HLA Counselor since 2003
Senior High Counselor & Post-secondary Support,
Military & Military Academies, Dual Enrollment, NCAA & NAIA,
Recommendation Letters, Governor’s School,
College Scholarship Applications & Financial Aid
Beta Club, NSHSS, TN Scholars, Presidential Service, and Other Awards
Hi, my name is Lani (pronounced like Loni, but with the Hawaiian spelling) and I would like to share a little about my homeschooling journey through the years with you. My husband Christopher and I were thrust into the homeschooling adventure with our older daughter mid-way through her tenth grade year way back 1990/1991. I didn’t know anything about homeschooling then and had no friends who did, but our daughter had friends who had just begun homeschooling and had decided that was what she wanted to do. After a brief stint with the public schools, I soon began homeschooling our other three children also and never looked back. I started an academic co-op in Fayette County, TN, in 1996, and was the director and one of the main teachers for over 12 years. I have been teaching classes at two tutorials in the Memphis area since 2005, and have done many workshops in my 25 years of homeschooling. I became HomeLife Academy’s High School Guidance Counselor in June of 2003, and I feel that this is the job God has been preparing me for my entire life.
I am by no means an expert on home education, but I have encountered many of the situations new home educators face. I have discovered that if you are just going to homeschool for one or two years, you do it differently than if you are certain you will never put your child in school again. If you are not committed to homeschooling your students through graduation, you are constantly comparing what you are doing at home with what the school system is doing, and you worry that they will be behind if or when you send them back to school. I knew when I started homeschooling my older son in Kindergarten that I would be sending him back to school in the second grade because my younger son wanted the same Kindergarten teacher and also “big brother” wanted to go to protect his little brother. (Now that I look back, that seems rather sad.) I was constantly asking myself if he was “up to par” with what he would be doing in school. At that time, I had a three-year-old and a new baby at home, so we learned things by doing puppet shows and taking imaginary trips to Africa, by digging in the dirt, and singing songs. We played dominoes, played counting games with jars of beans, we made cookies, and watched PBS. But I need not have worried about him being behind, because when he did go back to school in the second grade and his teacher asked everyone at the end of the year what they had learned, he respectfully (but honestly) told her “nothing.” I could see that he had learned something though – he had learned to hate learning. All of that changed, however, when I told him we would be homeschooling from then on!
My philosophy is that you make learning fun so that kids love to learn, and then they will learn to love. It’s like a never-ending circle. The more they learn about God and His creation, and the closer they are drawn to Him, the more they love Him, and in turn love others. Even if they didn’t learn anything else, I would homeschool for that reason. The added bonus is that they developed a love of learning in all areas, so they were way ahead of their peers who attended public and private schools. I also believe that children need to play – unstructured play time is where kids rehearse for adult life and learn to work out life’s problems. Psychologists have learned that the reason so many children are suffering from stress is because they don’t have time to just play. So I always let my kids structure their own time as much as I could, leaving them as much free time as possible. It was hard with the busy schedule we kept, but I never wanted to just imitate the school system.
Most parents need de-programming when they first begin to homeschool, so that they can think outside the box and give their students a better education than they had – a real education, where the world is their classroom and their children are not just learning to make an A on the test. Once the parents get the vision of homeschooling and realize the flexibility they have, I know they will be successful. Home education is not mainly about the books or curriculum, so do not stress over these things – you will not ruin your child’s future by using the wrong curriculum! At our house, if Dad was home, the boys were usually busy working with him. We have over five acres with an acre lake, so there was and still is constant yard work. Since my husband, who is a carpenter, was rebuilding our entire house one section at a time, there was constant work on the house as well. Good, hard work is wonderful for kids in many ways, and I considered their work with their dad just as much (if not more) a part of their education as what I taught them. To me, the focus of home education is not the books – it’s raising up Godly men and women as future leaders and parents.
So, if I were to give families one piece of advice it would be to grab on to the tremendous opportunity we have through being with our children every day to notice those areas of strengths and interests, that with some nurturing will grow into passions and ministries, as our children become the men and women God created them to be and the leaders of tomorrow. Over the years, I have learned how to help students prepare for and apply to the service academies, ROTC programs, and military, since our older son graduated from the Air Force Academy and is now an Air Force pilot, and our younger son is an AFROTC graduate and now a Missileer with the Air Force (soon going into the CyberSpace program). I have also walked many students and parents through the NCAA and NAIA process in getting sports scholarships. Our older daughter is a business entrepreneur with two daughters and a son of her own, all of whom have homeschooled from the beginning. Our youngest daughter graduated Univ. of Memphis last year and is now living her dream by being a Kindergarten teacher at the school where she did her student teaching. The teacher she worked with last year was a wonderful Christian mentor to her – she told my daughter every day that God created her to teach these little ones, something I saw in her also at a very early age and was able to help foster, encourage, and feed through our homeschooling.
I am here to help you with high school questions and to inspire you in your own homeschooling journey. Please check the High School pages first and if you don’t find the answer to your questions just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me. Better yet, come by so we can “face talk” at the Curriculum Fairs! May God bless you and your family, strengthen you in your journey ahead, and fill you with His joy and peace.