Art has always been a huge part of our homeschool because I am an artist. I love making art, I love teaching art, and I love watching children create art! After we began homeschooling, I realized that a lot of families did not regularly incorporate art into homeschool. These were the most common reasons I heard:

  • I don’t have an artistic bone in my body; I could never teach art.
  • It costs too much money to send them to art lessons.
  • My kids are not artistic.
  • It’s too hard to get all of that out and clean it up.
  • I don’t have the bandwidth to add one more thing to all that I’m teaching.
  • Art and music are not as important as reading, writing, arithmetic, and science.

If this sounds familiar, here are some great ways to bring art into your homeschool this year.

  1. You don’t have to be artistic to teach art; you only have to be willing. That’s your first step! There are some truly amazing homeschool art resources if you are willing to step out of your comfort zone and learn with your children. (For what it’s worth, I didn’t know I had any mathematical bones until we successfully conquered Algebra!)
  2. The second way to incorporate art is to explore and see what’s out there. From online instruction via YouTube, to subscription boxes, or homeschool co-ops that meet via Zoom, there are lots of ways to learn art together inexpensively or for free.
  3. If your child lacks an interest in making art, that doesn’t mean there is no room to appreciate iconic paintings, sculpture, artifacts, and architecture. Learning about art—even without creating it—will give your children a great art education. Studying art history by using flash cards is a great way to bring art into the homeschool classroom.
  4. If you are annoyed by the mess, that doesn’t mean that you have to give up on art. Opt for drawing with pencils & colored pencils in a sketchbook. It has zero mess, may be taken anywhere, and is completely self-contained (not to mention affordable.)
  5. Stop thinking about art as its own subject, and start thinking of art as an extension of other subjects—like history or writing. Every culture has always had art! Sketching can be incorporated into whatever you’re doing in your core curriculum (reading, writing, science, and math.)
  6. Art has always been the perfect arena for experimentation that leads to discovery in other academic disciplines. Leonardo DaVinci. Benjamin Franklin, Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein are prime examples of well-rounded students whose education included equal emphasis on humanities and sciences. Science and math are incredibly artistic!

What are your favorite ways to incorporate art in your homeschool classroom? Tell us in the comment section below.

I’ve heard a number of homeschool parents say that they plan to homeschool until high school and then put them in public school. I can understand why; homeschooling high school can be intimidating. Parents often feel that many high school courses are over their head. In addition, so much is at stake as we build transcripts and prepare for college!

From my experience, however, high school is one of the most important and rewarding times to homeschool. I have graduated three and will have two more in high school this fall. High school is when students can really take off in independent learning and exploration that is tailored to their personal interests. They can go as far as they want! They can take advantage of the flexibility to put more hours into working a job or develop other skills.

There are three reasons I believe that you can homeschool high school. 

  1. You don’t have to teach all the courses. If you’ve been homeschooling, you’ve already discovered this. There are excellent online courses and cooperatives from which they can take courses. One of the best opportunities for upperclassmen is to take college courses for dual enrollment.
  2. You shouldn’t have to hold your student’s hand through high school. This is a time for developing self-discipline, schedule keeping, goal setting, and independent learning. Developing these skills and character qualities is an important part of preparing for a productive, meaningful life.
  3. The last reason I believe you can homeschool through high school is because North Carolinians for Home Education is here to help! We have so much information and so many resources to equip for this task. 

Most importantly, we presented a free homeschooling high school webinar on August 4, 2020. We have two veteran homeschool moms who have been speaking and helping parents homeschool high school for many years. They answered these critical questions: 

  • Why homeschool high school?
  • Am I able to do this?
  • What is the law and how does it apply in high school?
  • What courses are normally taken and how do I accomplish them?
  • How do I do a transcript?
  • What if I plan sending my teen back to school next year?

During the webinar, we also offer other resources, including a list of recommended recordings from our Thrive! Conference. If you want to hear answers to these questions, then go register to watch the recording of the webinar today!

Matthew McDill
NCHE Executive Director

Scores of books have been written on educational philosophy. A lot of those resources make education harder than it has to be—especially since most people already have an educational philosophy, even if they’ve never realized it or named it.

Your ideas on education are personal. They include elements of your own education that you liked or did not like. They also include elements you wish you had experienced, pitfalls you’ve heard that others experienced, and your fears. Educational philosophy is not something upon which we all have to agree, and it really comes down to answering three simple questions:

  • How do I think learning occurs?
  • What are my goals in education?
  • How do I get learning to occur… so that I can accomplish my goals in education?

Your educational philosophy is what causes you to say a curriculum or co-op feels easier, seems more natural, or just makes the most sense to you, and here’s why.

Some parents are more pragmatic and prefer selecting curriculum that they feel comfortable teaching. Why? Because their philosophy is built on the belief that the teacher’s mastery of the subject and effective, fervent communication will impart learning to the student.

Other parents simply surround their children with beautiful things, and then relax and let their children decide what they want to do.  Why? Because their philosophy is rooted in the idea that learning will occur when a child follows her own interests and discovers things at her own pace.

Still others will choose curriculum because it seems like the best methodology—whether they and their children really like it or not. Why? Because they believe that learning is systematic, and their philosophy is centered on following the system that will produce educational results.

One of the things I like the most about NCHE is that our board is happy to help parents find resources, but they do not generally offer opinions about which you should choose. That’s because our collective educational philosophy is grounded in the belief that parents know what works best for their own children. When you and your spouse identify your educational philosophy, everything that fits into that scope becomes apparent to you. Everything that doesn’t, clearly isn’t for you. This is quite liberating! And you are filled with confidence when you discern this for yourself.

Here are some questions that could help you and your spouse get the conversation started:

  • Try writing down what you believe about how children learn in general.
  • Now write down what you have observed about how your child learns in particular.
  • What are your goals in your children’s education?
  • What are your expectations of yourself, your spouse, and your child?
  • Have you discussed your expectations together as a family?

If parents are lifelong learners, they will model the joy of learning for their children.  So be sure to sharpen the tools in your own toolbox– attend conferences, read blogs, join a support group, rest, and read!  Take care of yourself, because a whole education is more than just learning facts about reading, writing, and arithmetic. A complete education nurtures your mind, body, and soul.  You have what it takes to teach your children, and NCHE is here to help you every step of the way!

Did these questions help you determine your educational philosophy? Let us know in the comments below.

On July 20, 2020, Jane R. Wettach wrote an article for NC Policy Watch, As homeschooling grows, children need protection. She writes, “A new report from Duke Law School makes a modest proposal focused on the few homeschooled children whose educational needs are not being met by their parents. Protecting Homeschoolers recommends that ‘educational neglect’ be included as an aspect of child neglect under state law. That would give local departments of social services the ability to receive a complaint, as it does for other types of child neglect, that a child’s educational needs were being neglected by the parents.”

North Carolinians for Home Education are advocates for education. We help parents homeschool with confidence and joy. We stand with other North Carolinians who want every child to have the opportunity to enjoy an excellent education. Wettach writes that her proposal “is meant to begin a conversation about the imperative that all homeschooled children get the education they need to ably function in the economy and democracy. The report presents preliminary ideas, designed to be a jumping off point for interested members of the General Assembly. A study committee that brings in stakeholders in the homeschooling world would be a good next step.”

North Carolinians for Home Education has been a primary stakeholder in the homeschooling world since 1984. We would love to be a part of this conversation and participants in a study committee that would consider these issues.

There are two concerns that we will initially contribute to this discussion. They are both related to some of the primary reasons homeschooling not only exists in the first place but has become such a strong movement and community.

First, many parents choose to homeschool because they have observed that their children are not receiving the best possible education in the public school system. There are many different effective educational strategies used in homeschooling. Children learn at different paces with specialized needs in various areas. Home education provides the flexibility and one-on-one attention that makes addressing those varying needs possible. 

The results have been clear. As Wettach acknowledges, homeschool students have consistently performed at or above average on standardized tests. So, we are left with this question: Why should North Carolina citizens rely on the government to determine and ensure standards of education are being met? Has it been proven that the government is more capable than parents in this area? 

A second reason that many parents have chosen to homeschool is because they desire to include in their children’s education religious and moral instruction. Section 1, Article IX of the NC Constitution reads: “Education encouraged. Religion, morality, and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” However, many parents have observed not only a significant lack of religious and moral instruction in public education, but often teaching that directly contradicts the religious and moral instruction they desire for their children.

If Wattach’s proposal were to be carried out, who would determine standards of education and how? Is it not a reasonable concern of North Carolina citizens that those who end up determining those standards of education would eventually include standards of religious and morality that violate the parent’s rights to teach what they believe? Would those who determine these standards understand the homeschooling process and how it is different from institutional schools? Would they understand and allow for developmental progress and learning difficulties?

We want all children in North Carolina to have the opportunity to receive a quality education. There are certainly students in home education, private school, and public school that are not receiving the kind of education that they need. This is a concern for all students. It is not a special concern for homeschooled students. The reason that “homeschoolers fiercely prize their independence and their freedom,” as Wattach points out, is because they believe that parents are more capable, or at least as capable, as the government to educate their children and that their constitutional freedoms to teach their children according to their own beliefs must be defended. 

After around 20 minutes of listening to amazing music at an outdoor, open-air, pavilion, I realized that I had been watching the projected image of the musicians on the big screen instead of the actual musicians. When I turned my focus to the stage, there was a completely different experience.

A change in perspective meant that I could see all of what was happening—not just what the camera operators chose to show me. As I watched the musicians, there were so many nuances to appreciate that were too subtle for the camera operators to capture. I immediately thought of current events.

Everything we experience from a distance is filtered through a lens and captured from some perspective. More often than not, there is a tendency to think that bigger is better. But the big screens are not for the people with the best seats. The big screens are there so that the people who are farthest away can catch a portion of what’s actually happening.

Until recently, many Americans were content to observe a portion of homelife from the cheap seats. Now that we have all been given front row seats, some people are still watching the big screens—maybe out of habit, or perhaps out of unfamiliarity or confusion. It is my earnest hope that everyone who has been holding season tickets to the center stage in education, the home educators, will welcome newcomers to the gold circle and direct their attention to experience home with their children: up-close, live, and in person.

Is your family enjoying homelife more than you thought you ever could? Let us know in the comments below.