Homeschooling

Why the Homeschooling Community Can’t Save the Day

By and large, most would say that the homeschooling community is a very generous, supportive, welcoming, and helpful group of families. We willingly give of our time, wisdom, knowledge, and resources to each other, and especially to new homeschoolers and those looking into homeschooling. When you search online for homeschooling help, you’ll find tons of blogs, books, videos, social media accounts, podcasts, and other resources created by homeschoolers who want to help others learn about the homeschool lifestyle. That’s probably how you found my blog. One of the reasons I started a blog was to be of service to other homeschoolers because so many veteran homeschool moms have helped me along the way.

Over the years, as the number of homeschool families have increased, I’ve noticed the landscape of the community change. Never more so than when the COVID-19 pandemic began. After the schools closed, homeschooling was trending on social media, which was bizarre and kind of intriguing. I thought that maybe this would be the turning point for families of school-aged children to view homeschooling as a viable option. As I began to see articles and posts circulate about “crisis schooling” — it was called homeschooling at the time — and read the questions being asked in online homeschool groups by these parents, my intrigue quickly changed to, “Oooo, girl. What is you doin’?!”

“Crisis schoolers” descended on online homeschool groups and literally took over. They asked all of the standard questions someone brand new to homeschooling would ask, but things got bizarre and moved me and many others from Camp Happy Helper to Camp It’s a No From Me, Dawg. The more questions they asked, the more obvious it became that they weren’t looking for help with homeschooling. They were looking for something that homeschoolers couldn’t give them even if we tried, and many of us tried. Things were amiss in the homeschool world and many of us knew that these weren’t the usual new homeschoolers we were used to. Something else was going on.

Photo by Holden Baxter on Unsplash

These parents were looking for us to take a teacher’s place. Whether they realized it or not, they wanted us to help them create school at home, complete with a schedule, full curriculum, socialization opportunities, resource and material lists, and ongoing support. But only temporarily, because, as I’ve seen numerous parents say, bravely and boldly sometimes within the comments of their question post, that “THESE KIDS ARE DEFINITELY GOING BACK TO SCHOOL.” That left a BAD taste in many homeschooler’s mouths. It had gotten so bad that many homeschoolers either muted or left homeschool groups because of it. Oy. For those reasons, many homeschoolers, including myself, said no to offering homeschooling assistance to parents who clearly weren’t interested in homeschooling.

Interestingly enough, when this choice not to help was shared or seen, other homeschoolers insisted that we were leaving these parents hanging and acting like homeschool snobs or elitists. It was as if we, homeschooling parents, had an obligation to help parents who aren’t looking to homeschool! We are in weird times, friends. The truth of the matter was that these parents thought homeschooling and schooling at home were the same thing and were simply in the wrong spaces asking the wrong people the wrong questions. In reality, the best way to help them was to not try to save the day. Deciding to stay in our lane and help those parents who actually want to start homeschooling just makes more sense.

Homeschoolers recognize that there is an immense difference between the homeschool lifestyle and public/private/charter school pedagogies. Even teachers who have decided to homeschool their own children will tell you just how different things are and how much of their classroom experience doesn’t transition well to home educating. A completely different mindset is needed to homeschool, and it takes YEARS to cultivate. It’s not as simple as what curriculum to buy or what schedule to use. I wish it were, but that’s just not reality. To homeschool requires a commitment. There has to be time to find your way, to decompress from the schooling mode, and to develop your own rhythm, flow, and style. You can’t get there without letting go of the schooling mindset, and that’s not what many parents are looking to do. They’re looking to be given a framework, when in reality, every single homeschooler has to develop that for themselves through trial and error over a long period of time, and it doesn’t happen in one school year.

Trying to live the homeschool lifestyle while attempting to recreate school at home is a disaster waiting to happen. Parents have to pick a side and follow-through as best they can. Homeschooling isn’t a method used to transition back to school; it’s a powerful springboard to regain freedoms that aren’t achievable within the education system. Therefore, the line between homeschooling and “transition schooling” must be drawn. Doing so will benefit everyone in the long run.

7 thoughts on “Why the Homeschooling Community Can’t Save the Day”

  1. I agree. At the beginning, neighbors were asking not just my advice on curriculum, but looking for ways my children could meet their need to occupy their children so they could keep working. Hard no on that one.
    Thanks for speaking hard truths.

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  2. Hi,

    It’s not about picking sides but homeschooling and schooling at home are two very different things. I tell parents that they aren’t homeschooling because you can’t replicate bricks and motar school at home.

    The parents who have been forced into schooling at home were given an impossible situation, as were their teachers. With little more than a weeks notice they were expected to somehow carry on with whatever their school or government mandated. They were often given few resources, again on both sides of the desk. So, can homeschooling families share resources and what they do with their kids? Yes, but teaching them to homeschool their kids is just not possible.

    I have a group for homeschoolers who have kids that use Augmentative and Alternative Communication. We have those who are schooling at home as members. We have been giving ideas and resources to those parents and welcoming them and some will go on to homeschool their kids from now on in the real sense of what homeschooling is. Others will return to sending their kids back to school. I think if homeschoolers tried just giving resources, sharing what is different between what a homeschooling family does day in and day out is from what parents were dropped into because of a global pandemic. We could all get along without putting up fences. No one asked for this situation.

    Let’s try to support others while having boundaries and being realistic about how much time we can give, what we can do and what is even possible for those who have found themselves schooling at home can get from the homeschooling community. No we can’t teach someone to homeschool. We can be helpful and realistic.

    Naomi

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  3. It is a relief to find this post. You said so much of what I have been thinking. I am a veteran homeschooling mom, writer, and educational consultant. While I am happy to answer basic questions about homeschooling, I’d be giving up hours of my day just to answer the deluge of inquiries during the pandemic. Part of my business is to offer in-depth to parents navigating the homeschool journey. I also offer academic tutoring, SAT prep, transcript assistance, and college coaching for schooled and homeschooled kids. When I talk to parents now, I differentiate between homeschooling as a philosophy and journey and COVID homeschooling. To be fair to these parents, they are just trying their best to figure things out. They do not realize all the nuances and implications that you so aptly express in your post. So I have decided that a) I cannot save the world. b) I cannot help everyone and c) I will charge a reasonable fee for my time and expertise.

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  4. “a powerful springboard to regain freedoms that aren’t achievable within the education system.” Love this! I’m a former public school teacher who transitioned with my children to become a mentor of independent learners. Do I still mentor traditionally educated youth? Of course, but I can see the difference and feel the freedom that homeschoolers have to define their path. I do teach both, but the homeschoolers tend to take away more agency and self-reliance from our time together.

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  5. Thank you for this post! I was starting to feel crazy and guilty for not being able to help. I want to help my public school friends but they aren’t looking for the answers I have. This post helped to put that into perspective.
    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I definitely saw this happening in the spring when things shut down. It will be interesting to see how things go in the fall. You are so right about typically years going into developing the mindset/culture of homeschooling. Of course there are always some homeschooling parents who unexpectedly jump in in due to special circumstances, and perhaps more of those will come because of COVID-19 and stay because they love it, but I think your take on this generally is spot on. I’m glad there is a pod / micro-school movement because that is going to address what these parents want better than homeschooling (which is obviously what they do NOT want).

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