I’m a veteran homeschooler – that means I’ve been around the homeschooling community for a while now – 15+ years. I’ve seen some trends… come….and go. Some for the better…. And some for the worse.
I want to talk about a trend I’m seeing now … and it’s for the worse….so I’m hoping that by writing about it we can change it for the better.
When I first started on my homeschooling journey the reason I even knew homeschooling was an option to look at was the homeschooling community where I lived was thriving! You could find them everywhere! There were organizations, support groups, and yes the beginnings of some online groups – I’m not THAT old!
They all got together regularly so you could ask questions, enjoy watching other homeschool kids interact (when you first start out this is important) and most importantly you could learn to relax – again another important aspect along the homeschooling journey.
Here was my experience, back in the day. I had friends – close friends – that I homeschooled with – what did that mean – that meant we talked on the phone often – sometimes daily. We got together for coffee sometimes weekly at the very least monthly. Our kids took homeschool coop classes together and we were always discussing what topic we should do next. We chatted about curriculum and schedules and most importantly what was working and what wasn’t. We did field trips together and took pictures of our kids doing things together – sometimes academic but sometimes just fun things.
We had a weekly Mug Up where one mom would host in her home and have the coffee on so the Mom’s could chat while the kids played — all day — there were always tears at these gatherings, usually from Moms, and lots of laughter both from Moms and kids. Some say that they wouldn’t of made it through homeschooling without these gatherings.
Is the homeschooling trend that I’m talking about the fact that homeschooling communities are not thriving – on the contrary! There are more organizations, support groups and online groups than ever before!!
So what’s the problem then?
The problem is in connecting with each other.
The trend I’m seeing – at least where I am – is everyone is connected …. But they are connected online.
And no that is not the same.
Lots of homeschool communities but no “community”.
There is no more face to face – where you see someone’s eyes glisten over when they talk about their struggle to reach their child on a certain subject.
There are no heart to heart phone calls where the other person is at the end of the rope and they call that one person they know that can talk them off the ledge or sending that kid on the yellow school bus the next day.
You see I’m in the unique situation where my kids are 8 years apart – so although most of those people I journeyed with in the beginning have now graduated their kids as I have my oldest. I still have a 12 year old and this is what we are experiencing now. We have no friends – well we have lots of “friends” but no close friends or “the” friend. We have no one whom we homeschool “with”. Everyone is doing their own things – they might come out for an activity or two (if I organize it) but generally …. They are busy …doing their own things….
My cell phone (because who has a landline now) rarely rings – yes I might get a text or two – or lots of Facebook messages – but rarely are these of the “talk me off my ledge” type conversations.
Getting together for coffee or tea is a rarity – every 3-4 months and then it’s all that pent up “needing connection” comes spilling out so it’s rarely relaxing or productive.
Coop classes – the last one we did – I organized and I was the only “teacher” – if we do homeschool classes now it’s through a homeschool board who organizes them and hires the instructors. Not that there is anything wrong with that – but I miss the homeschooling Mom (or Dad – because yah back in the day Dad’s were all about sharing their knowledge too) who is passionate about a subject passing along well… their passion!
Curriculum and schedules get “pinned” now and if something is working we are happy to share it on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook but if it’s not … hmmm we don’t see those posts, so my only conclusion is we suffer silently in our homes with no one to reach out to.
Field trips are organized by the venue now and although I’m thrilled to see Homeschooler Days at the Science Centres and Museums I see homeschoolers there who don’t have relationships with each other.
The kids make friends … for the day, but they rarely see each other again unless it’s happenstance.
And I have to conclude that Mug Up is what I miss most of all – yes I’ve hosted a few but the baton was never picked up – “My home isn’t big enough”, “What if no one comes”, “I don’t drink coffee”. And it wouldn’t even bother me so much if I knew that at least they were getting together with others – but I don’t hear that – and that is what bothers me.
So why is this important? It’s important because support – real support, is important! So. Important.
I don’t think the homeschooling journey is the same without relationships. Real relationships for both the parents and the children. Someone they can say “we homeschool with them”.
So here is my challenge to you (and me). Call someone in your homeschool community that you’ve “connected” with at some level. Invite them over for whatever beverage you all agree on 😉 Have a conversation with them that starts with “how’s it going, how is it REALLY going?” Let the kids play. If everyone has a good time and found it “refreshing” commit to doing it at again soon – at least monthly if not weekly. Meet at different places – do other things together. Invite others to join you.
The technology we have is FABULOUS! It makes information and connectivity available to us at our fingertips – BUT it does not and should not EVER replace real living relationships with each other and that is as important in our homeschooling journey as it is in all aspects of our lives.
Homeschooling Support! So. Important.
Lori Desrosiers is a veteran homeschooling mom in Alberta who is hoping that you take the time to make more real homeschooling connections with people in your community.