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 In HearSway

As uncertainties about the new school year continue to rise, Encore Performing Arts Center owner Sarah Lankford has been getting questions. With a master’s degree in education and years of experience in homeschooling her four kids, she’s a go-to for anyone thinking of directly overseeing their children’s coursework.

Rather than responding individually to an ever-increasing number of DMs and homeschooling posts, Sarah has planned a Homeschool Information Session at Encore Center, set for 10-11:30 a.m. Friday.

She’ll be teaming up with fellow homeschool teacher Angie Jones as well as Sarah Merillat, the regional representative for North Carolinians for Homeschool Education who also heads up Moore Christian Homeschoolers. The trio will present the basics, field questions, and have curriculum on hand for parents to thumb through.

“It’s really important to know the laws of homeschooling, what the restrictions are, and whether or not the kids will be transitioning back into school,” Sarah says. “The biggest fear people have is that they’re failing their child.”

Attendees to Friday’s session must wear a mask, and space is limited because of social distancing concerns. Sign up here.

OK, So Why Homeschool?

When it comes to school outside the classroom, Sarah says most parents ascribe to a mix of three philosophies:

  • Homeschool: When parents set specific curriculum goals they want to accomplish, and work toward those goals.
  • School at home: Virtual learning, or trying to replicate what would be taught in school, in the home.
  • Unschooling: The interest of the child guides the learning; for example, an educator might see a child try to catch a butterfly, and use that insect to guide the day’s lessons — from the metamorphosis process to the tiny network scales that make up each wing.

Sarah herself is a mix of all three. Here in Moore County, she’s found support on all fronts, plus groups that organize field trips and educational experiences with kids of all ages and abilities.

“I think a lot of people think homeschoolers sit at their kitchen tables and do work all day, and that’s not the case,” Sarah says. “They are learning in a larger environment and mixed ages compared to learning with 20 kids and the same four walls all day.”

It Sounds Great. But, it Won’t Always Be.

Running a theater and homeschooling isn’t easy — because adding homeschooling into your life isn’t easy. You’ll probably need help, especially if you plan to work full-time.

“You’re not going to have perfect, banana-bread baking, homeschool days,” Sarah says. “There are days when they’re all crying, even me.”

And if you think you’ll just try it out for a semester, you should really commit to a whole year. Schools can lose funding due to a drop in enrollment — meaning resources will be strained if January finds teachers with an influx of students who didn’t take to homeschooling.

“We’re going to be real on Friday,” Sarah says. “I’m not planning on presenting anything negative. I’m not anti-school by any means, but parents want information so they can make the decision that works for their family.”

If Friday’s event fills, the Encore Performing Arts Center might host another.

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