In my last post, I mentioned certain request from people claiming to be homeschooling. They make homeschool groups leery. However, whenever possible and sometimes on a conditional basis, I advocate that they should be allowed in the homeschool groups.
Here is why.
Every homeschooling family that I have met, starts from somewhere. Each one of them brings value to the homeschooling group.
You Have to Start Somewhere
The problem with new-to-homeschool families, is they are not sure where they should start. In their hurry to begin and feel like they belong they skip over the importance of acknowledging where they take their first big step.
I won’t deny that labels make us feel like we belong. It’s powerful stuff. Which is why I don’t like putting labels on people. Long after you have out grown their usefulness, people still rely on them. Funny thing though, when you have tried on a few labels you start to recognize yourself in others. I am sharing these three examples from my own homeschooling journey and what I learned along the way. Maybe you can relate.
The Natural Homeschooler
Who are your natural homeschoolers? They are the families that researched and thought about homeschooling before having kids or while their kiddos were still toddlers. Some families wake up one morning and realize homeschooling gives them a fulfilling purpose. They feel it is detrimental to their kids’ development to send them to public school. Homeschooling gives them time to grow together and deepen the family bonds. When they think it’s time to start homeschooling, they did so eagerly charging boldly under the banner!
I love these homeschoolers! They are fire starters. They remind us that homeschooling is not perfect. When a curriculum falls apart, they adapt or modify it. Because of them, we learn homeschooling is a fluid process that is present in every moment of our lives.
The Crisis Homeschooler
Families who are schooling-at-home until they get to a certain location or reach a certain grade level are transitional homeschoolers. They haven’t fully embraced homeschooling because they don’t intend to be there long. Others face crazy barriers to accessing public education. An unexpected challenge comes out of nowhere and life unravels under their feet. BAM! They suddenly find themselves forced into the homeschooling realm without a guide. Sadly, these families didn’t embrace the idea of homeschooling under happy circumstances. It doesn’t matter the reason, because they desperately need to start today.
I love these homeschoolers! They bring reality checks into every bubble. They make some uncomfortable because they remind us that life doesn’t give us guarantees. They also challenge us when we think we have the perfect curriculum. Our way of doing things is not always best for someone else to replicate. Because of them, we learn homeschooling is for all people and in all stages of life.
The Professional Homeschooler
For a variety of reasons, the degree carrying home educator decides to homeschool. It could be a natural evolution of thought or a circumstance beyond their control. Every time we move to a new military installation, I run into at least one preschool or kindergarten teacher who is homeschooling. Surely this is not a phenomenon? Whatever their reason, they are ready to homeschool because they are confident they have the required skill set and set out with a plan in hand.
I love these homeschoolers! Often times they already did the research and know the best resources to use to achieve their goals. Chances are they already have the materials and know how to use them efficiently. Eventually their kids out pace their knowledge set but this doesn’t deter them. Because of them, we learn homeschooling is not about what you know. It is about what you are willing to do to bring the light of knowledge into a child’s world.
Why this is Important
The truth is one of the above will influence your belief and choices in method or material. Knowing yourself and where you are starting from is key to understanding your homeschooling preference and prejudices. Let’s face it. In a society where preschool and kindergarten classes are marketed as the gateway for future success, it is understandable why new or young parents feel driven to provide a formal learning environment. They are not trained to do so and they have a naive understanding of a child’s development, but they eagerly attempt to replicate it. Over time preschool families realize things are not working out for them. They burnout quicker. They feel like failures and give up. Their homeschool experiment failed. When I ask why, it turns out they made decisions in their homeschooling based on pressure they felt from their life’s biggest influence.
I’ll say it again, I don’t like labels. Once you have a label you start to fight or defend it. Take time to name the elements of good and bad influence in your starting position. Later you might see those ideas are no longer important to your homeschool. Once you can clearly see the things that help or hurt your homeschool, you empower yourself to make the necessary changes. I jumped all of the places trying to figure this out. It’s Okay. In the end our homeschooling journey merged into one.
So when you see someone trying to figure out if homeshcooling is for them and where they are in their homeschooling journey, be KIND. It is okay if someone’s first steps into homeschooling looks different way then how we did it. Remember we all started somewhere and it doesn’t always look the same as where we end up.
If you are a homeschooling family, where did you start in YOUR journey?
If you are a new-to-homeschooling family, where do you WANT to start your journey?