For years, we belonged to a local homeschooling group.
At that time–1998– it was the only group in our area. It was invaluable when I was in those first days of homeschooling, unsure of what I was doing or if I was going to ruin my kids. The families there gave me hope.
I wasn’t alone.
My kids wouldn’t turn out (too) weird.
But things change.
Groups change, and ours sure did, not for the better. What had at first been my support system (and thank God for it!) became something much more superficial. The relationships there hit a certain point and then didn’t deepen. My kids still didn’t have all that many friends, mostly because all the families were like ours– very busy and not looking to add anything new to their schedules.
I also realized that my kids only knew one type of kid: the homeschooled, ultra-conservative Christian kind. Not that this is a bad thing, but it’s certainly not “real life.”
What I found from being affiliated with one group is that we never looked beyond that group. Making the choice to leave was like waking up to reality. When I lost my support, I realized I hadn’t been all that grounded in my own convictions. We had operated within the popular (for our area) homeschooling box because it was the only example we had seen of homeschooling.
We opted not to find a new group for a few years. We did our own thing, made friends as we went along, and served others without regarding their faith or lack of it, or whether or not they homeschooled their kids. And we grew stronger together, outside of the typical Christian homeschooling box.
As a couple, my husband and I have a number of friends who don’t homeschool, and many of those are not believers either. I can hear the collective *GASP* happening now. Bear with me.
A new season began. We connected with a family at church a couple of years ago, who invited us to a co-op. It is a Christian homeschool co-op, but much more inclusive than the other group that we had belonged to. Many of the co-op members also belong to the big local group, but this co-op has a different feel to it. One of love and connection, belonging and inclusion, even for our special needs kids.
I follow a local newsletter from a mom who puts together field trips for local homeschoolers–ALL homeschoolers. We join in on some of the offerings from time to time, and always enjoy it. A new co-0p opportunity came through this newsletter that we decided to take advantage of…one that is secular in nature. Again with the gasping! Cool it will ya?
When you step out of the mainstream and begin homeschooling, you may not recognize when you jump into another box. Now we are branching out. The boys and I are making new friends and trying new things.
We joined a homeschool history co-op that is the combined effort of two County 4-H clubs. Many of the families are Christian, but not all. The curriculum consists of lots (and lots!) of hands-on projects, all following a Medieval Times theme. Again we found acceptance, connection, belonging, and inclusion.
God doesn’t fit in categories or cliques, and if you never venture from your safe Christian circles, how will you be the hands of Christ extended?
How have you stepped OUT of the box with your kids since beginning homeschooling?