Homeschooling in American started at the beginning. I mean really, Native Americans were educated by their parents. They didn’t go off to school somewhere.
Then came our founding fathers. Many of them experienced their pre-college education at home: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, to name a few.
Our early leaders were also firm believers in school-based education. Since they believed all men were created equal, then all men should be educated. If parents couldn’t do that job, someone should.
As public schooling became popular, there were fewer homeschoolers. However, there were always some: children of pioneers and missionaries and those whose parents just thought homeschooling was the best fit. A few of those were: Teddy Roosevelt, Pearl Buck, Thomas Edison, John Philip Sousa.
By the early 1900s many people generally didn’t even dream about homeschooling. That is, until the world turned upside down. In the 1960s, the ascendancy of humanism, the sexual revolution and the drug culture tore the fabric of family structure. For the first time in American history, divorce and family disintegration started to become common.
By the early 1980s, there came a diverse group of ex-hippies and traditional Christians who wanted better for their families. The former group did not want to stifle their children’s love of learning by forcing them into canned academic settings. The latter group did not want to send their children to schools that would indoctrinate their children in destructive cultural values. They wanted to reconstruct the idea of family, faith, and culture working together.
With the values of love of education, family and faith being preeminent in the homeschool movement, the emphasis was family time, education time, and church services. In those days, that was it, no other involvements were “approved” because “even church youth groups had been contaminated by the bad culture”.
By necessity families began to band together for support and legal protection. Homeschooling was illegal in many states and difficult in others. In 1983, Homeschool Legal Defense Association was formed. Local support groups, learning co-ops and a few umbrella schools began. Homeschooling in community began.
By the 1990s some parents began to want more for their kids. I can remember getting together with a group of moms of young teens. We wanted our homeschoolers to have a like-minded peer group. So we started a youth group (despite the fact that we were told by some homeschool leaders that we were condemning our kids to eternal punishment). That group ran for 19 years and had 60+ members each year.
Parents in support groups and umbrella schools began to share their expertise. Choirs, debate teams, sports activities, arts and film clubs, political activism training, chess clubs, proms and more were made available. Families began to balance the power of home education and the fun of doing some things in community.
Today we have freedom to educate our children in the way that best fits each child. (This comes with eternal vigilance, you know- join HSLDA.) Praise God for that freedom!
Homeschoolers do well in the workplace and well at college. They are helping to shape the culture in positive directions. (If you’d like some solid research data on this check out National Home Education Research Institute.)
In our local homeschool culture, we moms long ago lost the denim jumpers. Our kids are active in their church youth groups, sports, clubs, community organizations and lots of service. Our umbrella school would have scandalized some of the old-timers. It holds proms and creates a yearbook. No one is has gone to perdition as far as we know: rather, the students have become culture-shaping forces in the homeschool community while they are in high school and in the larger world after graduation.
They go to college and tell me that they meet lots of other homeschoolers there and that homeschoolers know how to do study independently, follow a syllabus (many of their peers haven’t gained that skill) and often are leaders on campus.
Many of that first generation of homeschoolers are getting married and starting their own families. Many of them loved homeschooling and will be raising their children in a homeschool environment. I wonder how they will shape the homeschool culture?
What were your early homeschool experiences? How do they compare to your experiences today?
The real secret of successful homeschooling: Prayer
Without God’s help, we couldn’t successfully homeschool our children.
To help spark a creative prayer life, I compiled 2 devotional journals, each with 30 interactive prayer activities.
The prayer thoughts and assignments are short but creative- meant to invigorate an adult’s prayer life and initiate a teen’s development of their own prayer rhythms.