Homeschooling for the Non-Fundamentalist

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A common misconception about homeschooling is that it’s only for conservative religious families. This misunderstanding come from the fact that many of the movement’s early advocates were religious families wanting to remove their children from what they saw as the deleterious effects of the public school system.

A lot has changed since then. Some fundamentalist Christian families still choose homeschooling. So do other kinds of Christian families. So do Muslim families. And Buddhist families. And Jewish families. Somewhere, I’m sure there is a Zoroastrian homeschooling family. Alongside all these are homeschooling families of no particular religious faith.

Homeschooling appeals to people across the religious spectrum because of its many advantages. Homeschooling allows families to be together, allows parents to be the major influences in a child’s life, and allows greater flexibility regarding curriculum and scheduling, just to name a few of its advantages.

According to this article, only about a third of homeschooling families cite religious reasons for homeschooling. And it’s reasonable to assume that of those thirty percent, only a minority fit the fundamentalist stereotype.

The research reveals the wide range of reasons for homeschooling:

“Home schoolers whose motivations are primarily religious have certainly not gone away, but they are now joined by those whose reasons range from concerns about special education to bad experiences with teachers or school bullies to time-consuming outside activities to worries over peanut allergies.”

Homeschooling also appeals to parents because it consistently produces higher educational outcomes for kids. Studies have shown homeschoolers regularly score higher on various tests of educational attainment, enter college well prepared, and are able to integrate themselves socially into a variety of environments.

The point here is that if you are considering homeschooling, but don’t want to end up in an isolated, religious pseudo-cult, don’t worry. Don’t let the lingering image of the hostile fundamentalist reacting to cultural change prevent you from pursuing something that might be a great boon to your family.

Once you begin looking around, you’ll discover a wide-range of resources and curricula reflecting a variety of perspectives. You can choose what you are comfortable with and what you think best suits who your children are and best encourages them to become the people you hope they’ll be.

Whether religious or not, all parents have values they want their children to internalize, and those values are not always the same as the values of the industrial education system. Homeschooling gives parents a much larger hand in making their children’s adoption of those values more likely. This advantage ought not be short-circuited because of an outdated fear that homeschooling is the sole domain of people you don’t want to be like.

Instead, begin exploring your options. The point of homeschooling is to create educational experiences for your children that benefit them, bring the family together, and fit with the parents’ priorities. You don’t have to be a religious fundamentalist to want to do that. You just have to be human.

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