homeschool 'class' at the park

Demystifying Homeschooling

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers
What a zany start to my first post here for Nola Family, but I think it’s good to get this one out of the way up front.
Probably the biggest misperception folks have about homeschoolers is that they’re stuck at home all day, with mom and dad … studying the Bible (the latter being the second biggest misperception, but we’ll focus on the former here). Are some homeschooled kids isolated and/or socially awkward? You bet! But I promise you this isn’t the norm.
How do I know? I jumped feet first into this world four years ago, not having any friends who were homeschooling – and I was terrified. We joined lots of groups, nervously searching for that “socialization fit,” as I feared my little guy would become that weird, unsocialized homeschooler I’d heard about in movies and whispers.
We finally started our own group that now has more than 700 members and has expanded beyond NOLA to McComb, Mississippi; Shreveport and even Las Vegas, with plans to push forward in Boston! But more on that if it comes up some other time.
More important here: How does homeschooling look in New Orleans? It looks pretty incredible from where I’m sitting. It has become my passion over the past few years and I hope to share that excitement with all of you. We regularly interact with children ranging from toddler to teen, and really a there are more than a few “still-in-the-belly future homeschoolers” we’re waiting to meet (one that was just born a few days ago – shout out, Ashley Kenyon!) and we have activities – many activities – pretty much every day of the week.
These activities range from park playdates and fun field trips to makerspace labs, robotics, Latin, Writing, Math, Geography, Kidpreneur classes, 4H, Drama, Art, and on and on. Kids participate in farm schooling activities, trade show booths, science fairs and attend tech conferences pitching ideas to and interacting with angel investors. There’s just too much to even mention all at once.
These educational opportunities are led by experts in a variety of occupations, along with businesses, colleges, museums and universities, and of course – parents. Classes are often multi-age, inclusive as a rule, and socioeconomically diverse by design. We keep costs low, accessible and consistent!
And all of that is just a quick and fairly narrow overview, scratching the surface of one corner of this robust and vibrant ecosystem. Homeschooling is happening right now as you read this, at any hour of the day or night – and it’s happening in private residences and in the places you visit for field trips or during school breaks with your own children. It really is it’s own little world and it’s incredible. And it’s not perfect.
I’ll share struggles we face – honest struggles. And ways we overcome, because we’re big on overcoming challenges. Many of us come to homeschooling feeling a little bit broken, to be honest. Either the educational system here in Louisiana has alienated or failed many of our families or it just wasn’t able to effectively accommodate learning differences in a way that made sense for our child(ren) and homeschooling was a desperate bid to find some sense of normalcy and happiness for our kids. Others among us have never considered “school” and educated outside of the norm from the beginning, craving the freedom and opportunities it offers. Those stories vary as widely as the pedagogy employed.
You’ll learn about unschooling, deschooling, hackschooling, worldschooling, “school at home” and a bunch of other options I’ll mix in as we explore everything awesome and available to homeschoolers in this wonderful city.
I’ll be interviewing homeschool families and organizations that support homeschooling in a variety of ways, from co-ops to educational resources – many that families can take advantage of outside of a homeschooling construct, while sharing how a day in the life looks. The main benefit homeschoolers have is their flexibility and openness to new experiences. And that benefit will now carry over into your world, as I’ll be sharing our discoveries with you!
Thanks for reading, and come back next week to learn about homeschooling on a budget in New Orleans!
 by Mary C. Long
October 1, 2017

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