When Spencer Kelly was younger, he found it difficult to simply have a conversation with someone. Now the 16-year-old with Asperger syndrome has become a spokesperson for how homeschooling can help struggling students excel.
In five years of learning at home, Spencer has gone from being quiet and unfocused to winning quiz bowl competitions and launching his own business. These accomplishments earned him an invitation to speak at this month’s World Conference for Autism in Portland, Oregon.
Spencer plans to share his own experience in coping with Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.
Time to Come Home
In Spencer’s case, homeschooling has lived up to its reputation as an excellent means for addressing developmental issues—but his mother Tracie admits they chose to do it almost as a last resort.
“It was a very new process for me,” she says. “I was one hundred percent unfamiliar with homeschooling. But he just…
If the followers of Brave Writer were the start of homeschooling in America, it would have never taken hold and become the parental freedom of educational choice it is today. Though our forebears fought for and won great victories, our hold on educational freedom is challenged on a daily basis, both personally, as well as on the local, state, and national levels. Yet, Brave Writer takes us backwards. Her points in this article outline such gloom and doom, self pity, and hand holding and – well – to use the modern vernacular this describes a snowflake. This is the wrong direction for home educators. If we are weak, we will be vanquished.
Early home educators faced criminal charges, allowing and promoting truancy, no curriculum, public shame, few knew of others who home schooled, and a host of legal challenges- they were just out there on their own. But those parents were certain of their goals for their children and families which bolstered their enthusiasm and commitment to freedom.
Below is a link to an old HSLDA article outlining the history of home schooling in the United States.
Today’s generation apparently is lonely, whatever that means. As a parent/teacher there is so much to learn, teach, share, read, discover, explore, people to meet, places to see, community involvement, youth groups – how could anyone ever be lonely. Many of us of a certain age, decided to home school to get away from groups, structure, group think, group activities – we had our own family goals and agendas – we didn’t need the approval of anyone nor fear we’d have no friends. And fear of fitting in?! For goodness sake, that’s why we home schooled in the first place – we blazed our own path. But, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be part of a group, but don’t complain if you don’t ‘fit in’ – just move on – it’s not a personal thing.
None of this to say we kept ourselves secluded – far and away, most homes schoolers are involved in a myriad of high profile community, educational, and self growth activities and have earned the respect of their elders.
The more i thought about Brave Writer’s article the more convinced i became that it needed to be challenged and to question her intentions. Is she a wolf in sheep’s clothing – acting in support of home education, all the while tearing out the foundation? This article very much sounds like it. Or one using the foibles of social media to create a downward sucking whirlpool of commiserate negativity fostering feelings of helplessness so she can sell you some answer? Anti-home schoolers will thrill to add this gloom and doom piece to their arsenal – for indeed, all that ‘loneliness’ and insecurity will surely harm the children.
To finish my rant, two things: one is that i really don’t think this has anything to do with loneliness and secondly this article does not reflect the ideology of myself and many other parents, who, with wisdom and covenantal commitment, chose to home educate their own children.
Here’s Brave Writer’s article as posted on her Facebook page.
Lonely thoughts: am I doing it right? Doing enough? What if I fail?
Lonely days: you and your kids slogging through, no one entering your house to give you relief, no one else planning a lesson or setting up the art project or supervising PE while you take a break in the teacher’s lounge.
Lonely outings: a field trip of 5—you and your three kids—in a sea of school children and teachers, or alternatively, the only person with kids in tow while people wonder what they’re doing “out of school.”
Lonely self: wanting friends, not sure who will be your friend, wondering how to find them, make them, keep them, coordinate with them, manage the interactions between your kids and theirs, how to fit in when you don’t have the same philosophy or religion or educating style.
It’s a creeping need—at first, the joy of choosing to spend all day every day with your kids is rewarding, fulfilling, and need-meeting. Over time, the craving for adult contact and affirmation becomes profound, powerful, necessary.
The Internet helps—online conversations can tie us together and give us a place to gather—our own water cooler.
Co-ops help—offering a place for parents to chat while kids get instruction you didn’t have to prepare.
Yet it’s more than that.
Underneath the loneliness is this: a craving to be understood, to be accepted.
Can we say our truths, our worries, our different opinions and still be accepted and known by the other homeschoolers? Can we share about our philosophy of education without it raising suspicion or creating rifts?
And what if you are not in the majority homeschooling community? What if you come from a different faith or no faith? How do you find friends then?
The hardest part of homeschooling for me was the feeling that I had to *qualify* to be a member of a given group. The rejection, scrutiny, and exclusion I’ve experienced while homeschooling was excruciating and not unique to me. I know homeschoolers who gave up home education because they literally had no options for community involvement.
If homeschooling is going to thrive, it has to expand and include.
If you are a human being, your beliefs will shift over a lifetime. It’s impossible to guarantee that what you believe is true now will remain in the same configuration for the rest of your life. If you home educate, you are examining those beliefs daily (because you are studying, reading, and discussing ideas all day every day).
When we form groups around beliefs, we teach people to pretend. We say that you must deny the part of yourself that is curious or disturbed or doubts in order to retain membership in the community. That kind of group fosters vigilance to uphold a single perspective, where suspicion becomes a mode of operation rather than support and kindness. Suddenly the strictures of the group become more important than building supportive relationships around home education.
The best homeschool friendships weather change—create space to revise, grow, experiment, and explore—in education models, in religious affiliation, in non-religious affiliation, in various political beliefs, in parenting-styles.
The weakest friendships are built around reinforcing the party-line—and avoiding the discomfort of difference.
The greatest suffering occurs when someone fails to live up to the group’s stated beliefs and is kicked out or shunned or rejected (or is told that their family is now dangerous to others—that one hurt me the most).
We can cure loneliness in homeschool. We do it by building communities that welcome people committed to the daring adventure of bringing education to life for their children. That’s the ground floor of friendship.
Everything else? Fodder for rich conversations over brunch and mimosas at Mimi’s.