When you become a homeschooling family, one of the things you immediately look for is a supportive, helpful, encouraging homeschool community. Because that’s the purpose of a community. One could say that encouragement and support is a homeschool community’s job.
Homeschool community, you had one job.
And sometimes, homeschool community? You’re failing at that job.
Let’s be honest. I mean, like brutally, painfully honest. The homeschool community can be a very challenging group of people to encounter.
The homeschool community can be a group of “open-minded” people who really aren’t.
It’s the people who say “teach your kids the way that works best for your family” while suggesting fourteen different reasons why the way you’re doing it is wrong.
The homeschool community includes a lot of:
- unschoolers who say you aren’t unschooly enough,
- homeschoolers who say you aren’t structured enough,
- people who want to fight about curriculum, co-op wars, what you should expose or not expose your kids to,
- people who want to argue if the term homeschooling can be used interchangably with unschooling,
- people who openly argue if school should even be part of our title because we should all know that school is that evil place where children go to rot and wither away.
The homeschool community is a group of people that are supposed to help and uphold and support you, but many of us shy away from because we feel anything but help and support when we’re in it.
A homeschool community should be supportive.
The bickering in the homeschooling community is exhausting. And frankly, completely pointless and downright stupid.
For awhile, it was hard to be a blogger/author/speaker voice in the homeschool community. I spent a lot of time explaining who I was and who I was not. I would be doing my thing, living life the way it worked for us, trying to talk about this huge middle ground of homeschoolers that I honestly believe exists…but I would often get muffled out by the screams of the extremists on either end.
And don’t get me wrong. I don’t care if you’re a radical unschooler or an ultra conservative Christian homeschooler. That’s great. Seriously, it is!
I mean, you do you. That’s kind of the point of homeschooling.
But can we all just have a voice as homeschoolers and stop worrying about where we are on the spectrum of how it’s done?
Can we just do our thing the way it works for us without being so prideful about our homeschooling that we drive other people away?
Here’s the thing, dear homeschool community.
I’m not sure if we all want to accept this, but we’re all more alike than we want to admit.
We all took our kids out of school (or didn’t send them in the first place) for whatever our specific reason was. Do you understand that simple fact—that our kids aren’t in public school—makes us all part of the same camp? Why are we setting up little separate tents around little separate bonfires?
There was a time I wanted to stop writing about homeschooling. I wanted to pull out of the community because sometimes it didn’t feel like my voice would ever be heard amongst all the bickering and judgment and arguing.
I got frustrated. I wanted to pick up all my toys and go home. I wanted to quit.
A certain eldest son of mine reminded me that I can’t just stop talking because everyone else is louder, and that by keeping silent, I’m not helping the people who need to hear what I have to say.
He reminded me that when the middle stops talking, people stop believing it exists. And the middle is huge so it needs to be heard!
We don’t need people in the middle to start thinking they are wrong.
We don’t need people in the middle to think if they haven’t picked a side, they’ve screwed up.
We don’t need anyone thinking they have to be one place or the other.
Dearest homeschool community, we don’t have to be one place or the other.
We just need to be where we are. We need to start supporting each other, regardless of whether we’re in the middle or on the very edges of the homeschool community. We need to learn to get along with people who teach and learn and live differently.
Because all of our kids are watching.
A homeschool community is meant to support each other.
A homeschool community should be full of friends who can help each other.
A homeschool community is meant to encourage us on the days we want to pull our hair out, and celebrate with us on the days we don’t.
Homeschool community, it’s time to start doing our job.