When a couple of parents began meeting in 2002 in their homes to let their children have play dates, they decided it might be beneficial to do a science lab together. After talking about the home schooling options available, they decided there was a need to have a home schooling group for families to have a support network. That’s when Christian Homeschoolers in Lodi (CHIL) began. Since then, it has grown to meet the needs of each family involved.
Tammy Russo, one of the board members, said the organization is based on Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “For I know the thoughts I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not evil to give you a future and a hope.”
The organization provides help to families to ease the wear and tear that goes into being a mom and a teacher.
“Walking that journey with other people sharing the same journey is super helpful,” she said.
The program offers classes for children as well as field trips and also a support group for mothers. Four hours of classes are offered for children age 3 up to the senior year of high school every Monday. The classes, which are geared toward each age group, include academics as well as electives. For example, Tammy said this past year her 12 year old daughter had an American Girl history class for her first hour, music and worship for her second hour, government and leadership in the third hour, and musical theater in her last hour. The classes are parent driven and not set to a particular format.
Each year parents meet and decide what they will teach the following year. Parents also choose which field trips will take place throughout the year. The group goes to the pumpkin patch annually. They also have an annual Valentine’s Day party, Christmas party and they make a visit to the Mud Mill to make Christmas ornaments. Other field trips include going ice skating, visiting the World of Wonders Science Museum, Monterey Bay Aquarium and to a Stockton Thunder game. The year then culminates with a huge promotion day and talent show at the end of May.
The program serves upwards of 350 children, although not all at one time. Monday classes consist of 200 children, and the big events such as the Christmas and Valentine’s Day usually include about 75 children.
Tammy said one of the benefits of the program is that it’s a come-when-you-want type of environment. The only requirements are for parents to sign a faith statement and have a background check. Annual dues are $25, which help to cover the expense of the website and any other administrative costs throughout the year. “If a family signs up and wants to show up for only one event, it’s ok”, she said.
“Most of our families that come really appreciate that we don’t have any real requirements. They just pay the member fees and they can pick and choose what they want to participate in,” she said.
CHIL is also beneficial for moms who may be struggling with a child who is having difficulties. Mothers who have been involved for awhile are familiar with the curriculum, and can make suggestions about what to use to teach that child. It’s especially helpful for moms who are just beginning to home school.
“The first year can be difficult because of the adjustment. If you try to do it on your own, it’s really hard to see beyond the current struggle,” she said.
Tammy is hoping that eventually non-home-schooling families will start to feel comfortable with the program. She wants people to know that home schooling isn’t for everyone and it is ok when families choose not to do it.
“We believe home schooling is a calling and if you are called, God will help you,” she said.
Because home schooling can be challenging, Tammy advises those who are thinking about trying the program to first pray about it. To find out more, she can be reached at 209-474-0932 or 661-713-9618 or visit chilonline.org.
8:30am & 11:00am