by Jessica Frierson, March 2022
The house was burning down around them, and six-year-old Emery couldn’t get two-year-old Hazel to put her spoon down so he could get her out of her highchair and escape the flames.
That is the incredible story my children’s grandfather told about the day his parents left their six children home alone while they walked into town in the rural Georgia area where he grew up. The parents returned to find the house reduced to a smoking heap of ashes, but thankfully, all six children—one still clutching her spoon—survived. The firewagon ran out of water before they were able to put the fire out, and the closest river was too far to go to refill it. The family had to leave their farm and live with relatives in the big city of Augusta.
The human heart has hidden treasures, in secret kept, in silence sealed.
There are many overlooked treasures in our lives. The elderly in our community offer a rich source of history, life lessons, friendship, and perspective that our children need. Making this a priority in our homeschools will yield a lifelong store of lasting memories that will enhance their lives more than any fortune they could inherit.
Our present society is too often segregated by age, and fewer families live in an intergenerational setting as they did years ago. If we are not intentional about carving out opportunities to just sit and talk with the elders in our families and neighborhoods, we run the risk of missing out on this great wealth.
Remember the days of old; consider the years of many generations; ask your father,
and he will show you, your elders, and they will tell you.
The best place to go for a history lesson is a first-hand account of it. We are fast losing the generation that stormed the beaches of Normandy, bravely fought the menace of communism in Korea, or crawled through the jungles of Vietnam and then returned to face angry protests instead of praise for their bravery. What lessons did they learn from these experiences? What riches can our children mine from the trials their ancestors lived through?
Within our family, we have a cousin who was among the evacuation of American citizens who were airlifted just before the North Vietnamese army took over Saigon. There’s a great-great grandmother who was the first telephone operator in Forest City, NC, and a many-great grandfather who was a famous Methodist circuit-rider traveling from one prairie town to another as the American pioneers spread west. A grandmother was a student in the first integrated class in her southern town while another grandmother’s family owned a lunch counter in the deep south where she had a front row seat at the famous sit-ins.
Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.
My mother’s family has lived in Rutherford County in western North Carolina since before the Revolutionary War. Family history retells the story of a many-great grandmother who fought off an Indian attack on her farm while the men were off fighting the British. These and other stories bring history and geography alive for our children, as well as give them food for thought as they listen to regrets that things happened as they did or are encouraged to persevere through hard times they will encounter one day.
Hearing the stories of yesterday broadens children’s perspective on life. The uncle who is a lawyer for the FDA was once a little boy who gave his sister a black eye when he threw a shoe at her. The great-uncle who burps loudly and tells bad jokes broke his back—twice!—parachuting out of an airplane behind enemy lines. The cousin who pastors a tiny country church grew up on the mission fields of Ghana, West Africa, and Japan. The old man who stumbles over words and forgets what he is telling you was once a talented artist whose works were showcased at Notre Dame and designed a national ad campaign that is still in use forty years later.
Young men and maidens together, old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord
Sharing the stories passed down from generation to generation gives us a chance to recall the work of God in our families. My husband’s family first came to America from Ireland in 1732, settled in Charleston, SC, and fought in the Revolutionary War with Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion. They were part of a Presbyterian settlement in the new colonies. Historical records indicate that their ancestors fled to Ireland during the Protestant Reformation. Many ministers and missionaries have descended from these men of faith, including my father-in-law and my husband. His grandmother was honored by the Salvation Army for having six children serving as ministers.
Knowing this information about their ancestors makes history personal for my children. It makes an impression on a child’s heart when they can ask, “Nana, what was it like when…?” and see history through the eyes of a family member. Listening to the retelling of their life inspires our children to stay the course in their own walk with God. Hearing the testimony of the venerable woman who is so precious to them makes the words of Philippians 1:6 more relevant to them: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
and the glory of children is their fathers.
One of the most valuable gifts we can give our children is to teach them to cherish the elderly around them. Sitting on the front porch listening to the recollections of their youth, seeking their advice on how to find (and nurture) true love, walking the trail with them at the park as they lead us down the path of their walk with God will be irreplaceable moments one day. Seize those moments before they are gone! I began making a little booklet where I would jot down stories that would unexpectedly spill out during our visits with some of our family members. My older sons would interview their grandparents, asking about childhood memories and what life was like when they were growing up. My children love to read over the notes we made, especially from those who are no longer with us.
One day on a spur of the moment decision, we bounced over the rutted roads in backcountry Georgia to find a relative that my husband had not seen since childhood. Surprisingly, we not only located her house, but she was thrilled to see us and give us a little tour of the old family homestead. Walking around the pond brought back memories for my husband of spending the summer there as a boy. Later, we made the sad journey to a nearby family burial plot where his father’s infant siblings had been laid to rest shortly after their births. His father shared the sorrow he felt as a young child watching the wagon carry the tiny coffins away. It gave my children a new perspective of their grandfather and endeared him to them even more. Sharing the pain, as well as the joys, of the elderly around them helps our children to understand that life brings times of both sunshine and rain; we must allow both to do their work in us. A momentary glimpse into the depths of another’s heart can impress upon them the value of things they may otherwise take for granted.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Family is not the only source to find these hidden treasures. Our children have been very blessed by relationships they have formed with neighbors and church members. Whether assisting these friends with yardwork or sitting down for a meal with them, they listen to their stories and, for a few minutes, step through a doorway back in time. Tales of fighting Germans in WWII or getting caught sneaking out of school to go to the movies told by a man or woman who are now wrinkled and gray-haired teaches my children to look beyond the appearance of a person. They learn that beneath the aged facade lives someone who thinks, loves, hurts, hopes, fears just like they do.
American novelist Richard Bach said, “Study a lifetime and you will see different colors from the same jewel.” Helping our children build and nurture relationships with those around them gives them an opportunity to uncover many jewels that may never be revealed otherwise. Doing so offers them a vast treasure trove of friendship and insight and a valuable frame of reference for life. It helps them develop compassion for others and teaches them to value people over “things.” They will mine a great wealth from the time spent enjoying the beauty of these gems that have been formed by the pressures of a life well-lived.
Jessica Frierson is a homeschool graduate and has been homeschooling her ten children since 2000. She serves as the secretary for NCHE, writes for GREENHOUSE, and is the lead blogger for the NCHE Blog.
by Spencer Mason, March 2022
The North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) has begun emailing every homeschool that has operated for more than two years stating that a DNPE representative will be conducting virtual record review meetings. The email says, “DNPE encourages you to participate as the NC Statutes governing non-public schools (Chapter 115C Article 39; § 115C 547 – 567) require all non-public schools to make available their records upon request. An invitation to attend a record review meeting is such a request….” Administrators are asked to follow a link and make an appointment for this virtual inspection.
This statement by the DNPE implies that participation is required by law. However, the law says, “all records shall be made available, subject to G.S. 115C-174.13, at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection….” NCHE has always understood the law to mean that any inspection of records other than inspections that take place at the homeschool are voluntary on the part of the homeschool chief administrator. Therefore, NCHE believes this request is not mandated by North Carolina statute.
Even though NCHE differs from DNPE in that we believe this is not mandatory, we highly recommend that you voluntarily make an appointment for a virtual inspection for the following reasons.
- Many homeschools have failed to follow the law in that they have moved or quit homeschooling without notifying DNPE. Therefore, DNPE records are inaccurate, and some legislators are pressuring DNPE to improve the accuracy of the data.
- Federal education funding is parceled out to each NC county based on the total number of students (public, private, and homeschool) enrolled in that county. Special needs homeschool students can take advantage of programs that are supported with federal funding.
- A successful implementation of this program will give DNPE greater credibility and will reduce the likelihood that lawmakers will attempt to add more regulations to homeschools.
If you are uncomfortable with participating in the virtual meetings, you will be given the option of emailing the requested information to DNPE. Another option DNPE may not publicize is to log into your account with DNPE and update your school records, then notify them of your update via email. NCHE is not aware of any homeschool that has been closed when a homeschool administrator declines to participate in an inspection of records virtually, via email or any other way.
Spencer Mason is the law and policy director and office manager for NCHE. He and his wife, Debbie, homeschooled their four children from birth through high school. Their five grandchildren are now being homeschooled.
by guest blogger Sarah Hicks, February 2022
This morning I went online to order our family’s annual standardized tests. They were not available. When I called the company, the kind associate confirmed that the test we have used since our first year of homeschool really is no longer available. My heart sank. I considered calling my homeschool mentor, but I wasn’t sure if she would be up-to-date with this change since all of her kids have graduated. I considered asking my homeschool support group, but I don’t really have time for hearsay. I needed to know the laws and what my choices were; I needed information that was trustworthy, current, and convenient. That’s why I turned to NCHE.
When I visited the NCHE website, I easily found the Helps tab and scrolled down to find Testing and Testing Services. I read the laws and found the accepted tests for our state. Then I was able to search for those tests online. I recognized one of the providers from an advertisement in GREENHOUSE magazine, and that gave me confidence that I could trust them. Because of NCHE, I quickly and efficiently found everything I needed in less than 5 minutes. This gave me great relief!
My takeaway is this challenge:
- Become an NCHE member. The work that NCHE does on behalf of home educators is invaluable. They protect our homeschool freedoms. They equip us with homeschool information, and they help us stay connected with one another. No other organization in North Carolina provides this much for home educators. Your membership makes this possible.
- Tell others about NCHE. It’s that simple. When you’re out and about, and you are conversing with others, tell them about NCHE’s work. Whether they are homeschooling or not, you promote a positive image of home education when you tell people how informed, how organized, and how caring homeschool parents are. If you feel less confident sharing, you can ask NCHE to send a regional liaison to come and speak or set up a table at your next event.
- Support the NCHE mission. I’m not a salesperson, but I’m just going to lay it out there: home educators need to donate their time, their talent, and their treasure to NCHE so that we can preserve the freedoms we cherish. Make a donation, volunteer your time to serve at the Thrive! Conference, or contribute your comments on NCHE online Facebook support groups.
Today, NCHE lived up to their promise to help me “homeschool with confidence and joy”﹣just as they have been doing since 1984, and just like they will continue to do with your help.
Our guest blogger Sarah Hicks is an NCHE member from region 5. She previously served as NCHE’s media manager and editor of the GREENHOUSE magazine. She hopes you are able to attend the Thrive! Conference.
by Jessica Frierson, February 2022
Last week gave us a spring preview here in the Catawba Valley area. Birds were singing the praises of the nest they had begun constructing under our eaves. The sun was shining brightly in every window, enticing us to come out to play. Crocuses, daffodils, and hyacinths were poking their sleepy heads out of the ground, asking if it’s time to wake up from their winter nap. Of course, the children wanted to spend every minute they could outside. Who wants to write vocabulary sentences or learn about dividing with decimals when the world is appealing to their hearts to come explore? And we all know that falling on the heels of spring preview is a return to the cold drudge of winter. What’s a homeschool mom to do?
This particular homeschool mom has several tactics that have been tried over the years.
Experiment 1: You can fight it—be a stickler and keep everyone at the school table until all pre-assigned work is done.
Observations: No one really learned much of anything, everyone felt the frustration, and a world of learning opportunities passed by untouched.
Conclusion = FAIL.
Experiment 2: A compromise—send everyone out to their hammocks with an armful of books. At least some schoolwork will get done, and they still get to enjoy the warm air.
Observations: Everyone enjoyed swinging in their hammocks, maybe a bit too much! It took much longer to get lessons completed, and math was a total loss. Some books were accidentally left outside overnight and got water damage when it rained. Truthfully, hammocks are the second most common place to do schoolwork here anyway, so it wasn’t as much of a compromise as I had intended. They still longed to leave the bookwork to run through the cool grass in their bare feet, dig into the thawed ground, splash in the puddles remaining along the driveway, and identify every birdsong that hit their ears.
Conclusion = MIXED RESULTS
Experiment 3: Open the doors, maybe the windows too – and let the children explore! The books can wait for winter’s inevitable return.
Observations: As I followed them along a path of discovery, the unbridled children learned much more than they would have inside at the table, squirming to get outside. First, they asked for help determining what type of bugs had amassed at the left side of the chimney. (Boxelder bugs swarm as they seek south/southwest facing areas to overwinter.) This led to an analysis of which direction the left side of the chimney is facing. Surprise—it is southwest!
We talked about why some plants in the flower beds remain green, others are dead and brittle, and others have mysteriously appeared peeking through the mulch where they had been long forgotten. This led to researching what kind of care various plants need at various times of the year, which plants grow from bulbs and how to force them, stating a hypothesis on what will bloom from each bulb, and a work party organized to trim back the hostas, ornamental grasses, and dead flowering plants to prepare the bed for spring growth. One child asked if she could harvest the seeds from the brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia triloba), which reminded us of why we use Latin for scientific names.
We made plans to talk later about seed preservation and germination. We noted what plants grew well in their locations and which one got a little leggy as it struggled to reach the sunlight it needed. We marveled at the amazing power of a tiny, seemingly weak strand of a trailing ground cover plant whose tentacles had completely destroyed our garden ledge as it pushed its way through the mortar. Tonight, we will pore over the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog to plan some new additions to our yard. The children have learned today to carefully select shade-lovers for the bed under the front awning, some that thrive in full sun to accompany the Rudbeckia, and a non-trailing morning sun lover for the east beds.
Conclusion = WIN, WIN
Winter weather will soon return with a vengeance, and we will return to our workbooks, maps, and reading materials. As the winds rattle the naked branches on the trees outside, we will snuggle together on the sofa to read The Long Winter, shivering with empathy as the Ingalls family twists wheat stalks into bundles for their stove. We love the short breaks of sunshine and warmth but appreciate the coziness of studying in a warm house with a hot cup of tea while the rain pounds on the roof overhead.
To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
by Jessica Frierson, February 2022
February is a great time to shine the spotlight on a few notable homeschooled black Americans. Each of these individuals defied great adversity to pursue an education for themselves and have left a legacy that impacts all of our lives today. They lived in a time when education was denied to them based on the color of their skin, yet they had an innate understanding that simply learning to read would open doors for them that would otherwise remain locked.
Today, the growth in homeschooling among black families signifies an incredible victory as they come full-circle, and parents can now hold the reins controlling their children’s education, regardless of their skin color. The low expectations that the educational system has for Black students is a common reason cited by Black parents choosing to homeschool. It also gives parents the opportunity to teach their children about their African roots, a subject typically missing in public school curriculum.
Phillis Wheatley, Benjamin Banneker, Lewis Latimer, and Frederick Douglas are among my favorite historical figures and offer commendable illustrations of the potential a self-taught individual can attain. They demonstrate the principle that a desire to learn is the most important part of an education. Limited resources, lack of support, and fears of not fitting into society’s expectations did nothing to hold them back from following their heart’s desire to learn, a lesson we would do well to remember in our homeschools today.
Phillis Wheatley was born in 1753 in Gambia, Africa. She was captured by slave traders in her childhood and brought to America on a ship named “the Phillis,” where she was bought by the Wheatley family. The family taught her to read, and within sixteen months, she was able to read British literature, Greek and Latin, and the Bible. Phillis developed a love for poetry and in 1767, at only 14 years old, Phillis’ first poem was published. She went on to become the first African American person, and second woman in America, to publish a book of poetry with her book “Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral.” The book was published in 1783 and included a foreword by none other than John Hancock as well as a photo of Phillis as proof of her authorship. She was emancipated shortly after and went on to marry John Peters, a free Black man from Boston.
If you have ever visited our nation’s capital, you have traveled across the land that was surveyed by Benjamin Banneker. Born in Maryland in 1731 to an ex-slave and a former indentured servant, Benjamin was taught to read by his grandmother and, other than a short time at a Quaker school, was self-taught, borrowing books on astronomy and mathematics.
As a young man, Benjamin Banneker created a wooden clock that kept precise time for fifty years. He designed an irrigation system for his family’s farm. He became known for his accuracy in predicting solar and lunar eclipses.
Benjamin Banneker’s experience in astronomy led to his work on the surveying team that was mapping the territory of Washington, D.C. He spent three months in the observatory tent using a zenith sector to record the movement of the stars. He corresponded frequently with Benjamin Franklin. Like Franklin, Banneker published a series of almanacs, which included tidal charts for fishermen, astronomical calculations, and medical information. He also correctly calculated the life cycle of the 17-year locust and published articles on bees.
What I admire most about Benjamin Banneker however, is what he did in 1791. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, then the Secretary of State and a slaveholder, Banneker respectfully called out the hypocrisy of Jefferson and other patriots for enslaving people like him while fighting the British for their own independence.
Without the assistance of another home-educated Black man, the world would not equate the name Alexander Graham Bell with the telephone. Born on September 4, 1848, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, to former slaves, Lewis Latimer had to work to support his mother and siblings after his father disappeared following the 1857 Dred Scott decision. His father had been arrested after being recognized as a runaway slave. Frederick Douglass successfully defended him in court, but the Supreme Court’s ruling that enslaved people and their descendants, whether free or not, could not be American citizens and thus had no right to sue in federal court, caused Lewis’s father to fear recapture and return to slavery.
Latimer enlisted with the US Navy in 1864 at the age of fifteen, having lied about his age. At the conclusion of the war, Latimer began work as an office assistant in a Boston patent office. Latimer studied the drafters at work in the firm, learning enough about the mechanics of drawing and drafting to eventually be promoted to the position of head drafter.
Shortly thereafter, an instructor of hearing-impaired children sought out Latimer’s drafting skills to provide drawings of a device that the man had created. With Latimer’s help, Alexander Graham Bell was able to submit the patent application for the telephone on February 14, 1875, just a few hours before an application was submitted for a similar device by another inventor.
Lewis Latimer also had a hand in the invention of the light bulb. Thomas Edison’s bulb had a very short life span. Lattimore developed a way to give the bulbs a much longer life, making them both less expensive and more efficient. He continued “to improve on incandescent lighting as well as arc lighting. As more major cities began wiring their roadways for electric lighting, Latimer was selected to lead several planning teams. He helped install the first electric plants in Philadelphia, New York City, and Montreal. He also oversaw the installation of lighting in railroad stations, government buildings, and major thoroughfares in Canada, New England, and London.”
Eventually, Latimer began working with Edison himself and was the only Black member of a group of men who had worked closely with Edison in his early years, known as the “Edison Pioneers.” Other innovations by Latimer include a safety elevator; locking racks for hats, coats, and umbrellas that were used in restaurants and office buildings; and a method for making rooms more hygienic and climate-controlled.
“Knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom,” was a maxim that Frederick Douglas lived by. Born into slavery, not even knowing the date of his birth, and separated from his mother from infancy, Frederick Douglass was moved to the Wye House Plantation at the age of 6 and then given to the Auld family in 1826. Sophia Auld began teaching the alphabet to Frederick when he was around 12, but soon stopped when her husband convinced her that literacy would encourage slaves to desire freedom. Overhearing this, Frederick later remembered the incident as the “first decidedly anti-slavery lecture” he had ever heard. “‘Very well, thought I,'” wrote Douglass. “‘Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave.’ I instinctively assented to the proposition, and from that moment I understood the direct pathway from slavery to freedom.”
Although his owners proceeded to hide the Bible and any other reading materials from Frederick, he continued to secretly learn from neighboring White children and any written works he could get his hands on. When he was hired out to a nearby plantation, Frederick began teaching other slaves to read at a weekly Bible study lesson, with up to 40 slaves in attendance each week. The discovery of this led to Frederick being sent to a “slave breaker” where he suffered brutal beatings.
In 1838 Frederick Douglass escaped from slavery – not by way of the Underground Railroad, as you might expect – but by riding a train from his home state of Maryland to the end of the line in Delaware. From there, he took a steamboat to reach Philadelphia, PA, and finally arrived safely in New York City.
Frederick Douglas went on to become a world-renowned abolitionist, writer, orator, and preacher. He traveled to Great Britain, Ireland, and Scotland. He joined the suffrage movement to give women the right to vote. He was an early advocate for schools to be desegregated. He was the most photographed person of the 19th century, believing that photography was a powerful tool in ending slavery and racism.
With its origin dating back to 1926, Black History Month is an opportunity to highlight the accomplishments of Black Americans and celebrate their many contributions to the world. As a homeschool community, we can be inspired by the achievements of Wheatley, Douglass, Latimer, Banneker and the vast number of self-taught Black men and women who utilized whatever means they could to attain an education.
by Jessica Frierson, Dec 21
How long, Lord, how long? Is there anyone who has not asked that soul-wrenching question? How many of you are asking it at this very moment?
One of my favorite segments of the Christmas story is not even in the part usually read and dramatized at our Advent celebrations. And yet, it illustrates so beautifully the very essence of the Advent season.
Our story takes place 40 days after the birth of Jesus, as Joseph and Mary bring their new baby to the temple for his dedication. (I love the incredible irony here – “to present Him to the Lord.” They are bringing the Lord to present Him to…. the Lord!)
Waiting on the sidelines until his cue to step onto the stage is a patient old man, “just” and “devout” and “the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Simeon has been waiting…waiting for the Consolation of Israel, referring to the comfort promised in Isaiah 40 that Messiah would bring to His people. All of Israel was looking for the promised Messiah, but Simeon was waiting for the fulfillment of a personal promise.
“It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.” Who knows how long this man had been waiting. Scripture does not tell us when he received this revelation. It may have been years or even decades. We do know that he is now an old man because after finding the baby Jesus there in his mother’s arms, he prays, “Lord, now You are letting your servant depart in peace…”. Apparently he has been ready to die but waiting to see this baby, the Christ.
Isn’t it curious that this occurs 40 days after the birth? Why wasn’t he on the birth announcement list? Lowly shepherds were heralded by a multitude of angels and this devout man, covered by the Holy Spirit, awaiting the Messiah so he could depart from this life has to wait another 40 days? Didn’t he deserve at least a little hint, “Simeon, the baby has been born and you will get to meet him soon.” No, he waits another 40 days until Joseph and Mary bring Him in to make the offering required by Jewish law for the first-born male.
Have you ever felt that way, that you have waited long enough for God to reveal Himself to you? That the time has really come for Him to move? Have you ever waited so long that you are beginning to doubt it is ever going to happen? Maybe you are feeling that way now. Perhaps you are in the midst of a situation where you really need God to help you, to guide you, to fix the desperate circumstances you face. Do you feel like David who cried out in Psalm 13:1, ”How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide Your face from me?”
Did Simeon ask these questions? I think we all do from time to time. King David certainly did. We have quite a few of his psalms that repeat the question, “How long?”. And then we have psalm after psalm that declare God’s faithfulness and goodness. These psalms show us that it is natural to have those feelings and to encourage us that God does hear and He does see.
How many times did Simeon come to the temple in anticipation that today might be The Day? Perhaps even as he was awaiting the fulfillment of the Messiah promised in the first two verses of Isaiah 40, he was also remembering the rest of the chapter, the part we so often hear quoted today: “But those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Patient Simeon, waiting on the promise, his strength renewed each day to make his trek to the temple to see if the Christ would be revealed….and this morning, “he came by the Spirit, into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Christ child, to do for Him according to the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God…”
This is what faith does in us. It pulls us out of bed when we don’t feel like we can face another day. Faith keeps us going back to that place of expectation, again and again, because Today. Just. May. Be. The Day. When we have nothing to hold in our hands or set our eyes on, the evidence we have that God is at work is our faith. Faith is “the divinely implanted principle of inward confidence, assurance, trust, and reliance in God and all that He says” according to the editors of the New King James Spirit-filled Life Bible.
Do you need an implant in your heart today? When it seems that God has held back the fulfillment of His promise…
When you feel like He has hidden His face from you…
When you have prayed… and prayed… and prayed …
Remember the hope of Christmas:
– a shepherd king crying out his own doubts and fears and answered by his own great-great-great…. great grandson
– an old man waiting on the sidelines (for an extra 40 days, no less!)
– 400 years of silence broken by a baby’s cry
– a young mother fulfilling the requirement of the law by bringing in the very One who was the complete fulfillment of the law itself
– the long-awaited Messiah, the Promised One, the Hope of Israel.
“Be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Psalm 31:24
We are part of a powerful, growing state and national homeschooling movement. And that was the case even before the coronavirus! Now, more families than ever are homeschooling and benefiting from this life-changing choice. North Carolina is second only to Alaska in percent of the population homeschooling (statistics), and our freedoms here are some of the best in the nation.
We are also at a time of significant cultural change in our nation. There are those who value our constitutional rights, traditional family structures, the sanctity of life, and the authority of parents in the lives of their children and there are those who don’t. There is also a growing belief that the government should make decisions about how our children are educated. This divide is affecting what is being taught in public schools and many parents are homeschooling because they don’t want these things taught to their children. In this video, our executive director, Matthew McDill talks about how home education provides a wonderful opportunity to preserve our values.
COVID was interesting in that it brought our children home from schools to online experiences where parents became unavoidably aware of what was being taught and what their children were and were not learning. In essence, remote learning shed light on what had been largely beyond parental view pre-COVID. Homeschooling Facebook pages were full of parents’ exclamations of shock at what their children did not know, as well as statements of frustration with things they were being taught that were elements of social indoctrination.
In North Carolina, there have been places where young students have been taken in for private interviews without parental consent or presence where they have been asked about things like family views on race and gender (article). In Charlotte, teachers have been encouraged to engage students in identifying as members of the LGBTQ+ community and give them instruction on how to be activists without their parents knowledge and consent (article). Many families also recognize that the social distancing and masking of children is detrimental to their health and development as is being borne out in research (article). Other parents want masks to be mandated to protect their children from COVID. It is in the turmoil of societal values that we have seen record numbers of people turning to homeschooling as a means of deciding what their children learn and how–a means of preserving values that are important to their families.
We believe that every family should have the right to homeschool their children and pass on their own values to them. As an organization NCHE stands firmly behind the following:
- Parental Authority: The authority and responsibility of educating and raising children belongs to parents.
- Home Education: Home education is effective for establishing academic success, preparation for life, strong family relationships, and moral character.
- Biblical Christianity: We operate on the basis of biblical principles, affirm the Nicene Creed, hold to the authority of Scripture for doctrine and practice, and seek to support Christian parents in helping their children to follow Jesus Christ.
- Service to All: We serve and welcome all who support home education, regardless of race or religious affiliation.
In short, NCHE is there to assist you as you preserve your family values with regard to the education of your children. But we can’t do it alone! There are over 112,000 homeschooling families in our state. We want to reach as many of these parents as possible to help them homeschool with confidence and joy, protect their right to homeschool, equip them with information and encouragement, and connect them with other homeschoolers to mentor and support them. NCHE is taking on a monumental task!
We are a member and donor supported non-profit. We depend on you to help us preserve the rights and values of our members and all NC homeschoolers. Right now, we have a shortfall of roughly $20,000 to meet our budget by the end of the year.
Do you want us to continue the work to protect and support you in your freedom to homeschool in NC? Then please support our effort by donating to North Carolinians for Home Education today!
But don’t let it stop with you! Share this letter with someone in your corner who believes in your right to preserve family values. Maybe it’s your parents or siblings. Maybe it’s a neighbor, friend, co-worker, or fellow homeschooler. Ask them to donate out of support for you in your homeschooling journey!
Standing with you,
NCHE Development Director
P.S. It is critical to receive your support before the end of December. Prayerfully offer your best gift today!
P.S.S. There isn’t much that is more important than your freedom to raise your children according to your own convictions. With one simple choice to donate to NCHE, you will be doing the most important thing you can do to ensure that no one takes that freedom from you in NC.
by Matthew McDill, Nov 21
Hopefully, you’ve already discovered The Homeschool Show! This is our most recent project to help parents homeschool with confidence and joy. This week we released episode 9, and we’ve already had guests on the show like Dr. Brian Ray (NHERI), attorney Dan Beasley (HSLDA), Yvette Hampton (of the Schoolhouse Rocked documentary), Tim Lambert (THSC), Dr. Kathy Koch (Celebrate Kids), and more! We’ve discussed current legislative issues in NC and offered lots of homeschool tips.
Would you consider helping us with the show? Here’s what you can do:
1) Watch it.
2) Share it.
Help us spread the word! When you see our Facebook and Instagram posts about the show, share them. Also, please take just a moment and share a link to the show with friends and family that you think will be interested.
3) Give us feedback.
Please let us know if you have any questions or topics you’d like us to address. And as you watch the show, if you have any ideas for how we can improve it, please email us at email@example.com.
4) Submit videos for the Homeschool Reality Moment.
The Homeschool Reality Moment is a segment of the show when we take a look at what is going on in real homeschools in NC. This segment shows video clips of parents sharing stories and experiences from their homes that are funny, moving, and inspiring. Please record your video horizontally (not the normal way you hold your phone). We want videos about 1 to 3 minutes long. It could be just a video of you telling a story of something that happened or a conversation you had. It could be a project idea or homeschool hack that you show through the video. Remember to keep it real. Don’t forget that this will also be shared as a podcast, so be sure you are giving narration as you show something. Send your videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5) Advertise on the show.
If you own a business (or know someone who does), please consider sponsoring or placing an advertisement on the show. You can read all about it here. The Homeschool Show is produced in the News Talk WSIC studio and broadcast at 8:30 am on Mondays in the northern Charlotte, Lake Norman, Statesville and Iredell County region. We then upload the video and audio recordings of the show to YouTube and our podcast channels. The Homeschool Show is promoted each week through our social media channels (more than 27,000 followers) and email list (more than 13,000 subscribers).
6) Donate to NCHE
If you are grateful for what NCHE does, please consider making a donation. Our mission is to help parents homeschool with confidence and joy by protecting your right to homeschool in NC, equipping you with information and encouragement, and connecting you with other families and groups.
We are currently facing a budget shortfall for 2021. Our goal is to raise $20,000 by the end of the year to close this gap. You can help us continue to serve homeschoolers, like producing The Homeschool Show, when you make a generous donation.
by Diane Helfrich, November 2021
You have made the jump and decided to homeschool. It’s exciting and scary all at once. You have so many questions: Will I fail my child? Can I manage all of this? What if I don’t do it right? What curriculum should I choose? Will my kids have access to the things I loved when I was in school? …and a hundred more questions. You are swimming in a sea of uncertainty, and, yet, you are certain that you want to move forward with homeschooling. What is my best recommendation for you? Join a support group!
When we began to homeschool, a woman at the library encouraged me to join a group. I only knew of one group which she told me about. I wasn’t sure I wanted the interruption to my week and the added commitment it would bring. Hesitantly, I jumped in; we signed up for a class that met for an hour every other week for one semester! While the commitment wasn’t significant, I almost immediately saw the value of my choice. Over time, our co-op became the source of many parts of our homeschool.
What’s in It for Me?
One would assume that the best part of joining a co-op or support group would be friends for your children. What I didn’t expect was what was there for me. I, too, needed like-minded friends on a similar journey. I was surprised at how quickly friendships formed and how much I looked forward to seeing these parents. Throughout our homeschooling time, I clung to the words spoken by parents with more experience. There were discussions of curriculum, competitions, testing, the SAT and ACT, high school transcripts, college, scholarships—endless conversations about things I needed to know over the years. Parents talked about the things they wanted their children to have, their issues, and how they dealt with them. I gravitated toward parents who had values and families I admired, and I found myself morphing to homeschool more like them over time. I needed this mentorship. I needed these friendships. My support group and my involvement made me an infinitely better homeschool parent than I would have been without them.
What’s in It for My Kids?
Of course, my kids found friends through our group; that almost goes without saying. In addition, our group provided things I was weak in (math is NOT my cup of tea!), opportunities that only work with groups such as competitions, and all sorts of enrichment activities other parents organized. We did many competitions: Math Olympiad, MathCounts, spelling bee, geography bee, science fair, National Latin Exam, Envirothon, team policy debate, and speech. We had choirs, proms, a wonderful graduation ceremony, a yearly fall barn square dance, and a multitude of field trips. My kids were on yearbook teams, gaining considerable leadership and time management skills; there was money involved and deadlines to meet. I taught classes that fit our needs and wants like philosophy, biology, chemistry, and dissection classes. These benefitted both my family and many others. Nothing was missing from our choosing to go away from traditional schooling. It was, in fact, a very learning-rich environment.
The Greater Community
It was through my support group that I became aware of NCHE and the sports offered. We went to the Thrive! Conference yearly. I was filled to the brim at these events, and I became connected with a larger pool of homeschoolers. When you walk into the Benton Convention Center filled with homeschooling families, you know you are part of something special before you even start listening to speakers! This larger community is as important as the local community. NCHE is where I became aware of the legislative support that happens for all of us without us having to do much. I now know that we have lists of groups. I happened into a great support group and co-op, but there are many, and NCHE provides a place to get connected through lists of groups. We participated in volleyball through the NCHE Athletic Commission (NCHEAC); I coached, my son was an assistant coach, and my daughter was a player. The sports gave us the final thing I was looking for to round out our experiences. Being a member of NCHE became more and more important to me because of the support for homeschoolers I witnessed.
Getting the Most from Your Group
Now for the part that many shy away from–the investment you make. Support groups require leadership and efforts from many hands to make them work. If the team you want isn’t available, COACH! If the class you want isn’t being taught, TEACH! If the prom or yearbook doesn’t exist, ORGANIZE. There will be other parents to help. As always, we get out of something what we put into it. We don’t have to know how to do it all; we can learn as we go. We have gifts to offer others, and they have the skills we need. Together, it all works. Yes, it takes time and commitment. But, through that commitment, you demonstrate to your children that nothing good comes without investment, and that is a fundamental lesson they need before they leave your nest. Serving the greater good is always something of worth to which we should aspire!
In closing, joining a group that fits your needs is the best gift you give yourself as a homeschooler. It’s a huge responsibility, and none of us does it best alone! In the world of best practices, this is a big one. So, find a group and jump in. You will be glad you did!
By Spencer Mason, October 2021
The Division of Non-Public Education (DNPE) recently sent out an email to randomly selected homeschools in North Carolina requesting that they attend a virtual record review meeting. The way the email reads, it would be easy to understand this request as a legal requirement. It says, “Please note that DNPE encourages you to participate as the NC Statutes governing non-public schools (Chapter 115C Article 39; § 115C 547 – 567) require all non-public schools to make available their records upon request. An invitation to attend a record review meeting is such a request.”
It is important to note, however, that later in the email it states, “If you do not have Microsoft Teams or you prefer not to meet virtually, you may either email or mail a copy of your 2020-21 attendance chart and standardized test results to DNPE.” We know from talking with DNPE representatives that they view the meeting request as voluntary. However, they do not view the request to mail or email your records as voluntary.
The statute states, “For one year after the testing, all records shall be made available, subject to G.S. 115C-174.13, at the principal office of such school, at all reasonable times, for annual inspection by a duly authorized representative of the State of North Carolina.”
According to our understanding of this law, the only way that the DNPE can request to view your records is by coming to your home (“the principal office of such school”). Therefore, it is important that you understand that you are not required by law to attend the virtual meeting or to send in any records by mail or email.
While it is the decision of each homeschool administrator as to how to respond to these requests by DNPE, NCHE advises cooperation. Government officials are charged with maintaining the integrity of the law. It is important that one’s relations with government officials remain civil. NCHE encourages homeschools to be in compliance with the law, and to assist government officials in carrying out their task, within the bounds of the law. It is NCHE’s view that the current regulations on North Carolinians for record maintenance are not over-burdensome, and that DNPE has demonstrated itself to be in support of alternatives to public-sponsored education. Lack of cooperation may raise questions by some regarding the integrity of the law and validity of the practice of home education. In contrast, a working, cooperative relationship with government officials communicates respect for civil governance and the common good.
- You are not required by law to attend the virtual meeting or to send in any records by mail or email.
- The law DOES require that we maintain attendance, immunization, and annual testing records.
- It’s important that homeschoolers recognize that we’re in danger of having more regulations added if there’s a perception that we’re doing a poor job or there’s a lack of sufficient oversight.
- We at NCHE believe cooperating with DNPE on these inspections is the best way to protect our present freedoms. DNPE understands homeschools and has supported our mode of education from the beginning. On the other hand, the Department of Public Instruction is not supportive and would be a disastrous substitute.
- So, if you’re doing a good job teaching your children at home, as NCHE trusts you are, you have nothing to fear from these inspections.