Homeschool Enrollment Trends

http://icher.org/blog/?p=2801#more-2801

This data is caveated like whoa for obvious reasons, but it’s interesting because it gives a glimpse of where critical mass is that can lead to more options for homeschooling households than doing it alone in the woods and never meeting any other homeschool families.

Something all the men who yell “homeschool or die” never talk about, but having the choice to be part of a community and not having to be jane teacher of all subjects is a big deal when making the decision about whether to homeschool and for how long.

 

Where are the young Christian marriage partners?

Evangelical Christian private schools.  There is a great blog that tracks research and what data exists on homeschooling, and in this link there’s a discussion of some research into whether homeschooled kids marry and have kids differently than kids educated other ways (particularly public school kids).

In a nutshell, evangelical Christian private school attendees end up marrying before 25 and having their first kid a few years later.  Catholic school attendees marry around 28-30 and have their first kid ASAP.  Homeschool and public school kids have higher rates of teen and early 20s pregnancy and marriage (still fairly low in raw numbers) and higher rates of being unmarried at 39.

Without extreme religiosity, which drives most of the homeschool early marriage, homeschool family formation and childbearing is pretty much the same as public school family formation and childbearing, which is useful information for homeschoolers to have now that the extremely religious are a much smaller minority of homeschoolers these days.

I haven’t cross-referenced this with lifetime births per woman, but I suspect based on demographic patterns that this means homeschoolers and public school kids have slightly fewer lifetime children per woman and probably per man than religious private schoolers of either Catholic or Evangelical Christian persuasion.

Anyway my rapscallionate brood is going to evangelical Christian schools, I guess!

Homeschooling is not a Swiss Army Knife

It is, of course, treated as such by conservatives.  No matter what the family situation, homeschooling is presented as the cure to lack of money, lack of community, multicultural conflict, bad marriage, no marriage, the list goes on and on.

Homeschooling is increasingly used as another way to retreat into a private but not domestic sphere.  I used to be very “you do you” about homeschooling, but now when I hear about yet another friend or family member opting to homeschool, I just see another couple who won’t be bringing anyone meals, who won’t be volunteering, who won’t be sitting up with the sick old lady at church, who won’t be participating in local civic life.

It is understandable to protect what is nearest to you, but it’s not a movement.  Or an all-purpose fix-it solution for the loss of posterity and social life.

Saying farewell to full time childcare while being a SAHM

T.W.O. is always saying I should be more open and raw on muh blawg, so here goes.

The combination of number of kids, the ages they are, their physical and mental vigor and quirks, and the fact that I do stay home with them have all led to our household reaching a point where the effort involved finding the type of full time nanny/babysitter that is ok with it all is more stressful and disruptive than simply giving up things like cooking in favor of going with part-timers, private school and deli food.  We had a good run, had some very kind and caring people over the years, but we’ve reached the limit of how useful it can be to us in a part of the country where being a housewife isn’t really viewed as having its own purpose.

I come from the South, and there being a housewife comes with expectations that make it reasonable to do something like have full time childcare if that’s what it takes to meet the expectations.  Many do not, but people don’t really freak out if you do because it’s assumed you must have that lady there to help you meet the expectations of hospitality and visiting and decoration that come with housewiving there, especially at the higher household income brackets.  Where we are now, the expectation is that the housewife is solely full time childcare.  This is the reason for the 20 dollar a day SAHMs around here.  They literally don’t know what else to do but watch kids, so they just keep chugging and the money is pretty much a token sum charged because people would be weirded out by them pleading to watch kids for free (although sometimes they offer, and now I understand why).

We basically didn’t have to confront this issue until recently because the people we got stayed for decent lengths of time.  But recently we had to put feelers out and the hassle was just so epic compared to previous hiring go-rounds that we’re done this time around.  Granted I will still have part-timers, but part-timers don’t sweat me being home precisely because they are part-time.  It could be a lot worse, we’re not making the change because of inability to pay, and I still have part-time childcare from nice teenagers readily available.  I just had hopes of  starting “pure” homeschooling soon, but that’s just not possible.  There is no homeschool community here, the private school options we’re going with are closer to the “one room school” model that we think is best for our children, and me providing more complex instruction down the road is always an option as the kids age.

We’ve all been pretty sick the last couple weeks, so I have more anxiety about the whole thing than is really warranted.  The kids are very capable at very young ages and we can do this without everything falling apart.  At least, that’s the hope.

 

 

A homeschooler’s history of homeschooling

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/main_articles/history_homeschooling/history_of_homeschooling/

This extremely popular homeschooling resource clearinghouse is run by a twice-married, very smart and career-oriented work-at-home mother who had two children about 15 years apart (one from each marriage, she is still in her second marriage) and homeschooled the second one starting when he was about 9 or 10.   That was around the time she figured out how to work from home in a very specialized way that allowed her a lot of free time and flexibility in home educating her son.

I put all that intro out there because most of the homeschool resources people still use now in 2015 come from these older people (mostly women) who were very diverse in their backgrounds and generally very brainy and immensely intellectually talented types who wanted to have kids anyway.

That page contains a very interesting piece of homeschooling history, the recollections and documentation of the conservative Christian homeschooling wing of homeschooling by Cheryl Seelhoff, whose divorce and adultery caused some major rifts within that community (which as you’ll learn from the history was really many little sub-communities who were openly inspired by the Amish and Mennonites and who often wouldn’t even let remarried people into their homeschool circles or home church circles, much less a woman who was at-fault in the classic sense for her divorce).  She herself is an interesting figure in homeschool history, as someone who provided a lot of resources and support even after she received ostracism from so many other homeschool big names.

The direct links to Seelhoff’s history are below, they are pdf scans, but quite readable and high quality.

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh1.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh2.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh3b.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh4.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh5.pdf

http://a2zhomeschooling.com/documents/hsh6.pdf

 

There are several very interesting books about the history and evolution of homeschooling, links to which can be found at the site of this homeschool researcher who wrote one of the most comprehensive ones.  Yep, there’s academic research on homeschoolers, quite a lot of it, some of it pretty high quality.

Anyway Seelhoff’s  history basically shows that the Superwife thing has been going on for a really long time among conservatives, as the mothers were expected to bake, can, garden, make their own clothes and those of their daughters (for modesty), homeschool, and be constantly pregnant or hoping to be while dad earned an income, but usually not a high one.  The major differences between these 1980s and 1990s homespun jumper folks and modern conservative Christian homeschoolers doing that is that the 1980s and 1990s folks mostly did bother to live near enough to each other to provide direct encouragement and support via numerous home churches.  And in what might unkindly be thought of as a kind of pyramidism, and more kindly as a conscious networking before internet, they often had “home businesses” selling each other “home-centered living” and “home schooling” lifestyle magazines, newsletters and curriculum, along with various Christian literature about how Biblical various practices were or weren’t.

Everything old is, as ever, new again.

Market salary for a housekeeper/cook/nanny is 35-50k/yr

This is just for the people who claim that a grown woman who really was raised with full domestic skills in those things, including household inventory management and orderly cleaning routines and a decent time spent in child caring has zero money-making skills and is completely doomed if her husband dies or leaves.  It’s not the stupid and unhelpful 200k/year of occasional news articles, but it’s the general range of what women get who do this for pay.  Being a housewife is economically fragile these days, but if you were brought up to do it, you probably can perform at a professional level if you have to make money.  And if you have credentials like a basic B.A., you can certainly command more.

Sharing the services of such women or hiring one outright is how quite a few homeschooling Christian SAHMs in my neck of the woods with no relatives nearby homeschool and keep the house from melting into a puddle of soda, pretzels and Cheeto dust.

Real Talk for SAHMs: Homeschooling promotion vs. homeschool reality

It’s presented as easy to jump into, especially by conservative men talking out of their hats, but there are numerous obstacles and regional barriers.  A few of the more common ones are listed below.  Actually, this should be an ongoing series, with each one its own post.  A project for another time.  For now here’s the capsules.

  1. “Just go join a co-op!”  LOL.  As if they’re listed in the phone book, or posted at your local church (if you even have a local church, the commuter-Christian phenomenon is painfully familiar and common, and has been for much of American history).  The existence of contact information does not prove the co-op is open to new families.  The lack of contact information does not prove the co-op is closed to new families.  This is, needless to say, confusing as all get out, especially considering the state the average Christian SAHM is in.  Sure, I’ll take my sleep-deprived, pregnant self around to ten or twenty churches and ask about their homeschool co-ops, towing my four kids under 5 behind me.  Or I’ll compose a dozen emails because doesn’t every homeschool co-op have a well-designed website with contact information and details of how the co-op works prominently labelled?  Oh, oh, wait, wait, let me make PHONE CALLS while KIDS SCREAM IN MY EAR.
  2. “You can easily homeschool older kids with littles around!”  ROFLMSMBO (rolling on the floor laughing my shiny metal butt off).  Not really, no.  It’s hard to end up with the mix of personalities that would allow this to be possible, and what is rare and unusual at best is all too often presented as a normal, reasonable expectation in homeschooling.  But everyone lies.  It’s just not real.
  3. Not distinguishing between HomeSchool and School at Home.  The latter is just a way to bring all the ridiculous pedagogy from public school into your house for no gain and a lot of needless hassle.
  4. “It’s always superior to public school!”  LOLOLOLOL.  The homeschool vanguard, with exceptionally well-educated mothers who had access to classically trained elites (because that was their cousin or uncle) could not produce employable children.  They couldn’t even produce the army of little Lee Kwan Yews they were very convinced they would end up becoming the new elites.

Brought to you by my attempts to find other homeschoolers locally and the honest experiences of homeschoolers online and off when it’s just us ladies realtalking while the kids run around.