Bryan Roth started Blue Ridge Home Educators as a support group and community for like-minded people who want to homeschool. He began the group about seven months ago to provide social activity for his homeschooled son, Tyler, 14. While Roth says there are good homeschool groups in existence, none fit the bill for his family. He mainly wanted to provide social activity for his son. It was also important to have a Christian foundation.
So far, 15 students have joined from nine families. Families come from all over Botetourt, and several are members at Fincastle Baptist Church where the group meets. At their weekly meeting, students participate in classes taught by the parents. Every six weeks, a new topic is covered. Currently, the theme is World Geography, and on this particular Thursday, Greek traditions, culture and art are the subject.
Past topics have included photography and art. Guitar and karate instruction are being considered for future meetings. Special instructors would be coming to facilitate the lessons and a small fee charged to cover the cost.
After class, families eat lunch together. While each family usually brings lunch from home, they often have a special snack to share that fits the theme of the day. When lunch is over, they have free time. Sometimes, they play basketball or chase. Other times, it could be games or outdoor activities.
“The kids have a lot of fun,” says Cori Layman, who recently moved to the area from Ohio and taught a class on silhouettes during the art rotation. “They get to build relationships by seeing the same people each week. We would encourage other people to come.”
Her son, Noah, 11, agrees that he would like even more kids to join.
“We do fun things most of the time,” he says. “Today we learned about Greece and the Trojan horse.”
Max Wright, 11, says he likes a lot of things about the group. “There are a lot of people to play with, and I like that because we live in the country.” He has really enjoyed the monthly field trips to places like Thunder Valley, Ikenberry Farm and The Skate Center.
Blue Ridge Home Educators is open to anyone who homeschools and would like to be part of a Christian-based group. The group meets every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p,m, at Fincastle Baptist Church, where Roth attends church.
“Our pastor’s philosophy is children first,” Roth says of the Rev. Kevin Cummings. In light of that, the church has provided a free meeting place for the families including nursery space for children too young to participate in certain projects.
“We have created what we believe is a safe family environment. We’re like a big family, a community of people who share their lives and are there for each other,” Roth says. “It really does take a village to raise a child.”
Visit the Blue Ridge Home Educators Web site at brhe.org for more information, or call Fincastle Baptist Church at (540) 473-2861.
- Laura Leighty Wade