Finding community from home: Families gather at homeschool curriculum event to shop, connect

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Barbara Hughes, left, helped organize a homeschool curriculum sale earlier this month at Park Chapel Christian Church.

Maribeth Vaughn | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD – Emilie McMillan stood at a Greenfield event recently, glad to see so many homeschool parents and children browsing books, games, toys and more.

“It’s encouraging to know that so many families are homeschooling,” McMillan said. “Sometimes you just need encouragement that you’re doing it right, and you’re doing it OK.”

McMillan was a vendor at a homeschool curriculum sale, the first of its kind in several years for Hancock County. The event, May 10 at Park Chapel Christian Church, gathered dozens of homeschool families selling their gently-used items to others who are just starting the homeschool journey or who have been teaching at home for years.

Barb Hughes helped organize the event, which was a fundraiser for a local American Heritage Girls troop. The troop charged for table space and sold baked goods, helping offset the costs of their meeting supplies, field trips and activities.

Hughes, who has homeschooled her six children ages 7 to 19, said it’s been years since the Hancock County community had a curriculum sale and it was sorely needed.

“There are so many homeschoolers in our area, but not a venue for them to sell their stuff, come by used stuff,” Hughes said, adding that most homeschool families try to re-use as much as they can. “All your costs are out of pocket and it can be as cheap as you want it to be or as expensive as you want it to be.”

Another benefit of the event was allowing families to meet each other and ask questions about curriculum or maybe even bounce off ideas on social activities. Hughes said there are troops, music groups, sports clubs and more in the area for homeschooled children to get involved in. Homeschool co-ops also allow for social time and sharing of teaching; Hughes said there seems to be more options than there’s time for.

“It is an absolute blessing to be the one watching them learn,” she added.

Vanessa Emerson said the event was helpful to her, since her oldest is 18 and graduating so she could sell some of his used items. Emerson also homeschools her 14-year-old daughter; the family moved to Greenfield three years ago from North Carolina and joined a Greenfield co-op of other homeschoolers.

“Everyone was super welcoming,” she said. “We just felt really welcome and there was no judgment, and my daughter made a lot of new friends of all ages.”

Figuring out what types of curriculum to use for learning at home is a lot of trial and error, Emerson said, because what works for one child may not work for another.

There are many options when it comes to books and supplies for learning at home. McMillan, whose four children range in age from 2 to 11, said it’s a learning process but building a community of others who are also homeschooling helps.

“Your children’s education is all on your shoulders and you have to trust the process,” she said. “For me, it’s putting my faith in God and knowing he has the best intentions for my kids.”