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.

For even more interviews with homeschool families, be sure to check out home/school/life magazine. I do an interview with a homeschool family in each issue!

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  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.

Interview with a Barrow County Homeschooling Family: The McGarrys

Carrie McGarry sent this photo of her beautiful children to share with you.  (Thanks, Carrie!)  Above is Alexandria, age 8, Gavin, age 5, and Samantha (Sam), age 1. 

This is a column that I wrote for The Barrow Journal.  The McGarrys are a local homeschooling family who have three young children, age eight and under.  They are using a variety of resources to homeschool, including project-based, and like many families who homeschool, they feel that public schools are putting too much emphasis on standardized tests instead of the quality of learning.  They are involved in the Barrow County Homeschooling Group.

Click here to read the full interview with this awesome family.

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

Interview with Homeschooled Student Rachel Foy

Note: This is a column I wrote for the Barrow Journal.  

Every once in a while my husband will have a student in one of his college history courses that was homeschooled. Usually they are dual enrollment students, which means they are taking college courses during their high school years for early college credit. He has always said good things about these students, which is one of the reasons we know homeschooling can be a good thing. He usually comments that the homeschooled students want to be in his class, and they want to learn.

Recently he came home to tell me about such a student named Rachel Foy. He was impressed with her academic ability and her conduct, and he told me I ought to interview her, so I did.

I found out that Rachel was homeschooled from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. Her older brother, Christopher, was homeschooled beginning in the fourth grade. Rachel said that her brother had a slight case of dyslexia, and while he was in public school, he didn’t get the extra attention he needed, which is one of the main reasons her parents decided to homeschool their children. Like many homeschoolers, they also felt it was important to instill their beliefs and values in their children without the negative peer pressure that so many young people can face today.

During the early years, Rachel’s parents used a variety of sources to homeschool, including such curriculums as A Beka, Learning at Home, Saxon, Math-U-See and Bob Jones, but they decided to use an accredited high school program called Light House Christian Academy for high school. Both Rachel and her brother were sent official high school diplomas upon completion.

When I asked Rachel if she liked being homeschooled, she said she loved it. “I got to sleep until 10:00. I would get up and finish my school before all my friends came home from school. I also had more free time to do stuff I enjoyed.”

Her dad was in the military, so they lived many different places, and she says they were able to take some amazing field trips. They visited Carlsbad Caverns, White Sands, the Grand Canyon, James Town, and many aquariums, zoos and museums.

There was a time during her middle school years that she wished she went to public school. She said her friends would come home talking about their teachers and classes, and she felt left out. Her parents tried to understand how she felt, but they reminded her that they were doing what they felt was best.

She says during this period her mother allowed her to pretend she was going to public school. “I would get up, pack my back pack, say bye to my mom, walk to the end of my driveway and then turn around and walk to ‘school.’ This only lasted a few months before I realized that I really did enjoy being homeschooled.”

She says she also grew up knowing a lot of other homeschoolers, though most of her friends went to public school. She says her homeschooled friends all enjoyed their experiences and are doing well now. A lot of her friends who went to public school told her they wished they could be homeschooled.

Rachel says she has dreamed of becoming a veterinarian ever since she was five years old, so she’s planning to transfer to UGA and major in Animal Science. She hopes that eventually she’ll be accepted into vet school at either UGA or Auburn.

As I have written before, there are many different kinds of homeschooling families, and there are many different reasons that parents chose to homeschool their children.

As a parent who is planning to attempt this road for her children, it does me good to meet a young adult who values her experience and who is working hard to succeed in her future. I can only hope that my boys will feel the same way.

Interview with a Former Homeschool Student

Note: This is a column I wrote for the Barrow Journal about a former homeschool student who is now a graduate student at the University of Georgia.  Click here to read the column on the Barrow Journal’s website.

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


I think that almost every homeschooling parent has moments of doubt when they wonder if the road they’ve chosen is going to hurt their kids. I know I do.

That’s why I was glad to meet Bethany Battig, a graduate student at UGA, who was homeschooled from the very beginning through the 7th grade. If anyone thinks that every homeschooled student will be at a disadvantage, they should talk to Bethany. She is articulate and well mannered with a professional appearance.

I asked Bethany if I could interview her, and she said yes. I was happy to learn more about her experiences and why her parents decided to homeschool her and her four younger siblings.

Bethany was homeschooled in the early part of her life in Jackson, Mississippi, but when her father took a job as a computer science professor, they moved to Vermont. She was homeschooled there for a few more years before attending public school, starting in the eighth grade.

Bethany’s mother, Heather A. Battig, told her, “We, like all intentional parents, wanted to give our children the best possible education that would benefit their lives and souls. We thought homeschooling was the wisest road to take toward that end.”

Like many homeschoolers, Bethany’s parents wanted their worldview and beliefs to permeate their children’s education in a way that they didn’t feel the public school system could do. She says they wanted to give their children the “big picture” approach to the world and to education, and they wanted to choose areas of emphasis specific to the strengths and weaknesses of each child.

Bethany says, “One main emphasis for my parents was history and the belief that the public school history is taught in a manner that is too ethnocentric in the United States.” Bethany and her siblings studied history from the beginning, exploring Ancient Egypt and Ancient Rome, and it wasn’t until their upper elementary grades that they studied American history in depth.

She also says, “My parents’ intentional exposure to international experiences through field trips and befriending of families from other cultures is something that I’ll always appreciate and admire greatly with regards to my upbringing through homeschooling.” Later, her parents encouraged Bethany and her siblings to travel abroad and gave them opportunities to volunteer in countries such as Cameroon, Cambodia, Mexico, Peru, Argentina and others.

Another reason her parents wanted to homeschool their children was that it gave the family more time together. Bethany’s father attended classes to get his PhD while also teaching full-time to support the family. Homeschooling allowed them the flexibility to spend more time together, and they could take family vacations when he had time off.

Bethany’s parents didn’t use any one curriculum because they wanted to thoughtfully consider what would work best for each course of study. They used a variety of resources, such as McGuffey readers, Saxon Math, Greenleaf Press history, and A Beka Book for English and others. Because of the flexibility, homeschooling allowed them to focus on more subjects than they may have studied in public school, and they were also involved in a number of homeschool co-ops.

Bethany remembers one co-op in which they were doing a unit study on the solar system, and each child had to represent one planet in the solar system and present findings on that particular planet. Bethany’s sister was Saturn, so she made a costume using a hula-hoop for the rings and a papiermâché ball for the planet (with holes in it so that her legs could fit through). She says a project like this incorporates arts and crafts and motivates kids to research, learn and present their findings.

When I asked Bethany what her personal feelings were toward her education, she said, “Homeschooling to me was natural and fun and never something that I considered a chore. My siblings and I soaked up information like a sponge, and I have many fond memories of being taught together (albeit, in different levels) at our kitchen or dining room tables. I feel privileged and blessed to have been homeschooled, and truly believe that it gave me an edge when I went into high school and even college, since I had had such an eclectic background in so many subjects.”

She also said, “I don’t think I realized that other children were schooled differently until I was much, much older!”

Bethany received a bachelor of arts with honors from Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where she graduated with a double major in Spanish and Government. She is currently attending the University of Georgia and pursuing a masters in Spanish Literature. She says that her future goals are to use her passion in the Spanish language to help others in some way, though she’s not sure whether it will be as a teacher, business professional, translator or something else.