In 2008, Leigh Pritchett was a young mother from Leslie, Ga., who was interested in raising her children for God. A member of the Albany (Ga.) Community Church, she had a heart for homeschooling and started looking for resources that would help her in that mission. New to Facebook and finding no Facebook group for Adventist homeschoolers, she decided to start one herself. It was a group that began small, but has grown rapidly throughout the years. There are now more than 1,000 Seventh-day Adventist families—approximately 10 from the Georgia-Cumberland Conference—networked in the Facebook group she began and hosts.
“I wanted a group where Adventist home educators could discuss curriculum, share in the daily challenges and joys of homeschooling, and network with like-minded people,” Pritchett said.
The SDA Homeschool Families group page has connected families from within the Georgia-Cumberland Conference and Southern Union, but also from many countries around the world. Mothers and fathers from the United States, Australia, France, Canada, Mexico, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and many other countries all network together via the Internet in the common task of homeschooling Adventist children.
Group members demonstrate why homeschooling in the Adventist population continues to grow and thrive. Michelle Matlock, a parent from Owosso, Mich., believes that through homeschooling she can bless her children with values, morals, and wisdom as they mature in their relationship with Christ. Additionally, Barbara Frohne, a mother from Walla Walla, Wash., hopes to give her children more than just the basics. Her goal is to help them pursue interests in other areas and to take advantage of opportunities for the individualized
instruction that homeschooling allows. Many in the group express the belief that, while not for every family, for them, home education is the best way to teach their children about God and help them in the formation of godly characters.
Adventist homeschoolers find themselves in a niche group, sometimes feeling separate from other Christian homeschool support groups and from the parents of children who attend parochial schools. The online forum gives Adventist homeschool parents a place to share ideas and concerns unique to them as home educators. Christine Kabush of Marsing, ID, notes that this group has been the first where she has been able to discuss and find support for homeschooling from non-familial Seventh-day Adventist sources. She said that it has been refreshing to find that her homeschool family is far less alone than they'd thought. Group member Evelyn Yaeggy from Brooklyn Center, Minn., said the social network has helped her build confidence in herself as her children's teacher; it has allowed her to take a glance into the homes of others, and it gives her a sense of normalcy when she looks back into her own home. Wendy Smith from Walla Walla, Wash., said although group conversation runs the gamut from requests for help to the sharing of enthusiastic projects and ideas, the overall tone is positive.
“Homeschooling can be a lonely world for parents because you haven’t chosen the most traveled and accepted path for your child,” said Sheila Elwin from Pine Lake, Ga., and a member of the Atlanta North Church. “Finding the Adventist homeschool group on Facebook has helped me feel like part of a large Adventist family—one so diverse it embraces everything from classical education to school-in-a-box to unschooling. And, for the first time in our homeschooling adventure, I feel genuinely a part of Adventist education.”
The members of the group know they are educating their children for now and for eternity. That common purpose is a uniting factor, and it makes a difference when parents are all facing the same direction—even when their feet are planted in different soil.
Written by L. Lehmann
L. Lehmann is a former homeschooling mom and is a member of the group SDA Homeschool Families.
Look for the group at www.facebook.com/groups/sdahomeschoolfamilies/