The Changing Face of Home Schoolers

Have you heard the one about….?

I have always loved the funny lists that people come up with under the heading “You Might Be a Homeschooler If …” I found some great ones recently on ChristianTeens.net. Here are a few of my favorites:

… you come to school in your PJs.

… your school bus is a nine-passenger van.

… your teacher has ever written your report card on a napkin.

… you get to school and the teacher asks you if you’ve done your chores.

In fifteen years of home schooling, I have seen a lot of trends come and go. Let us see how you score on my quiz.

1. As a home schooler, your wardrobe consists primarily of

a. denim jumpers

b. t-shirts and jeans

c. slacks and tailored blouses

d. any of the above

2. At the home school convention you attend, the parking lot contains

a.  VW vans with flowers on the side

b. minivans

c. sports cars

d. all of the above

3. Your predominant teaching methodology is

a. classical

b. unit studies

c. textbook

d. any of the above

4. Your primary reason for home schooling is

a. to protect your child from a bully with a switchblade

b. academic excellence unmatched by public or private school

c. to raise your child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord

d. any of the above

5. In your home, the television set

a. stays on 24/7 as background noise

b. jumps back and forth between the History Channel and Discovery Science

c. was sold at a garage sale three years ago

d. any of the above

6. Your idea of family night is

a. reading aloud from Little Women

b. a rousing game of Lord of the Rings Trivial Pursuit

c. popcorn and “The Incredibles” on DVD

d. any of the above

If you answered anything but “d. any/all of the above,” you have not been to a home school convention in a while! There was a time when you could spot a lone home schooler in a crowd of a hundred people, but that is no longer the case. There is no longer such a thing as a stereotypical home schooler, even on the hallowed ground of a home school convention. You can no longer locate a lost child’s family by finding the eight other people wearing exactly the same outfit. Dad is at the convention not because Mom dragged him there but because he may be the primary stay-at-home teacher. Convention speakers have snazzy PowerPoint presentations for their workshops, where today’s home schooler takes notes on her handy notebook computer. Lunchtime chatter is not just about what to do with a toddler while trying to teach your six-year-old; now you overhear conversations about home-based business, UIL participation, and what to do with a toddler while trying to teach your six-year-old. (Okay, some things will always be the same …). My point is that the face of home schooling is changing. The question is, “How do we deal with these changes?”

I have seen firsthand the “new generation” of home schoolers. I find that people are choosing this lifestyle for a variety of reasons and are approaching it from many different perspectives. How can we meet the needs of the growing population of home schoolers? Veteran home schoolers should strive to inform and to assist. We can inform new home schoolers by sharing with them some of what we have learned in our years of home schooling. We can educate them about teaching methods, learning styles, lesson plans, and organization. We can introduce them to the wide variety of curricula available. Then we can assist them by helping them to determine what will work in their family. One of the most important things we can share with this new generation of home schoolers is the vision of the pioneering home schooling families that won for our state the great freedom that affords all home schoolers the same right to teach their children at home.

In reality, there is no such thing as a stereotypical home schooling family–we have always been a community of families with individual needs. The best way to serve new home schoolers is to help them find the educational situation that will fit their needs. This is true of all home schoolers no matter what they wear, what they drive, or even why they choose to teach their children at home. It behooves the home schooling community as a whole to strive for excellence. Let us look to the “new generation” of home schoolers with positive anticipation for what they can bring to our community. Let us reach out a helping hand and mentor them so that our community will grow stronger.

Mary James – has written 14 posts on this site.
Mary James has a heart for those parents who are new to home schooling or in the process of making that decision. She is the mother of eight children, and is currently homeschooling the seven who are still school age. Mary serves on the Texas Home School Coalition Board of Directors and is the president and cofounder of of Smoothing the Way, a support group to inform and encourage those who have decided to take on the exciting, yet sometimes daunting, task of educating their own children. Mary and her family live in Bastrop, Texas.

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