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ONALASKA — Lindsay and Chris Hodge have always been interested in educating people. The wife and husband duo used to teach classes through Centralia College’s Continuing Education program — everything from gardening to how to raise rabbits and chickens and how to butcher them.

“We’ve always been an education provider,” Lindsay said.

They currently own and live on a farm, Haven Homestead, but it’s never been a production farm. Chris used to create handcrafted wood products and the Hodges’ at one time had an Airbnb on their property, but as life changed over the years their small business also evolved.

It has transformed from handicrafts and education classes to Lindsay’s brand-new homeschool coaching business, Haven Homestead Schooling, where she plans to teach and help parents transition into homeschooling.

The Hodges also have a podcast, accessible from their website at havenhomestead.com, where they teach and talk about topics including homesteading, self-sufficient living, prepping, survival, gardening, raising animals and homeschooling.

Lindsay has homeschooled her three children for the past four years. Her daughter did attend kindergarten for one year and while it was a pleasant experience, it wasn’t the best, Lindsay said. There were a few areas where she felt she could do better teaching at home.

Plus, it’s been a priority for the Hodges to have Lindsay either work part time from home or just be at home raising the kids. Her kids come No. 1 and everything else, such as when she wrote and sold children’s books on Amazon, is a creative outlet to earn money on the side.

“We feel morally and ethically that that’s where I need to be and where I am most effective,” Lindsay said. “All our business things are built around that.”

Another reason was that the Hodges didn’t qualify for free preschool, so after they homeschooled their children through preschool, they realized it was a rewarding experience and decided it was a natural transition to move into homeschooling for all three kids.

“I’ve learned a lot in the last four years,” Lindsay said. “I think I can share my knowledge and experience and I think I’m a really good motivator. I can help coach parents, find the curriculums, methodologies and practices that will fit their families and help them to be successful.”

Lindsay came up with the idea of starting her own homeschool coaching business recently due to everything going on with the COVID-19 pandemic. Many Lewis County schools are still deciding on what this upcoming school year will look like, and how much distance and online learning will be a part of that. It’s looking like most, if not all, will be using distance learning in some capacity at least during the start of the school year this fall.

It’s hard to tell for sure exactly how many children are currently homeschooled in the U.S. In 2012, there were approximately 1.8 million children being homeschooled in the U.S., an increase from 850,000 in 1999, according to the U.S. Department of Education. And that number is likely much higher now.

Lindsay figured she could help those families who are deciding to go with homeschooling rather than having their children participate in distance learning. And for those parents who do choose to stay with a school district’s distance learning this fall, there are some homeschooling practices that can be helpful to learn, as well.

It can be daunting for first-time homeschooling parents, who may be discouraged by navigating state regulations and figuring out expectations. Lindsay can help smooth that process out for those looking for a change from traditional schooling, she said.

“Everyone wants to know, ‘What should my kids be learning? Where should we be at at the end of the school year? And how do I know I’m doing a good job?,’” Lindsay said. “There is so much to sort and sift through and sometimes we just need a coach or mentor saying you’re doing a good job. If I can help instill a little confidence in them to make the decisions that are right for them and their children, then they will be just fine.”

The point of education, Lindsay said, is to better a person’s quality of life and improve the quality of life for their children. The goal for homeschooling is the same, she said, and her job of mentoring and coaching parents is a much-needed role being filled.

Registration for her classes opened up on July 31, she currently has two clients and is looking for one more for the fall. She is also planning to help parents who can’t participate in the coaching but want a little support by offering a weekly, hour-long morning time Zoom meeting every Monday, so they can see what morning time looks like in a homeschool environment and so their kids can receive some contact with other children through Zoom. The last 10 minutes of each session will be for parents to ask questions.

Lindsay is also planning a monthly in-person meetup at the Hodge’s Haven Homestead. The full schedule of events will be listed on their website in the near future.

She’s having a homeschool Q&A Zoom session at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 for prospective homeschool parents to learn the ins and outs of homeschooling, ask questions and, hopefully, Lindsay said, to be inspired to take the leap. The first weekly Zoom meeting is set for 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 24.

Anyone interested in being coached can contact Lindsay by phone at 360-978-5668, or by email at havenhomestead2009@gmail.com. More information can also be found on her website at www.havenhomestead.com.

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Reporter Eric Trent can be reached at etrent@chronline.com. Visit chronline.com/business for more coverage of local businesses.

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