Posts tagged ‘homeschooling in georgia’

April 16, 2013

Worthy Reads

First…

**My condolences to the marathon runners and the people of Boston for this tragic event.**

***

My Worthy Reads are slim on articles about homeschooling in the media. Part of the reason is that all the articles I’m finding mostly have to do with the Romeike case, but I’m washing my hands of that. Thanks to everyone who commented on my  post about that case. If you haven’t read those comments, I suggest you do. It’ll give you a different perspective on that case than has been portrayed in the media.

Homeschooling

A definition of study – FIMBY – I like this post because it explains what I’d like to tell a lot of people: Parents can homeschool their children, and homeschooling will look different because homeschooling a small group of your own kids is much different than trying to control a large classroom.

18 Reasons Why Doctors and Lawyers Homeschool Their Children – Children’s MD

Project-Based Homeschooling Q&A: Getting Started – Raising Cajuns – Michelle has been writing a great series on PBH that you won’t want to miss!

Amy Hood ArtsThis isn’t a specific post. I just wanted to give a shout out for Amy’s blog because it’s chock full of good ideas for making art in your homeschool more intentional.

Second Year Anniversary - Luminous Fire – I love to hear good, honest news from homeschoolers who have children older than mine!

“How to Start a Project Group” + Friday Link Round-Up – Camp Creek Blog – Lori always gives the best quotes from articles that I’d like to be reading and sharing with you, but I just don’t have the time, so I’m glad she’s doing it! Plus, her guide on how to start a project group sounds great!

Homeschooled Kids, Now Grown, Blog Against the Past – The Daily Beast – This kind of stuff is upsetting. Not sure how to digest it.

“We were told that suffering is a good thing”: Former homeschool students blog about abuse – Daily Mail

Education

High School teacher brings history to life – CNN Schools of Thought – An inspiring teacher!

Some types of TV might improve behavior in kids - CNN Schools of Thought

Raising and Educating Boys

Why I Want My Boys to be Just Like Pa – Bloggin’ ‘Bout Boys – We love Little House too! I agree with Jennifer about male role models in this post.

November 17, 2012

Ft. Yargo State Park

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on November 15, 2012.

Autumn is the perfect time for getting out into nature, and we residents of Barrow County can’t forget the treasure that is in our own backyard: Fort Yargo State Park.  At least 400,000 people visit Ft. Yargo every year, and aren’t we lucky to have it so close that we need travel only a few minutes to get there?  It’s located one mile south of Winder on Highway 81.

We love exploring Georgia’s various state parks and outdoor recreation areas, but as the boys grow up, I intend to make sure they feel at home in Ft. Yargo.

I went on one of my first dates with my husband to Ft. Yargo, and even before we had children, we would sometimes go there and hike to the fort, which was tucked away in the back of the park.  Now it has been moved to a more accessible location, and the Ft. Yargo Living History Society has begun fixing up the blockhouse, and according to their website, they will be building a blacksmith’s shop, hunter’s cabin and enlarging the cookhouse.

The last time we went by the fort was on a Saturday, and we were lucky to meet the living history demonstrators. (They are onsite the 3rd Saturday of every month.) The demonstrators, who were in period dress, were heating up the mud oven to bake bread, and there was a pot of venison stew simmering on the stove.  My picky boys weren’t eager to try it.

Back in the day, Fort Yargo was located in the border area between the Creek and Cherokee nation.  According to the Georgia State Parks website, “The state of Georgia contracted with the Humphrey brothers to build a string of four forts across north Georgia to protect white settlers from Indians.”  Fort Yargo was one of them.

According to roadsidegeorgia.com, “The western push of settlers from the Georgia coast had slowed during the Revolutionary War, but not long after the war ended, settlers once again began to encroach on Creek land. Near the Creek town of Snodon settlers created tiny Jug Handle, essentially a tavern and inn at the intersection of a heavily traveled north-south Indian Trading Path and an east-west trading route.  To protect the settlers from the Creek Indians, Fort Yargo was built in 1792 by a Virginia settler…Captain Joseph Humphries.”

You can read more about the history and legends associated with Ft. Yargo at the Living History Society’s website: http://www.fylhs.com/history_and_legends_.html.

Today the park encompasses 1,816 acres, and has a beautiful 260-acre man-made lake with fishing, boat ramps, swimming and a beach open during the warmer seasons.  There are 18 miles of trails for hikers and mountain bikers, and events take place there throughout the year.  Campsites, cottages, and yurts are for rent, and there are at least three playgrounds, picnic shelters, tennis courts, disc golf, basketball and so much more.

Fort Yargo is an oasis in Barrow County, and I’m so thankful to have it nearby. My boys don’t need most of the amenities that it offers, though.  We go there to walk on the paths and sit by the water while they throw rocks and twigs into the lake. I’m not sure there will be any more pebbles left on the shore by the time they grow up.

Another perk to having a state park so close is that my son can easily participate in the Georgia Junior Ranger Program, which is recommended for children ages 6-12. I’ll write about that in my next column.

Go to http://www.gastateparks.org/FortYargo to learn more about the park and plan your visit, but take note that it will be closed to the public on Dec. 4-5 for managed deer hunts.

What is your favorite state park?

August 29, 2012

GA HB 39: Georgia Homeschooling Law Changes Beginning 2012 / 2013 School Year

{How to Homeschool in Georgia}

Since the deadline for submitting a Declaration of Intent to Homeschool is September 1st, I thought I would repost this column I wrote earlier in the summer.  Last night I submitted our Declaration of Intent to Homeschool on the Georgia Dept. of Education’s website, and it could not have been easier!  Please note that since this is our first year, I have not had to submit attendance forms yet. I sent a query with some questions about that form. I will write more about this and our “back to homeschool” (starting next week) in an upcoming column.

I understand that some homeschoolers are concerned that this online form requires the child’s birthdate. The law states we only have to give their age.  I have read in a Georgia homeschooling e-mail list that the Georgia Dept. of Education should be updating the form at some point to reflect this.  Let’s hope so.

******

UPDATE: Since writing this column, the Georgia Department of Education has updated their website.  All the instructions and online forms (which are very simple!) can be accessed by clicking here.

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on May 30, 2012.  For information on the homeschooling law for kindergarten in Georgia, see this post.

Some changes have been made to the homeschooling law in Georgia, and they will go into effect July 1, 2012. There are two major changes that homeschoolers need to be aware of.  The first is that they will no longer turn in their paperwork to their local school districts.  Now they will report directly to the Department of Education.

The second major change is that homeschoolers will only be required to turn in attendance forms once a year to the Department of Education.  Currently homeschoolers have to turn in a monthly attendance form to their local school district.  This change will no doubt come as a relief to many homeschooling parents.

I called the Department of Education (DOE) and a spokesperson told me that they hope to have all the instructions and forms on their website by mid-June. (UPDATE: The Department of Education’s instructions and online submittal forms are posted here.)  They will try to make the process as easy as possible, and the forms will be available on their website to submit electronically.  There will be other options for turning in the forms as well.

I’ll wager that the DOE will make the process easy because it’s in their interest to do so.  In the 2010/2011 school year, there were 107,509 homeschooled students in Georgia, and that number may increase in coming years.  This coming fall, my eldest son will be added to that number for the first time.

The spokesperson said they would also find a way to help students who require proof of attendance to apply for a driver’s license at age 16 so that they won’t have to wait until the end of the school year to do so.

With these changes in mind, the following are the requirements that parents or guardians must follow in order to homeschool in Georgia:

  • Parents or guardians of homeschoolers are required to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool within 30 days of establishing such a program and thereafter by September 1 each year.  Compulsory attendance is for children between the ages of six and sixteen, but any child under seven who has been enrolled in public school for 20 days or more will need to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool.
  • The declaration needs to list the names and ages of the students, the address of the home study program, and a statement of the 12-month period that is to be considered the school year.
  • Parents or guardians may teach only their own children, and they must possess at least a high school diploma or GED, but they can employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED.
  • The law states, “The home study program shall provide a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.”
  • The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to the students equivalent to 180 school days with each day consisting of at least 4.5 hours unless the child is physically unable to comply.
  • Attendance records must be kept and submitted annually to the Department of Education.
  • The law states, “Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests…” beginning at the end of the 3rd grade and every three years after that.  The spokesperson at the DOE recommended that parents use a nationally recognized test.  Homeschoolers can find a list of such tests here: http://www.ghea.org/pages/testing/standardizedTests.php. Note that a parent can administer the test after consulting with someone at the test’s publisher, or they could ask a local teacher to administer the test.  The results of the tests do not need to be shared with anyone, and parents need only retain them for their own records.
  • Finally, the home study program instructor needs to write an annual progress assessment report which will include her assessment of the student’s academic progress in each of the subject areas listed above, and parents need to retain these reports for at least three years.  (These annual reports do not have to be submitted to anyone either.)

The spokesperson also stated that the exams and annual progress report are important for homeschooled students because they may be needed in case that student ever needs to enroll in public school (though several homeschoolers have told me public schools have not required these items upon enrollment of their homeschooled child), or they may be used as part of a portfolio for applying to college.  He said that homeschooled students who are considering college should look at the requirements of the colleges they will be applying to and consider those requirements as they proceed in their course of study for high school.

See the following links for more information.

Georgia House Bill 39

Department of Education

Since I’m writing what was related to me by the spokesperson at DOE, I welcome any comments from seasoned homeschoolers Re: their experience homeschooling in Georgia and compliance with the law.

June 1, 2012

GA HB 39: Georgia Homeschooling Law Changes Beginning 2012 / 2013 School Year

{How to Homeschool in Georgia}

UPDATES: Since writing this column, the Georgia Department of Education has updated their website.  All the instructions and online forms (which look very simple!) can be accessed by clicking here.

JULY 2013: Additional changes have been made to the law. Starting this month, Georgia homeschoolers do not have to submit attendance forms to the Department of Education. Please keep them in your own files.

AUGUST 2013: I have created the Free PDF Georgia’s Kindergarten and Homeschooling Laws for your information. You can also find it on my Printables page.

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on May 30, 2012.  For information on the homeschooling law for kindergarten in Georgia, see this post.

Some changes have been made to the homeschooling law in Georgia, and they will go into effect July 1, 2012. There are two major changes that homeschoolers need to be aware of.  The first is that they will no longer turn in their paperwork to their local school districts.  Now they will report directly to the Department of Education.

The second major change is that homeschoolers will only be required to turn in attendance forms once a year to the Department of Education.  Currently homeschoolers have to turn in a monthly attendance form to their local school district.  This change will no doubt come as a relief to many homeschooling parents.

I called the Department of Education (DOE) and a spokesperson told me that they hope to have all the instructions and forms on their website by mid-June. (UPDATE: The Department of Education’s instructions and online submittal forms are posted here.)  They will try to make the process as easy as possible, and the forms will be available on their website to submit electronically.  There will be other options for turning in the forms as well.

I’ll wager that the DOE will make the process easy because it’s in their interest to do so.  In the 2010/2011 school year, there were 107,509 homeschooled students in Georgia, and that number may increase in coming years.  This coming fall, my eldest son will be added to that number for the first time.

The spokesperson said they would also find a way to help students who require proof of attendance to apply for a driver’s license at age 16 so that they won’t have to wait until the end of the school year to do so.

With these changes in mind, the following are the requirements that parents or guardians must follow in order to homeschool in Georgia:

  • Parents or guardians of homeschoolers are required to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool within 30 days of establishing such a program and thereafter by September 1 each year.  Compulsory attendance is for children between the ages of six and sixteen, but any child under seven who has been enrolled in public school for 20 days or more will need to submit a declaration of intent to homeschool.
  • The declaration needs to list the names and ages of the students, the address of the home study program, and a statement of the 12-month period that is to be considered the school year.
  • Parents or guardians may teach only their own children, and they must possess at least a high school diploma or GED, but they can employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or GED.
  • The law states, “The home study program shall provide a basic academic educational program which includes, but is not limited to, reading, language arts, mathematics, social studies, and science.”
  • The home study program must provide instruction each 12 months to the students equivalent to 180 school days with each day consisting of at least 4.5 hours unless the child is physically unable to comply.
  • Attendance records must be kept and submitted annually to the Department of Education.
  • The law states, “Students in home study programs shall be subject to an appropriate nationally standardized testing program administered in consultation with a person trained in the administration and interpretation of norm reference tests…” beginning at the end of the 3rd grade and every three years after that.  The spokesperson at the DOE recommended that parents use a nationally recognized test.  Homeschoolers can find a list of such tests here: http://www.ghea.org/pages/testing/standardizedTests.php. Note that a parent can administer the test after consulting with someone at the test’s publisher, or they could ask a local teacher to administer the test.  The results of the tests do not need to be shared with anyone, and parents need only retain them for their own records.
  • Finally, the home study program instructor needs to write an annual progress assessment report which will include her assessment of the student’s academic progress in each of the subject areas listed above, and parents need to retain these reports for at least three years.  (These annual reports do not have to be submitted to anyone either.)

The spokesperson also stated that the exams and annual progress report are important for homeschooled students because they may be needed in case that student ever needs to enroll in public school (though several homeschoolers have told me public schools have not required these items upon enrollment of their homeschooled child), or they may be used as part of a portfolio for applying to college.  He said that homeschooled students who are considering college should look at the requirements of the colleges they will be applying to and consider those requirements as they proceed in their course of study for high school.

See the Department of Education for more information.

Since I’m writing what was related to me by the spokesperson at DOE, I welcome any comments from seasoned homeschoolers Re: their experience homeschooling in Georgia and compliance with the law.

December 16, 2011

What qualifications are required of parents who homeschool?

The law in Georgia states, “Parents or guardians may teach only their own children in the home study program, provided the teaching parent or guardian possesses at least a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) equivalency diploma, but the parents or guardians may employ a tutor who holds a high school diploma or a general educational development diploma to teach such children.”

The law only requires a parent to possess a high school diploma or equivalent to homeschool their child, but I believe there are many other qualifications a parent needs to homeschool.  I’m not talking about higher education.  I’m talking about a commitment to their child and to fostering an environment of learning.

Above all, parents who homeschool should love learning.  It doesn’t matter how educated you are, but do you love to learn?  Are you willing to learn along with your child?  Explore the world of ideas and great thinkers?

Parents who don’t like to read are probably not going to foster the love of reading in their child.  Sometimes a child will have a natural propensity for learning, but I believe if given the right environment, all children will want to learn.

One of the best ways to get children to learn is to create an environment full of educational opportunities.  Leave books on the coffee table and children will want to open them.  Be willing to answer their incessant questions and teach them how to find answers.  They will keep asking more questions, and eventually they’ll start finding their own answers.

Parents who shrug off questions or the interests of their children because they are too tired or don’t think the child’s interest is worthy enough are doing a huge disservice to their children.  This is how children learn that what they think doesn’t matter.  They’ll resent learning what others think they should know, and soon they’ll hate learning altogether.

But follow your child’s interests, and it’ll lead you on a long journey that will take you everywhere you want your child to go and farther.  You’ll be able to motivate your child to read and write because he’ll see that by learning to read and write, he’ll be able to do what he loves better! (You don’t have to homeschool to do this either!)

Besides learning alongside your child, you’ll need to take time to research the various options available to homeschoolers.  There are all sorts of teaching methods, and no one method works for everybody.

In addition, parents should learn about their child’s particular learning style.  This will help you tremendously as you decide what approach to homeschooling you want to take.  Discover Your Child’s Learning Style by Mariaemma Willis and Victoria Kindle Hodson or similar text is a must-read for all parents.

Homeschooling comes with its own sacrifices.  Though it doesn’t have to cost a fortune, most families who homeschool live on one income.  However, some parents manage to both work, and there are single parents who homeschool too, but whatever your situation, it will certainly be a sacrifice on your time.

Every mother knows that her free time diminishes with each child she has, but homeschooling mothers, especially, get little free time.  It can be frustrating and exhausting, especially if you don’t have a good support network of friends and family.

Depending on where you live, you may have to drive to find other homeschoolers or activities and classes to join.  Homeschooling parents have to be willing to get out there and meet other families and children so that their kids can socialize.  This can be easier said than done, but fortunately there are more and more opportunities for homeschoolers to get together.

Just like parenting in general, homeschooling parents need to be flexible and willing to change if their approach isn’t working.  They need to listen to their child and the needs of the whole family.  If you are a controlling person with an inflexible agenda, you will have a tough time homeschooling.

Helen Keller’s teacher, Anne Sullivan, said, “Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.”  Parents of homeschoolers will succeed if they are willing to guide their children on a path of life-long learning.

Note: This column was first published in the The Barrow Journal on December 14, 2011.

What qualifications do you think homeschooling parents need to possess?

November 26, 2011

November & Thanksgiving Activities With Small Children

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wanted to create history lessons around each holiday this year.  In addition to this, I want to do general activities to celebrate each season.  However, I still feel the need to keep things extremely simple with my boys.  At ages 5 & 2, they just aren’t ready for big projects or crafts.  When I do initiate crafts, it’s usually me doing most of the crafting, or the boys take over by making it a cutting-up-paper-into-tiny-bits session.  Whether it’s their ages or that they are boys, long sit-down lessons and activities don’t work for us.  (And this also goes for just the five-year-old when the two-year-old is napping too.)

So here are the simple things we did this November to celebrate autumn and Thanksgiving:

  • We had a gorgeous autumn in Georgia this year, so I wanted to celebrate those beautiful leaves.  We collected leaves and laminated them.  Last year I tried ironing them between parchment paper, and it looked awful.  I asked my sister – a first grade teacher – what she recommended.  She said she just laminated the leaves.  Guess what?  It works great!  After laminating them, I strung some up over our window and the doorway into our activity room.  I tacked the others up to our bulletin board, and I labeled the leaves that I knew.  (Tree identification will come when they’re older too.)  (This it the laminator I purchased over a year ago – a worthwhile investment.)
  • We planted bulbs.  And garlic.  I’ve never planted garlic before, so I’m excited to see what will happen.  Planting seeds is a favorite pastime of my five-year-old, which I have written about extensively in this post.
  • We read our Thanksgiving books:
    • What Is Thanksgiving? by Harriet Ziefert – A sweet, lift-the-flap book about a mouse who asks his parents “What is Thanksgiving?”  It’s very simple and dedicates only two lines to the history of the holiday.  It’s mostly about what we do now to celebrate Thanksgiving. I would only recommend it for very young children.
    • The Story of the Pilgrims by Katherine Ross – I highly recommend this book for the approximate ages 4~6 or anyone needing a beginning lesson on Thanksgiving history.  It starts in England and talks about a group of people call Pilgrims and why they left, their journey in the Mayflower, their first difficult winter, the encounter with the Indians and what the Indians taught them, and it ends with the big feast.  It’s simple enough for youngsters but full of interesting details.
  • As we talked about Thanksgiving and what we give thanks for, I used A Child’s Book of Animal Poems and Blessings (collected by Eliza Blanchard).  My boys love animals, so these poems and prayers were fun.  The illustrations are beautiful.  It teaches respect for animals, and it gave me a chance to talk about praying and poetry.  Needless to say, this isn’t a book I will use only for this season.
  • The night before Thanksgiving, I told my five-year-old a story about Jack and Piper and the big Thanksgiving feast they hosted in the forest.  All the forest animals were invited, and on this day, there was no bickering or squabbles.  One by one, each animal said what he was thankful for.
  • Besides these simple activities, I have spent as much time outdoors as the weather permitted.  We visited Ft. Yargo, the Botanical Garden, and spent lots of time in our own yard.

Maybe next year I’ll get around to baking, more crafts and more history lessons.  Or maybe we’ll just spend more time outside.

What’s your favorite activities for November?

November 9, 2011

Knee-High Naturalist Class at the Sandy Creek Nature Center in Athens, Georgia

This autumn, my five-year-old and I have been enjoying the knee-high naturalist class at the Sandy Creek Nature Center.  It takes place every other Wednesday from 3:30-4:30p.m.  Children ages 3-5 are eligible and must be accompanied by an adult. Click here for more information.

In the class the children have met and touched several live animals, and many times we go outside too.  My son was in his element during the “creep walk” when we waded through a stream in search of critters!  We’ve learned about the cardinal directions and how to use a compass and also about recycling, just to name a few of the activities.

 

“Miss Sarah” is a wonderful teacher/facilitator.  Her patience and ability with kids is amazing, and once she talked an extra twenty minutes with just my son after class because he had questions about snakes!  (Thanks, Sarah!)

 

I took a lot of good photos during one of the classes, but I don’t want any parent to be mad at me, so I’m only sharing photos of the backs of heads of the other children.

 

Below my son is awaiting to get his jar filled with compost in hopes of creating a mini bug habitat in a jar.

 

We have also been attending the Homeschool Science classes at the Nature Center, and we love those classes too.  If I take any photos during one of those classes, I’ll be sure to share.

What classes/activities do your children enjoy around town?

June 21, 2011

Just for Fun: Our Trip to Anna Ruby Falls

a dusky salamander (probably)

Yesterday, for Father’s Day, we drove up near Helen, Georgia and went to see Anna Ruby Falls.  This is a great trip for kids, though, fair warning, it can be a bit touristy. (Yesterday there were a lot of people, but we’ve been there mid-week and it was very quiet.)  The trail to the falls is about .5 mile long, but it’s all uphill, so it seems a little longer.  It’s all paved too, which makes it stroller (and wheelchair) accessible.  I think that Smith Creek, which runs along the path, is even more beautiful than the falls.

Yesterday I had my 50mm with me, which is my smallest and lightest lens, and that is why I like to take it on day trips.  It’s perfect for getting up close to the flora and fauna, which is what I wanted to focus on this time. (Last year I had my wide angle and got some beautiful images with it.)

My son loves to look for the salamanders that can be found along the trail.  We only saw one yesterday.  (Maybe all the people scared the others away?)  One of my dearest friends is a herpetologist, and she told me this salamander is probably a “dusky salamander,” but she’d have to hold it in her hand to identify it properly.

Ahem.  I don’t have any good photos of my husband or kids, but that isn’t exactly my fault.  They just weren’t in the mood to get their pictures taken.  But I’m thankful that I have a wonderful husband and father who was willing to watch the boys and help them throw rocks and sticks into the water while I rambled along with my camera.  (After all, it was father’s day.  That means he gets to watch the kids, right? lol)

We love getting out into nature and taking hikes, and we’re looking forward to when the boys get older and can go on other day hikes.  There are so many in the North Georgia Mountains!  As much as my four-year-old loves it, however, his favorite part was going to the gift shop at the visitor center and getting a keepsake.  In this case, he picked out some toys that represented the life-cycle of frogs.  So that was educational!

Yes, it was a good day and “field trip.”

Lucky us, the rhododendron was blooming!

June 6, 2011

Interview with the Bells, a homeschooling family in Georgia

{Interview with a homeschooling family.}

This is just a note to let you know that my column of the interview with the Bell family has been posted online!  Click here to read the column.  And if you haven’t already, you might want to check out my special edition to this column ~ I posted the script of the interview because Jamica had so many valuable things to say, and I couldn’t fit it all into the column.  Click here to read that.

For other interviews with homeschoolers, be sure to click on the “Interviews with Homeschoolers” tab in the menu.

June 1, 2011

Interview with a Barrow County Homeschooling Family: The Bells

Jamica sent me their latest family portrait to share with you.  It was taken last fall.

{Interview with a homeschooling family}

This is a column that I wrote for The Barrow Journal.  The Bell family is a great example of a homeschooling family where homeschooling has or is benefitting all the children.  Click here to read my column.

After writing the column, I realized that Jamica Bell wrote a lot of valuable information that I just couldn’t fit into the column.  So, for a special addition to my blog, I’m going to post the script of our interview.  I have only edited it a little for clarity.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed learning about this hip homeschooling family!

Please note that Jamica has answered all the questions except for numbers 10 and 11 where I have noted that her daughter, Nia, answers.

1.  What are the names/ages of your children?

Eshantee, 20; Nia, 19; Jamica, 17; Asha, 15; Eden, 12; Foshie, 9; Zion, 4

2.  How long have you been homeschooling?  Have any of your kids ever attended any regular school?

I have been homeschooling for about 14 years. Eshantee and Nia began their school career in preschool and first grade at a private Christian academy.

3.  What made you decide that you wanted to homeschool?  Have you been happy with the decision?

Though my family enjoyed an excellent experience at the Christian academy they attended, I was very impressed with how open and earnest my daughters were to learn everything I wanted to teach them. During their first summer vacation, they wanted to know all sorts of things, like how to make biscuits, what made the sky blue but the clouds white, why were kids mean to some children but nice to others, and the list goes on and on.

It dawned on me just how precious the time we had together truly was. In just a few short weeks, we would no longer be able to spend our days learning about the world around us together. I wanted more of this very valuable time and determined I did not want to share the fleeting years of my children’s youth with anyone else.

With only so many waking hours in a day, why should I give away my children’s best moments to someone else? That’s why we made the decision to homeschool. My family and I have been extremely happy with our decision. We have all learned so much about one another and the world around us. It is awesome to watch a child develop into the wonderful adult they will one day become.

4.  What style of homeschooling would you classify yourself as?  Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?

A) I would classify myself as an eclectic homeschooler. I don’t believe in putting my students or myself in a box when it comes to education. I believe in stimulating all the senses when learning a new subject and expounding on learned subjects. If one of my students prefers a firm structure and curriculum, we find ways to accommodate that preference (i.e. online curriculum or distance learning). However, that same student may be asked to research and plan a cultural family celebration, complete with food, music, art, etc.

One year my daughter Nia organized a fabulous Hawaiian Heritage celebration for our family (great grandmother was Hawaiian). We experienced an authentic meal, language, music, and dance while learning about our family in a nontraditional way. The student was also able to stretch her imagination as well as try other learning styles.

B) My philosophy is this, “It is every parents’ responsibility to give their child the most excellent education they possibly can; academically, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. However, the roads leading to that most excellent education are limitless.”

This simply means that whatever route a parent chooses to take to provide that most excellent education is up to that parent. Whether it is homeschool, private or public, the parent can make this experience as rich as they would like. The possibilities and options are limitless. If their child is interested in aviation, the parent could watch videos, build model planes, or even schedule a flight in a charter plane. In my opinion, at the end of the day, the parents’ commitment to excellence is what matters most.

5.  What kinds of tools or curriculum do you use to homeschool?

Though I am not committed to one particular curriculum, I do utilize pieces from several. Usborne books are very helpful.  Interactive online courses are used as well. One of my favorite websites is Edhelper.com.  I have used it for years and am able to find multidiscipline worksheets on nearly any subject of interest.  I also love the Bob Books for beginner readers.

6. Are you the primary “teacher” or does your spouse get involved with the homeschooling?

My husband and I share teaching responsibilities. My teenagers also participate in teaching at times.

7.  What made you want to start the Barrow County Homeschooling group?  Can you tell us a little about it?

Actually, my teenagers came up with the idea of starting a group in our own county. After living in Barrow County for nearly 6 years, it was not uncommon for us to travel to surrounding counties for basic activities like park days, teen socials, etc. Eventually, we stopped trying to attend events because of the distance. As you can imagine, it left everyone feeling pretty isolated.  So we thought, “If we are experiencing this type of isolation, maybe there are others in this county who are experiencing the same thing.” It just seemed a little absurd to not have something for the Barrow County homeschooling community, by the Barrow County homeschooling community. The rest is history. We have been so surprised at just how many families were feeling the exact same way we were all this time.

8.  What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you like the least about it?

A) What I love most about homeschooling is the liberty to explore limitless educational possibilities and experiences. Considering the fact that life is a learning experience, we get to make the journey as rich and rewarding as we want. I also love the way my children think. They have the freedom to be themselves and actually be appreciated for that. In return, they are able to freely appreciate the uniqueness in others.

B) What I like least about homeschooling is the stereotypes we come up against. Perhaps, based on the media, a biased article, or a negative personal experience, there are so many people who think they know who we are and what we do. Unfortunately, we all get painted with the same brush. It only takes the witness of one marvelous homeschooling moment or encounter to change the mind of an individual. I hope we are able to provide such encounters, one individual at a time.

9.  I believe your eldest daughter has already graduated high school and is in college, correct? What did you do to ensure that she would be eligible to attend college? Was it easy for her to enter college as a homeschooler?

My eldest daughter is a wife, mother, and business owner. However, my second eldest daughter, Nia, has graduated and is enrolled at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

By determining the graduation requirements for Georgia, we were able to cater her education accordingly. However, she decided to complete her GED to ensure her admittance into college would go as smoothly as possible.

It was very easy for her to enter into college as a homeschooler. There was no stress whatsoever. We were able to provide any information they requested. She aced her entrance exam and is starting this summer.

10.  Can you tell us what she’s studying now, and what her plans are for the future?

Nia answers:  I am currently in college to earn a B.A. in general business. Afterwards, it is my intention to earn a Master of Science degree in game production and management. I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur and general business seemed a good route to go. As a child, I’ve always had an overactive imagination and a love for storytelling, but sadly, no talent for writing. As video games have always been one of my greatest passions, I want to use video game production as a medium to exercise my imagination.

11.  Can your daughter tell me what she thinks about having been homeschooled?  Now that she’s in college, does she see the benefit of being homeschooled or any negatives about it?

Nia answers:  On being home schooled, I have nothing but the highest praise. Being home schooled is like raising a plant indoors, and then transplanting it outdoors in spring. When plants are raised indoors, they are protected from wilting sun, choking weeds, and dire diseases until they are strong enough to withstand the elements on their own. Oftentimes, these plants do better than their outdoor counterparts. My home-education allowed me to learn who I was and who I wanted to be without the burden of my peers pressuring me in any other direction. It also allowed me the freedom to bond with my family and avoid the typical teenage drawback that often damages those relationships irreparably.

I have had the occasion to interact with my publicly and privately educated counterparts. The only negative that I could possibly see is if a parent-teacher is inattentive and neglects to take their child’s education seriously, or if they refuse to see the importance of socialization for their child’s healthy growth. These errors result in an unhappy, poorly educated, maladjusted outcast that resents her parents and falls into peer pressure easily. I have seen this type of homeschooling and must admit that this is what a lot of people expect when they hear the word “homeschoolers”. But providing that those pitfalls are avoided, I believe homeschooling can provide a child with the self-confidence, coping skills and academic understanding to reach their full potential.

12.  Is there anything you would like to add?

Jamica again:  One of my most successful school years has been this past year. I have my Barrow County Homeschoolers (BCH) family to thank for that. Forming BCH has allowed my entire family to establish lasting friendships and it has enriched our lives in such a tremendous way. It is an excellent thing to see just how well children can blossom socially, psychologically, and educationally when they are planted in a socially accepting and nurturing environment. Ideally, this is why most homeschool families join homeschool support groups.

Thank you, Jamica!

For other interviews with homeschoolers, be sure to click on the “Interviews with Homeschoolers” tab in the menu.

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