Homeschool Community Brutally Honest Truths
Did you survive the holidays without your homeschool community? If you are here, I am then assuming you made it through the family dinners where great uncles quizzed your children and distant cousins raised their concerns about socialization. Your kids survived too. They didn’t embarrass you (except the time they didn’t know what grade they were in), and even though you received piles of compliments on how well-rounded they are, you are still thankful you can now put your guard down and relax.
Or can you?
Sometimes we think that once we surround ourselves with a like-minded homeschool community, it will be smooth sailing from there.
Like any strong marriage, strong homeschool relationships take work. This might seem like the last thing we want to deal with after we have been homeschooling our kids, keeping up a house, and meeting the needs of our family members. We just want a break! Only if we are willing to give a little, in the end, we will gain so much more.
There is No Perfect Homeschool Group
Have Hallmark movies ruined our expectations? How is it that the girl who starts out with the guy who is completely wrong for her, ends up with Mr. Perfect sweeping her off her feet? Every single time. Somehow, when we approach homeschool community, we expect the same thing to happen.
We want to meet that one friend or find that one group who thinks and believes exactly as we do. We go into the group expecting to find someone with every single conviction that we have, who doesn’t allow the same things in their home as we do, and when we don’t find them, we are utterly disappointed.
We need to push through the disappointment by removing the blinders from our eyes. These people are unique individuals, and each one of them have something to offer. Rather than seeing what they don’t have, find out what they do have. Be confident in who you are as a homeschooling parent, and you will begin to look past the differences that, in the end, really don’t matter.
Don’t Judge a Parent by Their Curriculum
First question asked among homeschooling moms, “Which curriculum do you use?” I even met a homeschool dad in a Walmart parking lot, and that was the first question he asked me when it became unmistakably obvious that we both homeschooled.
Just like a job should not define you, neither should your curriculum. Yet why is it so hard to get past that? You introduce yourself to someone, and they say they are a lawyer. Do you think more highly of them than if they said they were a custodian? You introduce yourself to someone, and they say their children are in Classical Conversations. Do you think more highly of them than if they said they unschooled?
Let’s look past the curriculum and get to know the people who make up the homeschool community. Let’s find out why they homeschool. What drove them to this decision? How are they doing on a daily basis?
If we get to know these families and go beyond what they do possibly only a few hours a day, we might realize that we can relate to them more than we realize. Even if you can’t relate, that’s okay.
Maybe she doesn’t garden like you do, but she can play the violin and is willing to teach your children in exchange for a supply of your homemade jam. Maybe Dad can’t catch up with him at your child’s sporting events, but he can teach your child to turn wood or forge a metal spoon. Just because we aren’t the same, doesn’t mean we don’t need each other.
Secular and Religious Can Be in the Same Community
Homeschooling is hard, and support is not easy to come by. When a secular homeschooler approaches a religious homeschooler, what happens? Are they turned away because they don’t agree with the statement of faith, or are they welcomed with open arms? Are they offered an opportunity to learn right alongside the rest of them? When a religious homeschooler approaches a secular homeschooler, what happens? Are they ignored because of fear about what they may believe?
With an ever increasing homeschool population, one homeschool community approaches it this way: Members of the homeschool board must sign the statement of faith, but all and any members are welcome. This means the board is religious and makes decisions based on their belief system, but anyone is allowed to join. There are no classes involved, no co-op, simply field trips, science fairs, picnics, field days, and monthly get-togethers for the children.
In the end, we are all teaching our children at home and have a lot in common. Let’s focus on what we have in common and support one another going into homeschool community, not seeing what we can gain but what we can give.