I have been networking in homeschooling circles for eight years now, in this geographic area where I live. I am starting to see some cycles which I think is typical but it feels weird to experience.
As a newbie to homeschooling and as a person with young children I looked up to those who had older children and were more experienced than me. I got to know some homeschoolers in the area, some as friends and others as acquaintances. We also have a 140+ member local email chat list for homeschoolers that live in this part of my state, so I have cyber-homeschooling friends who live close by as well, who I never see in person.
There was a point when the community was pretty stable with some newcomers entering the scene and things remaining the same with the people with older children still homeschooling and acting as mentors to those of us with younger children.
Now a few families I know are either moving out of state or quitting homeschooling and it feels weird. I know it is not a realistic expectation that every child who is homeschooled will remain homeschooled until college admission. Still, it feels weird when a person who I considered my mentor and an inspiration stops homeschooling and their children enter school. Since each of the families had spoken negatively about various issues with schools in the past it feels weird to now have them accept the school admission and to even be happy with it. One family whose formerly homeschooled children have been in school for two or three years now actually speaks pretty highly of the schools (which is especially interesting for me to hear as they live in my same town).
I also know two families in which the mother wanted to homeschool but the father was more skeptical. Interestingly in one family the children were homeschooled then schooled then homeschooled again then will return to school in the fall of 2006. In antoher family the children were schooled then homeschooled then were put back in school, and the mother still wishes she could homeschool them again. In both of those families the mother and father were not always in agreement about what was best for their individual family, their family dynamics, and for each child (as the personalities and learning issues with the different children give the families unique situations to handle).
I don’t judge anyone who chooses to stop homeschooling, for the record I want to state that so it is very clear.
Each family has different reasons for stopping homeschooling. I think each family must decide for themselves if it is right to continue homeschooling or if school is what is needed for their child(ren). I am not going to discuss the reasons why the families I know are stopping homeschooling as I feel that information is too personal for me to reveal on the Internet.
One family is on their third year in school right now and says all is well. Another family plans to put their two children in high school in the fall. Another family who is in their second year of homeschooling three children is moving out of state and putting the children in a charter school whose academic focus is in alignment with what she was doing with her homeschooling. Another friend who has homeschooled her children since birth entered her oldest child into private high school this year, as a freshman, and still homeschools her two younger children.
Another family with six children and one on the way recently moved 2000 miles away, so although they are still homeschooling, I still feel like I lost a friend, and my children lost a close friend. She is so busy with taking care of her children that maintaining a friendship via email or by phone is unlikely.
This morning I was feeling a bit sad that the homeschooling community is changing but then I realized that this is probably normal. I took for granted the new homeschoolers entering the scene and I guess I was thinking that the homeschooling community here was growing by leaps and bounds and that the trend was upward. It is only natural that some new people will enter the community while the experienced veterans may leave the community, so perhaps the community is actually not growing? I don’t have any statistics so I don’t know. (The way the law in Connecticut is written does not allow for the state to compile accurate records for counting the number of homeschooled children in the state.)
I am a homeschool support group leader. I have been helping other homeschoolers when they ask me for advice or information. I guess it is true, although it feels strange to say it, that I am a mentor for some of the newer homeschoolers. I still feel so ‘new’ to homeschooling that I am not comfortable calling myself a ‘veteran’ homeschooler!
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