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Out of the Box Homeschooling

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?

Dawn P The Momma Knows

The Momma Knows

 

Dawn (24 Posts)

Dawn is still happily homeschooling after 16 years. She teaches her two sons, 13 & 11, enjoying every minute of "the second time around". She lives in Eastern Washington with her husband, the youngest 2 of their 6 kids, and an assortment of barking, squeaking, and clucking critters. She writes at her homeschool/parenting blog The Momma Knows and her new chapter, Dawn Marie Perkins. You can also find her on Twitter @DawnMPerkins, , and Pinterest.


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Comments

  1. Your confession didn’t make me gasp at all. I’m in the same boat, sort of. I belong to a Christian homeschooling email list and local group, but we don’t have any close friends in it. Our friends are all either public school Christians or non-Christians. I’m not entirely sure why, except that they seem to be more comfortable with us than homeschooling Christians are. Having grown up in a Christian home and speaking the language (so to speak), I’m really baffled by the whole thing. But I love my friends, and they know I love them, and that’ll just have to do, I guess. I don’t know if you could call what we do ‘out of the box’, since we didn’t know there was a box! :-)

  2. Thanks Cindy! :) The box I’m referring to is the one that most typical Christian homeschoolers fall into and never venture back out of. It is healthy and good to have friends and connections from all walks of life, outside of your specific group or church affiliations. We are loving this new season for us!

  3. That is one thing I have tried to make sure of, that we never get in a box. I want my children to know people of all different backgrounds, public, private and homeschooled.

  4. Thank you for sharing freedom. It’s always tough dealing with people who can’t see past the end of their noses, especially when among homeschoolers. We need to be supportive of one another no matter what style of homeschooling (or unschooling).

  5. I love this message as it is exactly what has gone on in my experience with Homeschooling. Thank you for putting the idea out there that it is okay to associate with all types of homeschoolers. I hope people hear it after they stop gasping;)!

    • Anna-Marie: You hit the issue right on the head– that it’s OKAY to associate with all types of homeschoolers! I can’t tell you how many times I have heard homeschool moms say that they don’t want their kids around “those public schoolers”, or that unschoolers will make their kids not want to do their math, or whatever. The judgments fly in all directions. It really is okay for our kids to know people outside of our comfortable circles, given pur supervision and involvement.

  6. We have a bunch of groups that we participate in. Most are Christian in nature (our church and two local co-ops), but our kids also attend a co-op and arts center where there are hired “experts” which teach electives – and those kids are all from different walks of life – secular and Christian alike. Of course, our family is diverse, too. It isn’t hard to find ways to mingle with the world. Volunteering to help the community is another way to do it. :)

    • An arts center? That sounds really neat! I wish we had something like that here. This is one of the things I LOVE about homeschooling– we don’t HAVE TO do one thing or another– we’re able to take advantage of community offerings when ever they fit our school times.

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