• Kelly E.

You’re Not Homeschooling Correctly and Other Nonsense

One of the funniest comments that I see over and over again is the claim “that’s not homeschooling because…” Here’s the truth—if you are in charge of your child’s education, you are homeschooling. Some homeschooling co-ops mandate specific requirements and meeting times and are, in essence, private schools which do not operate using the traditional school schedule. But even these groups are requiring parents to do a significant amount of the teaching in order for their students to succeed. Maybe the parents aren’t choosing the curriculum, but they are guiding the study to a large degree and to me that is homeschooling. For many parents now struggling through distance learning where they must be IT person and teacher’s aide right along with parent, I would also consider that homeschooling because it doesn’t sound much different from my day. Many homeschoolers balk at that idea but, really, how is that any different than a student who is homeschooling and taking several online classes or a homeschooling student who uses an all-in-one box curriculum? Where should the line be drawn between school student and homeschool student? Why do we need to make a designation anyway?

I have heard claims that one parent wasn’t truly unschooling because they asked their child to read a specific book. I have heard claims that a student participating in an online accredited school was not homeschooling. If the state you live in has decided that a particular online school is homeschooling, is that enough to claim homeschooling status? Does it matter? It seems pretty petty for individuals to say what is and isn’t homeschooling or what qualifies as a specific style of homeschooling based on their own interpretation. Basically, it’s getting all middle schooly here with all the judgments, and due to the pandemic, schools are sending students home to learn and this has stirred the pot even more. Why can’t we all just agree that educating our children is hard and help each other out?

I think one of the reasons we can’t just agree to disagree is that everyone wants to have a clique and keep it tight. We want a clear definition of who we are and sometimes we accomplish that by determining who isn’t in our group. Being a parent isn’t a small enough group to make us feel that we have an identity. We want to be a stay-at-home mom or a mother of twins. We want to be unschoolers or Waldorf homeschoolers. We want our group clearly defined. Sometimes we need our group so well defined that we can hardly call it a group. Welcome to my secular, academic, college-bound, literature-focused, grade-free, variable lunchtime homeschool group; my husband and I are the only members. We are very exclusive.

The world is currently in turmoil and when turmoil is out and about it loves to take its sidekick, social change. From clothing to school, from driving habits to eating habits, our world is changing quickly due to the pandemic. Norms are up for changing right now. And one that would be great to change is the feeling that we need to narrow down our cliques so much. I think it’s easier to learn from each other if there is a larger variety of experiences involved. Sure, that makes it harder to sift through the online conversations to find something that relates to you, but that process might throw something new in front of your eyes! I’m not saying you have to leave your secular, academic, college-bound, literature-focused, grade-free, variable lunchtime homeschool group, but you may want to open your local homeschool group to people who are homeschooling in a different way, like public school distance learning. If for no other reason than because our kids are watching us and what they are learning is how to exclude others, and that shouldn’t be in any homeschool curriculum.

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