What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

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.”

10 thoughts on “What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?

  1. I am both types. I get frustrated at myself and want to ‘ship’ him off to public school. Usually, i’ll go to one of his karate classes and hear a ps mom talk about their child in school and how frustrated THEY are. At that point, I realize that Brandon is better off with me. A good dose of reality can be acheived by just listing to other ps parents.

  2. Kristy, that reality bites, doesn’t it?

    I like that, Carol. For me, I’d say I felt called to it.

  3. Reactive is my unfortunate title. Wish I had been proactive to start, but I have to say I have raised proactive daughters and sons–Thanks be to God. I am so very thankful that I had proactives to blaze the trail for me. I needed them!

  4. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a reactive, Judie…..and it sounds like you did a great job despite the later start :)

  5. Thanks for the encouragement Barbara! I must say, I think my husband and I may have overdone the “no school” thinking with our kids–they can be downright adamant and almost militant when it comes to answering questions about how they’re going to school their children ;) Woo Hoo!!!

  6. Interesting terms you use…”proactive” and “reactive.” I’ve never heard it put that way. I know Time4Learning calls your reactive homeschoolers “accidental homeschoolers.” Great post!

  7. Very interesting. I have divided homeschoolers into two camps. The ideological ones and accidental ones. The ideological ones are typically religious or Gatto/Holt followers who came to homeschooling with real fervor and a sense of mission.

    The accidental homeschoolers are those that put their kids in school but then found that it didn’t work. They maybe changed teachers or schools a few times. And then, through a process of elimination, they tried homeschooling.

    Oddly, these groups converge in many ways after a few years of homeschooling as they adopt the lifestyle. Both the religious ones and the problem-solving accidentals start exploring different approaches to education and end up in a pretty similiar place.

  8. Thanks, Topsy :)

    John, I think we’re talking about similar concepts with the two groups, but I can’t agree that they all end up in a similar place. While most seem to end up more relaxed than they began, there’s a contingent that sticks to an agenda of at-home and co-op classes and organized activities until their children graduate, or until the parents burn out. I’ve known quite a few!

    Thanks for weighing in :)

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