Accidental homeschoolers is a term coined by Time4Learning to describe a large group of homeschoolers who seem underrepresented in the public portrayal of homeschoolers.
Website articles on homeschooling seem to categorize homeschoolers as one of two types: those homeschooling primarily for religious reasons, and those homeschooling as a parenting style, that is, Holt and Gatto followers.
Both of these groups are similar in that they made a choice to homeschool as part of some sort of lifeplan.
Here is Elise’s story which epitomizes the reality that many start following the homeschool path somewhat accidentally. Hence, accidental homeschoolers:
I never thought that I would homeschool
I never envisioned myself as a homeschooler until events unfolded in such a way that there didn’t seem to be any other choice. I’d say that I started as an Accidental Homeschooler, a category that also describes the start of many of my friends. In my case, I had always assumed that my children would go to school, although I recognized that I might have to pay for private school. And indeed, this was the first route we took when our daughter entered kindergarten.
Problems at School – Confronted with Socialization Issues
But two months into the school year, her teacher approached us and said that she was too advanced for the class — had we considered the gifted program in the public school? We hadn’t, but subsequent research seemed to indicate that this might be a good choice for her. It wasn’t. She spent the balance of her kindergarten year in a classroom where she was bullied by a male classmate (the principal suggested to us that we teach her to be more “assertive”), where the teaching was stultified and where recess was permanently cancelled because the teacher declared it “too hot” to be outside. She came home cranky and tired from having spent six hours sitting at a desk engaged in work that was neither interesting nor challenging.
Problem Solving – Let’s Try the Private School
The next year we enrolled her and her brother at an elite private school, with a price tag to match. In spite of this, the first grade curriculum was largely a repeat of what my daughter had learned in kindergarten. Meanwhile, our son, who was reading Magic Tree house chapter books at age 4, was learning the letters of the alphabet in his preschool class. At the end of this year, my husband calculated what was going to be involved in sending three children to this school (we had a toddler at home, too) and concluded that while the cost would be justified if we were enthralled with the school, it surely wasn’t given that we were only marginally satisfied.
What’s next? Let’s try School at Home…
And so with great trepidation we embarked on our homeschooling journey. When we told the kids, their only concern was that they wouldn’t be able to get new lunch boxes. This was easily remedied and they spent that first year eating their lunches out of their Barbie and Hot Wheels lunch boxes at our dining room table.
We faced other challenges early on, such as finding a peer group and selecting curriculum that was consistent with our teaching style and desire for academic rigor.
The first curriculum I purchased, after seeing it in use at the home of an acquaintance, was Abeka. This is a school-at-home, workbook style program that I knew would never work for my own children as soon as I unpacked the box. Luckily, the Abeka stuff accepted the return and I was out nothing except for the shipping. Of course, I still didn’t have a curriculum to teach with!
I next turned to Sonlight, which is a literature-based unit study. I was drawn to this because of my love of reading and writing. By the time that box arrived, I realized that a writing-intensive program probably wasn’t going to work with my kids, one of whom was positively writing phobic.
As that first year went on, I learned to make smaller purchases – I bought just one or two books from a publisher rather than everything on offer – and to accept that at least as many things wouldn’t work as would.
At the same time I was working through curriculum issues, I was also testing out various support groups. It seemed that the ones in my area were full of families whose goals and values were not consistent with mine. Ultimately, I started my own and it attracted other “accidental” homeschoolers.
The Accidental Homeschooler becomes the Deliberate Homeschooler
Over the years, a funny thing happened. I began to notice that there was nothing accidental about my homeschooling at all. In fact, I had become a huge proponent of homeschooling and was often called on to speak about homeschooling at meetings, libraries and other events. Along the way, I either reviewed or road-tested most of the major curricula available and had written curriculum for my children when I was unable to find the right materials ready-to-buy. I noticed that many of the friends I made that first year experienced a similar metamorphosis: the Accidental Homeschooler became the Committed Homeschooler.
Article by Elise LaTorre of South County Home Schoolers
Homeschooling – Advice on How to Get Started
Time4Learning get calls every day from people who are contemplating or starting homeschooling. We have informally called one group of starters: “Accidental Homeschoolers”. These are families (like the one described above) who had their children in schools and, through a series of incidents, decided to homeschool. This group represents those who abruptly start homeschooling with little to no preparation, most likely driven by dissatisfaction with the schools. The article above represents an example of “Accidental Homeschooling”, a reality that Time4Learning is researching (Please send us your stories).
To help these families, we have published a free guide: The Introduction to Homeschooling. We worked with a number of our experienced homeschool parents to write this e-book. It includes resources and advice that we’ve learned from our veteran homeschool parents.
Time4Learning – Online Homeschooling Curriculum that is Proven Effective
Time4Learning provides home school curriculum with multimedia instruction, animated interactive lessons and printable worksheets for reinforcement, has a low monthly price, does not require a contract, and provides a money-back guarantee so you can make sure that it works for your kids, satisfaction guaranteed.
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