This week, an amazing story of loyalty and integrity made the headlines—perhaps you saw it. Former NBA pro-basketball player Delonte West had fallen on hard times. When Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks (one of the teams for which West played) found out, Cuban went to find West and offer help. You can read the story here.

This story made a remarkable impression on me. Immediately, I saw the correlation between the relationship between these two gentlemen and the parable of the shepherd, the ninety-nine sheep, and the one who was lost. I thought of my own family and my community: the homeschool community.

Are homeschool families this loyal? Do we have the fervor to go out of our way to seek out those among us who are struggling—simply because they are ours to love and care for? What about those who have fallen on hard times, or those who are discouraged, ill, or alone?

When we look to the example of many first-generation homeschoolers, we see that what makes the homeschool community great is our willingness to humbly love and serve one another—in good times, and especially in hard times. I have observed deep fidelity in the homeschool community as moms drive one another to receive cancer treatments, pray for one another at co-op, and dads step in to help others rebuild after storms.

As homeschooling grows, I know that seasoned homeschool families will mentor new families in reading, writing, arithmetic, and high school transcripts. I earnestly hope we are also mindful shepherds who do not let our devotion to caring for one another fall by the wayside.

Mark Cuban’s financial, philanthropic, and industrial accomplishments are truly inspiring and remarkable. But whenever someone says his name from now on, this story of his willingness to love his friend is what I will always remember about him. I hope that the way homeschoolers care for one another is what will be remembered of us.

Are you a new NCHE member? We’d love to meet you! Introduce yourself in the comment section below, or email us at nche@nche.com. We are serious about our commitment to serving each one of our members. Thinking of becoming a member? Start here.

by NCHE Guest Contributor Cynthia White

Fall is a season of change.

Coronavirus has forced us to slow down and see the world in a different manner. In spite of the circumstances you see before you, remember to bloom where you are planted in the midst of this pandemic. You are cultivating growth.

Homeschooling parents, you are cultivating a love of learning! Do not focus on the model, but on the concept that each of us is capable of learning and gaining knowledge through self-discovery, books, and even the internet.

You are planting seeds of perseverance, modeling that in tough times we do NOT give up! Instead we move forward in the spirit of victory. You have been called to teach your children. Do not take this task lightly and miss the wonderful opportunities in front of you. You are planting seeds of positivity. Your children are learning how to take an unknown
situation and flip it toward the greater good.

You are cultivating togetherness by spending precious time with your children. Take time to snuggle on the couch and read a book, or play digital games together. You are cultivating comfort and confidence as they see you doing something that you’ve never done before or weren’t prepared to do. Take pride in being able to guide and mentor your children through this season of growth.

We celebrate educators all over the world and their dedication to educating a generation that is our future. Remember, mothers and fathers, your children’s first learning experiences start at home with you. Use this opportunity to reconnect and nurture your children. Together, bloom where you are planted.

Cynthia recommends God’s Word as seeds for the soul: Deuteronomy 31:8, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 43:19 and Psalm 55:22.

Cynthia White is a veteran homeschooling mother of a rising freshman and a 2018 graduate. She strives daily to walk closer with Jesus, live with purpose, and explore the length and width of this adventure called life, with her husband and daughters.

Are you a new NCHE member? We’d love to meet you! Introduce yourself in the comment section below, or email us at nche@nche.com. Thinking of becoming a member? Start here.

I received a text the other day asking this question: “Do you have any resources or a list of things kindergartners should know before 1st grade?”

This text came from a young couple who has just started homeschooling their first child. I appreciate this question because it means they are taking seriously their responsibility to educate their children. It also reminds me how easy it is for parents to focus too much on content and to struggle with the difference between homeschooling and public or private school. I responded to his text: 

“Great question! Different curricula will have slightly different expectations. They are learning their letters and beginning to read. They are learning numbers and some simple math. However, it is really important to realize that children have different abilities and will work at very different speeds on these subjects. As long as you are reading to them a lot and working on these things, then don’t worry too much about where they are in the process. They will get it!”

As parents of young children (ages birth through 7 or 8), we want to give our children the best possible start in life. There is pressure to get started early with academics because we are told that this is the best way to give them this best start, but what do the studies show about the best way to teach young children?

If you have questions about what and how your young homeschool student should be learning, then you’ll want to join us for the next NCHE webinar, Laying a Good Foundation: Homeschooling Little Ones (September 29 @ 2pm). Debbie Mason (NCHE Events Director) and Amanda Wares (NCHE Helps Director) will share their experience and what they have learned. They will then interview Durenda Wilson on this critical topic. Go here to register for free! 

This is our twelfth year homeschooling, and although we have been members of the same homeschool support group for 10 years, this year we joined a smaller co-op. Before we went to our first meeting, I wondered how it would go. I hoped my kiddos would develop new skills this year. I hoped my children would make friends; I hoped I would make friends! In the past few months, we have deeply missed community.

At the first meeting, the director introduced the new families. It was probably already somewhat obvious that we were new because we were wearing paper nametags and many of the returning members had lanyard nametags. It was probably also apparent by our unfamiliarity with the building, where to sit, or the order of things like where to go when we dismissed to small groups. I was thankful for the social distancing rules that regulated families sitting far apart from one another—it meant that my mind didn’t needlessly weigh out if people weren’t sitting near us for any reason other than courtesy.

I am humbled to say that from the moment we arrived, people welcomed us. They were helpful, friendly, and kind. Here are the things that I noticed seasoned moms did to help new people feel welcome.

  1. Moms introduced themselves to me; they initiated a conversation.
  2. They did not ask generalized, shallow questions for the sake of making small talk. They asked thoughtful questions.
  3. When I spoke, they weren’t thinking about something else. They were not on their phones. They were not nodding to me while giving their children the side-eye. They listened.
  4. They acknowledged my learning curve as a newcomer, and they did not treat my questions like they were a nuisance.
  5. They introduced me to their friends and included me in group conversations.
  6. They have followed up with emails to see how we are making our way.
  7. They have been patient with us as we are learning their group culture—things like how to turn in online assignments or working in online groups with other students.

So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.  Romans 14:1

Are you a new NCHE member? We’d love to meet you! Introduce yourself in the comment section below, or email us at nche@nche.com. Thinking of becoming a member? Start here.

Connecting you with other homeschooling families across our state is our mission!

North Carolinians for Home Education separates the 100 counties in our state into nine regions. Each region has an NCHE regional liaison who actively engages with the people in their communities. Liaisons are frequently called to speak at regional gatherings, support group meetings, and community events. They are treasured by the NCHE board for their dedication to practically serving homeschooling families. Here is a list of regions 5 through 9 and their corresponding counties.

  • Region 5 serves our capital (Raleigh), the greater Triangle area, and these counties: Alamance, Caswell, Durham, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Northampton, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake, Warren, and Wilson.
  • Nestled in the center of our state, Region 6 includes the following counties: Counties: Chatham, Lee, Harnett, Moore, Montgomery, Richmond, Anson, & Stanly.
  • Region 7 includes our state’s eastern-most city (Manteo) and these counties: Beaufort, Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Greene, Hertford, Hyde, Lenoir, Martin, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Pitt, Tyrrell, Washington and Wayne.
  • Region 8 serves military families stationed at Pope AFB and other families in these counties: Bladen, Columbus, Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson, Sampson and Scotland counties.
  • Moving east toward the Carolina coast, Region 9 includes the following counties: Brunswick, Carteret, Craven, Duplin,  Jones, New Hanover, Onslow, Pamlico, and Pender.

In this final post in our series, we will meet the regional liaisons who serve families in these counties.

Vicky Gurganus is the regional liaison for region five. She is married to her high school sweetheart: Tom. They live in Durham and have three children—Kira, Olivia, and Zachary. They opened their homeschool in 2001. Both have volunteered at the NCHE conference for many years. Tom and Vicky are excited to share what they have learned on their homeschool journey with others in Region 5.

Tom Gurganus is a homeschool dad of 23 years. He and his wife, Vicky, have graduated 2 girls and have a son still at home. He is an avid board and card gamer and has been running his website for 11 years where he interviews game designers and publishers, and reviews games. Through this effort, he has developed a large game industry network and has connected with 2 fellow homeschool dads with an interest in the intersection of gaming and homeschooling—gameschooling, to start a site dedicated to connecting schoolers with information and resources to help them use games in their classrooms.

Sarah Merillat serves as our Region 6 liaison.  She is an army wife and homeschool mom to their seven children in Moore County. The Merillats began their homeschool journey in 2010.

April Briley is the regional liaison for region 7. April and her husband, Joe, are high school sweethearts and have been married for twenty years. They live in Greenville, NC, with their three children. Marisa (graduated homeschool), Brandon (now in pubic school), and Makayla (currently homeschooled). SGT Joseph Briley is a full-time soldier serving with the North Carolina National Guard. April enjoys being the full-time teacher of their three children. The family spends time serving in various areas of their church.

Amy Davis is the regional liaison for region 8. She is married to Christian, and they have four children. This is their 13th year homeschooling. Amy serves on the board of her local homeschool group. She enjoys music, theatre, and reading. As the mother of a son with autism, she has a particular passion for advocacy and helping other parents of special-needs children. Fun fact: Amy and Christian have an extensive home library with thousands of books.

Kathy Iandoli is the regional liaison for region 9.

Are you a new NCHE member? We’d love to meet you! Introduce yourself in the comment section below, or email us at nche@nche.com. Thinking of becoming a member? Start here.