You see, I'm vocal on most things I'm passionate about.
Being vocal sometimes get you into trouble.
Mostly what I'm vocal about is unkindness and being unwelcoming. Our small state of Rhode Island has had a lot of that of lately amongst various homeschool groups.
So much grumbling and disagreement that many of us split off into yet another group.
It was disheartening and exciting at the same time.
The leaders and members of the new group have been accused of starting this fledgling group for profit and to advance our own initiatives or even for power. It saddens me and I have resigned myself to the fact that those that say such unkind things have their own bigger life issues and baggage to deal with. Really, it has nothing to do with me. It took me a while to realize that. And
I don't care to listen to the illfound accusations of a few.
Our journey to homeschooling was not easy or even our first choice. Over 4 years ago, I had a bitter battle with our public school over services needed for my son with Tourette Syndrome. It ultimately led to State mediation and ill feelings on both sides. I'm still bitter about comments made to and about my son and our family. It's been a long time and I am mostly over it but it brings us back to the unkindness and how we were treated.
Our first year homeschooling was mostly a disaster. Having no support from the community with the exception of a few parents who helped me, it was a difficult struggle. Most of our family thought we made the wrong decision. Sometimes I thought we did too.
Some things we settled into quickly, other subjects like Math, took the entire four years for my son to understand. Some days are still hard but I know on those bad days (and the good days too) that I can turn to my homeschool group for support. I didn't feel that connection to the other homeschool group that we were part of. Perhaps, that was my motivation for starting the new group. I don't want any new or seasoned homeschooler to ever feel alone or unwelcomed or discouraged to homeschool. Parenting and life is hard enough, educating our children is harder. Harder doesn't mean unjoyful. It just means it is hard work.
I homeschool because I want what is best for my kids and our family. I want my kids to be strong and independent and love learning and be sound in their beliefs. Homeschooling is not a decision that parents make over lunch one day. We've all given it careful thought, weighed the pro's and con's and made the best decision we can for our own families. It doesn't mean we don't support public school or teachers or even other family's educational choices.
It means we love learning and we love our kids as much as anyone else.
When homeschoolers are disagreeing over what method of homeschooling or what curriculum or extracurricular classes to take, it only hurts our kids. It doesn't allow our kids to make connections and it doesn't teach acceptance. When homeschool groups don't pull together and work with each other, it separates and divides all homeschoolers.
Our new group, called ENRICH (http://www.enrichri.org/) is a special place for me. We've been together for six months and things are good. We are on that middle ground right now. It's the time right after initial excitement starts up when folks get comfortable and things slow down. Volunteerism drops off a bit and folks hibernate for the winter. It's all normal in the course of groups. A few seem to do all the work at first, others join in, it blossoms and grows, more join in, it blossoms and grows. It's really a delight to me to watch it all. To watch the connections.
I'm grateful for the help and good will of all who have joined.
I'm grateful for those that have stepped up and volunteered and for those who said life was too busy to help right now. I'm grateful that these 120 families who came seeking the same welcoming place that I wanted and I'm grateful to those who recognize that our new group may not be a good fit for them. I am grateful for support.
This year, I am choosing to be in this grateful place and no longer listen to those unkind words of a few. It is a miraculous journey that I am honored to share with my fellow homeschoolers, those that wish to see and share the miracle of watching our kids learn and grow. Those that wish to help and give support to our fellow homeschoolers. Those that help on the first tentative homeschooling steps. Those that reach out to kindness and gratitude and give every ounce of energy to their kids and help others to feel welcomed.
Have a joyous homeschooling season!