One of the things we still get questions about on a regular basis are the scope, accountability, or limitations of homeschooling. Given the way the practice has exploded in recent years, this surprises me, but the reality seems to be that most people are still fairly committed to the conventional public school system, with private school close behind for those who can afford it.
The perception of homeschoolers as isolated, socially awkward, and lacking educational rigor or responsibility is far removed from our particular homeschool experience. In fact, we have run across a lot of things and people in our Christian homeschool community that dovetail and overlap pretty closely with the secular school world. For example:
- A strong emphasis on acquiring the tools to test well enough to get into college
- A trend toward insuring kids have credit transferable to the state system
- A marked increased in the use of tools like the public virtual school network to tackle subjects the parents can’t or don’t want to tackle.
Those are just three that initially occur, not including some of the peripheral issues concerning culture and modesty that many families are dealing with, largely as a result of the fact that church youth groups and ministries contain a mixture of kids from all educational backgrounds. Additionally, there are different standards on many of these things held by parents as well.
So when people ask me questions that I thought were already well plowed in the general culture and with answers I think are well known, I am surprised. Our homeschool experience is far removed from the days when the clarion call was “Heaven, not Harvard!” To be sure, the wonderful Christian homeschool parents we encounter and enjoy fellowship with are definitely more invested in their kids’ eternal end than their temporal one. They have simply decided that a top notch education can be included in those plans.
We are such parents, and our homeschool life reflects that. We have always been crystal clear on the reality that not all socialization is good socialization, so that basic question has never been something that moved us. However, for the sake of accountability, rigor and fellowship, we have included a few outside educational components to our homeschool life. I’ll list a few.
When our 11-year-old started her middle school years this fall, we knew that we wanted to add some extra rigor and accountability to her education, and so set out to research the many venues we are blessed to have in our area.
These are venues more structured and yes, more expensive, than your typical homeschool cooperative that most people think of when they consider homeschool enrichment. That is not what we were looking for, having already been connected to such a cooperative for several years.
What we did was enroll our kids in what can only be considered a part-time Classical Christian school, where the teachers are paid and the high school level students receive credit for the work they do. In our area, there are many alternatives available for homeschoolers to avail themselves of such services and it’s one of the reasons why we have, unlike may communities, a fair number of families to share community with for the past 5 years, forming lasting friendships.
As for the question of curriculum and state accountability, the curriculum our kids are working on are, in most cases, more rigorous than the public school curriculum, but in the areas where a student might need more time or developmental berth, homeschooling provides the opportunity to provide it. Having paid teachers who often grade assignments more strictly than parents or conventional teachers has been instrumental to our daughters’ academic development.
I realize that not every homeschool family has access to the resources that we enjoy in our particular situation and geographic region. The point of this post is to point out that homeschooling has evolved in myriad ways. Many of the ways are for the better, and some are for the worse.
One thing is for sure. It’s not the same Christian homeschool most often thought of by those only familiar with the kind of Christian homeschooling called to mind in people who are familiar with the homeschool movement popularized in the 1980s.
This is a new generation of Christian homeschooling.