is no longer conducted in the shadows, behind closed curtains, with the fear of
'whispers' from the neighbors. I know there
are those who still 'speak out' against homeschooling, buying into the old, and
might I point out disproved, myths that can still swirl about regarding
homeschooling and more pointedly homeschoolers.
The homeschooling community itself will 'poke fun' at itself by talking
about being weird and unsocialized because we know it is, more often than not, untrue. Either that or we embrace our 'weirdness' as
being unique individuals raising free thinkers who will change their world. Regardless though homeschooling is legal in
all 50 states and so we can walk in the sun during school hours without fear of
serious, legal retribution.
homeschooling is more and more spoken of in the 'mainstream' media, studies
have been done showing the academic and socialization success stories of those
who were homeschooled. There are 1st and 2nd generation homeschoolers who are now
homeschooling their children. The mystery of homeschooling is not much of a
homeschooling group I used to be a member of, real life or on-line (and
there are A LOT of online support groups for homeschoolers), or homeschool
blogs I read, the conversations and support generally, and most often, circled
around such topics as curriculum choices, how to motivate children to learn,
children's learning styles, creative 'work' system, hands-on activities, and
field trips for 'extended learning'.
I got caught
up in all that too. As a new
homeschooler, 5 year ago, living where I did, and just discovering 'facebook',
the only homeschoolers I knew/met were religious homeschoolers. So I paid attention to curriculum (I didn't
want religious dogma or myth in my curriculum as a basis of facts), and 'work
systems' for setting up and executing our homeschooling curriculum. I made the room look like 'school' and set on
the path of providing my child with her education myself at home. The very definition of homeschooling!
four and half years and if you were to have peaked behind my
curtain I do believe the scene would have looked very similar to when Dorothy
finally glimpsed 'the man behind the curtain'.
It looked good, for the most part, but the struggles, failures, and
unhappiness were what was real. I do not
lament too much on how things were then because I did not know better. I was doing the best I knew how at that
time. That is all any of us can do. However, once we know better we can do
better. Doing better will look different for
each family. Five years later I
am convinced of one thing, homeschooling would be better served if it were
called something else. I am not sure
what, but other names that spring to mind include: Living School,
Life Learning, and even unschooling. There are those in the unschooling community
who would "Pffft" at what I think unschooling looks like, but that matters not. Even in the homeschooling community there are
always going to be those who think they are doing it 'right' and that their
'right' is what everyone's 'right' is.
Sad, actually, given the fact that homeschooling is supposed to be about
providing your children with life experience, living skills, and educational
opportunities based out of the home.
That is what
homeschooling is. Plain and simple,
right? Speaking for myself, it is easy
to say but hard to know 'how to do', especially at the start. There are as many books on how to homeschool
as there are 'methods'. There are other
branches of the homeschooling tree that
include topics such as learning styles and curriculum choice. It goes even deeper into subsets: Unit Studies, lapbooking, notebooking, and
more. They all seem like crucial
choices to most in the beginning and for others their entire homeschooling
experience. To a point it is valid to
say that these are worth exploring. A
child will do their best work when they are engaged and interested not only in
WHAT they are learning but in HOW they are learning it. A fish seems very stupid if you ask him to
learn to fly but shows his genius when he's placed in the stream. This exploration, or trial and error, is part of the journey not merely 'tools' for the journey. Learning is happening with all the misses as
much as with the hits, both for the parent and the child. Yet we worry, yes I worry too. However, I do not think we should worry so
much that it cripples us from enjoying the journey of life.
the difference. Homeschooling is not
just a means of educating your child, it is a lifestyle choice. It is as much who your family is as anything
else with which you identify. You are
vegans, gardeners, gamers, documentary watchers, runners, swimmers, dancers,
performers, liberals, conservatives, believers, atheists and on and
on...homeschooling is that, just like
that. Homeschooling is who you are, a
real and natural extension of your philosophy on life, love, family, worship,
and values. That is what homeschooling
is and once you embrace that definition you will become as comfortable with
having homeschooling be what it is for your family as any other lifestyle
choice you make for your life. When that
sense of confidence fills you you will no longer bother with the nay-sayers, critics,
or even so-called experts. You will be
living the life you build and teaching your children to do the same. In that life, when we need to learn something
we seek it out and learn it, in the way that works best for us. That is life-long learning and that is what
we all want for our children.
To find the
real support you need I strongly recommend you find a group, even if only
online, that welcomes you for who you are and lets you be who you are on your
life journey that includes homeschooling.
One of my greatest joys has come in the last six months when I started
The Inappropriate Homeschoolers facebook group and it has made a real
difference for me and, according to them, the other members. They are as a part of my journey as
homeschooling itself is.
My sincerest thanks to fellow IH group members for allowing me the use of their pictures to show what homeschooling looks like.........LIFE!