Speaker Spotlight: Darren Jones

As a classroom student turned homeschool graduate, Darren Jones knows how different those two learning experiences can be. With two of their children having graduated and the other two not far behind, Darren and his wife have invested heavily in their belief in the benefits of teaching your children from home. His support of the homeschooling community as a whole can be seen in his work as an attorney for homeschooling families and groups around the country.

At our unConvention this May, Mr. Jones is going to share with us how to use gaming to add variety and depth to your homeschooling regiment. From board games to role playing, card games and everything in between, his presentation will leave you reaching for the dice instead of the books as he shows us that playing around may be one of the best ways to take homeschooling seriously. 

In anticipation of his presentation at the unConvention, we spoke with Darren and heard some of his thoughts about the world of homeschooling. We wanted to share them with you.

 

VA Homeschoolers: How were you first introduced to the world of homeschooling? What were some of the factors that led you to decide to homeschool your family?

Darren Jones: “When I was in grade 10, my church held a panel of parents talking about how to raise Christian children in various educational environments. After hearing the discussion, I asked (or rather begged) my parents to homeschool me. They agreed, and I had a great next 2 years finishing up my high school education. One factor that led me to homeschool my family was the good experience of being homeschooled for both my wife and I. My job working as a lawyer for homeschoolers has also shown me tons of good homeschool success stories. Lastly, our kids are kind of quirky, and we didn’t want them to have to sit in a classroom for hours a day.”

 

What advice would you give to a family just starting out with homeschooling?

“Take some time to figure out what type of education works for your family. We have used a textbook-heavy approach, and generally that’s worked pretty well. But other families do a classical model or a living-books curriculum. I’ve seen good results from a variety of educational approaches. On the one hand, homeschooling is a lot of work, but on the other hand, you’re not locked into a rigid schedule, so you can figure out a good way to get the work done on your family’s timetable. In two-parent families, make sure both parents are involved!”

 

What is a significant challenge facing the homeschool community right now and how do you think we can address it?

“Legislation trying to regulate homeschooling, requiring the  permission of superintendents, or even social services is a problem. The best way to fight this is with a united homeschool movement. There are a lot of areas where homeschoolers don’t have to agree with each other, such as what kind of educational model to use, personal philosophy of education, religious beliefs, and what sort of public funding, or public school access, should be available. But the one point I believe we all need to stand firm on is that legislation shouldn’t unnecessarily regulate all homeschooling families based on a misguided view that children belong to the public school.”

 

Who are some of your biggest homeschooling influences and why?

“My son’s godparents (one of whom used to be my legal assistant) are some of mine. They’re both real thinkers and I’m always interested in what curriculum they’re using. My wife is too; I do the planning for the school year, but she is the implementer on the ground. Another influence is Cathy Duffy, homeschool curriculum reviewer extraordinaire.”

 

 

This interview was conducted and written by Valerie Coker. Valerie is a homeschooling mom of three, including two with special needs. Homesteading in southwest Virginia, she volunteers as a coordinator for Luke14 Ministries serving families with disabilities, and loves teaching at her local co-op. We’re glad to have her as a volunteer for The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers. 

Opinions expressed by individual writers in this blog do not necessarily reflect the views of the Board of Directors of The Organization of Virginia Homeschoolers, nor do they represent an official position of VaHomeschoolers. Writers’ views are their own, and readers are encouraged to research and explore homeschooling issues to their own satisfaction.

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