Idaho Homeschool History
The Dawning Age of Homeschooling
by Linda Patchin
Idaho Education Code 33-202 in 1992 read:
33-202 SCHOOL ATTENDANCE COMPULSORY…Unless the child is otherwise comparably instructed, the parent or guardian shall cause the child to attend a public, private or parochial school…
By 1998, few Idaho homeschoolers felt threatened with imminent demise. Our movement was expanding, and an industry of textbook providers, authors and speakers was being raised up. The internet had been invented, and many people began purchasing personal computers, and had gotten email addresses. The time was ripe for Idaho to begin promoting home education as a viable education alternative.
Late in the summer of 1998, I was invited to attend a small meeting in a park with a few other moms who wanted to form an organization to host an annual homeschool convention. I had twice been involved previously with bringing the precursor, Gregg Harris Seminars, to Idaho. Gregg had been a one-man show, teaching a two-day seminar on how to get started homeschooling for families all over the country. I enjoyed being a part of the Harris team, and I looked forward to creating Idaho’s convention.
By the end of our meeting, one mom had donated $30 to our cause, which was exactly the amount of money we needed to purchase stamps to send invitations through the mail to the many vendors we wanted to invite to attend the convention.
Christian Homeschoolers of Idaho State was born. We incorporated as an Idaho non-profit, 501c3 organization, and invited a couple of speakers. That first convention was humble, but we saw that there was truly a need to encourage homeschool families, and so we voted to make it an annual event.
Each year since, we have expanded our convention a little bit. We developed a website. We added a children’s program in 2001. Each year, we added new innovations.
Today, the convention has spread across the full campus of Northwest Nazarene University with over 70 vendor booths, 48 unique workshop offerings, 4 keynote sessions, a children’s program, a teen’s program, a silent auction, concessions, display booths, sponsors, and, best of all, the interaction that occurs when homeschooling families meet together, face to face.
In the winter of 2003 the inaugural issue of the CHOIS Connection Magazine was mailed to a few hundred families. This magazine, written by Idaho homeschoolers for Idaho homeschoolers, has gone through many changes, but currently it has thousands of subscribers. We think it is one of the best state magazines in the country.
With the advent of social media, CHOIS developed both an organization Facebook page, and a group page, where Idaho homeschoolers can communicate with one another at the stroke of the keys on their keyboard.
In 2016, we also began an e-newsletter which brings weekly encouragement and updates to its subscribers.
It is our prayer that no Idaho homeschooler should ever feel alone in pursuing this form of education; that they would know that there is an organization that is here to help.
Because the mission statements of ICHE and CHOIS are completely diverse, we are able to work together to provide both the protection and the promotion of homeschooling in Idaho. There are only a few other states who enjoy two harmonious state organizations, and we feel very blessed to be counted amongst them.
In 2014, CHOIS assumed responsibility for the Idaho State Homeschool Graduation ceremony. This annual event gives Idaho parents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of their homeschooled senior in a traditional cap and gown ceremony. It has been a tremendous joy to help these families write the final chapter of their homeschool story.
When CHOIS updated their website in 2013, we chose three words to describe our mission. Inspire. Promote. Preserve. We are grateful for the accomplishments we have achieved, and it is our prayer that we may continue to serve Idaho homeschool families by inspiring them, promoting private home education, and preserving the hard-won freedoms that have been secured.
With the advent of a second statewide homeschool advocacy group, Idaho legislators can now hear the coordinated voices of both CHOIS and ICHE speaking in unison about matters affecting home education. We believe that this has increased our visibility and credibility as homeschooling moved from the Dark Ages into a Dawning Age. Fasten your seatbelts for we are just about to enter the Golden Age of Homeschooling!
Read more about Idaho’s homeschool history here.