Homeschool Community: You Had One Job

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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…

** …and on. And on. And on.

If there is something to disagree about, there’s a good chunk of the homeschooling community that has figured out a way to bicker about it among themselves.

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 squabbling in the homeschooling community is exhausting. And frankly, completely pointless. Stupid, even.

Homeschool Community: Why Can't We Get Along? - The Hmmmschooling Mom

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.

Let's be honest, homeschool community: you had one job. And the judgement, bickering and mom-war type pride isn't helping you get the job done.

Have you read my book The Homeschool Highway: How to Navigate Your Way Without Getting Carsick? You should. You totally should. You can get it for Kindle or in paperback.


23 thoughts on “Homeschool Community: You Had One Job”

  1. Unicorns Rock! You are so spot on. For a group of people who aren't accepted by mainstreem society, we sure can get judgy to our own kind. Golden Rule people, that's all I have to say. Oh, and I <3 you so much!

  2. I have to admit, I think I'm heading in the direction you were when you stopped blogging. Homeschooling isn't all it was supposed to be. It isn't the utopia where everyone gets along, where everyone agrees to let each do their own thing without being nasty about it (eye rolling, "humph"-ing, talking behind your back, etc.). And then I remembered, people are PEOPLE, no matter what group they are associated with. There will always be the busy-body, the gossip-spreader, the instigator, the know-it-all (the compulsive giggler) just about wherever there are more than three people gathered. And as much as I still think that we can benefit from our own homeschooling group, there is a time, and probably not too far off in the future, that we will end up going back to being just HOMEschoolers, as in, NOT belonging to a group. Isn't that one of the reasons homeschoolers decided to be homeschoolers? To get OUT of the group (i.e. public schooling).

    Ok, my rant is over. But glad to see you're back. Even if it's just for this post 🙂

  3. Thank you for this. Yes, I was just ripped apart in an unschool group because I won't let my 5 year old son have food dyes. Food dyes turn my beautiful, loving, gentle little boy into a uncontrollable rage monster who could very well injure his sister, our beloved fur babies, or himself. He would be devastated after the fact because he adores his sissy and the animals.I am too controlling because he knows what his body needs. It made me want to just throw up my hands and quit.

    1. I had this same experience with my daughter when she was younger. Why would someone rip you apart over this? The group of moms who I knew at the time saw the struggle that I was going through and even asked before they brought certain treats and showed concern at birthday parties. Food dye aversions are seriously crazy.

      I’ve been homeschooling for nine years, and I’ve never experienced any of what the article is talking about in any of my homeschool groups. Maybe some people think those things, but no one has ever said them to me.

  4. Amen! It can be a tough community. As a blogger (and homeschool mom), I struggle to find my place in the homeschool blogging community. I don't make printables or have tons of useful resources on my blog and I probably never will. I'm glad I found you! And I'm glad you're still blogging. 🙂

  5. I have to tell you that I didn't read you before you left, (didn't know about you) but I think I understand where you are coming from. I belonged to a homeschool group that absolutely imploded. There was gossip, their "inclusive" nature made non-traditional families into outcasts, as well as people who didn't use their curriculum choices. I was looked down on because I use an online curriculum (Time4Learning, which works amazing well for my ADHD/gifted daughter) and because I didn't make her write/do copy work/worksheets. The most painful part of the implosion is that several of my daughter's friends were on the "other side" when the group fell apart, and those parent's refused to let their children associate with the children on the other side. So adult pettiness resulted in hurt children. Part of the homeschool creed is to "do what is right for our children", yet sometimes the community doesn't allow that to happen. I support your homeschooling choices, even if they don't match mine, maybe because they don't match mine! Hurray for the folks in the middle! And a high five for your 11 year old…wise beyond years!

  6. Unfortunately so true in too many instances. :sigh: We no longer participate in homeschool groups and rarely go on field trips with others. Not that outside of homeschooling groups things are always wonderful either…But we’ve found that a core group of friends with our family is all that we need to be socially happy. And field trips are just more fun on OUR schedule! LOL

  7. :applause: Despite homeschooling for 18 years, I still get judged for sending my high schoolers to private school. And heaven help me when I admit that I have sent most of my kids to PS for K because I freaking hate teaching kindergarten. It’s like I’m not cool enough for the rest of the herd any more.

  8. AMEN!
    I never really incountered this since I retired long ago. (My baby is 25yo)However, long ago, the fighters were squelched by the rest of us, so we all behaved and the fighters just lost out. How did this change?
    My six kiddos are all doing well. So I did it right. But I am SURE I would have done it differently, had I been exposed to the fighters.
    And maybe not succeeded…

  9. Yes, how ironic to be ostracized for non-conformity from a group that is as far outside the mainstream as homeschoolers are?

    We’ve been homeschooling for 10 years and have moved in and out of various groups. Right now I don’t really even associate with any homeschooling families, which is sad. But I’ve found at this point it’s not really necessary. We don’t fit the conservative Christian mold that seems to dominate the community we live in and it’s easier for us to not try and be a part of those groups.

    I wish my kids had more homeschooling friends. They still think homeschooling is weird. I think a group of homeschooling friends would make them feel less odd. But we’re surviving without a homeschooling community.

  10. I stumbled upon this and I am just bewildered. I homeschooled for 16 years in 2 different states and was part of at least 4 homeschool groups, and this was just never our experience. Did I just happen to find really great groups? Was all this really going on and I was just blissfully oblivous? Has homeschooling changed that much in the last 4 years since I’ve been done? I don’t know. But this sure makes me sad that this is what people experience. The closest I came to a taste of what you’re talking about was when my oldest decided to get married at 18. Suddenly we found ourselves the subject of everyone’s “prayer list” and that was a real treat. But otherwise….I don’t know…there were a few negative people that I just stayed away from, but overall our experience was wonderful and we have lifelong friendships from those years.

    1. thehmmmschoolingmom

      I *really* think it depends where you’re homeschooling. I had a friend who moved here from another state who said the homeschooling culture here was SO unfriendly and judgmental than the homeschooling culture she’d come from. 🙁 It has also been suggested to me that as homeschooling has become more socially acceptable, this has actually gotten worse. As in, when homeschooling was more of a rarity or a “fringe” thing, homeschoolers actually had to stick together to get through.

  11. Brilliant, Amy. I get this more among my local community than the online community. Mostly because if I see a post or comment getting judgy, I just stop reading. Here’s to the middle!

  12. We tried a few homeschool groups, but nothing really fit well for us. It was sad because I’m an introvert by nature so actually getting out is hard for me anyway and I’m always worried for my VERY extroverted 6 year old. So far he’s been cool having playtime and parties with his public school friends and we will probably try again. But after being told that I’m not unschool-enough to be part of the unschooling group (gasp we do worksheets) and not conformist enough for the charter school moms, I kinda gave up.

  13. Thank you so much for writing this article. I have been feeling so discouraged lately, wondering if there are other people like me, that don’t fit in with either extreme. I feel encouraged now that there are others out there who fit somewhere in the middle and I will keep looking for them.

    1. It makes my heart happy that you found this article. The middle ground is SOOOO big, but no one talks about anything but the extremes. You’ve got a friend here, Debbie!! There are tons of people just like you. 🙂

  14. When we moved to our current home eight years ago we were excited that there were so many homeschoolers in the area. The local library has a homeschool group that meets once a month. We thought this would be a great opportunity for our daughter and us to socialize with other homeschoolers. Boy were we disappointed! The library staff is great but he kids will not talk to our daughter and the parents won’t talk to us. They act like we are not even there. It was like being in public school and not fitting in. It sucked and hurt.

  15. After 5 years, I finally figured out that if you call yourself a relaxed homeschool mom, you’re good. The sweet spot in the middle is so broad that I don’t get criticized anymore for not being a true unschool mom or a good homeschool mom that does it with any other style. Relaxed homeschool moms are in-between. I am in-between. I finally fit in and I am finally doing it right.

  16. I’m new to your blog and I have read a few posts that hit home. I’ll comment on this one ? I haven’t belonged to a support group for probably 6-7 years. And I don’t even care. It consisted of super snobby women telling this extremely eclectic mom I was doing things wrong. I went to a church of homeschoolers too (different ones than in my support group) and they all were over achieving robot parents and kids. I also know unschoolers who shun any curriculum. Ugh, all of it is gross.

    I decided to just take classes in my community. So my kids did soccer, karate, horse lessons, etc. I stayed away from church people and support groups. If I had questions, I bounced them off my homeschool mommy friend. The thing is that my life and kids is not like most. I have a child with autism, a child with major depression disorder, and another child who loves everything! So what works for other moms is different than what works for me. I got tired of the spanking talks, the curriculum pushing, or even the evil stares for using a curriculum at all! It made me crazy inside so I silenced all of that by avoiding groups altogether. If I need help, I look on the internet and make wise choices with my own family. Who needs another person whispering in my ear???

    Anyway, this year I put my oldest in 2 public schooled classes. I’m liking the shared time with the public school and I also do a co-op which is really low pressure too. I found my thing and I’m happier for it.

  17. I forgot to add–I blog as well and I thought about blogging about homeschool and then decided against it. Probably because most homeschool moms drive me nuts. Lol, no offense.

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