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.