In writing about the value of a good support group, I am planning to share a separate one on co-op groups soon. I have an expert friend who is going to send me a blurb, plus a link to her blog.
Now, there is another support group we must not forget. That is the one of extended family...our relatives. Oh, what is that I am hearing? Sarcastic laughter? What? You didn't get total, no holding back support from your extended family when you so enthusiastically announced your idea to homeschool? Well, this blog post is just for you! Although I hope that many of you are experiencing more support from relatives than those of us twenty and thirty years ago.
One of the great joys of working the annual FPEA convention over the last few years was the turnout of grandparents coming along with the parents to support, learn and here's the great part for some families...to help pick out and even buy the curriculum! Yes, I must admit to a tinge of jealousy! But in fairness to the relatives of many years ago....
The proof wasn't in the pudding all those years ago. Homeschooling was not seen as just another educational alternative in those years. The options that homeschoolers take for granted (at least in FL) such as extracurricular activities legisation, Bright Futures Scholarships, Dual Enrollment and Florida Virtual School were not available then. The legislation to make homeschooling legal in the state of FL was not even passed until 1984 - 1985. Even after it was passed, it was on a recommend to veto list to the Governor. Before homeschooling was made legal, our pioneer families in the state could forget about going to the park to have homeschool day once a week. Please visit www.flhef.org for more history on how homeschooling began and the options that HEF has accomplished for homeschoolers. A big handclap for Brenda (and Craig) Dickinson!
Our own experience with announcing we were embarking on the homeschooling adventure was met with the reactions that many of you have experienced. Your parents absolutely thinking you are out of your minds. Brothers and sisters cracking up laughing at the idea. Friends giving you strange looks or maybe just outright blurting out how crazy you are!
Some grandparents feel offended and think new homeschooling parents are making a negative statement about the quality of education they received growing up and are passing judgment on the grandparents. So defensiveness pops up.
Many relatives are worried the children will be ruined. The, ahem, socialization dilemma discussion gets underway immediately. Not to forget the graduation, prom, and what about college questions.
Not to worry! Do your homework so that you can educate everyone about the facts of homeschooling. We're way past the days when the proof really wasn't in the pudding! I will post in a later blog some answers regarding the socialization question. That one is so outdated!
After you have educated your family members regarding home education, do all you can to involve them. Invite them to an FPEA convention in May or a local homeschooling field trip or park day. Locate some good homeschooling books for them to read. See if they would take the kids to a field trip or share with them some of their own passions or knowledge about a subject. If they are the type of grandparents to volunteer in your child's school, you can probably count on them to be volunteers in your homeschool program too! Maybe they will help buy some of the curriculum or at least purchase some of the more fun homeschooling stuff for birthday or Christmas presents!
If you aren't winning any points and are even dealing with angry relatives ( I know so many who went through this) just persevere and keep plugging along. You don't need everyone's approval to teach your children. While it is nice to have approval and feel supported, you can still get support from homeschooling friends and support groups. As you proceed ahead, you will hopefully see the opposition melting away. And hopefully, you will then have some extra volunteers for your homeschooling program and some recognition of your hard work and sacrifice to educate your children.
Please don't let negativity catch you in its web! Don't waste your time and energy once you have done the basic education on disenchanted or angry relatives. You will need your energy for your homeschooling life. I also recommend that you not waste time bashing public schools. We are fortunate in America to have different options for education. Home education is just one of them. It is not necessary to tear down other forms of education. Yes, public education needs to be iimproved. However, some private schools and even some home school environments could use improving too. Why waste time on those debates?
My next blog will be a reposting of an honest article written by one of our relatives after we had homeschooled a few years. Hopefully, this will encourage some of you!