Latonya Moore is a wife and homeschooling mom of two living in Murfreesboro. She has been capturing her homeschooling journey, faith and mom life on her blog Joy in the Ordinary. Her selfless approach to being fully present for her children is evident. I was thankful to have a chance to speak with her as she was so transparent providing an authentic look into the homeschooling lifestyle. For those seeking alternatives for their children’s education during this new season, Latonya’s story is one to definitely check out and take notes.
Homeschooling for many is such a new phenomenon. What inspired you to start this journey?
We started homeschooling in 2009 while living in Illinois. I graduated with my degree in elementary education and was introduced to homeschooling through one of my classes. I was pregnant with my first daughter and I also had a cousin who was homeschooling her kids. That was my first introduction to this alternative way of living and educating children. When I graduated in 2009, my first job was working at a summer school for incoming kindergarteners. In that program, I attended a workshop where veteran teachers were talking and sharing their experience and they didn’t sound very optimistic. They would always say “we teach and pray that it sticks.” I just thought to myself that I could do a lot better.
When I came home from my first day, I talked to my husband about his thoughts on homeschooling. Keep in mind that this is during the recession, so I just graduated and he was laid off of work. Yet, he trusted my decision. We started on the homeschool journey because I felt like I could give my children more. As we jumped into the homeschooling journey, I not only saw that I could give them more academically, but also socially, emotionally, and spiritually. Honestly, I don’t know if I would be able to be the parent that I am now if I didn’t have them close to me. By directing my attention to my daughters’ upbringing, I was able to build a solid foundation.
Back then, as a new parent, it was definitely an opportunity for me to figure out what parenting looks like for me.
Back then, as a new parent, it was definitely an opportunity for me to figure out what parenting looks like for me. I know that a kid going to school doesn’t mean their parents are no longer parenting them. I’m just speaking from my own perspective and how my personality wouldn’t have been able to balance all of these different things without something slipping.
You did take a homeschooling break, where your children went to traditional school. Can you share what that was like?
Yes, in 2012, we actually all went to school. My oldest daughter was seeking to experience something new. She needed to see for herself and had a desire to experience traditional school. So I entered the classroom as a teacher in 2012 while my oldest daughter entered the second grade. My younger daughter enjoyed the homeschooling experience but she attended school like the rest of us, starting kindergarten. If you’ve ever done something different, whether it’s starting your own business, working from home, or whatever; there is always a period where you question yourself and wonder if you made the right choice. When we came home in 2013, it was a collective decision to continue homeschooling because that’s just our way of life.
With you having this unique but very intentional experience with your kids in Illinois, how did that change when you came to Nashville and interacted with other homeschoolers?
When we moved here, I was pretty experienced when it comes to homeschooling networks. I knew I had to find where the homeschoolers hung out. Those places usually include libraries or rec centers that have programming for homeschooling kids. In Murfreesboro, there was a homeschool PE class that met on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Paterson Park. There is also a library at Paterson Park. I remember having a plan to go to the library on one of the PE days to catch the parents as they were leaving. I met three homeschool moms that day and they were all really nice. They gave me their phone numbers and were open to being local resources for me and my family.
My main question back then was “do you enroll with the school system or do you enroll with an umbrella school?” In Illinois, we didn’t have to make that choice. There was no one to report to. In Tennessee, you have to either enroll with your local school district, which is an easy process. Or you can do an umbrella school where you don’t have to answer to the local school district or government bodies. We’ve done both because when moving to a new city, there’s this consensus of being afraid of the local school system. So I figured it was easier to start with an umbrella school. Plus, my daughter wanted to play volleyball. She is kind of over that now, so we will be back under the school district this year. It’s all about making a decision based on what your family needs and staying within legal bounds, of course.
If you need support, I always recommend joining one of the Facebook groups, pay attention to who’s sharing, and reach out.
We heard there was a large black homeschoolers network here in Nashville?
Yes, There are a lot of black homeschooling families. We take advantage of Facebook groups like Nashville African American Moms and Nashville African American Homeschool Families. Also, as a black homeschool mom, we have other interests as well, so you might find us in other groups that may be related to our shared interests like taking care of plants, writing or entrepreneurial groups. Some of us also work regular jobs too. So we’re not always chatting in these groups but we jump in when another person needs help. It’s really about what you need. If you need support, I always recommend joining one of the Facebook groups, pay attention to who’s sharing, and reach out.
That’s what I did when I first started homeschooling. We didn’t have Facebook, but we had a small forum called Homeschool Moms of Color. I reached out to some of those moms and we were able to encourage one another even though we’ve never met. Now, I have a lot of homeschool mom friends from the Internet that I’ve been able to meet in real life. You can’t be limited to what’s in front of you. You have to be willing to put yourself out there. That’s a big part of finding your people.
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