18 July 2009

Support Groups For Homeschooling.

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" -- Stuart Smalley.

Are you in a "support group?" Having some trouble with that addiction or with codependency? Or are you trying to get support and understanding from others with autistic, bipolar or adopted children? Or do you have a medical condition like lupus? I've seen support groups for all these things and more. I've also seen support groups for...

Homeschooling.

Yes, homeschooling is unusual enough that you, friend, need a support group so that you can realize how normal you are. For an unusual person, anyway.

I was very interested in joining a homeschool support group when I first started to homeschool the little Elf. But there wasn't one to be found at the nearby mega-church. Not enough interest, I guess, and the group broke up because only three people would show up. Now that I've been at this a bit, I'm not so sure I'd WANT to join a homeschool support group.

I've heard the atheists, objectivists and other assorted non-religious folks say that when they start a group and leave the membership open, those obnoxious Christians take it over and tell everyone what to do. Jana writes that on the other end, she was "outed" as a non-Christian because of what some weirdos in Wisconsin did years ago in another group. And Kerrie writes about how she's just not Catholic enough if she does the sign of the cross with her left hand.

Spunky writes, "Cliques develop between the families; or politics and religion can often escalate tensions. Eventually, what started out as a support group often becomes stressful and a stumbling block. I have seen this happen way too often. So for better or worse that has kept me away from participating as well..."

"So I'm not sure what to think about support groups anymore. I know I enjoy them when I do go. Yet, I don't have the same commitment to them that I used to. Is this common as homeschoolers move from 'rookie' to 'veteran' status?"

I know more than one online forum has imploded as well, usually based on misunderstandings or a hard-line stance that leaves others at the edges feeling left out. Have you ever been a member of a group, and what was your experience like?

21 comments:

  1. Huh. In my experience, the support groups that are prejudicial are the secular ones. There's a huge one here in CA that is full of liberal types, and they are downright nasty to Christians. Ask me how I know.

    We belong to a Christian hs support group, but in the paperwork you receive when you come to a meeting, it is honest about that. Non-Christians are welcome (and we have at least one person who is not Christian in our small group), but must understand that there will be prayer at meetings, as well as a devotional at each one.

    I have one kid who enjoys the group, another who now refuses to go (she's 15). I only 1/2 enjoy it, though I have made some of my best friends there.

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  2. Hmm... how do you know, Claire? LOL

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  3. I was a part of HBC group for 4 years. Homemakers By Choice. It was actually pretty neat. The leader is no longer there because she is now on the radio (James Dobson's) but it heleped me in so many ways. We would learn about organization, marriage issues, sibling rivalry, etc. They would serve breakfast first, then seminar, then we'd break into groups according to what area we wanted for that year. Homeschooling group, parents of little kids, parents of teens, craft group, etc. There was never any pressure whether you homeschooled because half the women there had their kids in public school. It's probably one of the neatest groups I was ever a part of for sure. It was kind of far for me but to top it off, they watched your kids. It was just neato.

    So, I think it's just a matter of what group you join. I hate pressure groups who make you try to be one way and that's the only way as a parent.

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  4. In a nearby town there's a huge group that I'd love to attend for the boys' sake as they often pool their resources and take turns teaching a variety of interesting topics (like pottery, etc), but it's simply not practical.

    Our local homeschool group is made up of some truly good, decent people. But our links--homeschooling, and the fact that we are all Christians, is the beginning and the end of our commonality. After that we're separated by personal interests and beliefs. They are all extremely conservative and, while I used to think I was, I guess that really doesn't define me after all. For me, the chasm of difference is deep enough that I've decided that I don't need what they offer. For whatever reason I'm simply on a different wave length than most of them and I do feel left out at meetings, but I don't feel that's their problem.

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  5. Reading that made me feel better about not having any support group join, or... not. I guess my two homeschooling friends and I could be called a mini support group, but we were friends before we started homeschooling, so I don't guess that counts! 

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  6. I was near the center of a national online forum imploding over hard-liners versus inclusive, live-and-let-live homeschoolers.

    It was a support group for support groups! -- supposedly about better advocating for our "home education" freedoms, but we fell to disagreeing about home education support issues such as charter schooling, virtual classes, parttime participation in public school hybrid resource programs etc -- in the end when the dust settled, it turned out that being literal and fundamentalist and dogmatic and exclusive and purist black-or-white about home education issues, was highly correlated with being that same way in religion and politics.

    So I've learned that what really matters in seeking support, is finding a comfortable culture, probably the one closest to your own preferred position along the continuum between authoritarian rule and laissez-faire respect for the individual.

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  7. And homeschool parents all along that continuum would do well to remember this wikiquote:
    ;-)

    "Please accept my resignation. I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member".

    * As quoted in The Groucho Letters (1967) by Arthur Sheekman. The sentiment predates Groucho, however; it likely originated with John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga, chapter II: Old Jolyon is said to despise the club that took him as a member, after another refused him because he was in trade.

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  8. Virginia, that's awesome that the moms group was so supportive. Groups like that have to make your week!

    Mary, sometimes I wonder if there is a group for everyone. Or if we should just pick one group for homeschool support, another to meet our religious needs, etc. Subdivide our lives. Hm.

    JJ, I don't really have a dog in that charter-school cyber school etc. fight, but it seems to me that when you relegate control to someone else for a part of the day, you're not "homeschooling" during that part.

    That said, maybe you're freer with these choices than your local public school. I'm ok with it if it's not *called* homeschooling. What with being a literalist fundamentalist hardline type and all.

    I'm pretty grooooovy with whatever educates your kids best, though, if that's what you decide. :]

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  9. Sue, I didn't mean to ignore your comment. I'm not really sure if what you're in constitutes a "support group," but I can tell you that that peace and cooperation is support enough no matter what you call it. :]

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  10. You nicely prove what I learned the hard way, Mrs. C. :)

    "I'm ok with it if it's not *called* homeschooling. What with being a literalist fundamentalist hardline type and all."

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  11. Hm... not sure if I've just been insulted... LOL.

    But seriously. Isn't calling public cyber-school "homeschooling" rather like eating a vat of preservatives and saying you are into organic food? Just eat the preservatives and say you have a bad diet and we're good. I mean, I'm a tolerant guy, right??

    Right?? :p

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  12. Mrs. C--Basically, I agree with you. I'd rather keep them separate things. However since most of these people (like many homeschoolers) are schooling because of their feelings about secular education there is little chance of this--for them it's largely (though not exclusively) about making sure that their religious values are being taught to their young children. As for me, I'm not homeschooling for the same reasons and I think that's probably the problems.

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  13. Mrs. C, BTDT, which is all I was saying. the point is that we see it so differently that when we try to talk about it, even with good will, we can't reconcile our opposite views of what's most important -- so sooner or later it splits us up. Not worth it.

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  14. Mary, I'm a "religious" person who started homeschooling for secular reasons. Because of what I've been through (read "Why we homeschool" on my sidebar), I will admit that I do tend to view the school system as the big bad wolf.

    At the same time, though, I can't paint everyone in it as "the enemy," especially after having gotten to know people through our experiences with Patrick and G in public school.

    JJ, maybe calling it "learning at home support group" and leaving it at that ought to build some sort of consensus. I'm pro-choice when it comes to education, at least. :]

    BTW, I think it's a shame when people can't accept others where they are on the education spectrum. I mean, do you really think it's going to be easy or even advisable for me to homeschool Woodjie if he continues to be non-verbal? Do people like us need to just vanish or somehow "pray through" for healing... or be Pentecostal pariahs? Hm.

    And you know, I say that with a broken heart. I'm not sure that I even WILL send Woodjie to kindergarten or first grade if they're still closet lockers. I'm not sure that our marriage would survive the fallout when I refuse.

    I'm not sure what the court would say then after. OK, that would suck. Can you imagine, sending your kid to school where he'll probably be abused... knowing that if you got divorced, the kid would STILL BE SENT TO SCHOOL, but you'll get the added "benefits" of working for a living for six kids and trying to make it by.

    Ok, sucky thought for the day. Logging off to read "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" before I lapse into depression.

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  15. When you go to the park, does it matter what religion or lack of, the child playing with yours is ? Would you ever ask ? Most folks I think would say no.

    A homeschool support group, unless it clearly states that it is a christian / secular homeschool support group shouldn't ask either, in my opinion.

    As for "Homeschooling" I don't care what you call it, or how you do it. As long as I can continue to do what is right for my children. You can after school, charter, online public school, have you sister teach your children, higher a tutor, etc.

    Why can't we just all get along ? I don't want my children raised with a narrow view of the world, I want them exposed to a vast amount of people, beliefs and customs, while they are in my home, so I can help them understand and attempt to prepare them for the world in a gentle, supportive and loving way.

    The same reason I use the curriculum I do. It teaches our children to think, to explore, to question.

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  16. ((Jana)), bless your heart for what you're going through. I think a difference of opinion on an issue shouldn't make you a second-class citizen, if that's what you're getting at. But I do think that from the outset, there need to be some sort of rules to minimize infighting if it's a formal group. It (hopefully!) avoids some of those problems and misunderstandings later. You know, like what you're going through now? :[

    OR, that it reveals some people you thought were your friends as not being real friends.

    As to getting along? I don't even do that with people who think exactly as I do. :p But I see what you mean. Sometimes things can get a bit ridiculous.

    I hope you don't mind that I linked, because I just wanted to chat a bit more about this whole "support group" idea as a whole after I read you and Kerrie both post in the same week about it!

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  17. I don't mind at all hon. Link away !!! I agree the rules should be stated in the beginning. If they had of been, I would not have this experience.

    I never sought out support groups before. I was a young and very active mom. But now I seem to be more introverted and was just looking for a way for the kids and I to get out more.

    My feelings are hurt, but I will get over it. ;-)

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  18. During the years I worked and homeschooled I was a frequently called substitute teacher. I got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in action. However if there was any doubt in my mind concerning my ability to provide a good education at home, they were quickly allayed by the experience.

    I read your horror story with respect to Elf. The whole thing just nauseated me. My seventeen year old, Daniel, has Aspergers. He's an extremely soft, gentle kid who conversely struggled with making appropriate decisions for a good part of childhood. That little room would have been his undoing.

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  19. Mary, I'm so glad D allowed me to homeschool Elf! He was very against the idea for a long time. I don't think even the "safe room" disturbed him. He just finally felt we got to a point where the school was unhelpful.

    It took a long, hard time for him to get to that point. It was awful. Truly awful. I am very thankful we got him out when we did, but he still is a bit traumatized about it and perhaps a bit more distrustful than he needs to be.

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  20. I am in a support group. It is for Christian mom's who homeschool kids with disorders that are evidenced by behavioral problems other Christian parents can only identify as sin. It is a virtual group... you are the founding member!

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  21. ((Julie)) I'm a member for sure, but not a founding member. So many others have gone before us without the virtual support, though.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)