Recently I participated as a volunteer at a local homeschool used curriculum sale that takes place every June, sponsored by a local support group. Aside from giving families a way to get curriculum at a tremendous discount, it also raises money for two men in California who work full time monitoring the many threats that arise each year to home schooling in the California legislature. This year, I was more of a seller than a buyer, as an earlier cleaning project left me with much to “put on sale.” So, rather than spend an inordinate of time perusing the curriculum materials for sale, while I was doing my volunteering, I got a chance to observe the homeschooling moms at work selecting their “tools” for next September.
The most amazing part about them was that they were hard to categorize. I saw women whose children were past schooling age shopping for grandchildren or children in their church whom they help with homework. I saw moms with children in strollers, on baby slings, or waiting patiently in the hallway gathering up books for multi-grades. I saw young pregnant women and more seasoned pregnant women. I saw young nursing moms and older nursing moms. I saw white women, black women, Hispanic women, Chinese women, Indian women—all having in common the desire to get the right materials for their particular children. I saw homeschooled graduates helping their moms set up and run the sale—not acting as though this was beneath them. I saw dads running in and out, checking with their wives to ensure the budget wasn’t being strained.
When the sale was over and the hall cleaned, I felt very good about the future of homeschooling. Why? Because there wasn’t a celebrity in the entire bunch. Just a collection of everyday people wanting to get the best (at the best price) to ensure a good future for their children. It is with such regular folk that the prospects of our culture depends. Despite the fact that I didn’t recognize the majority of participants (I’m a veteran who has been doing this for over 22 years), in a real sense I felt like I knew them very well. I could relate to their anticipation and desire to do the right thing by their kids—the hope they were getting the materials that would best communicate particular subjects—that in the end, their children would be educated.
Before I left for the evening (yes, I ended up buying some curriculum myself for my 6th grader despite the fact I told myself I wouldn’t spend any money), I did have a chance to visit with some other “vets” of the homeschooling trenches. Interestingly, not all shared my optimism for the future. Some lamented that they didn’t have kids to teach anymore and really missed it—not really knowing where to put their talents. Another was dismayed because the “type” of people homeschooling weren’t the same as when she started—and now that her children were grown, she couldn’t relate to homeschoolers like she used to. However, even these reactions are positive in the sense that home schooling hasn’t become stagnant—it is changing and growing—adapting to the new situations and circumstances of today. Probably the most encouraging news is that so many homeschool graduates are now in the process of homeschooling their own children, recognizing it as not only a possible, but truly, a most viable option for their families.
Homeschooling is keeping pace with the changing face of America. And that is a good thing—because it means that the underlying principles are the driving force—that individual families are motivating themselves rather than being directed by some centralized entity telling them what to do with their children.
I truly felt that the Christian remnant is alive and well—and planning to embrace the future! Can’t wait to see who shows up next year!!!
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, the Chalcedon podcast, and has an active teaching schedule with women and high schooled students.. She can be reached at [email protected].