DE PERE (NBC 26) — School’s out for summer, but many moms and dads still have education on their minds. With districts announcing mask policies for next year, and data showing homeschool has grown in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic started, some parents are considering the option.
“If there’s ever been such a time for such a thing, it's now," said Jenny Tetzner. “Since the pandemic, it has exploded. Parents are really questioning, do they want their kids to sit behind a computer screen all day, or do they want to have on-and-off school?“
For a parent who’s never homeschooled a child before, it can be challenging to figure out where to start. There are, of course, resources online, but there hasn’t been a place where parents can actually get their hands on materials and talk to an experienced homeschooler, until now.
Helping parents learn how to homeschool was a dream for Tetzner for years, and just a couple months, she was able to make it come true. The Homeschool Loft is a place where Tetzner and co-owner Tina Hollenbeck can answer every question a parent could have about homeschooling, as the two of them both homeschooled their children for years.
“How do we get started?" said Tetzner. "What books do we use? What does the homeschooling law say? What kinds of things do we have to do?”
Hollenbeck, a former public school teacher, taught in Green Bay school for nine years. In 2013, she created the Homeschool Resource Roadmap, a web site with free information on curriculum, book suppliers and more. Having a physical place, like the loft, was much needed though, she said.
“One of the main things that we’ve heard over the years is that parents want to actually page through curriculum that their considering," said Hollenbeck. "There is not really a homeschool convention in Wisconsin.“
The Homeschool Loft is first and foremost a resource for parents; Tetzner and Hollenbeck offer one-on-one consultations, book clubs, discussion groups, workshops and seminars and a curriculum viewing library. The women want to bust myths about homeschooling, they said.
“They think that they’re not good enough to do it," said Hollenbeck. "But our view is that a parent is the expert on his or her own child.“
They also tell parents how homeschool kids can stay socialized, showing them how to get involved with various groups locally, as well as providing weekly storytimes and outdoor gatherings.
“They have spring formals and graduation and park days and fall fitness," said Hollenbeck. "There’s a homeschool sports association in this area.“
Now that all their kids have graduated, both moms say they just want to keep homeschooling.
“I have never learned so much in all of my life," said Tetzner. "And just igniting that passion and them to learn is huge."
“I want to be the one to see the light bulb go on" said Hollenbeck. "And it was just a joy to do that all the way through.“
The Homeschool Loft is located at 421 George Street in downtown De Pere. Their office hours are Tuesdays from 8:00 a.m. to noon, Wednesdays from noon to 4:00 p.m. and Thursdays from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. They will also meet with parents by appointment outside of office hours, can make house calls and do video or phone calls as well. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (920) 328-4887 to set up a consultation, or find more information at homeschoolloft.com.