, and then saved another $15,000. He was also exploring vocational options and praying about what God wanted him to do with his life. At some point in the process, he became interested in law enforcement and began doing research. He quickly discovered that almost every officer he talked with recommended a college degree. 

So one day my son said, “Well, Dad, I think I’d like to go to college after all.” To his utter dismay, I replied, “Unfortunately, we only have a three year high school transcript for you. You’ll have to do another year of high school!” 

Although parents have the freedom to determine what is required for graduation, preparing your student for college is quite another issue. If your student is headed for college, you must determine his high school courses and build a transcript that meet the prospective colleges’ requirements.

Once my son got over the shock of this news, he agreed to complete another year of high school, because he was so committed to pursuing law enforcement. We put together another year of courses that would meet the requirements of the college in which he was interested. One of the things that really made this bearable for him was dual enrollment. Many colleges (especially community colleges) offer dual enrollment for high school students. Students can take college classes and earn credit for both high school and college. My son felt that he wasn’t just having to “go back” to high school; he was also moving forward with college.

As I look back at this adventure, I would not do it any differently. My son needed to go work and do research to discover what direction he was heading in. Once he had a direction, he was able to chart a path. Most importantly, he had his own personal understanding and motivation of the process. He wasn’t just going to college because that’s what people do. This experience is one of the reasons I love homeschooling so much. Home education provides fantastic flexibility to meet your students’ individual needs and timing. On the other end of the spectrum, I currently have a daughter that would normally be a junior in high school this year. She is young for her grade, felt behind on her work, and wanted to build a good transcript, so she has decided to stay back as a sophomore. 

I hope this story will inform you about how homeschooling high school works in NC and encourage you to take full advantage of the wonderful flexibility homeschooling provides to meet the unique needs and timing of each of your children. 

January and February are often hard months for homeschool. It’s cold. The days are shorter. There’s less daylight. Many of our favorite outdoor activities have shorter operating hours. And this year, many of our favorite indoor winter activities are closed. You are at the halfway point in your school year, and the homeschool finish line may seem arduous or even impossible to reach.

It is important to remember that some years your children may achieve success with trophies, awards, certificates, or phenomenal test scores. Congratulate your kids (and yourselves!) and celebrate! Other years, your children may see different types of wins like personal growth in responsibility, self-awareness, or stepping into the hobbies that inspire them. Congratulate your kids (and yourselves!) and celebrate!

As you dig your heels into the second semester of your homeschool year, now is the time to channel your inner coaching skills. Are you ready? It’s half time. You’re the coach. You may be tired; your team is definitely tired. They’ve had a solid first half. Reassure your kids that the end is in sight, and you believe your family has what it takes to finish strong. Remember the obstacles you’ve already overcome as a team, and remind your children that you’ll be with them, cheering them on every step of the way.

Looking for more encouragement? Check out this article from NCHE’s GREENHOUSE magazine. GREENHOUSE is the thrice annual publication for NCHE members. Thinking of becoming a member? Start here.

NCHE interviews Activities Director Evelyn Bickley to learn more about NCHE scholarships.

NCHE: Evelyn, you serve as activities director and that includes serving as the chair of our scholarship committee. Tell us a little about the history of NCHE scholarships.
EB: The NCHE Scholarship program started in 1998.  Since that time, NCHE has been able to award nearly $160,000 in scholarships to North Carolina homeschoolers.  Students have used the money to attend a variety of post secondary educational programs including major North Carolina universities, military academies, mission training programs and community colleges.

NCHE: Which scholarships will be awarded in 2021?
EB: In 2021, we plan to award scholarships in the categories of athletics, academics, community service, the arts, and missions and ministry.  Most of the awards are about $1000.

NCHE: What is the committee looking for– specifically: what makes a great application?
EB: The application submission packet includes a general information sheet, a transcript, a resume of other activities, recommendation letters, and an essay.  The committee considers each of those carefully, but the most telling part is usually the essay.  A well-crafted essay is engaging and shows the student’s personality and passion.  If the student hasn’t yet decided what they want to study or do in the future, that’s fine–but we’d like to hear them talk about their options and specifically what in their life so far makes them think they’d be successful in that area.  As a committee, we strive to be good stewards of our resources and want to award funds to those whose drive, vision, and experience make them most likely to succeed in their future endeavors.

Why is it more important than ever for families and business owners to consider setting up memorial scholarships or giving to the NCHE scholarship program? How does investing in post-secondary education for homeschooled students benefit the community?
EB: The scholarships that NCHE awards are funded by donations.  Currently, one of the scholarships is funded as a memorial to a homeschooling mom who passed away.  Another is funded by the curriculum company Apologia.  Much of the money in years past has come from individual families giving directly to the NCHE Scholarship Fund.  Without direct financial support from individuals and companies, NCHE would not be able to help deserving students.  The students who receive these scholarships are leadership caliber, ones who are focused and dedicated, and will be a positive force in the future whatever field they pursue.

We are thankful for our members! Are you a new NCHE member or thinking of becoming a member? Start here.

I’d like to share this video message with you. If you’d rather read about it, see below.


At the beginning of 2019, NCHE took a bold step of faith when the board hired me (Matthew McDill) to be our full-time executive director. I was a part of that decision making process because I had been serving on the board as a volunteer for five years and over a year as president. We recognized that if we were going to fulfill our mission to help the over 90,000 families in NC homeschool with confidence and joy we were going to need additional full-time staff and leadership that could take us to the next level of effective service. In response to the pandemic this year, even more parents are choosing to homeschool. What an opportunity we have to equip parents for this critical calling!

NCHE has had enough money in savings to make this transition, but our annual income does not meet the additional expense of a new full-time employee. We are working to increase our budget to meet this expense as soon as possible. Like so many others, NCHE ran into a major speed bump this year when we had to cancel our 2020 Thrive! Conference. This was a significant loss of income, and so we are working even harder now to meet this new demanding budget.

We believe that we are pursuing God’s mission for us to help parents homeschool with confidence and joy. We do this by protecting your right to homeschool in NC, equipping you with information and encouragement, and connecting you with other families and groups across the state. We believe that your effort to homeschool is vital to the health of your kids, your family, and our nation. We have expanded our ministry to parents this year in exciting ways and have even bigger plans for 2021.

In this year’s December giving campaign, our goal is to raise $37,157. This amount is 25% of our annual staff budget that we are investing in growing the impact of NCHE. Will you please help us meet this new aggressive budget so that we can keep the homeschool movement strong by empowering and protecting even more homeschool families in NC?

by Guest Contributor Valerie Cox

Whether your children realize it or not, science is everywhere in the world around us. From the
sunlight waking us up in the morning to how our bodies digest the food we eat, science is a
major part of our daily lives. As their educator, it’s important to engage your children with
science so they have a better understanding and deeper appreciation of our environment.

1. Question Walks
One way to engage your children with science is to take a “question walk” where they can ask
questions about what they see. As your children’s educator, you can take time to explain why the
sky is blue or point out different plants and trees along your walk. You could try allowing the
children to guide the question walk as much as possible so you can discover any new interests or
curiosities they have, and if you don’t know an answer to their question, you can have your
children help you research the answer. It’s important for children to know that science is about
continuing to learn even after you graduate from school.

2. Trip to the Zoo
If you are studying animals in your school unit, a trip to the zoo will be a wonderful way for your
children to engage with science. You can have your children take journals and write down facts
they learn or draw pictures of the animals they see throughout the day. You could also check
with your zoo to see if they offer any educational opportunities specifically for homeschool
students as this would be another resourceful way for your children to learn more about science
and the animal kingdom.

3. Hands-On Experiments
If your children learn better with hands-on learning, performing science experiments would be a
smart way to engage your children with science. Many simple science experiments can easily be
done at home, and all you need to do is spend a few minutes online researching your different
options to find one that is tailored to your children’s ages and scientific interests. If you are
studying a specific scientific unit, you can find a coordinating experiment so your children will
continue their science learning and have their curiosities piqued. From classic experiments like
making a volcano to more in-depth experiments like ones involving dry ice, there is certainly a
hands-on science experiment perfect for your children.

4. Build Structures
If your children enjoy playing with building blocks, you can engage your children with science
by learning more about architecture and engineering. As you study the building process, you can
talk about the different elements (stone, metal, wood, etc.) that most buildings are built with and
have it serve as a math integration as well since your children will be calculating building height
and other key measurements. You can have your children engineer their own structure or create a
replica of a local landmark. If your children aren’t interested in building blocks, you can have
them engineer a structure out of items they find around the house like plastic bottles, cardboard
boxes, or egg cartons. For a hands-on experiment using engineering skills, you could have your
children create race cars or containers to cushion an egg during an egg drop.

5. Schedule Field Trips
Visiting a museum is a great way to engage your children with science. You can research
different museums in your area and look for ones that would appeal to your children. From
children’s museums to space museums to museums on specific scientific leaders, you can easily
find a museum with a science element within driving distance from your house, and you can
easily use this as a field trip opportunity for your children. As your children’s educator, you
should think outside of the box! When looking for field trip opportunities, remember that your
children can learn a great deal about science by visiting a local farm or manufacturing facility as
well as traditional museums. You can sign up to receive communications from area museums so
you can stay up-to-date on new or traveling exhibits and if any museums are offering any
education opportunities for homeschool students.

As both your children’s educator and parent, it can be hard to find new ways to engage them
with science, but it’s important that your children appreciate how many scientific elements are in
the world around them. By taking the time to think outside of the box and look for new
opportunities, you can certainly find plenty of ways to engage your children with their scientific
interests and curiosities.

Valerie Cox is a contributing writer for LOC Scientific.

We are thankful for our members! Are you a new NCHE member or thinking of becoming a member? Start here.