“Am I doing the right thing?”
“Is homeschooling really good for my kids?”
“Am I the right person to teach my children?”
Doubts like these vexed this single mother, after a knock on the front door one morning interrupted her family’s breakfast.
Upon answering the door, the mom found a truant officer standing there.
The man was dressed in the uniform of a New Orleans police officer, but had not arrived in a marked vehicle. He insisted that the mom step outside her home to talk to him, which made her uncomfortable since she was still in her pajamas—especially after the officer made remarks about her appearance.
But in spite of her misgivings, the mom obeyed the truant officer . . . at which point, the officer started peppering her with questions. “Why aren’t your children in school?” “What are you teaching them?”
(And to make everything worse, the officer’s inquiries echoed the objections her own family kept raising, ever since she withdrew her three kids from public school last November.)
The mom explained that she was homeschooling her children, and that she had submitted the proper paperwork to state officials.
The officer dismissed these assertions and asked to see her children’s curriculum. The mom offered to show the receipt she received when she purchased the educational materials.
At this point, neighbors began coming outside to watch the proceedings, which only added to the mom’s discomfort.
Oddly, the officer suddenly changed from being combative to questioning out loud whether he was really looking for the previous resident, who had moved away about a year ago.
He ended the interview by giving the mom a brochure with the phone number of the local public school social worker and asked the mom to call her.
This mom needed help dealing with the officer’s interrogation. But more than that, she needed to hear someone say that homeschooling really was the best choice for her kids.
When You Need an Advocate
When the mom reached out to us, HSLDA Staff Attorney Amy Buchmeyer took the call.
The Louisiana mom, who had joined Home School Legal Defense Association right when she started homeschooling, recapped her strange encounter with the truant officer in hope of finding a way to quickly close the investigation he had launched.
Buchmeyer contacted the public school office on behalf of the mom; upon phoning the school, the officials quickly agreed to close the case after hearing that the mom was legally homeschooling.
The news provided immense solace to the mom.
“I let her know the good news and added that if the truant officer showed up again, she should get me on the phone, and I would talk to him,” Buchmeyer recalled. “I thought she was going to start crying. She was so relieved to have someone who was willing to advocate for her in what was clearly a stressful situation.”
Buchmeyer asked if the mom needed help with any other challenges. That’s when the mom explained how her relatives kept criticizing her decision to homeschool.
“I really felt for her,” said Buchmeyer. “I realized, here’s a single mom who feels like she’s just not being supported—not by school officials or even by her own family.”
So Buchmeyer encouraged the mom to tap into an additional resource available to all HSLDA members: our vastly experienced educational consultants.
A Friendly Voice
Shortly afterward, the mom connected with HSLDA’s Rochelle Matthews-Somerville.
The pair talked over the phone for more than two hours.
The first thing Rochelle did was listen as the mom shared her feelings. The mom expressed disappointment that her relatives kept criticizing her decision to homeschool and asked where she could turn for support.
After assessing the mom’s challenges, Matthews-Somerville was ready with answers.
“This situation,” she explained, “unfortunately, is not uncommon for homeschoolers, but specifically for new homeschoolers.”
Rochelle encouraged the mom to listen to her family’s comments and thank them for their concern, but then find a community that did understand her situation.
She offered the same advice she gives to others in similar circumstances.
“Homeschooling is not something you do alone,” Matthews-Somerville said. “Having people in your community, both as friends for your kids and support for yourself, is essential to successful homeschooling.”
But she didn’t leave it there. Matthews-Somerville also pointed out the various ways homeschool families can connect with groups, simply by searching online, on social media, or networking at places like church or the local library.
And of course, she also mentioned that HSLDA’s website provides a search tool for locating statewide and local homeschool groups.
Matthews-Somerville said the mom felt greatly encouraged after their session. But, that interaction was only the beginning: our consultant arranged for a follow-up talk, during which the mom will be free to ask about any aspect of homeschooling—from choosing curriculum, to figuring out students’ learning styles, to seeking out extracurricular opportunities.
It’s all part of how HSLDA empowers parents so they can provide the best education for their children.
It’s also what motivates HSLDA team members.
“I loved pouring into this momma,” Matthews-Somerville said about her session with the Louisiana mom. “Homeschool parents like her are the very reason I became a consultant!”