Andrew: What has the freedom to homeschool meant to you and your family?
Kristin: For us, even to me specifically, it meant my son learning to love learning again. He had gotten to the point where he hated school, where he was dreading school. Now he loves to learn again. It meant the opportunity for my son to get well and to experience health again while still learning. It offered him the opportunity to go from being almost three years behind in reading comprehension to now being almost two years ahead in reading comprehension. It offered my oldest son the opportunity to spend more time exploring getting his Eagle Project done and spending more concrete time in church and with friends and family. For my daughter, it means she does not have to conform to someone else’s expectations of what a second grader should do. She’s able to move freely, she’s able to learn at her own pace.
Andrew: What’s the best piece of advice you have received about homeschooling?
Kristin: The best advice I got was to deschool. I thought that was crazy because, even though I was committed to homeschooling, I still thought I was going to basically replicate school at home. That worked for about one day. As the year drew on, we really figured out what worked best for us — me as his teacher and his mentor and him as the student and my son. You really can tailor it to however you want to. We do math, science, and logic on Mondays and Wednesdays and then English, language arts, history, and Spanish on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Friday is a Scout day, we work on merit badges and we finish up whatever we didn’t do during the week, so any labs that we may have or art projects.
Andrew Campanella: What is one thing you wish people realized when considering homeschooling?
Kristin Jackson: There’s tons of support out there. There’s a whole Facebook group for moms who work from nine to five outside of the home and still homeschool. So that’s the biggest thing, that there is support out there, there are resources and support.
You do not have to go it alone. From assigning the correct curriculum to socialization to sports to getting stressed out as a mom about how to balance the home/work/life — there’s support out there for anyone for any reason. – Kristin Jackson
This is a sidenote, but I feel like people should also know that the NCAA does take homeschoolers. You can homeschool and play sports at the collegiate level. There are steps to be taken and there are groups that can give you support. I feel like that’s a deterrent for people considering homeschooling, they don’t realize it is a possibility. I had to really do some research trying to figure out the whole thing. People think Tim Tebow is an anomaly but he’s not; there are lots of kids who go on to college sports who have homeschooled.
Andrew: What exactly is a homeschool co-op? How does it work?
Kristin: Even with co-ops, they work differently. You’ve got some of the traditional co-ops where parents come together, teach different subjects to the kids, and they’re there all day, or they go multiple times during the week. Mostly it’s the parents teaching the kids. Then you have co-ops like my co-op where myself and another teacher teach everything. It’s a drop-off, so parents drop their kids off twice a week from ten to two. I teach literacy through history and science and I give assignments and parents pick their kids up at the end of the day. Then there are the co-ops that are more social where families get together and they plan field trips and they go on big outings to plays, to museums, to zoos, or even just to have game days where they play games together. So co-ops look different but essentially it’s people coming together with common needs and interests to serve their children.
Andrew: How do you participate every year in National School Choice Week?
Kristin: This year we’re doing a whole week’s worth of events. We’re doing a question answering service, we’re having a “join our co-op for the day” service, we’re having a partner with a parent service, and we’re having another one where you can look at all the different curriculums that people use and talk with the parents. For example, I love Saxon Math, so I’ll be talking about Saxon Math. And I love Build Your Library, so I’ll be talking about Build Your Library’s curriculum.
This year we’re really looking to get the word out, especially to minorities. A lot of people of color don’t know about the opportunities to homeschool or they feel like it’s not something that people of color do. In Charlotte, there’s more than 600 families in our Facebook group alone, people in Charlotte and within the outskirts of Charlotte that homeschool. There’s a huge, thriving community for whatever you’re interested in. And just trying to make it more user-friendly and approachable. We want everyone to come in and ask away and see and explore and meet our kids and build a support system from day one.
We want people to know that all homeschoolers don’t look the same, all homeschoolers don’t do the same things, not everybody schools for religious reasons, some people do it because it’s best for their families for whatever reason. That’s what we’re focusing on this year: getting the word out that homeschoolers come in many sizes, shapes, and forms, and there is no one correct way to homeschool. – Kristin Jackson
Andrew Campanella is president of National School Choice Week.
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