To the world outside of homeschooling, it is hard to define the “normal homeschooler”. Is it a family who raises chickens and who milks their own cows?
Is it a family who believes in the conveniences of city life or a family that loves fast food?
Is it a family that loves homesteading and eating only organic or is it a family who loves traveling?
We know as homeschoolers we embrace families from all backgrounds as the norm.
Satellite Schools, Cyber Schools, Independent Study Programs – Homeschooling?
More important, we understand the one common weave among so many different homeschooling families is that we all respect the right we have as parents to make the educational choices for our children.
However, as important as that choice is, it can cause quite a bit of stir in the homeschooling community to define what is real homeschooling.
Too, many new homeschoolers are joining our ranks by the hundreds and bringing with them their definition of what they may feel is homeschooling.
It is important to not only sharpen their definition of homeschooling but to remind us as veterans what is real homeschooling especially if we have seen times when homeschooling was not so freely allowed.
For example, when I was a high school freshman in public school, I got real sick and was homebound for a year.
Some people have never heard of being homebound.
My mom was not homeschooling at that time and we understood as a family that learning at home was an exception made for me because of my health. I would have to do my public school work at home.
I was simply changing the location of where I did my school.
My lessons were issued by the teacher and my parents had no say over the lessons I did and also, like a public school, the cost was free.
Did I consider myself homeschooled then? Absolutely not. Just being at home did not make me a homeschooler.
There are two very fundamental things that define what is real homeschooling.
The first significant factor is that all teaching is parent-led or parent directed.
You notice, I did not say all teaching is parent taught.
It does not have to be and that becomes important as you homeschool the upper grades where you may want to receive some outside help.
Classes offered online, private tutors, co-ops and homeschool events are all chosen by the parent.
The way a parent uses a homeschool co-op too, for example, can be quite controversial today though it wasn’t that way before I started homeschooling.
I didn’t take my son out of public school to only enroll him in a 5 day “homeschool” co-op which was ran more like a private school.
I would be exchanging one task master for another had I put my son in a 5 day homeschooling co-op.
All I really would be doing would be enrolling my son in a private school and “helping” him with his homework.
I could see the difference in using a homeschooling co-op to supplement and add enrichment and relinquishing all teaching over to somebody else.
The second important point of what is real homeschooling I touched on briefly and that is you are free of public school or governmental control.
If you are newer to homeschooling, you may not fully appreciate the bristling of homeschooling parents who when they hear a family solely using a free, government backed, full online public school say that they are homeschoolers.
The second definition is not meant to put homeschoolers at odds but it is to remind all of us of our homeschooling roots and what we hold dear when it comes to homeschooling unencumbered.
Homeschooling options, like having cyber schools, have changed tremendously even since I started homeschooling.
This is a good thing because it allows more families to homeschool. However, even with online schools, there is almost always an option to choose what is not free.
Why would a family make that choice? Because free for online public schools is not really free. You are giving up something.
Free of charge is different than freedom to educate in the way you feel is right for your family.
Homebound, Co-op or Public School at Home – Homeschooling?
Free for a lot of online public school means you are required to test, “attend” online parent teacher conference, join in live classes and more than not have a workload that has taken some homeschoolers 6 or more hours to complete.
More importantly, you are not picking and choosing the lesson planning day to day.
I have helped numerous new homeschoolers get out of on line schools because they thought they would be stress free to only find out that again, they have exchanged one taskmaster in public school for another one online.
Though free may sound inviting in the beginning, you are given up something else valuable, which is the right for your children’s education to be parent-led or directed.
This does not mean that online schools are to be avoided but it means that you want to maintain control over what your children learn day to day.
Most online schools or boxed curriculum providers have options for you to pay for the program as well or to enroll in their “free” program.
If it does not have an option for you to pay for the program then it is just an online public school.
Did you know that some states only consider a family homeschooling by law if it’s parent funded and parent directed? Even they recognize the two fundamental differences.
Using outside sources is for sure part of homeschooling, but turning over full control of your children’s education has not ever been a definition of what is real homeschooling.
In sharing today, I am encouraging you to value and to not give up so easily the time tested methods that have worked for years and years in graduating well-educated children.
Giving over control of your homeschool changes the dynamics of your homeschooling and it’s worth every effort to be sure our homeschooling stays parent-led.
What about you? Do you think the dynamics of homeschooling has changed over the last few years?
Hugs and love ya,