The homeschooling community is like any other community. Being a homeschooling mom for 7 years, I’m still learning the etiquette as I go along. When I’m at home, I’m the ruler of the kingdom as far as curriculum, scheduling, and pacing are concerned. Being left to my own devices without having to toe the line with an administrator and school district dictating everything I do is heavenly. With that said, I’m content. My anxiety kicks up when I leave the house and mingle with other homeschoolers.
Every homeschooling family has their own approach to educating their children. I had a rude awakening to this fact when I was kibitzing with a mom who was new to homeschooling. As a teacher, I had my perspective which I believe was a good fit for my family and I was sharing it with this young mom of 3 children. A well-known leader in the California homeschool community who was a hardcore advocate of unschooling was eavesdropping on our conversation. When she heard me mention that I was a teacher, she said snidely, “Oooooh! I can’t wait to hear THIS!” Then she turned her nose up as if she was trying to identify a bad smell. My blood boiled and I wanted to confront her for her rudeness, but I was used to standing up in front of a hostile room filled with children, parents, teachers, and/or college students. I knew how to hold my tongue and press my point.
There is a cult of personality in the homeschool community which is no different than the high school lunchroom. The gluten-free vegans are at one table while the raw diet paleo folks sit at another. The religious sit on one blanket while the secular lean against the bleachers. The unschoolers are near the swings while the traditionalists are under the tree. The anti-vaxxers are climbing up the slide while the vaxxers are trying to slide down the slide. And among these groups, there are sub-groups. And the sub-groups have sub-groups. In other words, the social landmines are intense and everywhere. My negative experience with that advocate for unschooling made me realize I don’t like spending much time in these situations because it’s exhausting trying to avoid the landmines.
Me: I took the boys today to get their shots. I couldn’t believe how long we had to wait before they found a nurse to do it. We were there for 15-.
Anti-vaxxer (with horror): You allow them to put that poison into your kids?
Me (confused): Um, it’s the flu season. I thought it’s time…
Anti-vaxxer: Did you see that documentary about…
Me (embarrassed, angry, tired): No.
So I breach the homeschooling etiquette. I rarely pull out a chair and join the circle at park days because I despise making small talk. I like talking to like minded people, but when different factions want to get into it over their differences or when the group decides to shun someone (me) because they landed on a landmine, I tap out. I did my time in high school and college. I don’t feel the need to subject myself to the nonsense.