Back to homeschool (or whatever this is) has arrived.

After attending an orientation last night and rush ordering a few textbooks with expedited shipping, it is official. Summer may not end formally until September 21st (some consider Labor Day summer’s official end), but symbolically, our summer is over. School’s beginning signals a massive shift from the way we’ve been doing things the past four months.

As homeschoolers -technically speaking- our summer starts in mid-May and ends in mid-August, hence the four months of down time. Most of the ancillary schools which support homeschooling families call it quits fairly early compared to traditional school structure. At home, we continue to work diligently into June, but by then we’re only operating at maintenance levels, tying up the academic loose ends of the recently completed school year.

As school starts, my reading queue shifts accordingly. In addition to reading whatever I happen to be interested in at a given moment, I also read whatever my kids have been assigned by their literature teachers. This semester’s list offers me lots of opportunity to revisit old friends that I haven’t read in decades. Titles such as Animal Farm and The Scarlet Pimpernel are on this year’s list, among others. I’m looking forward to seeing these books through my kids’ eyes.

After the orientation and meet and greet so reminiscent of the days when our older kids went through the government school system, I was struck by how the reality of homeschooling (at least how we do it) is so different from the perception most people have when I answer their queries with, “They’re homeschooled”.

We do have friends who have been homeschooling for a quarter century or more and are still at it. That’s one of the great things about homeschooling when you have a large family; so many other people have large families that not only are you not unusual, your family may even be small by comparison to many. Our five kids is no big deal. But I digress.

The point, which I was so easily distracted from, is that homeschooling in 2019 is very different from what homeschooling was in 1994, which was when several of my homeschooling friends started out. The vast number of co-ops, support networks, ancillary schools and opportunities to homeschool in community were far fewer and much farther between than they are today. Those ladies were doing almost all of the heavy lifting on their own, and from what I can tell, most have done an incredible job of it.

Even with all the publicity, resources, and information available related to homeschooling, I still get the same kinds of questions; even from people to whom I’ve answered them several times!

  • Who are you accountable to for your curriculum?
  • How do you know they’ve passed to the next grade?
  • The state allows you to do that?
  • And lastly…

Can you guess, dear reader, what the final and most often posed question is when we mention homeschooling?

I bet you’ll have no trouble coming up with the answer.

All of this left me wondering if homeschooling is even an appropriate description of what many of us are doing now. While our kids’ education is parent directed, we’re not the only teachers, and our kids aren’t at home with us all day, every day. One critical distinction is that what we delegate in time as we outsource some of the instruction, we pay for in treasure, because it’s not cheap, and no one is giving our kids their books as they would in the government school system.

So… if our kids do some of their learning at home, some of it in school, and some of it independently, what would be the proper term for such an education? I for one, believe it’s far more sane and reality-based than the traditional model. A model, I might add, which is only providing optimal results for the children whose family have the time or treasure to properly supplement with home learning and extracurricular support, which sounds eerily like what we’re doing.

We’ve chosen religious rather than secular instruction, but that’s the major difference.

A la carte education is here to stay, unless and until someone decides that is too harmful to the political status quo. I am of the opinion that proper acknowledgment of the a la carte educational model would be a very good thing.

For now, we’re homeschoolers.

8 thoughts on “Back to homeschool (or whatever this is) has arrived.

  1. Elspeth says:

    It just occurred to me that I could have added so much more to this idea of a la carte education. Maybe I should call it market driven?

    I know Christian homeschooling families who use government school online for things like Drivers Ed (very common!), beginner music instrument lessons, or other electives. It’s free and it’s the kind of instruction that is free of ideological conflicts.

    I have a 10th grade nephew who does all of his school online using the public curriculum while his mom supervises and is liason with the teacher as needed.

    There are so many combinations of options now. The biggest thing is that you have to have a parent available to facilitate.

    Be curious to see if there are measurable differences in results between full time brick and mortar government school educations and a la carte.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Cassie says:

    “Can you guess, dear reader, what the final and most often posed question is when we mention homeschooling? I bet you’ll have no trouble coming up with an answer.”

    I’m guessing the question is along the lines of “But how will your kids develop social skills?!? 😱”

    Probably the most common objection I’ve gotten from people when I tell them that I plan to homeschool my kids is that they will surely become socially awkward. I know of people who are homeschooled who are far from that, so I think people worry about that for nothing. I mean, as long as you give them opportunities to be around other people, they will learn social skills (especially if they have a lot of siblings to live with, which is where most kids throughout history would’ve gotten much of their socialization from prior to public school becoming a thing).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elspeth says:

    @ Cassie:

    If I was giving a prize, you’d get it! That is the question.

    It also astounds me that people rarely consider that not all socialization is good socialization. Some of the things I have heard of younglings picking up from school…They defy words:


  4. smkoseki says:

    The socialization canard is by far the most common Q, true. BUT: after 20 years it’s getting much rarer, and it falls every year. I at least 50% in the last decade. Of course, the reason for this is we are becoming a low-trust society at breakneck speed due to immigration, liberalism, and secularism.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elspeth says:

    @ smkoseki:

    How was your summer? Good I hope.

    I agree that the socialization question is posed less often, but it is still the most often asked question.

    I think it’s asked a little less -at least in our neck of the woods- because homeschooling has gone mainstream and because people are more aware of the various homeschool support networks.

    But yes, we are an extremely low trust society. I run into more and more people who would NEVER have considered homeschooling but are now seriously considering some form of it to save their kids from what is becoming of the government-run school system.


  6. smkoseki says:

    E: summer great, thanks, just too busy to blog. Freezer full tho :-).
    As HS we do public school sports year-round so have a sympathetic view how the poor PS must somehow please every flavor of modern culture (from the obsessive academic parent to the sports-nut fathers to the drug families to the too-racy outfit girl to the militant atheist to the fundy). How can PS possibly serve everyone well? It simply can’t. Cultural unity has expired, at least in our area.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elspeth says:

    @ SMK:

    You make an excellent point. The PS system does have a very broad population to try to “serve”. I’m not all that convinced that serving the public is the primary concern as much as churning out cogs for the wheel, but I see your argument clearly.

    And it’s not just in your area where cultural unity has expired. I think it’s a phenomena that affects nearly every community of even moderate size.

    Pretty cool about the full freezer, a I am assuming you’re referring to hunting game and stocking up for fall and winter?


  8. smkoseki says:

    not convinced public is primary concern Heh agree. Jobs, jobs, jobs via taxes. And yes stocked: boasting <1k# fish/game + 1k# gather/garden. Hard to believe. Yahweh Jireh.


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