The Changing Homeschool Landscape

Photo credit: Bournagain via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Bournagain via Flickr (CC-By-SA 2.0)

 

The local homeschool conference last month was an opt-out year for many homeschoolers, including myself.  There may be some answers in a recently-published article, “A Shift in the Homeschooling Movement.”

His contention is basically that the moral failure of home school leaders of the previous generation, combined with big curriculum fairs, is lowering attendance at local home school groups and conferences. To be honest, I was neither aware of the moral failure scandals, nor did I recognize the names of anyone mentioned in the article. My homeschool journey, and that of many other currently homeschooling moms I know, is completely unaffected by whatever former “leaders” may be saying or doing. But I have noticed that many Christian homeschooling families in my circles, did decide not to attend our local state homeschool conference. They cited reasons ranging from the total financial burden of the conference to other time commitments, and wondering if there was enough value in the workshop offerings and vendor booths to make up for both the cost and time.

From my perspective, here’s what may be changing on the homeschool landscape:

Who are home school families today?

Homeschooling is no longer mostly conservative Christians who home-educate for primarily religious education or out of moral concerns.  All kinds of families–traditional and single-parent, religious and agnostic– are now interested in homeschooling. They are seeking out home schooling for  reasons primarily regarding concerns over quality of education in the public school system, but also sometimes due to bullying, special needs, family schedule, or child-specific academic problems.

Even Christian families are doing so out of quality-of-education concerns as much as or more so than religious or moral issues.

In addition, I think the largest difference in Christian circles, at least, is that today’s homeschooling moms are actually second-generation home schoolers.  We who were the home schooled children of the 1980′s now have school-aged children of our own. This is true for both my husband and myself, home schooled at various points in our childhoods. We, along with our other Second Gen peers, don’t feel a need for the “How to Get Started” seminars, or the “Help! I’m feeling overwhelmed” groups. Instead, we just started curriculum hunting when our oldest was a baby. Having a realistic idea of what homeschooling requires of our family and our schedule, we now just need the “stuff” not the “how”.

Since we feel fairly confident, it is Second Gen home schoolers who are currently serving as mentors of a sort for newbies and those considering homeschooling. A mentor isn’t quite the word, though, so perhaps it’s cheerleaders. We can say to the new homeschoolers, “There are X, Y, and Z options for what you’re needing. Check out their websites!”  And we can give an idea of what a parent might need to do to obtain a high school diploma, for example, simply from our experience or that of our homeschooled friends.

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Source: Caffeinated Thoughts | 

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