Conflicted: I don’t really want to help this mom homeschool

I got a call the other day from a potential homeschooling mom, wanting some help.  She had recently pulled her almost-9yo daughter from public school in order to homeschool her.

I don’t know how she got my phone number;  she said she went to my church four years ago.  I don’t remember her, and I don’t remember giving her my phone number.  Oh, well.

Normally, I’d be very excited about helping another mother start homeschooling.

However, homeschooling is, by nature, rather an independent, self-motivated pursuit;  you have to know (or at least be able to figure out) what is required of you, what materials you’re going to need, how to get them, where to go for resources…

And it appears that, for this mom, I am the resource.

She didn’t know anything about the state-required Affidavit of Intent to Home School, and didn’t think she could get it notarized, nor get an original copy of her daughter’s birth certificate, as required.  She has no computer.  She has no transportation.  She is completely unfamiliar with using a library.  She has no money with which to purchase any materials.  She has no idea what to use for any kind of curriculum.  She doesn’t have the support of her husband.

Even if I could (and probably, I could) give her all the materials she would need for Kindergarten or 1st grade (she said that her daughter is almost reading), that wouldn’t produce a self-sustaining homeschooling family who is well-equipped for the long run.

It’s the teach-a-man-to-fish vs. give-a-man-a-fish syndrome.

She, basically, wants me to tell her what she needs to do, how to get free materials (which is easy if you have an internet connection, and fairly difficult, if you don’t), be her tutor, and validate her choice to homeschool.

I must admit that I’m loathe to walk into a situation where another person expects me to do everything for them.

We’re meeting at the library on Friday.

I will come equipped with some unit studies and booklists, some curriculum suggestions, and loads of websites she can visit (on what needs to become regular trips to the library).  I’ll also give her information on a local charter school that is rather like a homeschooling umbrella school (they supply a computer, curriculum and oversight;  you homeschool).  But, I’ve already decided that I am unwilling to be her long-term source of all-help for homeschooling.

Homeschooling moms (and anyone else), what do you think?  What would you do?   


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on April 2, 2008, in Homeschooling. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I think you’re totally right in what you’ve decided to do. Sure, meet with her and give her her initial dose of reality, give her resources that she can find on her own, but then cut the apron strings as quickly as they’re tied.

    The charter school idea is a great thought. We have a public school/virtual school available her in our area for K-8 that sounds very similar to what you’re describing. It sounds like a great way to go about homeschooling for someone like that.

    So basically I say all that to say: I would probably do what you’re doing if I were in your shoes.

    So there’s your permission for your feelings to feel validated. 🙂

  2. I agree too. You would almost feel sorry for her – I’m assuming she has some reason for making this decision in the middle of a school year – but then your sympathy will probably turn into an adoption of sorts. Give her some basic information and really push the idea that homeschooling is mostly an independent thing with networking… not support. When some friends and I started our local group we were intent on leaving the phrase “support group” clearly OUT of the description. It’s worked so far. 😉

  3. I think your take on this is just right, Karen. Her words say “homeschool” but her actions say “tutor”. A slippery slope to you gaining two new permanent students — not a good outcome for anyone.

    My daughter turns six this fall and will be starting a homeschool kindergarten curriculum too… but I’ve been researching and reading up on it since she was two. Books on tutoring, teaching styles — attending curriculum fairs. It’s not just something you wake up and decide to do tomorrow… or wake up and expect someone else do it FOR you tomorrow.

    You’re doing the kindest thing for her. A form of tough love. If its going to work at all, it needs to be on her and her child’s initiative. How can she teach the discipline of independent study to her child if she can’t demonstrate it herself? I think the charter school you mentioned might be a wiser option for her — at least for the first year. It might be a particularly good option for her since she doesn’t have a computer.

    I would have had the same reaction as you, Karen. Hope the meeting goes OK!

  4. Wow! There are red flags all over that situation! The biggest being that she doesn’t have her husband’s support. I think childlife above said it perfectly – you don’t just wake up and decide to homeschool. It takes research, planning, and dedication. As well as commitment from the whole family. I totally think you’re right in not getting too involved. I think it’s great that you’re helping her with the initial “this is what you need to do” kind of thing but beyond that she needs to do some work on her own.

  5. Ugh. Agreeing with the comments above.

    Did she say why she pulled her dd out of school at this time?

  6. We are looking into that charter where you get the computer and they supply the teaching material. I have a friend that does it and loves it!
    Just make sure to have a cell phone on and get the unexpected call 🙂
    But really just pray and see what God wants you to do and then stick with it. You’ll feel good no matter what God wants you to do as you will feel it’s the right thing not yours and hers.

  7. It’s one thing to point someone in the right direction, but if this woman needs you to hold her hand and drag her down the road, she needs to reconsider homeschooling.

    Good luck today, keep us posted!

  8. Thank you all for your comments. I feel a lot better. I want to be a servant; I want to help. And, just because something is inconvenient for me, doesn’t mean it’s not something I should be doing; in general I need to value and work for others more than I do… So, sometimes I question if I’m doing enough or not. But, with all your overwhelming support… 🙂

    Mrs N ~ She said that her daughter wasn’t learning at all in p.s. — She’s almost 9, and is only “almost” reading. And, she was concerned about the culture of the p.s.; she wants to be free to pass on her values to her daughter.

    RWM ~ Actually, that school *is* a good idea, and I’m not just saying that because I have a friend who is a consultant/teacher for it. 🙂 They use K12 curriculum, which is fantastic. The only problem is that there is less freedom and more oversight than your typical AZ homeschool situation. But, if you’re new to hs’ing, it’s a great place to start. And… I have another friend (more like acquaintance) who has been teaching her four kids with the Arizona Virtual Academy for 3 years now, and is really happy with it — so it can work for long-term, too.

    By the way… the lady called this morning, and cancelled for the 2nd week in a row. I’m going to mail her all the material I gathered for her, and asked her to give me a call when she reads it over, and we can meet after that. 🙂

  9. Your response is perfect!
    Thanks for backtracking and finding my blog. For some reason some WP blogs show my avatar but they don’t link back to my blog and I just can’t figure that out and haven’t bothered to check the help site about it.
    It was actually after being here that I found out about the Ben Stein movie and was moved to add it to my sidebar… took some doing to, as I’m not really up to par on how to do that with images that don’t come self-contained with a link (which the Ron Paul button did). I’m actually quite interested now to see hte movie… Found another WP blog through the tags talking about ID and creationist science teaching, so I guess this will be the thing God wants me to study right now. Once upon a time I knew what I knew and Why I knew it… now everything is foggy with disuse. You know how you get when other life-things take priority!
    For future reference:
    Tammy :):):)

  10. Looks like God intervened. It’s always so hard in a situation like that. You want to help but want people to help themselves as well.
    Thanks for the info on Virtual A. I am really serious about this as a good option for our family.
    Many Blessings

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