Home-schoolers celebrate growth in Winston-Salem

Kimberly Holder of Winston-Salem (center) looks through books for sale with her daughters Kyleigh, 9 (left), and Keegan, 13, at the North Carolinians for Home Education annual conference and book fair, held at the Benton Convention Center. (Lauren Carroll/Journal)

Kimberly Holder of Winston-Salem (center) looks through books for sale with her daughters Kyleigh, 9 (left), and Keegan, 13, at the North Carolinians for Home Education annual conference and book fair, held at the Benton Convention Center. (Lauren Carroll/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — By late this Saturday afternoon, as many as 8,000 people will have descended on the Benton Convention Center and left for home armed with the latest information on home schooling, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

It’s the last day of North Carolinians for Home Education’s 30th annual conference, drawing home-school families and those interested in joining their ranks from across the state.

Nancy Coleman, NCHE’s conference vice president, said the home-school community thrives in North Carolina thanks to “user-friendly” home-school laws. There were more than 53,000 home schools registered in North Carolina for the 2012-13 school year. More than 1,600 of those were in Forsyth County.

“Parents are really able to direct the education of their children,” Coleman said of growth in popularity of home-schooling.

The three-day conference offered dozens of workshops and lectures for everyone from those just getting started with home-schooling to veterans, with such topics as “Exploring Your Homeschool Options” to “College Opportunities for Homeschoolers.” A majority of the sessions are faith-based, geared to the largely Christian base of home-school families that want more control over what their children are learning, Coleman said.

The book fair that accompanies the conference is a big draw, as well, with vendors providing everything from science kits to textbooks and novels. There is also a great deal of religious materials and faith-based texts available.

NCHE board member Amanda Wares of Greensboro began home-schooling her children nine years ago. Originally, she said it was to help her oldest daughter, who was falling behind in elementary school and needed more one-on-one attention.

“After that first year, we fell in love with being able to make our own schedule and tailor our children’s education,” Wares said.

Her oldest daughter, Susannah, will graduate today at a ceremony during the convention. Wares will continue to home-school her three younger children. Wares said that all of the time together has made the family closer and also allowed her children more flexibility to pursue other interests.

For Susannah, that was dance.

“It gave me the opportunity to do things I wouldn’t have normally,” Susannah said.

Susannah said she was upset when her parents first pulled her out of school after the third grade. But after her first NCHE conference, Susannah said, she really started to see home schooling differently.

“It wasn’t just me,” she said.

Since then, the Wares have gotten involved with home-school groups, sports teams and co-ops — group classes for home-school students.

“It’s been amazing,” she said. “It was exactly what I needed.”

Home schooling was also the answer for the Holder family of Winston-Salem. Kimberly Holder and her daughters — Keegan, 14, and Kyleigh, 9 — were shopping for books at the book fair Friday. Holder’s husband is in the military, and the family has moved around the country every two or three years. Home schooling the girls was easier than switching schools, Holder said.

“Home school has been a blessing to us,” Holder said. “It gives us more family time and more time to instill not just learning, but values.”

7 comments

  • Bart

    “College Opportunities for Homeschoolers” Ahh, yes, when the precious snowflakes get to learn they have been lied to and learn things like evolution does exist and has been observed.

  • Secular

    Why do you assume that everyone who homeschools teaches that evolution does not exist? We’re secular homeschoolers. We teach evolution. We love science. There was actually too much religion in the public school my child attended – while religious studies weren’t taught my child was made to feel uncomfortable about not going to church. Of course that’s not the only reason we homeschool, there are a multitude of reasons, but that is one reason. Other reasons include less busy work, more actual education, homeschooling is much more efficient, we can cover in 3 hours what it takes the average public school a month to cover, better socialization because we are always out interacting with people, life skills, more flexibility – homeschooling really is a wonderful thing.

    • Bart

      I did not say “everyone” and it is common knowledge that a very large percentage of those that homeschool do so for religious purposes and make their religious beliefs a part of the curriculum.

  • Secular

    No, you didn’t specifically say ‘everyone’ but it seemed implied. Yes, a lot of people homeschool for religious reasons, but there are many of us who do not, and our numbers are growing.

  • Jackson Lee

    Bart just doesn’t like the idea of homeschooling and therefore makes no attempt to understand it in any meaningful way. He uses generalities to paint individuals in the light in which he wants to see them.

  • Bart

    A valid “generality” about home schoolers is that the main motivation behind it is religous. Mostly evangelical Christian with many or most of them teaching against the science taught in public schools. I paint home schoolers in a light that is valid more often than not because I do understand why they are teaching their children at home rather than letting them go to public schools.

    I’ve got this book on my desk… it’s not the one you’re thinking of… it’s by a guy named Sun Tzu. I know what I’m talking about and “Secular” is a very rare exception to the rule. Maybe I hit a little too close to home for Jackson Lee…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeschooling

    • Jackson Lee

      If you are resorting to Wikipedia for your source material then you are sadly lacking in research and debate skills. You provided no proof that the majority of homeschool parents do so for religious reasons yet you imply that is the case in your post. and a valid generality. If you do understand, then you also know that homeschooled students score statistically significantly higher on every test used to gauge educational success and demonstrate statistically significant more advanced socialization skills than those in public schools. I doubt you will believe anything I post, but I would encourage you to expand your horizons with regards to homeschooling and more thoroughly research it out side the context in which you seem to be trapped. You may have “this book on my desk…..” written by a “guy named Sun Tzu” but apparently you have not read and understood it.

      I presume you have never stopped to consider there are many reasons to homeschool…the greatest of which is to actually educate ones children in such a way that they never tire of learning. The public school system provides a needed service, however, it has become politicized and run by supposed professionals whose only profession is to continue the bureaucracy in which they exist. Public education has steadily declined in this country at the same rate Federal involvement has expanded in public education. While I am glad public schools are available to those who would avail themselves of it, it is increasingly apparent that a cookie cutter educational approach is not the answer to teaching individual children who have different learning styles, different levels of comprehension and emotional maturity.

      As for me, there is no home to hit close to but I think you doth protest to much.

      Good day to you.

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