It’s interesting how people categorize themselves. When I began homeschooling, there were only homeschoolers. But before long, they morphed into two groups: Christian homeschoolers and secular homeschoolers.
Over the years we’ve seen a transition into homeschoolers defining themselves by their method of homeschooling: traditional, unschooler, Charlotte Mason method, etc. I’ve never looked at it that way.
I see homeschoolers as falling into two camps: proactive and reactive. And I think the motivation and gifts that each brings to the table can surely help the other.
Proactive homeschoolers start when their children are young, and maybe even before they’re born. These are people who are fascinated by the idea of homeschooling. Maybe they were bored in school when they were children, or maybe they’re just the kind of people who would rather do something themselves than trust others to do it. They tend to prefer homeopathy, growing their own food, sewing their own clothes, or simply raising their own kids instead of putting them into daycare before the hospital bill for the birth arrives in the mailbox.
Reactive homeschoolers may never have thought about homeschooling until long after they became parents, and only then because their child’s needs were not being met in school, or there was a bullying situation that became impossible, or their child had trouble learning the way the teacher insisted they learn. They chose homeschooling because they were unhappy with the other options.
These two groups, proactive and reactive homeschoolers, may seem poles apart, and often they are. But when they get to know each other, they often find that they can help each other out.
For example, the proactive homeschooler has often never sent a child to school. On those days when exhaustion hits and they start thinking sending the child to school would be a lot easier, their reactive homeschooling friends can tell them a few stories about what school is really like. There’s nothing like a little reality to bring you around. People like me, who never sent a child to school until one went off to college, are often stunned by the reality of what’s going on in the schools today.
(In my newsletter, I usually include a recent news story about something outrageous happening in a school. I do this so that we naïve proactive homeschoolers are reminded about what’s going on there, because we don’t know. I call it the “What Our Kids Are Missing Out On Dept.” because we need to be aware of just what’s happening in schools. Quite frankly, these stories shock me as much as they shock some of my readers. Call it negative reinforcement if you wish, but it works.)
Proactive homeschoolers have the ability to return this favor to their reactive homeschooling friends. Often, reactive homeschoolers pulled a child out of school rather quickly, before they had a chance to learn about the many ways to educate a child at home. Proactive homeschoolers tend to have more experience with this, and can share resources and materials with their friends. They can help them navigate this new path and save them a lot of trouble “reinventing the wheel” of homeschooling.
Instead of viewing other homeschoolers as those using a different method, we can look at them as being proactive or reactive homeschoolers. We all fall into one of those two groups, and each is the perfect helper to the other. We need to have a cooperative spirit with other homeschoolers instead of feeling different from them, because the assault on homeschooling freedoms continues. As Benjamin Franklin famously said upon signing the Declaration of Independence, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”