Today we’d like to introduce you to Rebecca Kocsis.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I started homeschooling in 1984, way back before anyone knew much about it, let alone if it was even legal. We didn’t know we were pioneers! Homeschooling was a perfect fit for our family. I felt so strongly about it being a great viable option that we started a homeschool program to help other families. We had that program for 15 years. All five of our children graduated from our homeschool program, with the youngest graduating in 2006.
I got connected with the Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA) immediately. They were a great help and support while I homeschooled my children, so I’ve been involved with CHEA ever since in one capacity or another: as a volunteer, convention staff, regional advisory board member, Support Network Director, then a board member. And now I am the general manager! Who knew that when this young mama decided to homeschool that it would become in many ways, my life’s work? At least until now. I have been asked where I went to college. I had never set foot on a college campus until I took my oldest child there. I was a teen mom and barely finished high school!
By the way, CHEA has been helping families homeschool since 1982. Almost every year, we’ve held annual state-wide and regional events that train families, providing services, resources, and support along the way. We saw huge growth in the community when schools were shut down with the pandemic. We were perfectly situated to help.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No, it hasn’t really been a smooth road. For us personally, there were many naysayers at the time we started homeschooling. Friends and family came on board when they saw how well it worked. The proof was in the pudding, so to speak.
In regard to home education as a whole, there have been a number of challenges. Now and again legislators will introduce laws that would limit parents’ ability to homeschool, such as a law that would require parents to hold a teacher credential, or daytime curfew laws that would all but quarantine homeschoolers during the schooldays. There were even silly laws like requiring all schools (homeschools are single-family private schools) have feminine hygiene products in their bathrooms.
One of the biggest challenges came in 2008 when an appellate court decided erroneously that homeschooling under the private school statues was illegal. That decision was eventually vacated and ultimately and definitively declared that homeschooling is a species of private school. Then in 2018, when parents had passed themselves off as homeschoolers were found to be horribly abusive and negligent, lawmakers introduced laws again that would require home inspections among other things of all innocent, law-abiding homeschool families.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA) was founded in 1982 as an advocacy organization that promotes homeschooling as an excellent educational alternative, provides support, training and resources for homeschool families, and serves to protect parent’s rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children to the glory of God.
We were the first organization to advocate for homeschoolers in California. Because of that CHEA is the authority on home education in our state. We work tirelessly to inform and educate the public. We are also the only faith-based state organization.
When the pandemic hit and schools were shut down, we were able to help thousands of families find a way to teach their children at home, whether they wanted to keep their children in their current school and navigate the virtual lessons with multiple grade levels, or if they wanted to remove their children from the traditional model and homeschool. I am so proud of our team members who put in long hours supporting these “refugees”.
We also spent countless hours helping homeschool group leaders navigate the ever-changing regulations. Can we meet now? How can we meet? Where can we meet? The regulations were often confusing and varied from one county or city to another.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
So much! Our staff all work remotely so we could keep working when the rest of the world shut down. Our retreat and annual conventions were canceled due to the crisis, but there was still so much to be done to help the new families. It was hard not to be together with our community. Still, we were able to open our arms wide (virtually) to the many families who didn’t know what to do with their children all day long.
We learned just how important relationship is. Though there’s no substitute for being together face-to-face, in the digital age, you can still be a help and support for one another. When we were finally able to meet, it was a celebration!
It’s important to be understanding of people coming from different perspectives and not let differences divide us. Parents were trying to do what they believed was best for their kids. They just needed support and encouragement.
- Becoming a member is a great way to help us help other families. Membership levels start at $35.00 per year for your family.
- Website: https://www.cheaofca.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cheaofca/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CHEAofCA
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/homeschoolCA
- Youtube: CHEAofCA