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When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools in March, many parents began considering alternative options for education. With the beginning of the new school year approaching and the …
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools in March, many parents began considering alternative options for education. With the beginning of the new school year approaching and the uncertainty of the situation persisting, many families are opting to educate their children at home.
While most schools offer a virtual option during the pandemic, some families are turning to homeschool associations in search of established, organized systems for at-home learning.
Shalyn Priestley of McKenzie transitioned her children to homeschool four years ago using the Martin campus of Classical Conversations, a global organization with a bible-based curriculum. Two years ago, she became a tutor for the program, and, this year, she is the director of the seventh-eighth grade program.
Martin Classical Conversations serves Pre-K through eighth grade. Preistley is joined by Ellie Holt, director of grades six and below, who is assisted by five tutors.
Priestley told The Banner the Martin campus serves just over 40 children, and five new families have enrolled in the last week. She says she’s spent countless hours on the phone with interested parents in the last few weeks. “People are realizing they do have an option.”
She emphasized that she and her colleagues are “not against public schools. We are pro-school choice. Each family has to do what’s best for them.”
She noted that the situation at the end of the last school year, when the pandemic hit and forced everyone home, “that’s not what homeschooling is for us. It’s community, extracurricular activities, music lessons, 4-H, field trips. Being stuck at home is not a good indication of what homeschooling is like. We’re busy. We get our school lessons in, but we do fun things too. We have a lot of freedom. It’s not just ‘school at home,’ it’s cultivating a love of learning.”
Priestley explained that to participate in Classical Conversations or another homeschooling option, students need to be registered with an umbrella school or a local school district.
The state of Tennessee requires 180 days of instruction per year, and, for Classical Conversations, a day includes four hours of instruction. A parent or guardian must be available to facilitate the curriculum.
Both Priestley and Holt say they are more than happy to provide information and answer questions about not just Classical Conversations, but about homeschooling in general. Those interested can call Priestley at 731-514-2062 or Holt at 731-819-2261 or visit classicalconversations.com or the Martin Classical Conversations Facebook page.
Class begins for Martin Classical Conversations students on August 4 for seventh and eight grade and August 11 for sixth grade and lower, but students can join the program at any time during the year.