Community of outsiders

I’ve written in this blog about my belief that anyone can make the decision to homeschool or unschool their kids.   It doesn’t matter how much money you make, how much schooling you had yourself, what race you are or religion you believe in, if any.   To allow your children to learn outside of school is a decision anyone can make.

That said, it takes a lot of courage to chuck decades of cultural programming about what constitutes education and to choose a different path.   In the case of life learners it is a much, much less traveled path.   So even though anyone can make the choice, those that do are a special group of people.

I was reminded of this today, hanging out in Central Park with a bunch of other parents while our kids spent 3 hours in a Wayfinders class.   Learning styles of the families present ran the gamut, from unschooling to traditional homeschooling and everything in between.   On a gorgeous fall day with 3 hours at our disposal, the conversations ranged from the best yarn stores to vacation plans to movies and TV and styles of quarterly reports.    The kids in Wayfinders tend to be a bit older (Ben, at only 7, is by far one of the youngest in the class) and parents have been in the homeschooling game for a while.   As a result it seems there is less talk about curriculum (or lack of it) and what exactly kids ‘should’ be doing among the Wayfinder parents.   Each family is, for the most part,  settled in their own routine, and there is an ease and a comfort that comes with being settled; no one feels the need to compete or compare out of fear that maybe they’re ‘doing it wrong’.   This does not mean that ideas are never exchanged – they are, but more in the spirit of community rather than competition.  Also noticeably absent from most groups of homeschooling parents is the never-ending conversation that revolves around what they can’t get their kids to do.   This seems a running theme among the parents of schooled children – struggles over ‘getting’ their child or children to do a task are commonplace and usually involve some school-related activity.

I don’t mean to wax poetic about homeschooling parents.  We are all just normal people with our own unique flaws and foibles, but somewhere we all made a choice for our children that puts us on the outside.   We’re a community of outsiders.    I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s a community I’m truly glad to be a part of.

About Amy

Amy Milstein was born and raised on a farm in Indiana, but after 20+ years considers herself a full-fledged New Yorker. She is married with two kids, who do not go to school but are instead life learners. This means they learn by living in the world (real life ) instead of hearing about it and simulating it in a classroom. With her family, Amy loves to travel, read, watch movies, write, sew, knit - the list is endless.
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