Why I Don’t Participate in Homeschool Groups
A few events have happened recently that got me to thinking about why I have tapered off my participation in “official” homeschooling groups, and why I am currently group-free with no regrets.
- At the library, a few months ago, we stumbled upon a “free” homeschooling chess club. We gladly participated… but then the leader started pressuring me to come to the for-a-fee practices, and the official for-a-fee chess meets, trying to up our once-a-month participation in the group into a once-a-week commitment, if not more.
- A potential homeschooling dad called me the other day, asking about how I homeschool, and was really surprised to find that I don’t participate in an organized group.
- Most recently, my blogfriend, Julie, recently had a bad experience with a homeschool group.
I actually started attending groups even before I started hs’ing, with a friend of mine who had been at it for a couple of years. Over our five year of homeschooling, I have given serious effort into participating, mostly for my kids’ benefit. (Since I am an introvert by nature, I don’t feel a compelling need to get out and continually connect with other adults. I mean, I need it some times, but it’s not a driving force in how I organize my weeks and my homeschooling schedule.) I have participated in at least four different groups, and that’s not counting the handful of them that I visited once or twice.
In my experience, most of them devolve into petty political positioning, with seemingly everyone but me trying to weasel themselves in a place of power, and gathering to themselves lackeys who support
them as a person their particular stance.
Or, it becomes about popularity, which, in the homeschool world would be the family who actually digs the pit and roasts a pig while studying traditional Hawaiian luaus, or does their Eastern European unit study in eastern Europe. The rest of us who don’t have the time, energy or money to homeschool so lavishly just kind of stand around the sidelines and feel less-homeschooling-worthy-than-thou, shiftily gazing at our knees with nothing to contribute to the conversation.
Or, involvement becomes guilt-motivated. A group might initially present itself as, “Come one, come all! We’re here to help!” But then, in short order, it becomes, “Well, since you enjoy the benefits of this group, you really should be giving more of your time, energy and money to us.”
Or, it gets all religious, even in supposedly non-religious groups, or multi-denominational groups, with the leaders not-so-subtly promoting their particular ways and/or place of worship.
Due to one or more of the above reasons, I have been the unwilling participant in at least two different homeschooling group splits, which is perhaps even more petty, emotional and confusing than a church split.
Uh, no thanks. No thanks to all of it. I’ll find my friends and support elsewhere, thankyouverymuch. “Elsewhere,” for me, comes in the form of friendship and outings with individual homeschooling families, and the online support of similarly-minded homeschoolers, both from forums, curriculum websites, and blogs.
When I was just starting my homeschooling path, groups were helpful to me, if nothing else but to solidify, in my mind, how I did not want to homeschool. And, occasionally, I did get a few good, applicable ideas for my family. But, it seems like that groups are more like socialization opportunities for the adults, which I really don’t need. I have, by the grace of God, a good number of friends, whom I love very dearly — though virtually none of them homeschool…
That last sentence brings to mind another point: I think many homeschooling families too greatly shrink their perspectives, making every last detail drenched in Homeschooling World. While it can be encouraging to befriend someone who is just like you, I think it’s dangerous to minimize one’s perspective to the end of disincluding everyone else. KWIM? Get out there! Meet other families! Befriend people unlike yourself! Broaden your horizons; don’t shrink them!
If my kids were starved for socialization (which, btw, is a MYTH that has been blasted through multiple studies, yet continues to pervade the arguments against homeschooling), perhaps I’d prioritize group participation more. However, with our weekly church attendance (where we — including our kids — very actively participate), near-daily play with neighborhood friends, and weekly-or-better visits with extended family, we’re not lacking. Oddly enough, one of the reasons we homeschool is to be actually be HOME, which seems to be lost among some hs’ers, who can be more hyper-scheduled than their regularly-schooled counterparts, including those
guilt-laden compulsory voluntary homeschooling groups.
Can you tell I have
some really strong opinions a few thoughts about this whole subject?? Aargh!