It has not always been this way.
I have homeschooled at least one child (if not several) going on 15 years and have loved nearly every minute of it. For our family, it has been an extension of a lifestyle and relationships that we have built our family values on.
But right this moment, the prevailing culture surrounding what has been a small, fringe community is oppressive, frustrating, and contentious. I have been completely blind-sided by this new development.
One moment, we were traipsing through museums and historical sites, participating in classes at nature and science centers and attending co-ops. The next thing I know, all these things were shuttered and life came to a screeching halt. Our expansive and rich learning environment was reduced to 4 walls, books, devices and television. As we struggled to regain some composure, public school parents began logging onto “Homeschool” Facebook Groups in droves. They believed two things about their own circumstances.
They thought because they were now virtual, public-schooling in their houses, they had become overnight ‘homeschoolers’. Not even close. They simply changed the location of their education.
They also thought that because we, as homeschoolers, were free of school rules and school administrators, that all our activities were still wide open – as if we were impervious to the virus. They wanted to know how to join in on ‘homeschooling activities’. We were all in the middle of the same crisis and some of us have found their intrusion confounding.
It has been hard to understand why they aren’t turning to their public school friend groups and giving each other support.
I felt like we had been in a plane crash. Suddenly, some people showed up who had been in a boat wreck. They wanted help. They wanted us to provide resources and camaraderie. When we suggested they go back to the site of their own wreck, provide help for themselves and their own people and salvage what they could, we were accused of being, snotty, elitist and judgmental. This did not endear us to them at all.
As this year and months have progressed, the schism has widened and fractured into even more upsetting fragments. Homeschoolers have historically been a community that has been mocked and made the butt of many jokes. We’ve been grilled in public, and our kids have been quizzed by neighbors and relatives and NOW EVERYONE wants OUR HELP. As a group, we shared many memes early on to ease our mounting frustrations. The humor of it wore off quickly.
We are closing in on another school year and it is only getting worse. We have encouraged people to find support systems that match their needs. Many want ‘certified teachers’, PODS and ‘accredited curriculums’, but are either too lazy, overwhelmed or righteous to see that they need a very different support group. We have been told that our community needs to give up the word ‘homeschooler’.
Many of them are angry that most of us don’t care about ‘keeping up with the public school system’. Many of us believe the public school system is failing and we are uninterested in their methods and paradigm. Many log onto to our groups, ask questions and when they don’t like the answers become belligerent. It has become increasing unpleasant.
If you are reading this and you are considering pulling your kids out of school for a time and plan to jump back in when ‘this is all over’, form a group for that! If you want to form a POD and hire a teacher, please find exactly what you need to do that. I support your decision. You will all have the same cares and concerns. Please do not be angry with us for NOT sharing your particular cares and concerns.
If you are someone who is headed towards homeschooling and you have gotten caught up in the tidal wave of COVID-schoolers, I am sorry. Our community is being stretched and we wish we could sort you out. Like I said, it’s hard. You are clearly at a disadvantage.
If you are OG, I have your back. I’m with you. This will hopefully pass and we can go back to quietly living the unique and beautiful lifestyle we had, living and learning alongside our kids.