You have decided to homeschool in a time when we have more opportunities than ever before—both in the number of groups and diversity of groups devoted to helping home educators.

Homeschool support groups, co-ops, and associations are primarily comprised of like-minded volunteers who choose to discover or reinforce portions of their learning through connecting with others.  Homeschool groups express a wide range of organizational preferences, attitudes, and practices, which means there is definitely a tribe for you!

North Carolinians for Home Education (NCHE) has created web pages that list homeschool groups by region so that you can find one in your area. Check out our state map to see which region your county is in. Then visit your regional page to discover the groups near you. 

In order to support homeschool families and groups in each region, NCHE also provides Regional Liaisons. You can email your Regional Liaison to find out about the resources and connections you need to homeschool with confidence and joy.

 

Learn More about Homeschool Groups in Your Area

Unit studies are a great way to learn, especially for topics that you want to explore in greater depth or from different points of view. Fantastic unit studies are easy to find for popular classics, but what if the subject you want to study is obscure—like the Icelandic Commonwealth during the late Middle Ages? If you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, it might be time to make your own unit study!

Step 1: Explore Your Resources
Traditionally, the first resources we seek are books. With obscure topics, many of the books you find may only be available as an e-book or a .pdf that you can download or read on an electronic device. Many colleges have online journals filled with research studies or dissertations from their professors. Projects like sewing costumes, building models, or visiting universities and museum collections that showcase your subject are also great ways to enrich your study.

Step 2: Consider Your Audience
Some students will slowly and methodically think on one resource at a time, finish it, and then move on to the next resource. Some will bounce between multiple resources as their interests lead them. Some children are self-motivated and easily pace themselves, while others will need you to help them make a study plan. Consider your child’s personality when making your plan. The best plan is the one your child is going to enjoy doing, so be realistic!

Step 3: Make Your Plan
Some families make lesson plans using increments of time (like 1 study per month) as the frame of their unit study. They do as much as they can for 4 weeks, and then they move on to a new unit study.

Another approach is to make a unit study from a single piece of literature. The parent will pull out vocabulary words for their children to learn while they are reading, portions to diagram or copy for handwriting, and themes to discuss. For social studies and history, their family will learn about customs, traditions, and the period in history when the book took place. For older kids, you may easily supplement by choosing a greater volume of work, extra resources, or work of a greater difficulty.

For more ideas on unit studies, follow NCHE on Pinterest at nche1984.

What’s the point of a great education if your children can’t seem to remember most of it?

Tell me I’m not the only one.

You spend hours crafting the Ultimate Book List.

You incorporate hands-on-projects.

You basically make learning awesome and fun.

And a few years (or maybe even months or – worse – weeks) later, your children don’t seem to remember any of it.

It’s tempting to get a little grumpy about the perceived waste of time and effort.

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon a lot recently while planning book lists and setting course goals for my high school students.

I am a second-generation North Carolina homeschooler, and I think this perspective gives me unique insight. You see, my parents gave me an amazing education. It was rich in language and great books and original sources and philosophy and discussion and hands-on practicality and fun and adventures… and did I mention the hundreds of books? But there are so many details I can’t remember (what exactly was Adam Smith’s main point in Wealth of Nations? and which constitutional amendment says what?)!

So was all that education a waste if I can’t remember the details? Was all that reading a waste if I can’t even remember all the main points, let alone the details? If education is merely the accumulation of knowledge, does my forgetfulness over the course of decades mean my education has failed?

What is the point of providing a true, good, and beautiful education if our children may not even be able to remember most of it?

You could ask a similar question about sermons. How many of us can remember details (or even the key points) of sermons from 6 months or 5 years ago? Does it then follow that they are a waste of our time? No! For the grace of God is at work transforming our hearts through those simple words each week. We may not be able to list out or measure what we’ve heard in the past, but we see the results in who we are today.

Thus it is with the education we receive and give.

These days, I may not be able to debate with you the finer points of Augustine’s City of God, Aristotle’s On Rhetoric, or Schaeffer’s The God Who is There, but those works and others were part of the incredible process God graciously used to form the human I am today.

I don’t know now (and certainly didn’t fully recognize even in the past) each stroke of the chisel, each swipe of the sandpaper over my character. But those millions of words shaped and nourished the way I think and what I love. The experience of being challenged by the things I learned gave me a passion for continuing to learn and question and grow that remains today.

This gives me great hope and renewed enthusiasm as I direct my own children’s education. My goal is not for them to indefinitely remember lists of facts. It’s not for them to pass reading comprehension tests. I don’t have to despair if my kids don’t remember the cool projects we did during history lessons 5 years ago.

We can trust the process. We can trust that God is at work. We can trust that the “little drops of water, little grains of sand” are forming our children. They’re learning not what to think, but how to think.

Education is repentance. Education, pursued well, leads to humility and doxology. Education must not ever be reduced to merely filling our minds with information.

So, let’s keep crafting epic book lists for our family read-alouds and read-alones. Let’s keep having deep conversations in addition to random discussions about the little things that make up daily life. Let’s keep reading the Bible and memorizing beautiful words and worshiping God and praying alongside our families.

And we can stand still and watch the beautiful work God continues to do in all of us, for His glory and our good.

Amy Sloan is a second-generation homeschooler by grace alone to five children ages 5 to 15.  The Sloan family adventures in Holly Springs, NC.  Follow @HumilityandDoxology on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and at HumilityandDoxology.com 

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.

Read tips 1 and 2 here: Five Essential Tips for Schooling at Home, Part 1.


Tip #3: Schooling with Little Ones

Some of you are working, schooling, AND have little ones to take care of as well. I know that must be so challenging. Here are some practical tips I have learned over the years while schooling at home with little ones. Try to keep a regular schedule: meals, rest, activity, and bedtimes. Give undistracted time with babies, toddlers, and pre-K’s every day, preferably before school time. Plan important subjects with older children around younger children’s naps or rest times. Have toys that you save for use only during school time and then rotate them. Wise use of educational TV, DVD’s or screens for limited time to get school work done with older kids is also helpful. 

If you have several kids, pair older kids with younger ones so you can work for 15-30 min. with another child. Let the little ones “do school” by providing “school papers” for them and snuggling in when reading. If they are wiggly, let them play with toys while listening. Use a timer so little ones can be more patient. “This is set for 20 minutes for you to play and me to do school with your sister. Once it dings, I will play with you!” Keep some activities ready and close at hand: bead stringing, lacing cards, kitchen sink with soapy water and plastic containers, play dough, water/bucket/paint brush to “paint” the house, sidewalk chalk, putting little ones in high chair with whipped cream to “paint” with, etc. Use whatever you have.


Tip #4: Face Your Fears

The truth is that most people who choose to homeschool feel a huge weight of responsibility and sometimes fear that they will “make their kids stupid”. I can only imagine that being thrown into this new world of schooling at home only compounds those natural fears. You will not “ruin” your kids or stunt their educational progress with a few weeks of schooling at home. Will you do everything perfectly? No, none of us do. This is not the time to focus on perfection but to recognize adjustments will be necessary and a learning curve is normal. Pour out your fears and concerns to the Lord anytime, anywhere. “Trust in him at all times, O people, pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8). Realize that Jesus really cares about what we care about “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7). He knows you, your spouse, and your children. He knows your circumstances and your struggles. He loves you and has a unique plan for your family’s life and this season of homeschooling!


Tip #5: Enjoy this Time with Your Family

I am a homeschool mom of 25 years, by God’s grace and enabling despite our many mistakes. We have so far (one more to go!) graduated 5 of our kids from our homeschool who have gone on to college. We did not and do not homeschool perfectly, nor are we a perfect family. But God has been SO faithful. He will be faithful to you too! And what they say is true: the days are long, but the years are short! So parents, I encourage you to cherish this sweet gift of time you have been given to learn with and live in a slowed down world with your kids! It will be hectic and sometimes challenging schooling at home and balancing your other responsibilities. But embrace this crazy life, this unexpected time for you to love and create memories with your family that will last a lifetime. They grow up all too quickly! Who knows, some of you may even find in these next weeks that you come to love it, even though it is challenging, and join us on the journey!


Resources

Over the last week or so I have been posting various resources I hear about on the WNC Homeschooler Facebook page. Check it out or use a web search to find a multitude of educational resources all at your fingertips!

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!

– Matthew McDill, March 27, 2020

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.


Learning with a tabletSo 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.

My Father’s World
HSLDA has made 2 free digital activity packs available at no charge for all families.

Rainbow Resource
These math, science, language arts, social studies, and preschool activities are sure to be a hit with the whole family.

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.

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!

Have you decided to homeschool in North Carolina? Great choice! North Carolinians for Home Education is here to help you homeschool with confidence and joy. Learn more about how we can help and how you can become a member! 

In order to open your homeschool in NC, you can take these simple steps.

1. Make sure you understand the homeschool law in NC. You can read about it here.

2. Decide when you are going to begin homeschooling. You may open a homeschool anytime between July and April. If you are starting in the fall, do not open your school until July or later.

3. Create a digital copy of your high school or college diploma. The preferred format is PDF, but you may also use image formats.

4. Go to the web page for File an Intent to Operate a Home School in the Division of Non-public Education site. Follow the instructions there to open your homeschool.

5. Look for a confirmation email from the Division of Non-Public Education. Be sure to check your spam folders.

Once you open your homeschool, you are all set until you are done homeschooling all your children. You do not need to reopen each year. When you are done homeschooling, be sure you notify the DNPE that you are closing your homeschool.

by Jessica Frierson, March 2020

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.  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 does make 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!