I just put this list together off the top of my head, in no particular order. Of course, there are lots of pros and cons to homeschooling (and, indeed to most educational options). However, as a second generation homeschooler, I am struck by some of the huge leaps in the field since my parents set out on the homeschool journey over 25 years ago. Things are so different and most of the changes are very positive! I have to remind myself of these when I am feeling discouraged or flat out exhausted!
1. People know what homeschooling is. This may be perplexing for some of you young whipper-snappers, but actually there was a day not too long ago when the term homeschooling provoked only blank looks and an occasional weak, “You mean homebound?” I used to dread being asked where I went to school, not because I disliked homeschooling (quite the opposite) but because I hated having to explain to random cashiers something that seemed new and radical (when in fact it is the oldest teaching method there is). Now it is more likely that the stranger is also a homeschooler or is close to someone who is.
2. Legal standards are more flexible. This may be the understatement of the blog. My mother and her contemporaries had to turn in detailed lesson plans to the school district where they were met with animosity and mistrust. My mom had to walk me at six years old to the school for standardized testing but wasn’t allowed to enter herself. We were required to have PE facilities but weren’t allowed to utilize those of the school. The list goes on. As homeschoolers, we still face prejudice, injustice and misunderstanding but in almost all areas of the US, things have vastly improved.
3. The internet has revolutionized EVERYTHING. I’m at a strange in-between age where I remember the days before cell phones yet have trouble believing those days really existed. The truth is, when we asked my mother a question about history, science or anything else under the sun she had to know the answer or use some kind of archaic encyclopedia to hunt it down. The mind boggles. And don’t even get me started on the beautifully crafted homeschool blogs that make what you are now reading look like a post-it note my toddler created.
4. Curriculum is cheaper, better, more specialized and absolutely abundant in availability. From traditional, to classical to technology based, our choices are enough to make a new teacher’s head spin. In fact, one of the challenges I have faced is being absolutely overwhelmed with the options. For heaven’s sake, I can order art supplies, text books, or a full blown telescope from Amazon and have it at my door the day after tomorrow! If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.
5. The homeschool community rocks! The truth is the homeschooling community has always been strong, supportive and relatively united. But now with veteran homeschoolers paving the way and talented and knowledgeable newbies bringing fresh ideas and techniques, more and more parents feel empowered to make the switch. More of us are gathering and pooling our collective resources, maximizing our strengths and forming a united front politically. There is strength in numbers and we are over 2 million strong and growing. It gives me confidence that homeschooling will only gain strength, recognition and respect as we face this task together!