(T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds) [Order this photo]
The organization meets at First Baptist Church on Depot Street. Registration will be from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Aug. 27 at the church, said Paula Tignor, the HEP's director. Orientation for new family members will be on the same day, from 9:30-10:30 a.m. The group meets every Tuesday.
(T-G Photo by Jason Reynolds)
Enrollment has averaged about 20 to 25 families for the last several semesters, she said.
The HEP offers two class periods, but for the first time, high school homeschool students can take three periods, Tignor said.
Classes are broken down by age group (nursery, pre-school and kindergarten are held in separate rooms). Classes last for 45 minutes.
A biology lab will be offered as a companion to at-home academic biology studies for older students, Tignor said.
Another class will focus on classic books.
Past classes have focused on such topics as cooking, crocheting, crafts and sign language.
Tignor's son, Caleb, a sixth-grader, said one of his favorite HEP classes in the past focused on animals.
A family fun night/cookout/bonfire will be held in the fall, with a date to be announced later, Tignor said.
Tignor, who has an early childhood education degree, is no stranger to homeschooling. She has been homeschooling her five children for 14 years.
Her oldest daughter briefly attended Cason Lane Academy in Murfreesboro before the family moved to Shelbyville in 1997. That daughter, Tay Cunningham, is married and homeschooling her children. Tignor's second oldest child, Claudia, graduated from homeschool this past June and will attend college next year.
Tignor continues to homeschool her three younger children: Maggie 16, a junior; Mary-Kate 15, a freshman; and Caleb 11, in the sixth grade.
Tignor said she enjoys homeschooling's flexibility with curricula. Maggie and Mary-Kate use Rosetta Stone to learn Spanish and a similar program, called Teaching Textbooks, for math. And there is a wealth of Christian-themed material online for subjects like English and literature, she said, including the teaching methods of Charlotte Mason, a late 1800s teacher from England.
Homeschool students must meet the same requirements as students in public and private schools, Tignor said. Students enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade must take 180 days of classes, which are defined as at least four hours a day. High school students must earn 22 credits (one credit is 150 hours of classes), and they must be on a college or career track.
"A lot of people stereotype us as nerds wearing jumpers," Maggie said. "We are nerds -- but we don't wear only jumpers, and we have a lot of friends."
An "umbrella" school is required to handle a homeschool student's records such as attendance and grades, Tignor said. She uses Gateway Christian Schools in Memphis.
Homeschool schedules also are flexible, she said. Some parents start in July, while others follow the school system's calendar. Some homeschoolers take the entire month of December off.
That flexible schedule can earn a homeschooled student funny looks at times, especially at a younger age, Maggie said.
"When you're younger, people look at you like 'Why aren't you kids in school,'" she said.
Caleb agreed, saying, "People asked me if we were sick."
But Maggie and her mother said there has been more recognition and acceptance of homeschooling over the years.
"Kids will tell us 'I wish I was being homeschooled,'" Maggie said.
The three children who are being homeschooled each have their favorite subjects and career aspirations. Caleb loves to create stop motion Lego movies and would like to be a scientist, architect or computer game designer. Maggie loves science, literature, music and art.
"I like spelling, too," Maggie said. "I'm really, really good at spelling."
Maggie said her favorite class was personal finance, which was taught at the HEP. She would like to either work in cosmetology or computer technology.
Mary-Kate plays the guitar and piano and loves reading. She had considered a career in the military but currently is leaning toward law enforcement.
The kids' mother said she also learns from homeschooling, which is another reason she has enjoyed teaching her children for 14 years.
"I learn about things along with my children," she said.