A More Relaxed Approach
After 21 years of homeschooling, Melanie Thurman has learned to relax. It wasn’t always that way.
“When we started homeschooling,” the Palm Bay resident remembers, “we took our daughter out of public school. Like so many others, I then brought school home. I had the idea that we needed to start at a certain time each day and that she should sit at the table to do her work. Textbooks and workbooks were a huge part of our day.”
At the time the Thurmans dutifully schooled their oldest daughter for four hours a day with the intention of logging 180 days each year. “It didn’t take too long for us to realize that at that rate, she was going to be out of high school way too early,” Melanie observes.
This required a change in focus in the schooling process. For the Thurmans, trips to the grocery store, household chores, making cookies to take to neighbors, and creating cards and small gifts to take to a local nursing home all became a part of the school day. “I learned that these things that were not a part of our books had great value,” Melanie acknowledges. “For example, we learned a lot of math comparing prices and sizes, using coupons, and measuring ingredients, lengths of ribbon and sizes of paper. We have all realized that learning happens all the time, and we don’t have to stick to a schedule or a particular set of books in order to accomplish our educational goals.”
Melanie, who has homeschooled all five of her children (ranging in age from 27 down to 11), has drawn support for the homeschool journey from a variety of sources. One is her current affiliation with Central’s Homeschool Fellowship, an FPEA-recognized support group in Brevard County that she helps lead. Another is the annual FPEA Guide to Homeschooling in Florida. “I love the Guide,” Melanie declares. “It is so full of all the great information you need. I highly recommend it to everyone.” According to her, though, the annual FPEA Florida Homeschool Convention has helped her the most.
“When we started homeschooling,” says Melanie, reflecting on her two decades of home education, “our goals were much different than they are now. We have found amazing, unexpected benefits of homeschooling that have brought our family many blessings. I am so glad we decided to try it. I always tell new people to give it a try for a year. I think if you do it one year, you will most likely continue.”