Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Homeschooling on the Rise

I'm always happy to hear of new secular homeschoolers out there. By that I don't necessarily mean parents who are atheists, but those who choose to homeschool for reasons other than religion. In other words, homeschooling families who are not ultra-conservative Christians. Today I read an article in the Daily Beast about the rise of homeschooling among urban, educated parents. Yay!

The author gives examples of several homeschooling moms who explained they decided to homeschool because of their fears of getting the "exhausted leftovers" at the end of the day if their kids were in regular school. This describes exactly what we had when Bonnie was in primary school. And not only did I miss her most alert hours, but her teachers, beginning in kindergarten, assigned regular homework that monopolized the few hours we had together as a family. As it became more apparent that she was receiving an inferior education during all those long hours at school, that assigned homework became even more of a sore point with me.

Another reason the author often heard for deciding to homeschool is "the desire to craft an education just right for each child." My kids didn't have to reach school age for me to see that they don't do many things exactly the same as each other, and the ways they learn are prime examples. Jack is five and a half and should technically be in kindergarten right now, which is all day in the schools here. There is no way that boy could sit in a classroom for six plus hours a day without something in him changing. He needs to touch the dirt, climb the trees, and run far more than he needs to learn his phonics now. (The phonics are coming, but slowly, much more slowly than with his big sister, and that's okay.) And on another spot of that spectrum is Bonnie, who sat very contentedly all day in public school, learning hardly anything, because her teachers had to spend so much time disciplining other students and trying their best to teach twenty-five students (all on different levels) the exact same thing. Fred falls somewhere in between the two, with the ability to sit and learn for long periods of time as long as he's interested in the material. But he also pees on couches, so traditional school would likely not be a good fit for him either.

As much as I enjoyed reading this article and hearing about the rise in educated parents joining in the homeschooling community, it's also a bittersweet reminder to me that this upward trend is in urban communities, a.k.a. not where I live. I don't have easy access to all those new co-ops and extracurricular activities here, and the local homeschooling community is still by and large comprised of evangelical families who are homeschooling for much different reasons than I am. The secular education I'm trying to give my kids is what they're trying to avoid by homeschooling.

For those of you who homeschool, are you in an urban area? Are you seeing the rise in co-ops and planned activities that don't involve field trips to the Creation Museum?


  1. There's a math and science school about 25 miles north; I'm going to have the kids attend their summer day camp this year. Otherwise, there's a whole tutoring network in the same city, but it advocates a "Christ-centered" teachings. Doh! How can algebra be "Christ-centered?"

    1. Maybe they only teach Bronze-Aged math concepts? Bonnie would love it!

  2. We are in the suburbs and homeschoolers are almost a dime a dozen!