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Isolated Homeschool/Unschoolers

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Hi Mamas
Just wanted to start a thread for those of us who are somewhat isolated and still homeschooling. I tried to start a homeschooling thread a few months ago in the country living forum and discovered that many rural homeschoolers ended up putting their kids in school as a result of feeling isolated. I can understand their frustration because we sometimes feel it too, but as a family we are committed to homeschooling, so continue to watch the school bus drive past our road every day without stopping.

So if you're isolated in any way- even if you live in an active homeschooling community but just don't seem to connect, please join in!

A bit about us- Family of 4. Two boys, 5 & 8. We left the city (1.25 hrs away) a few years ago due to a job change for dh. We now live on an acreage in the country, with various small towns in each direction. We're unschoolers, and lovin' it. Our rhythm is very much one of the seasons, and we are slowly settling in for a quiet winter here. The local homeschool community isn't very active at all, and there is *no* unschooling community to speak of. Occasionally we get visitors, and love when old friends from the city come out to spend the day. This happens more during the warmer months, as our winters are usually very cold and people are hesitant to drive out because of snowy/icy conditions. Sometimes we will go for two weeks or longer without seeing anyone. That is usually about the point where I start to feel like we need some social stimulation and will try to organize a trip to the city or visit or something!

I am trying to learn to always look at the positive things because I know this is the right place for us right now. Country life is amazing for the kids, and we've discovered some very cool people in our community, (even if we don't see them often) who we may have overlooked if we had a bigger social circle. We try to take advantage of what's available locally (swimming, bowling, library) but in the winter, dh and I only drive one vehicle between us, so most days the kids and I are w/o transportation. We could drive him in to work if we really wanted to, but most days we prefer to stay home. We do different seasonal activities, we read tons, the boys do lego, bionicles, etc. every day. We garden, bake from scratch, and keep some chickens. This year we dropped all our extra-curricular activities and are enjoying a completely unscheduled life. My kids aren't undersocialized at all, and they both have fantastic people skills. I know this quiet life isn't for everyone, but for those who find themselves isolated also, to whatever degree, how does it work for you?
post #2 of 31
hello...we are quite isolated too. In the country, over an hour from a sort of city and more than two from a "real"one.

there is no real hsing community where we are at either.

we are thinking of scouts probably. that will be our social outlet. maybe 4H...but not sure.
post #3 of 31
Thread Starter 
How old are your kids mtnviolet? Have you been in the country your (their) whole life?
post #4 of 31
We aren't overly rural, but despite numerous goings on around us, we haven't really found a niche in the homeschooling community yet. Either groups have stuff on days that don't work for us (trying to keep a 7.5yo with hearing and attention issues on task with a 5 and 3yo in tow is HARD!) or we'll plan to go and one of the boys gets carsick *sigh* or *I* am sick (we've had a bad year for health here ) So I'm somewhat isolated at this point!

We DO have every other week group activity days with the distance ed school, but have made very few of those since april due to illness!

I totally have this dream of getting an acre or two and having a huge garden, chooks and all manner of things for the boys to get up to and into! So colour me jealous of your life!
post #5 of 31
We live on 10 acres outside a very small town, 35 min. drive to the nearest small city, have 2 boys who are 10 and almost 4. There is some co-op HS activity in town which we participate in minimally, at this point just one class per week, but it's not a group we've ever really hit it off with much socially, and most of them are busier than us with regards to HS because they use charter school home study programs and are more structured (we're independent, relaxed/eclectic and not religious). We do one class per week also in the above-mentioned small city. My kids would like to have a larger social circle, but they're also very happy spending a lot of time at home, and they play very well together most of the time. Our best HS friends who used to live very close by recently moved an hour away and are using a full-time school this year, so things are different than they were last year, because we used to see them a couple of times each week.

I don't exactly feel isolated (maybe because I'm pretty introverted and don't need a lot of socializing), but would love to be part of a larger, more diverse HS community than what exists here, and my kids enjoy being in friendly groups. That's part of why we want to move, there's another rural area about an hour from us that has a much larger HS community and quite a few programs to specifically serve HSers. Most of our options here for outside-the-home stuff involve a lot of driving, which none of us enjoy (I don't like driving, and my kids sometimes get queasy on the twisty roads). Sometimes it seems like a hard row to hoe doing it this way, but it's been working for us so far, we're a happy family, the kids are well-rounded and have good social skills for their ages, and no way at this point would I put the kids in school to change it.
post #6 of 31
We live in a small town, near a small military base. ALL the Germans go to school, because it's not a legal option for them. And the base is small enough that there's no homeschool community to speak of.
The larger group we are members of is a little further away, and we've yet to make a niche. My kids are 6(girl), almost 5(boy) and almost 3(boy). My VERY active little guys make group activities a little more challenging, and there's another one on the way!!
The homeschoolers tend to be a little more liberal on average, but we are definately a minority in the military community, as we are neither politically or religiously conservative. Atleast we can attend a playgroup on post regularly, and I am grateful for the few "crunchy" mommies I have found. But their kids are generally much younger than my DD, and she desperately needs a "peer group".
post #7 of 31
my children are almost six and almost three.

we moved rurally three years ago so yes, for much of my older child's life she has lived here. The youngest was born in the bedroom.

Some days it is tough and we rather look like this

other days it is great.

we were attempting to travel to the sort of city once a month but, I am in limbo with what to do with hsing groups. There seems to be two choices...extreme left or extreme right. In all honesty, we are more "middle" people.

we are also pretty relaxed so that makes it hard to fit into as well.

so, we are thinking (maybe) of ditching the whole hs scene and doing our own thing in the day and then getting involved in an activity or two. Being so rural the activities are limited as well. We don't have dance, karate, tumbling...well you get the idea.

we have churches (sunday school type deal), scouts, 4H, soccer and football.

pretty limited. this is why we are thinking scouts may be a good fit.
post #8 of 31
We're rural. We live in a tiny town that is about 35 miles from a town of 10,000. And about 2.5 hours from Fargo- the "big city"

We are involved in church activities and get together with other homeschoolers for social stuff 1-2x month. My kids are 5.5 and 2.5.
post #9 of 31
We are not isolated but I often yearn for this kind of life. I am an introvert and do not need much socialization. My kids are involved in a lot of activities because we have them nearby, but I do spend a lot of time at home, especially now that my kids are older and I can drop them off and pick them up at the door.

I love reading about people who are happy living this kind of life. Do any of you have a blog or know of any blogs like this?
post #10 of 31
We are also isolated. We know one other homeschooling family and there is a homeschool group here. But it is small and very heavily fundamentalist whereas we are not, so we are not invited or welcomed.

We live about 1.5 hours to anything decent to do and can't manage to find other eclectic or unschooling families or secular groups. Let alone a playgroup or AP families. It's lonely and I miss when we used to live by a decent museum and park.
post #11 of 31
Thread Starter 
Ack! Darn, lost a big long post.

It's so nice to meet you all, and it's nice to hear others making a go of hsing even if not directly surrounded by support or like-minded people.

I'd love to hear what you do with your quiet life, especially to stay sane during the winter months.

I've been wanting to make a projects list one of these days, now that the busy fall has slowed down. But we're under the weather too, and I'm relieved that we don't have any schedule right now. I just want to nest in with my boys and get everyone feeling better. Looks like we might be making a big pot of chicken soup today.

Seasonal activities, free-play, and outdoor stuff frames our life at home. I like to do regular seasonal celebrations with the kids. Some of them are obscure (like we just had an All Soul's celebration), but they love it and I hope they'll look back with fond memories on the things their crazy mummie did with them. I also like to see the boys get involved in extended projects of their own design (like art projects, or writing, building). Ds1 is more inclined to this kind of thing so far, but I think ds2 will jump on board eventually. My job is to make sure that they have the space and resources to work at these things.

We do have a blog here. Would love to see others' too.
post #12 of 31
We are demographically and physically isolated. We live a couple of miles out of a town of 600, an hour and a half from a town of 10,000, and seven hours from a place with, say, a symphony orchestra. There are three other homeschooling families within a half-hour radius of us.

The thing is, though, that we don't feel isolated. My kids are friends with many of the kids who go to school, and they also have a robust community of fellow music students -- some right in town, some who live an hour or so away. We don't have the choice of a gazillion activities, but we find enough that we feel connected with our community in general.

post #13 of 31
We are fairly isolated in the rural Appalachian mountains. I have a 4 year old and a 19 month old. We do belong to a small HS group of varying aged children that meets once a month for a little party of sorts and play/conversation. However, I'm the only one that I know of who hs in the in Waldorf tradition. It seems like most have never heard of it. These folks are more classical/Christian/eclectic educators. I feel isolated more so because mothers in this area don't tend to congregate or do playdates/social outings like they do in the cities. I'm not even sure of many AP mamas around.
post #14 of 31
We have felt very isolated in recent months even though there are many homeschoolers around us! The weekly homeschool group that I worked hard to keep going last year fell apart, as other families chose classes, activities, or private play dates over our group. I have felt sorry for my two boys (7 and 4) and puzzled that parents don't seem to understand that kids need to meet on a regular basis to maintain friendships! "Socialization" is not our problem; it's how to make friends when everyone is too "busy" (I'm sick of hearing that word; here in the country we're all busy with homesteading projects). Fortunately we have one family with a son who has been friend to both my sons for years now, and though he goes to school, we still visit with him often.
The funny thing is, while I have worried, my boys seem fine with being home to themselves most of the time. I think my older son understands through conversations with us, and from his own observations, that homeschooling makes us different but we don't have to do what everyone else is doing. So I have felt just fine about my decision not to sign up for programs that involve a long drive just so he can meet with others on a weekly basis. Perhaps some day the local families will stop all that driving and want to meet with us again. Meanwhile, I feel happy every day that these brothers are together instead of separated by school. My older son does attend art class at the local school -- he seems to love the class but not care that he doesn't see those kids for longer, which is great.
By the way, I loved your blog. We have had many of the same experiences harvesting veggies and exploring the woods and fields. We haven't dug our carrot crop yet though, since it just hasn't been cold enough for the root cellar to cool down. We're enjoying them a few at a time.
post #15 of 31
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by girlwouldmake3 View Post
The funny thing is, while I have worried, my boys seem fine with being home to themselves most of the time.

Me too. I think I worried about missed opportunities in the city for awhile, but came to the conclusion that it's always a trade-off, no matter what you decide. My boys are fine too, and I'm so at peace with it now that we've just embraced it.

I'm trying to think creatively in other directions. For example, I think we might join our provincial (we're in Canada) archeological society. So it's not something that you need to be at weekly or even monthly, but you get regular newletters, and opportunities to attend digs during the warmer months. (Ds is fascinated with pre-history-anything.) Trying to reach outside of our own peer group for interesting opportunities.

By the way, I loved your blog. We have had many of the same experiences harvesting veggies and exploring the woods and fields. We haven't dug our carrot crop yet though, since it just hasn't been cold enough for the root cellar to cool down. We're enjoying them a few at a time.
Thanks for checking it out! We're making salsa and tomato sauce today. Well at least I am...last I checked the boys were outside smacking frozen puddles with a bat and golf club.
post #16 of 31
we're out in the country as well-currently homeschooling a 13 yo, 11 yo and 9 yo and the little guy is home as well...the only one in school is our oldest in high school.

Our 13yo is doing high school virtual school in a few subjects and working on some art projects, she is designing and going to self publish a comic. Our 11 and 9 yo boys are doing some bookwork but mostly learning some outdoorsy survival stuff-they are currently into that pretty heavy.

We like being out here, we lived in the city for about 6 or so years and while it was fun and nice to be close to everything, we just wanted to come back to the country. I don't mind not having a close community in re: to homeschooling, the kids have their friends and interests and groups. We're happy.
post #17 of 31
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by sapientia View Post

she is designing and going to self publish a comic. Our 11 and 9 yo boys are doing some bookwork but mostly learning some outdoorsy survival stuff-they are currently into that pretty heavy.
Cool!! Comics and the survival stuff are big with my boys too. I'd love to hear more about those outdoorsy projects!
post #18 of 31
Originally Posted by Hibou View Post
Cool!! Comics and the survival stuff are big with my boys too. I'd love to hear more about those outdoorsy projects!
well right now they are learning about campfires, safety, what wood to burn if you want to cook something, wood or brush not to burn when cooking...how to set up a tent, how to cut down brush...just basic stuff. Theyare also involved in boyscouts(no flames, pls) and their first campout with dad and their troop is this weekend, they are thrilled. My 9 yo has his canteen, compass and pocketknife etc. in the backpack already set up and ready to go!
post #19 of 31
wanted to sub, but will be back later :-)
post #20 of 31
Wow! This thread is perfect for me. We live in a medium sized town full of college kids (the local university has about 40,000 students). There is a large homeschooling community here but we don't really fit in with it - we're unschoolers, liberal, and nonreligious and the vast majority (okay, all of them that I've met so far) are strict curriculum based, very conservative, and religious. We sort of stick out like a sore thumb. We do go to some homeschooling park days and meetings but for the most part we haven't found any other homeschooling families that we really click with. We're about 2 hours away from 2 major cities so we do go to them probably once a month or so but it's not the same as having local friends.

We live on 2 acres and also have a large garden (though at this point we're mostly cultivating weeds) and an old house that needs lots of work.

It's nice to meet you all and I look forward to chatting with everyone!

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