Adriana Zoder: In a sense, all parents homeschool

Jun. 29, 2014 @ 12:43 AM

Since I embarked on my homeschooling adventure, I wished for a homeschooling conference that was closer to home. We attended one in Knoxville two years ago. Last year, they did not have one. I don't want to travel to Nashville or Cincinnati, Ohio; or Greeneville, S.C.; or Charlottesville, Va. for a conference if I don't have to.

You can imagine how happy I was to hear that a local homeschooling mom, Charity Suttles, organized a homeschooling conference right here in Sevier County – Pigeon Forge, to be exact. The Appalachian Home Educators Conference, as it is called, offered many workshops and a curriculum vendor hall over a three-day period, June 26-28. It was held at the Music Road hotel. The website is

Even if their children go to public or private schools, I think all parents should attend a homeschooling conference once in a while. The workshops may be of interest because of the parenting and teaching tips shared. Don't most parents have to do homework with their children? Don't most parents have to be aware of what their children excel at and what they need extra help with in school?

As I was deciding whether to homeschool or not, I spent a lot of time talking to Sevier County public school teachers, guidance counselors, principals and district officials. Among other things, I asked them what was the secret behind a National Merit Scholar. They said, “parental involvement.” One of them put it this way, “It's something in the water their parents gave them at home.”

We live in an exemplary school district and have a couple of good private schools, too. The educators I talked to could have praised the system or the teachers. Sevier County teachers and administrators work hard and put in long hours for the children's sake. Nobody doubts their dedication, effort and expertise.

But, at the end of each year, only about 10 children become National Merit Scholars. What gives? What makes some succeed academically and others struggle? What makes some children care about school and others not so much? The answer is complex, in my opinion. It also is different from child to child because each child is unique.

However, in the minds of the educators I spoke with, the answer was simple: it boiled down to how involved parents were in the education of their children. These professionals recognized it was the parents who made the difference and affected the report card.

Which is why I think you should keep an eye out for next year's homeschooling conference. The vendor hall with all the curriculum options is a must for any parent. There are so many good products which can be used during school breaks or after school. Besides, the conference offers a pass just for the curriculum hall. There is even an area where you can purchase used curriculum and find all kinds of treasures.

In a broader sense of the term, all parents homeschool because we all make decisions about our children's education. Some parents choose to delegate a large chunk of their children's education to a public school system or a church school or a secular private school. Then, they work with the school teachers and officials as a team to guide their children academically.

Other parents choose to delegate only a little bit to others, as they homeschool officially and register with a homeschool co-op or an online school, for instance. But all parents are responsible for their children's education. All parents “homeschool.”

Adriana Zoder, a Gatlinburg resident, is a writer and homeschooling mom. She and her husband have two children. She maintains the award-winning blog Her book, 101 Tips for Preschool at Home, is available on Amazon.