Friday, December 29, 2006

Making Change, part 4

I know, I know, I promised to accelerate the pace of this series. So much for that, with the holidays, er, Christmas and all. Anway, here we go.

Homeschooling is not a go-it-alone venture. While the misconception of the isolated, eight-child family on the farm still resonates with some people, it is not true.

Somehow, somewhere, everyone who homeschools had to start somewhere. Where was it? You probably heard a few things about homeschooling, and decided you wanted to learn more. Why? Because you had a vested interest in making a change. Many of you indicated this in your comments to earlier posts.

What comes next? Validation! Getting enough solid info from enough solid sources to decide if homeschooling was for you and your children. (And, yes, it is as much about the parents as it is about the children.)

So, you went from being in a vacuum - no information at all - to having more info than you knew how to use. But you did it. You worked through it, because you had a vested interest in doing so. You developed your master plan for dominating the homeschool universe. You picked the schooling method, you picked the curriculum, you dreamed of being the perfect parent, balancing it all and still having time left over for your spouse, vacations to Disneyworld, and bowling on weekends.

But what happens if you should happen to stumble, or your child doesn't catch on?

After (or during) your quest for homeschooling methods and curriculum, you stumbled upon dozens and dozens of local homeschooling groups. What? Groups of people that thought like you did? And other groups full of people who thought nothing like you did? GET OUT OF HERE!!! You probably came to the conclusion that you could maintain your homeschooling independence, but still have the support of a like-minded group during the tough times.

How many groups did you or your friends learn about? How many did you/they evaluate? And, finally, how did you select a group, or two or three, with which to associate? Were they based on the same principles as your reasons for homeschooling, were they "fun", or for some other reason? Or, did you have to create a new group because there were none to fill the void?

Please post your comments for the fun & enjoyment of all.

Food for thought: how did you select the people you voted for in the last elections? Was it based on winnability, on finding like-minded people, on "fun", or on other reasons?


Susan said...

Wow, times have changed! When we started homeschooling (1987) there weren't homeschool groups. There were three families in the whole county. If you saw somebody in the grocery store or at the park during school-hours, you latched onto them!

And there wasn't multitudinous information to plow through. There was John Holt and the Moores and a little bit of Mary Pride; that was about all there was to read. There weren't gobs of decisions to be made with regard to curriculum or styles or whom to hang out with. You hung out with the other homeschoolers, no matter whether they did school like you did, no matter whether they believed what you believed (politically or religiously). You were just tickled to find somebody else who didn't think you were off your rocker.

>What happens if your child doesn't catch on?

If homeschooling isn't about academic achievement, but is about a lifestyle and character-building and family togetherness and maximizing potential (however small that potential might be) then there really is no such thing as "not catching on." There might be a change in the plan of attack with regard to academics. But that's no biggie; you just keep trying until you find something that works, knowing all along that the IMPORTANT things (family and chores and character and catechesis) are happening anyway.

>How many groups did you learn about? How did you select a group?

Whoa... again I am unable to understand today's reality! For the first three years we homeschooled, there was no group. There was a statewide conference once a year that EVERYbody went to. That was it. When we moved, we discovered a newly formed group in our county. (ONE group in the whole county.) We wouldn't associate with them because they required us to sign a statement of faith. There was ONE group in the next county over. We got involved with them, and stayed heavily involved for about 5 years, until a child's medical needs interfered with homeschool outings. I wish it was like it was then -- that homeschoolers got together because of the common ground of homeschooling, without being so judgmental of each other's methods. But now we're so fractured and mistrust each other, and it will eventually be our undoing.

Favorite Apron said...

After several years of study, we started officially in 1995. I had been reading Nancy Wallace, John Holt and the Moores. I lament the passing of GWS magazine.
There was a group in the next county that we attended once, just to see if they were real live normal folks. A couple years later a group started here in our town - I attended irregularly for a year or so until my kids were taken into another room to pray because they "weren't saved." That was the end of my association until about five or 6 yrs ago when I discovered NCRLoop!! Life hasn't been the same since!!

>What happens if your child doesn't catch on?

They'll find some other area to excell in.

Julia said...

We started homeschooling, I suppose, when our son was born in 1998, but we've only had to report to the state since 2004. The thought of homeschooling didn't even occur to us until my MIL laughingly joked about it. But as our son got older, we started to read John Holt and all the other related books in our local library. We joined a parent co-op homeschool support program which focused on Waldorf educational methods (with no Waldorf school in our area). And it all just fit into place for us and for our son.

We have found a copule of groups locally that support us and allow us to support others as they stumble through homeschooling. We started by looking for field trips and other social activities. And also for paperwork support. Not all groups are the same, but by keeping "in the loop" of several groups, we mostly find what we are looking for.

In "evaluating" these groups, I've looked for people of similar life choices, with children of similar ages and also those with older children who have grown to adulthood but who still remain to help others. I haven't really cared why the parents chose to homeschool. It comes up in conversation, but it was never an "evaluation" tool for me. Fun is good, but not necessary. I have played around with the idea of trying to gather a new group, but I've got enough on my plate, and I'm already getting support when I need it, so I haven't pursued it yet.

As for elections, I definitely do not vote by winnability. I look for someone who shares at least some of my goals and vision. I guess that would qualify for "like-minded." I'm not sure what the "fun" would be in a political election....

Quipper said...

Hey Julia,

Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I wouldn't call politics "fun", either, but it seems to have spawned quite a few industries.

Homeschooling is growing and thriving, even with the diverse practices and principles within the movement. Homeschool parents don't walk in lockstep with everyone in the movement. I hope that, as a nation, we can learn how to elect officials that aren't in lockstep with the two major parties.