I had the pleasure of sitting down with Laina recently for this interview and meeting her for the first time. I was truly struck by how passionate she is about homeschooling and helping others. Laina said “I have been continually surprised not only by how much my own kids are learning and growing with homeschooling, but how much it has helped me grow and learn. I can truly say I love my job both with The Triangle Homeschool Resource Center, and just at home teaching my children.”
Laina and her husband have three children, 15, 13, and 3 years old, so she is a veteran homeschooling mom. When her oldest was about to start kindergarten, she realized not only did she have concerns about his safety and security at school, as all kindergarten-bound moms do, but that she was very concerned with how he would do in school as he was bored even in preschool. Children that age usually have something that they’re passionate about and in her son’s case, he loved dinosaurs. Laina was able to teach him a variety of subjects by tying the lesson back to dinosaurs and she worried that if he did go to a traditional school that his passion would be forced to take a backseat. Seeing the joy in his eyes as he learned with dinosaurs helped her make the decision to leave the tech industry to homeschool and she hasn’t looked back.
Laina and her family moved here from Pennsylvania in 2010 as her husband began a new job at Red Hat, so she had to do the legal research on homeschooling in North Carolina on her own. Realizing how daunting it can be, she chose to stay up to date on the laws and guidelines in order to help others. Laina started volunteering with a homeschool support group as a way of giving back to and helping others on their journey.
Volunteering and becoming a trusted expert in the local community led her to start her own business The Triangle Homeschool Resource Center. Through her business she shares knowledge not only for those already homeschooling but also the important information on how to get started legally in North Carolina. This is crucial as laws vary from state-to-state and we all know how many people are moving to The Triangle. (In 2018, on average 50 new households moved here every day.) Having a trusted expert to walk you through the red tape is extremely beneficial. Many assume there are more hurdles to homeschooling than there actually are. “There aren't different requirements to homeschool high school, it's just that people expect there to be, and they’re scared off by it. Actually, there are more opportunities at that age without any additional requirements.”
Homeschooling has increased in popularity over the years and many are interested in homeschooling for a variety of reasons from religious preferences, to concerns over safety, curriculum, personal attention, and the specific needs of their child. Laina likes to remind those who are anxious that you-the parent-don’t have to do it all yourself. “The Triangle area has a very diverse homeschooling community of highly educated professionals who share their knowledge and expertise in everything including science and math. We have professionals from pharma, tech, and the healthcare industries who share their skills and knowledge. Always reach out and ask for help and find support before you give up or decide not to homeschool.”
Another hot topic of conversation surrounding homeschooling is the social interaction that is so crucial to a child’s development. To that Laina says “We have lots of different group activities, field trips, sports leagues, and other areas for children to gain that social interaction and experience. Its important to find the right groups to interact with in order to have those crucial experiences. There are many local museums and businesses that cater to the large homeschooling community here as well as year-round-school track outs. We have resources for all of those parents.”
In addition to helping parents begin homeschooling, she also provides resources for established homeschoolers like printables and field trip ideas and reviews. We discussed several interesting and budget friendly ideas for enriching and fun field trips that the kids love. She shares this information on her website and in her newsletter for members. For only $8 per month, members have access to all the local resources and information that she compiles. Other member benefits include monthly topics of interest, focused discussions with 2 monthly conference calls, quarterly in person group meetups, and 1-on-1 consultations.
Laina has also been very busy planning a new annual conference. The Carolina Homeschool Conference will be held August 17th in Apex.” We are seeking to create a unique conference in that it isn't based around a particular educational style or religious denomination. We want to bring all homeschoolers together based on what we have in common: pursuing education at home.”
Laina will be presenting the session on the homeschooling laws in NC. The keynote speaker Kara S. Anderson is an internationally known podcaster and writer from Illinois who will share her insights on intentionality in our homeschool planning. Businesses that have classes, space and opportunities for homeschool enrichment are invited to apply to be a sponsor or vendor through the Conference’s website. Check out their Facebook for additional info.