What is a Homeschool Counselor?
Where Community Meets Service
with Shayla Bryant
School systems, both private and public, almost always provide some academic counseling. Students can meet with counselors for anything from deciding what courses to take to college preparation. Their services are invaluable. Whether they’re helping with course planning or social development, students have a school resource to turn to for help.
What about homeschooled students? How can they receive the same level of guidance and help?
We sat down with Shayla Bryant of Your Neighborhood Homeschool Counselor to learn a little more about being a homeschool counselor and a mother of homeschooled children.
Hey Shayla! Thanks for sitting down with me to give me a little insight into your business and your life!
Tell us a little about Your Neighborhood Homeschool Counselor and why you started the business.
Your Neighborhood Homeschool Counselor (YNHC) is a certified K-12 School Counselor that focuses on providing support with academic, career planning, and social/emotional development plus more for grades 8 through 12 guided by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) National Model. While easily mistaken as a Therapist, YNHC does not provide therapy/long-term counseling; however, it is prepared to recognize and respond to student mental health needs and assist students & families seeking resources. YNHC started in 2018 after I received a master’s degree in School Counseling at Capella University. The purpose of creating YNHC is because there is a lack of support for the homeschool community. Most public schools already have school/career counselors, but what resources do Homeschoolers have? I wanted to be the liaison for homeschooled families to bring them exposure to the many resources out there that fits their child’s needs and educational path.
That’s true! It’s hard for homeschooled students to get that level of help. That’s so great for you to see that gap and provide that type of service. But you’re a certified school counselor. Why choose homeschool over public school?
What’s so funny is that I actually was offered a School Counseling position at a Charter School in Minneapolis, Minnesota. As an intern, I had an amazing experience with the students and staff. Everyone was so supportive and trusted me and my expertise in guiding the students. If I had accepted that position, I would have been their first school counselor. Homeschool is something that I was interested in once I became a parent. I just did not know when or the path I would take to get there. I had my first child in 2016 and started planning her education and what route to take. As I reflect, I would not have had the experience I have now with homeschooling my own child if I had accepted that position. Plus, It would be weird to strongly advocate for homeschool and support the public education system at the same time!
I’m sure getting that experience was invaluable, but I’ll be that was a tough decision at the time, though, but it sounds like you made the right one. Being a good counselor means making the best of the tools you have. Why do you feel like Shamrck Education is a valuable resource for homeschooled students and parents?
Homeschool students and parents can benefit significantly from Shamrck Education because it helps take the burden off parents trying to figure out what path their child needs to take when it comes to their career/future. Instead, the personalized plan determines the child’s specific interests. What’s so cool is that students have the opportunity to re-evaluate their personal plan every year, as we know things change as we grow, develop, and become exposed to different things in life, so what they may have been interested in as a 9th grader may be totally different as a 12th grader.
Too often, we see parents want to live vicariously through their children and push them down the wrong path. Other times we see no engagement or guidance, and students end up doing something that doesn’t play to their strengths or interests. And you’re absolutely right! We develop so much over those few years. Why is emotional and social development significant concerning academics?
This is where students learn skills that help them grow into emotional and social cognizant humans in the real world. As parents and professionals, it is essential to practice various techniques that focus on developing a child’s emotional and social skills.
And I think we both know it’s never too early to start helping with that development.
Let’s shift gears just a little bit and focus more on you as a homeschool mother yourself. What advice would you give to parents starting to think about homeschooling?
First, homeschool looks different for many families, so I would first like to assess why they are choosing to homeschool. I would also like to know what type of homeschooling they are interested in, as homeschool is like a spectrum with various paths. Then, I would encourage them to research homeschool information and empower the parent/guardian to be their child’s first teacher and well equipped to teach and educate them.
It seems like everything starts with knowing yourself and your family. Once someone takes the leap, though, how do they put all of that research to work? As a homeschool parent, what types of local resources do you look for for your children?
My children are in the toddler and preschool stages. At these stages of development, Play and Exploration is vital because that is where they are naturally. I allow them to play at home or with playdates. There are programs at the local library, educational events at the Children’s Museum and Botanical Garden, as far as local resources. Fridays and Saturdays are our field trip days.
So much fun! Libraries are such an untapped resource these days. It’s easy to forget that we can balance premium activities with free ones. There’s so much to do! But when it comes time to hit the books, how do you go about planning your academic subjects, and how long do you spend each week planning?
I usually take around 2-5 hours, and when I feel like being in plan mode, I focus on the same subject at least two times throughout the week and alternate with other topics in between. Sometimes our homeschool schedule is three days out of the week. My homeschool style is more unschool, but I also pull from other homeschooling practices that best fit us academically and culturally. I feel like learning is always happening every day. Example: Instead of focusing on a specific math problem, I may have my children help me cook. They can count, add, subtract, learn about measurements, and at the same time learn about sanitation and safety while in the kitchen and cooking over different temperatures. We covered math, science, and essential practical life skills.
I love outside-the-box thinking. There are so many books and programs out there that accomplish the same thing that you can get creative and do around the house. What’s your favorite part about homeschooling?
My favorite part of homeschooling is having the freedom to be my child(ren)’s first teacher and equip them with the tools and knowledge to support them emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, culturally, and socially.
What a great outlook. Your views and approach to homeschooling your children really echo your attitude toward bringing guidance and counseling to others. Not many people put in the effort to start a business, and even fewer start a business to fill a gap that school children have. It shows your passion for education, and as another homeschooling parent, I appreciate that.
Thank you again so much for sitting down with us and sharing a little more about what a homeschool counselor does. Not only are you providing a much-needed service for students, but you’re also utilizing your education and your experience to have an incredible impact on those around you. We need more folks like you getting in the mix!
Again, everyone needs to go check out Your Neighborhood Homeschool Counselor (YNHC) and learn more about Shayla and the incredible things she is doing. If you want to learn more about Shamrck Education and our Early Access program, head to shamrck.education/early-access.
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