Secular vs Religious Homeschool Groups

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A diverse group of mothers, who feel like square pegs in local home-school circles, http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/apr/09/eclectic-02/ united recently to start an "inclusive" support group for home educators.

They hope "Homeschoolers of Memphis eclectic" (HOMe) grows into a secular alternative to the large, Christian-based home-school organizations...
Their diverse teaching and religious philosophies don't exactly align with those of the Christian-based groups.

Aronson and a handful of other "outside-the-box" moms created HOMe in January by merging a group based in Bartlett and another group known as Unschoolers of Memphis. The mission is to provide a support network "for all families involved in home education, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or philosophy of home-schooling."

Whether you are part of a homeschooling group or not, would you prefer a secular group so that you can exchange ideas and fellowship with other homeschoolers, regardless of their religious beliefs, or do you believe that nature of education is such that a Christian group would more suit your needs?

Many secular homeschoolers feel excluded because a majority of homeschool support groups are religious in nature. I think the most obvious reason for this is that the only thing many secular homeschoolers have in common is home education, while religious homeschoolers have home education and a church in common. Also, when you share a denominational affiliation, it is reasonable to assume that you will all speak the same philosophical 'language'. Some parents would prefer a secular group, believing that it doesn't matter what your religious beliefs, you can still meet as parents and get some valuable perspective from those who differ in their religious beliefs or philosophy of life.

Got a preference of your own? What has been your experience with support groups, whether online or real life?

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KeithK's picture

I think you've made a very good observation, that within secular groups, all they have in common is that they homeschool. That issue is going to impact not just with whom you fellowship or seek support, but the very reason why you are homeschooling to begin with, and the curriculum you find appropriate.

I have spoken with many parents who were considering homeschooling. My reply is always the same. Don't just try it. If all you do is "try it," you will stop eventually when it gets tough, which it always does. In order to be successful at homeschooling, IMO, you have to be committed to the reason behind the decision. For a secular group, it may be academic, or social, but for Christians, it goes way beyond that and I believe that's what makes the difference.

We use Classical Conversation, and we have a statement of faith. If you do not agree with it, you cannot be a tutor for our group because God's sovereignty in all aspects of the world is highlighted in every class. Our church sponsors the group as well, so there is a level of oversight in that aspect. A secular person clearly could not relate.

We are also part of a support group that is separate from CC. While we do not see eye-to-eye on all things theological, we are still commited to the centrality of Christ and the gospel in our homes, and even the headship of the father, which determines how we approach even the academic issues in our home. When a believing mother is frustrated and burnt out and is tempted to send her kids to the bus stop, she knows she can call someone who has been there, who will pray for her, encourage her.

What keeps a secular homeschooler going? How do they remain committed when their worldview is wrong? How do they encourage one another? What values do they hold to? And my final thought is, how does a believing family find support and encouragement from a secular group that rejects the Lordship of Christ over their children's education and homelife?

Peace

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

KeithK wrote:
I have spoken with many parents who were considering homeschooling. My reply is always the same. Don't just try it. If all you do is "try it," you will stop eventually when it gets tough, which it always does. In order to be successful at homeschooling, IMO, you have to be committed to the reason behind the decision. For a secular group, it may be academic, or social, but for Christians, it goes way beyond that and I believe that's what makes the difference.

I'd agree with that. However, I've known a few who began to homeschool to fix a particular problem- bullying at school, a learning disability or health problem, a gifted but bored child... and then they were 'hooked' once they got a vision for what homeschooling could do for their child and family. Amongst all of the long-term dedicated homeschoolers I've met over the years, both Christian and nonChristian, a vision is what they had in common.

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What keeps a secular homeschooler going? How do they remain committed when their worldview is wrong? How do they encourage one another? What values do they hold to? And my final thought is, how does a believing family find support and encouragement from a secular group that rejects the Lordship of Christ over their children's education and homelife?

I believe that one can have strong maternal/paternal instincts and have a wrong worldview. I've met some unregenerate parents whose dedication, nurturing, and backbone would put alot of Christians to shame. But without a view of eternity, one's education is rather hollow.