It was back to school for students at HomeLife Tutorial (HLT) in Jackson, Tennessee where classes resumed on Tuesday, August 18. Registration topped with almost 70 students in early elementary through high school grades. There were 18 classes from which to choose with options like Language Arts 1 and 2/3, and Science for elementary level; Foundations of Art, and World Geography/Speech/Study Skills for middle school and U.S. History & Government and Economics for high school students. The tutorial has grown more quickly than ever imagined since its conception in 2011, when a few families partnered to provide classes for their children.
“We offered five classes the first year and had 16 students,” said Tina Shreeve, who is the Director of HLT. “We desired to create an intimate, structured learning environment with unique educational opportunities. All three of my children have taken classes at the tutorial, and they have all benefited from them.”
Many of the instructors at the tutorial are HomeLife Academy (HLA) parents, who are either degreed or have working experience in the subject(s) they teach. Shreeve teaches history and English for high school students. Although she is qualified to teach in those areas and other topics, Shreeve concentrates on teaching subjects with which she is most comfortable.
“They have had the opportunity to study subjects that are taught by someone more qualified than myself, for example in classes like Spanish, and Human Anatomy & Physiology. Also, sometimes having someone other than mom giving an assignment with a deadline is helpful, especially for a high school student,” said Shreeve, who also touched on the social aspect. “Apart from the social benefits of making friends and spending time with other kids, a tutorial can expose a child to the benefits of learning in a group environment, while still being a homeschooler. I love the exposure to the group setting, from which they have learned collaborative problem-solving skills. In addition to all of this, they are surrounded by other homeschoolers and are taught by someone who gets the homeschooling vision.”
Judith Thierfelder, an HLA parent of three girls in upper elementary and middle school grades, and an instructor at the tutorial, shared some of the same sentiment as Shreeve.
“Being in a classroom and being taught by someone else is good for them. If they plan to go to college or whatever they do in life, they need to learn how to be in a structured environment,” said Thierfelder, who teaches high school classes Biology and Chemistry. “Being homeschooled allows more flexibility, so attending classes at tutorial lets them ‘practice’ the structure without giving up the advantages of homeschooling. Also, I won’t be their teacher for their whole life. Being at tutorial gives them an opportunity to experience learning with someone else’s teaching style.”
Shreeve also brought attention to the tagline in the logo for HLA, which is “Choices in Education.”
“The mission of HLT is in line with that philosophy, because we believe offering a local tutorial is a way to give homeschooling parents another choice for their child’s education,” said Shreeve, who has graduated one child and is still homeschooling two others. “Our purpose is to support homeschooling parents. While we diligently strive to lead students toward achieving academic goals in a group setting, we also recognize each child is unique and parents have the ultimate responsibility and authority for their child’s education. At the end of the day, we’re all still homeschoolers.”
Shreeve also shared some of the unique offerings of HLT, which include an eclectic offering of curricula that veers away from what is typically used at other tutorials.
“We are not opposed to material like Apologia, A Beka or Bob Jones. We have just chosen to take a different approach to the way we teach,” said Shreeve. “An example is in the high school science classes where we use a curriculum with a Socratic method approach.”
Shreeve continued that the elementary and middle school language arts classes teach grammar and writing with a curriculum that was developed by a former Jackson Christian School instructor, and is now an award-winning resource typically used in gifted private schools.
“Our approach to history uses a textbook as a ‘spine’ and is heavily supplemented with projects, media and lots of class discussion and debate,” said Shreeve. “We are also unique in the opportunities we offer. Our high school Human Anatomy & Physiology class ends the year with a trip to a cadaver lab. Many of our other classes take field trips throughout the year to enrich what is learned in the classroom.”
Although parents are usually the full-time teachers of their children when they to choose homeschool, they too can benefit from classes offered through a tutorial. The expectation of educating their child does not have to completely be their responsibility. Seeking assistance from others is something to consider and a way to “get everything done.”
“Some parents benefit in a practical way, especially families where mom works part-time,” said Shreeve. “Some families are new to homeschooling, and the weekly structure and accountability provide some security for them. For some, it just comes down to the fact they do not want to teach Chemistry!”
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©2015 HomeLife Academy. Article by Jennifer Smeltser. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the publisher /.