While we have been waiting for our furniture to arrive I have been working to find some homeschool contacts in our area. It has been an interesting process to say the very least. Why you might asked? I didn't homeschool in the states before we moved to England so I only have that experience of homeschooling in England to go on. The home education process is different in England, not better or worse, just different than what I am finding here. My biggest hesitation in joining in with some groups are the religious statement of faiths that they are asking for! Some of these statements are written in such a way that they are turning me off. But I am a Mom looking for somewhere to fit in, looking for friends for my children, looking for learning opportunities so I am struggling to come to terms with the way things are done in this area.
In England, religion is not nearly openly professed as it is here in the States. The homeschool groups that I belonged too (I belonged to 6) never mentioned religion. There were people from all walks of life getting along beautifully. In the entire four and half years I lived and homeschooled in the UK there was only one episode of a disagreement between two members due to religion, unfortunately the group splintered and eventually people took sides and the group broke apart. All the other groups I belong too had a real acceptance that anyone could join in, whatever your faith. Many people in Britain attend church but it is not a daily topic of discussion; it is kept private. But that doesn't mean religion is banned from the groups. Right before we left our homeschool group was having field trips to various religious facilities. My children and I visited local Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish facilities in order to learn more about cultures and faiths from other parts of the world. There also were plans to visit Roman Catholic and Protestant churches after we left. People of all faiths attended these events. Questions were asked and answer and it was a truly an enlightening experience.
Another big difference is that homeschool cooperatives (coops) are much more prevalent in the US; in fact, I didn't know of any in the UK. The free-form way of learning that I'm used to seems to not be as popular here. This is a big difference for me, as one of the reasons that I homeschool is to avoid the classroom setting. Wasn't the point of homeschooling to get away from classes? Most homeschooling groups seem to be replicating school and dare I say it even expecting HOMEWORK!!! This might be typical as the children move into what would be the Middle School or High School equivalent levels of work, and it's something I'm probably going to have to look into. It's just very alien to me at this point, and I also wonder how I'm going to fit in the "experiential travel" method of teaching that we as a family have come to enjoy. Again, one of the benefits I see from homeschooling is that we can do our traveling on our own schedule and not be trapped into the "travel during the summer break" paradigm.
The thing I find most puzzling is the need to insert the word God/faith in every class description. Is this truly necessary? I found it listed for a classes in fashion design, home economics, drama and even photography. Don't get me wrong I have no trouble with faith or religion, my daughter attended a drama camp this summer at a Catholic church near my parents house. I get the importance of faith but does it really need to be thrown out in every sentence. Doesn't it lose its meaning after a while?
IF you follow my blog you should know I veer away from any topic that is controversial. I keep my religious and political views close to my chest, shared only with my family and closest friends. I mean not to offend but to voice my concerns on how my family will find our place in our new living area.
I haven't got any answers to these thoughts, they are just my thoughts as I ponder how to move forward and met the goals I have set: find my children friends and new learning opportunities as we continue on our homeschool adventure.