We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams. ~ Jimmy Carter
We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same. ~ Anne Frank
We are your family and your neighbors. We are citizens of your town, your city, your state, your country, your world. Politicians, legislators, elected officials, we are your constituents.
We homeschool, home educate, unschool, live life without school. Although, we have chosen a different path in regard to the education of our children, we reflect the larger society in which we live. We are "you" living our lives without school. This page is about who we are.
A few Questions we hope to address:
- Do and can single parents homeschool?
- Do and can homeschoolers work full-time and homeschool?
- Do homeschooling partners/parents share homeschooling responsibilities?
- Are homeschoolers of diverse race, creed, social, or cultural backgrounds that are reflective our society in general?
- Do all homeschoolers follow traditional school-at-home programs or are some inspired by a educational philosophies or practices that might be considered non-traditional?
- Do homeschoolers participate in or support lifestyles and different political parties and persuasions?
Stories & Commentary
Posts by Guest Authors
I Am... by Mary
Before having children, my husband and I had every intention of sending our children to public school, but after trying the nursery school path for a year, we found it too restrictive for our oldest child. After removing him from nursery school we decided that "life without school" would be the best path for us....
Posts by Featured Authors
Happy With Weird, by Tammy
In many ways, I consider our family "normal". At first glance, we really don't stand out as a homeschooling family. But, as with all homeschooling families, there are things that make my family unique....
Mixed Messages, by Missy
I generally hate labels. Too often they’re used to put people in nice neat boxes, and too often they’re imposed by people who have only a snapshot view of a person....
Who Am I? by Marsha
Homeschooling is just one of the many things that define me. Before I ever began homeschooling, I was a reader with an inquisitive mind....
A Day of Thousand Charms, by Laureen
I am a tea enthusiast. I treat myself to specialty teas, and set them up in sparkling glass canisters, so that when I open the cupboard doors, my eyes are treated to a spectrum of possibilities. Dragon phoenix pearl jasmine, red raspberry leaf, chamomile, assam, english breakfast. Whatever my mood, my taste, my intention, there’s a tea in the cupboard that matches it....
Thoughts about Diversity, by Missy
....The number of African American homeschoolers is growing rapidly. They made up around 3% of the homeschool population in the mid-1990's; now, roughly 10% of homeschoolers are black. Which, statistically, implies that--in a group of 300 kids--my kids are it. In our experience, that's pretty accurate....
Zen and the Art of Homeschooling, by Tammy
....For me, this is why I'm so drawn to Zen Buddhism. It emphasizes trust in the universe that things happen the way they do because that's how things are meant to be. And that our wanting things to be a certain way, or expecting things a certain way, or even trying to predict what we need for the future, creates samsara – it creates suffering. Zen Buddhism emphasizes being open to the millions of possibilities....
In my experience, perceptions of homeschoolers come in almost as many varieties as the people who hold those perceptions. I know those who perceive homeschoolers as rural, religious, reclusive, somewhat controlling, with a large family. My social worker husband works with some who think homeschoolers are abusive for keeping their kids out of school, no matter how good the education they provide their children. I've read articles by those who think homeschoolers must be wealthy in order for Mom to stay at home from work to homeschool. Many of the people I meet think homeschooling parents must be saints or have some sort of superhuman powers - "I could never do that!"
In truth, I think homeschoolers come in every variety. I know of urban, suburban, and rural homeschoolers. Some homeschooling friends of ours have 8 or more kids, others homeschool only children (and everything in between). There are homeschooling families we know who are wealthy; homeschooling families who make great sacrifices so Mom can be at home; homeschooling families where Mom works part-time (LOTS of those!); homeschooling families where Mom works full-time and Dad homeschools; even homeschooling families with single, working parents (Moms and Dads). I know very lax homeschooling parents, who let the kids decide what they're going to do each day (and in many cases the kids still turn out better educated than their peers), and very strict homeschooling parents who make their kids sit at a desk and fill out workbooks. Some homeschooling families use textbooks; some use workbooks; some use "real" books; some "unschool," and many do a combination. I know homeschooling families who had great experiences in school themselves, and those who had terrible ones; those whose kids have been to school and later been pulled out, those who never send their kids to school, and those who keep them at home a few years and then send them to school. My kids have homeschooled friends who are years ahead of their peers, some who are a little ahead, some who are about the same, and some who are behind and would be labelled "special ed." There are highly educated homeschooling parents (in some cases both have Ph.D.'s), and those with minimal education (no more than a high school diploma, and I've heard of some with even less). I know of religious homeschoolers (Christian, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Wiccan - I've even heard of Buddhist and Hindu homeschoolers) and strongly atheist homeschoolers.
If homeschooling families ever DID fit any kind of stereotype, they certainly don't today. The only similarities I've found between pretty much every homeschooling family are a profound love for our children, and the desire to provide our kids with a better education than they'd get in the public schools. And I'm convinced that the more you get to know homeschoolers, the more you'll be amazed at the tremendous variety of people who do it.
~The Marcy Muser, http://marcys-musings.blogspot.com
We are and we are not the stereotypical homeschooling family. We're Christians. We are a one income family. My husband works; I stay home and care for our house and children. And we're "white," though that term is not actually used in our household. From inside the homeschooling community we must look as average - as, yes, stereotypical - as you could get.
But then there's the outsiders' view-points that I keep stumbling across in articles and blog posts - stereotypes of a different nature.
There is the stereotype that claims that because we teach from a Biblical standpoint, then we *must* ignore science. We don't. In fact, science is my son's favorite subject.
There is the stereotype that claims we *must* be well-off since we can afford to have me at home with the kids. We're not. We live on an income that barely elevates us above the poverty level. We choose to live this way and are perfectly happy with it, because we believe firmly that public schools are broken past repair and cannot provide a quality education for our children. We prefer our children learn to think - not to regurgitate.
There is the stereotype that claims that we are *intentionally* trying to keep our children away from anyone not "just like us." This is the greatest fallacy of them all. Race is a complete and total non-issue with my family. In fact, my ten-year-old daughter thinks her skin color is blonde (her word for it). Ask my children what race we are, and they will say "human" because they know that's what I write every single time I fill out a form that asks.
I believe homeschoolers are a very diverse bunch, but then, I also believe we are all alike in many ways as well. No matter our economic, political, or religious backgrounds, we are all parents who are willing to make sacrifices and work hard to ensure our children's futures, and in the end, that's what really matters.
I call myself a HomeKeeping Heart, because of Longfellow’s poem, “Stay, stay at home my heart and rest, for homekeeping hearts are happiest.” I don’t mean that in the 50’s sort of way with a “keepin’ the woman at home” kind of philosophy, I mean in the “I am the Queen of the Cottage” kind of way. I enjoy being at home with my kids more than any other place (we are rarely “at home” for homeschooling however). I have two children, whom I homeschool, and I am loving it. I find it hard to explain that I am not homeschooling for religious or political reasons. Why can’t I just WANT to teach my children? (that never seems to be a good enough reason) I am not religious, though most people think I must be. In fact, we are Pluralist, as far as religion goes, because we think there are many ways to understand the universe, and reject the idea of “one size fits all”. I teach my children to respect and understand other points of view, while finding their own points of view, and it fills me up all the way to the top of my head with excitement.
I take some cues from Charlotte Mason, some from unschooling, some Montessori methods… we find our own way within those kinds of ideas. We love to be outside, and find so many times that “teachable moments” come from being outside. It has spurred on so much of our learning (now we must find out more about Otters! Or Butterflies! Or why bark is different on different trees!). I like to see learning as Yeats says, “Education is the not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.”
At the same time, I run my own “cottage industry” by creating art for my customers as often as I can. My husband works full time, as we both once did, as a Middle School teacher. My son is involved (at 5 yo) in a Middle School Science Club that my husband runs, where he learns just about as much as the 13 y ear olds do. He goes on fieldtrips and knows most of the Middle School teachers and what they do – and they love to show him what they do. I won’t be surprised if he wants to be a Middle School teacher when he grows up. I get lots of weird looks from people about homeschooling because I use to be a public school teacher. Lots of whispers about “Why? Isn’t the school GOOD enough for her?” Sure, they are good enough, in fact they are really the most excellent schools with the most excellent teachers in our area. But, I have so much of life to show my kids that they can’t learn by being a schoolroom most of the day with 30 other children…I don’t want their education to have been “good enough”. I want my kids to learn from ME…is that selfish? Sure…it might be. So, I’m selfish. So selfish, that I’m willing to have to scrimp and save to buy good picture books and nice art supplies. So selfish, that I rarely get a moment alone because I’m reading to my kids, or looking up the identity of a strange bug, or going off on this playdate or that Museum trip…yes, very very selfish.
~Katie E., Oregon
I am one of those "Don't Judge a Book by its Cover" homeschoolers. Raised in a small southern town, people believe that the very conservative Christian upbringing stuck. It didn't and in fact, pushed me about as far the other direction as possible. I am very liberal, preferring to hang with any other square peg I can find, Hindu, gay, lesbian, Pagan, anything.
I subscribe to an earth-based religious philosophy, leaning toward the fraction of me that is Southern Band Cherokee Indian. The rest of me looks the Anglo that would represent a family history dating back to the Norman invasion of England in 1066.
I am married, although my husband does not participate in the instruction. We have our own business, so I work part-time at that while the hubby is full time.
We are eclectic homeschoolers, choosing secular materials from all over. I find great value in Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences blended with a smattering of perennialism.
We are users of Bloom's Taxonomy for our homemade tests and are attempting some Socratic Questioning methods.
~Leslie Mehl, Fort Myers, FL
We chose to school at home in 2005. We fit snugly between relaxed home schooling and unschooling. My daughter and I collaborate on the lessons daily and we usually start out working with what ever interests her that day. Eventually and inevitably, our studies segue into other subjects.
It was actually my husband who suggested home schooling, when we decided to relocate from the familiar to the unknown (for my daughter). After I researched the school system in our soon-to-be new hometown, I agreed with my husband. He thought home schooling would help our daughter feel more secure during a time of transition. He also thought she would benefit more from learning at home than she would in a school system with a less-than-stellar track record.
I gave up a part-time job as an editor when we moved and I've been seeking work-at-home opportunities since. I've been blessed to find short-term work online on many occasions but my daughter's education is my primary focus. The time I spend preparing lessons and tracking our daily educational activities--in addition to household responsibilities--leaves me little time for much else.
I believe home schooling is one of the best things I've done for my daughter and I'm thankful my husband suggested it. The whole experience continues to be amazing. I've learned incredible things about my daughter and myself--how we differ and how we're alike in the ways we process information; how her love of cooking helps her with fractions and my love of food doesn't do a thing for me and math; how my love of reading the classics hasn't rubbed off on her (yet) but she'll eagerly watch the movie adaptations again and again. The list is endless and I'm surprised and excited each time I learn something new about us.
I can hardly believe we're heading into our third year of this fantastic journey. Although we've had a few struggles along the way, home schooling my daughter feels natural, as if we've never done anything else.
I would describe my family's decision to home school as a jump into freedom. Our sons, then in the middle of second and fourth grades, were content with school. In fact, they did not want to leave school. My husband and I, however, had become increasingly dissatisfied with the situation. We didn't choose to home school because we were afraid to put the boys on the school bus, or because we didn't want them to ever face a bully. They enjoyed the school bus, most of the time. And they learned to face bullies. But, they were beginning to learn that what they thought about things does not matter, that the process does not matter. They were beginning to learn that what matters is a test score or a project completed on time, whether or not it's completed by the student or the parents.
My husband and I learned that school, on balance, in elementary grades, is more about babysitting than learning and growing. Not only did my children spend more waking hours at school than at home with us, school requirements frequently ate into family time, with mindless projects and busy work. Raising free thinkers seemed just about impossible, or at least unnecessarily difficult, within the confinements school imposed.
Here we are, with a full year of life without school under our belts. The boys are more relaxed and are more often genuinely engaged in activities of their choosing. (Read: Our house is a lot messier. The dining room table is constantly covered in duct tape, popsicle sticks and paper clips.) But, when asked recently if they would like to go back to school by my mother-in-law, my 11 year-old jumped up and quoted George Carlin: "What? School? School will strip me of my individuality and turn me into a mindless consumer!" My 9-year-old laughed in agreement.
~Anne in Fairfax, VA
We are a family of four. We live modestly although we are blessed with the means to travel. I do not work outside of the home, although I volunteer a substantial amount of my time outside the home. My husband works full time. We homeschool together although much of the work does fall on my shoulders. We started homeschooling our 13 year old daughters in the summer of 2006. We have been actively homeschooling for about a year. We started homeschooling because nothing fit our needs and interests perfectly. We started using a curriculum but if we had to label ourselves now, we would call ourselves eclectic homeschoolers. We read a lot. We watch a lot of documentaries. We experiment a lot. We cook. We sew. We try new things. We volunteer. We travel. We value the environment. We believe strongly in most values of the Democratic party. We have friends in many places, and of many faiths. They have a range of values, religious and political. We find it interesting and exciting.
Homeschooling has been a gift in many ways. One important thing we have learned is that, as Carter says, the world is a beautiful mosaic. Our year of homeschooling has allowed us to find our place in the mosaic and to see the beautiful colors of the world. We have traveled for about 80 days of the past 365. We have visited different countries. We have explored our own country. We have learned about a multitude of religions and cultures of today and from the past. We have experienced the transformation of our yearnings, our hopes and our dreams by learning through living. And, these opportunities have been available to us because we homeschool.
~Cathy Sheafor, North Carolina
There are so many stereotypes out there about homeschooling families. Most people outside the homeschooling community are unaware of the diversity found within it. I know homeschoolers who are just about every "flavor" of Christianity, Jews, Muslims, Unitarian Universalists, Hindus, "New Agers", agnostics, and atheists. I know homeschooling families of a number of different races and ethnicities or combinations thereof. I know homeschoolers of modest means, and those who could easily afford private schools yet choose home education. I know families where the mom is the primary breadwinner and the dad is the primary teacher. I know moms who combine paid employment with homeschooling their children. I know single moms who continue to homeschool after being widowed or divorced. I know feminists who homeschool because they feel that traditional schools are tools of the patriarchy. I know "unschoolers", "relaxed" homeschoolers, Waldorf, Montessori, Enki, Charlotte Mason, Classical, Thomas Jefferson, Principle, "school-at-home", and eclectic homeschoolers.
One of the first things my DH said to me when I first brought up homeschooling our DD was: "Homeschooling? Isn't that for superfundamentalist Protestants and hippies?"
While that may have been mostly true when we were growing up, it is definitely NOT true today.
~Crimson Wife, http://bendingthetwigs.blogspot.com
I have nothing against being a stereotype if it represents who I am, and in many ways, I represent the stereotypical homeschooler. I am Caucasian, married, a stay-at-home mom of two children. My husband works in the computer technology field and works from home most days. That's about where the stereotype ends. We are not religious in any traditional sense, although we consider ourselves a spiritually inclined agnostic family. We incorporate pagan, Buddhist, and Hindu beliefs into our lives. We are socially liberal and voted Democrat this past go round, but we lean towards some Republican and Libertarian principles in regard to personal rights and liberties. We are environmentalists. We actively pursue environmental causes. We do not do school at home. We could be called "unschoolers." We homeschool for the lifestyle. We are free to pursue life and learning as best suits our individual children.
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