Homeschooling can be an isolating and overwhelming experience. From not knowing what you need to do, to which curricula to choose or where to find others to socialize with, we need help. Thankfully, there is homeschool support in Indiana through the IAHE (Indiana Association of Home Educators) and most specifically the Regional Representatives. The Regional Reps are other homeschool families that can connect you to local resources, requirements and even help with curricula overwhelm.
Indiana has 16 regions, divided by counties. Each region is served by a couple, as well as a Regional Rep Leader couple, who were interviewed on the IAHE blog. We are located in Owen county, so we are in Region 9. Because of our proximity to towns in other counties, we also participate in nearby groups located in regions 5, 6 & 10. Reach out to your local Rep, even if your regular activities put you in a different region. They may have contacts and resources for you that you wouldn’t find otherwise.
Because of their many years of service as Regional Reps, I have asked the Region 4 Reps, Pat & Kathy Balke, to share with us. They have provided homeschool support in Indiana for more than ten years.
My husband, Pat, and I are originally from Kansas City, Missouri. We began homeschooling in 1986 when our firstborn turned 5, and his 4 year old brother joined us at the table as well. We started homeschooling as a result of two things. First, a friend had let me borrow a book called “Home Grown Kids” by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. This was in the early 1980’s and home education was a new concept, but it made so much sense to me. I loved the idea of being with my kids and building character in them, instead of sending them off to school, not knowing who or what would be influencing them. Also the Kansas City, MO public schools were in a real upheaval, and were in danger of losing accreditation (which they later did), so we began the journey.
Fortunately, my older sister started the year before me and paved the way with our parents! We had a few friends who were also homeschooling, but my biggest help was from the book I read by the Moore’s. The ideas they presented freed me from feeling like I had to copy the public schools, and also caused me to trust my instincts with our children. We do know them better than anyone else.
About a year after we started homeschooling, we moved to Winona Lake, Indiana so Pat could attend Grace Theological Seminary’s Biblical counseling program. Although the program only lasted 12 months and we assumed we would head right back to Kansas City, things didn’t happen that way! We ended up staying, and we fell in love with the area and with small town life in general. I began to make friends who were also homeschooling, and was around at the beginning of a few support groups starting in the Warsaw area. I also found out about the IAHE State Homeschool Convention, and began attending almost every year. What a blessing it was to us! And it became the highlight of my year! We continued homeschooling and having children, and eventually graduated all six of them. Our youngest, Daniel, just graduated last fall.
Pat and I became regional reps in 2004 because there was a need, but also because the IAHE had meant so much to us in our homeschooling journey. We wanted to give back a little of what we had been given, and I also love encouraging new homeschooling families, and helping those who are considering it. We have seen many changes in these 11 years since we’ve been reps, most of them having to do with the ease of getting homeschool information. This can be good and also not so good. I used to have more contact with homeschoolers through phone calls, and later emails. Now there is so much information online that the personal connection is not so needed. Many people get the support they need without the support groups that used to be a lifeline to all of us. Since I love the personal connection it is somewhat of a loss to me, but if people are getting the help they need for their families then that’s what matters.
I want to be there for those who want a real live person to talk to as they’re figuring out what curriculum to use, what to tell a husband or parent who isn’t so sure about this, how to withdraw a child from school, how to organize their days, how to find a support group, and the millions of other questions they have. This is what I love about being a rep! I’ve met some amazing people that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I also love helping at the State Convention because it was such a boost to me, inspiring me to keep going when I got tired or discouraged or needed fresh ideas. I heard so many great messages there, and a few that were life changing for us.
I hope if any homeschoolers in my region need questions answered or someone to talk to, they do not hesitate to contact me. I also would ask that you let me know if you have started a new support group so I can let people know that need to find you. Although we have some wonderful groups that have started in the past year, a few have closed down as well, and I would love to see more groups available for those who need them. To close, I just want to say I’ve been greatly blessed to be here and I hope I can meet many of you in April at the Convention!