|T-shirt from zazzle.com|
My children were public schoolers. We've seen *that* village. After 4 years, we decide *that* village was wrong (for us) and we didn't want our children in it. We turned our back on it, which means I've earned the right to dash around town wearing this satirical T-shirt! While I'm at it, I can also bite my thumb at homeschool naysayers just to see if they'll get the Shakespearean reference, which I doubt because homeschoolers are soooo much smarter! Now let's all laugh together, hahaha!
From what I've seen in my 4 years of homeschooling, we weren't really turning our back on The Village. What we actually did was leave one village and join another. Of course, in my mind it's a village that's 1000X better, but still. It's a village.
The homeschool community is an important village. It provides advice to new homeschoolers, insights into curriculum choices and stumbling blocks, group field trips and classes, and numerous opportunities to make friends and form bonds. I honestly can not wrap my mind around how I would have 1) gotten started and 2) continued on homeschooling without the support of my local homeschool village.
I understand, though, that the sentiment behind the T-shirt is we have left the mainstream village, and that's tough to do. There is NO ONE ELSE TO BLAME if our kid grows up to be a 35-year-old male living in our basement, eating Cheetos and playing video games all day and night. Like, omg, I can't blame a crumbling public school system for that! It's all on us and it is a huge responsibility.
So we should applaud ourselves for taking that tremendous leap of faith.
And, sure, go ahead and laugh at the occasional snarky joke that pokes fun at the mainstream village.
But after the snark and laughs and thumb biting are done, ask yourself something.
What are you're doing for your homeschool village?
After all, you left the other village because you saw what was wrong with it and knew you couldn't fix it. So what are you doing to help create a village that is right for your child? Is that a part of the responsibility you took on when taking full-charge of your child's education?
These are important questions and each person will have their own answer. Some parents will continue in a hands-off, uninvolved way. I don't want to say that is wrong or right because each family has their own special way of quacking. For myself, providing a healthy village environment for my kids is part of the responsibility I feel I took on when homeschooling.
But how does one go about doing that? I'm too frickin' busy trying to figure out curriculum to take on anything else!
It's really not that hard. You don't have to be hyper-involved in the community. But it helps if you are involved in some way.
#1 Are you showing up?
Online communities serve a purpose, but they have limitations. You can't replace face-to-face interaction and that type is very important to the human experience. Some days you have to take the "home" out of homeschooling and just get out there. It's not important just for your kids, it's important for you too. And don't wait for the perfect day to go either. There will always be something...a math lesson not completed, a dirty kitchen to clean up, finances not quite right, two kids arguing with each other, someone who needs a nap. If you find you're making excuses more than you're going, you might need to question what's really going on.
Don't complain or worry your kids aren't making new friends if you aren't giving them the opportunity by showing up.
Show up and have some fun. Homeschooling will soon become a bore and burden if you stay cooped up in the same four walls too often.
#2 Do you help make good things happen?
An army of one does not make a village. Wait, what army? Who said anything about needing an army? What the hell am I even talking about? Who knows?!
Here's a truth: It takes multiple worker bees to make a good homeschool village. I'm going to repeat that: It takes multiple worker bees to make a good homeschool village.
Are you doing anything to help make things happen? This doesn't mean you have to take on huge responsibilities. You can contribute to your homeschool village in small ways. Plan a field trip or meet up once in a while for the group. Welcome newcomers. Help answer questions someone may have about a curriculum. Even just showing enthusiasm can help because it adds to the overall energy of the group.
Don't be one who always waits around for someone else to make things happen, and certainly don't be the one who complains about wanting some particular event or trip and not be willing to do the work to make it happen.
Just those two steps alone will make a big difference in your local homeschool village. Start small if you feel intimidated or unsure of how to contribute. Big things are accomplished by small steps. You have to take the first step, though.