Do you have an area in your home, a drawer or maybe a closet that you keep meaning to organize? In our house the area was a large bookcase full of homeschool textbooks and other materials. Our educational days were long behind us, the bookcase was needed for something else, and this summer seemed like the time to take care of all that stuff. Maybe some of the curriculum could be repurposed to another schooling household.

I met Kim from Forsyth Home Educators in a nearby shopping center parking lot, ready to pass on what was still usable of the homeschooling materials. Kim asked about our home school experience and how we felt about it. Little did she know we had just received the confirmation that our middle child’s final defense of her Ph.D. research had gone extremely well. I couldn’t wait to tell the news about our Dr. Daughter with anyone who would listen! Hearing this, Kim asked me to share some encouraging thoughts from this side of the homeschooling journey.

Our homeschooling beginnings were pretty shaky. Some folks have inspirational and formal statements of belief when they begin their school. Ours was, “We can do AT LEAST as well as this.”  My husband, Doug, and I had played around the edges of home schooling for several years. We researched it and knew North Carolina was a homeschool-friendly state, and an added bonus was that Winston-Salem hosted the annual home educators convention.

The tipping point came when our oldest began sixth grade. It was a new program in the school, and it was performing miserably. His first two semesters were without a permanent math teacher, and the other teachers spent a significant portion of the day dealing with disciplinary issues. Our two younger children would soon begin attending this same school. That’s when we took the plunge, got serious and said, “We can do AT LEAST as well as this.”

When we started our home school, those around us thought we were crazy and going to ruin our children’s future educational opportunities. At the end of it all, our shaky home school graduated three well-rounded, responsible young adults. Two had scientific interests and went on to earn advanced science degrees (one a Masters and the other a Doctorate with a scholarship from The National Science Foundation) and are employed in their area of expertise. The third was more mechanically oriented, joined the military, and has created a very successful livelihood. We are pleased with how our crazy step away from traditional school turned out.

We all know that your children are getting individualized, one-on-one attention—a private education—just because you are home schooling. Yes, there are going to be bad days, maybe more than a few, when you think, “Why am I doing this??” Take advantage of the FHE community; it offers social, athletic, and academic help. Your fellow homeschoolers are a great source of encouragement and community for you as the instructor. Especially on those bad days, remember you are not in this alone.

One of the greatest, but maybe overlooked, opportunities is the local technical college system. They offer classes to high school students where they can earn an associate’s degree while still in high school. Two of our children did get associate’s degrees at Forsyth Tech and had seamless transfers to state universities. They were able to get their feet wet and learn some important study skills for when they went away to school. The tech schools also have great trades programs; encouraging your child to add a trade to their skills set will carry them far.

Finally, my advice would be to take advantage of the opportunities provided by FHE, other homeschooling parents, and just know that you are giving your child an educational opportunity that is geared just to them. The desired outcome my husband and I had for our children was that they were able to be productive, responsible, kind, and lifelong learners. I am proud of the education we gave our children and what they have accomplished. It was a rewarding experience for all of us.

-Joan K.