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Secular homeschool=lonely?

961 Views 12 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  langdonslady
Looking for ideas on how I can get around an issue. We plan to homeschool/outschool, and my DD is 4 1/2, and DS is a toddler. What we have found so far is that in my state, there are plenty of secular homeschoolers an hour south, but up here, most of the homeschoolers are doing it for religious reasons and don't seem to want much to do with seculars.

Whereas I do intend that my children will learn natural science without religious interpretations, I would be happy to keep that as a topic we don't discuss with religious homeschoolers, so long as they return the favor and can keep religion out of discussions with us. Agree to disagree and move on.

Matter of fact, we have much in common with religious homeschoolers in that we want solid core values, the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule, and I reject mainstream cultural practices such as dressing young girls in provocative or adult styles, revealing clothing, promoting vanity and materialism, and allowing children to become "brand" conscious and attached to corporate logos.

We believe in God also, but are not church-going, and so long as DH's only day off from work is Sunday, won't be going to church.

So basically, for cultural values and standards of conduct, I would rather "hang" with religious homeschoolers, and since that's close to all there is in my neck of the woods, that's fortunate. But the "evolution" issue, or even not being a member of one church or another, makes much of that a closed loop to us.

My daughter is enormously social and outgoing, and I need to find a way to give her friends. We live in a bad neighborhood, and the choices around here are not what we would consider, because they are generally the worst representation of mainstream PS kids.

So what to do? Travel an hour in each direction just so she can have someone to play with and form friendships with? We are lucky to have one secular HS family we are friends with, but we need to branch out because they are often busy, and we can't expect one friendship to be everything.

I know I can enroll her in this, that, and the other sport or activity, but that's no substitute for unstructured play time with friends who will still be there when the class or activity is over.

Has anyone BTDT and found an adequate solution for an intensely outgoing and socially hungry child?
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The number of homeschoolers in a 1000 mile radius here is so small I can count them on my fingers. Forget getting into the divide between secular and religious.

Our solution? Look outside. Just because we homeschool doesn't mean that has to cover our friendship circle. Ds is out playing with the neighborhood kids right now - all of them public schooled. Usually during the afternoons he heads up to a youth center where all kids are welcome for a minimal yearly fee. If we didn't have that we'd look to some sort of scouting. Or, we'd enroll him in a class and make playdates for after.

We're trying to start our own hs'ing group here. Maybe that's an idea for you? Go on Yahoo, put up fliers and spread the word for an inclusive group. Who knows, you might find others out there like you.
You can pick and choose what activities you want to do with your homeschooling group. I'd go ahead and join the religious one, then just not take part in the activities that deal with evolution or other stuff you don't agree with. Do you really have to be a member of a church to join their group? You could just say you homechurch.
Does the religious group have a statement of faith? Do you agree with it? If so, you're likely okay if you jump right in.

If not, be careful about signing it when you don't mean it. It can get ugly, as we say here in the South.

I agree about expanding the circle. Start coops and clubs (we started a cooking club and Girl Scout troop) and invite everyone. Go to schools out camps. Sign up for afterschool classes, clubs and activities. Start a "y'all come" park day. Start a parents' book club. Start a kids' book club. Have tea. Invite all the homeschoolers you know for a nature walk at a scheduled time every week. Do community sports.

Get the local school schedule and make sure to invite the neighbor kids over for playdates when school's out. Offer to babysit them on teacher work days....
Our group was started as an alternative to the large religious group. We have a lot of religious members that just weren't the right 'flavor' of Christian for the main group, as well as non-religious members. We have successfully gotten along. There are members who don't teach evolution, some who teach it as an alternate explanation, and those who teach only evolution. We try to be respectful of each other, and if someone asks for curriculum ideas briefly state whether it is secular or religious in nature. We don't let discussion of religion or politics on the yahoo list. People do discuss such topics respectfully in person. It is just so much easier to stay civil in person and way too easy to misinterpret in emails.

We had another larger group that was loosely run. Although we had 'rules' to not allow hot topics on the list, we didn't have anyway of enforcing them. The group finally imploded due to disrespectful posts on the list (by people who didn't actually participate in real life more than once or twice a year) and hurt feelings all around. This new group has a governing board that can 'boot' people if necessary. It also has attendence requirements, so that everyone knows everyone in person. It is so much easier to stay respectful when people actually know each other. So far, so good!
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I'm sorry you are having a hard time finding your niche...we are going through this as well, except we are religious and most home schoolers here are either WAY secular (as in, hostile towards Christians) or spanking Christians, and we aren't going to hang out with them either.

One group I joined couldn't stop badgering me about not teaching my children evolution. Look, I really don't care WHAT you (collective you, not you personally!) teaches their own kid, that is one of the beauties of home schooling! Just let me teach my kid what I want and don't call me irresponsible for not teaching a particular theory when it goes against my beliefs!
Another group called themselves CL, but it really looked like negligent parenting. I'm all for CL and have a lot of respect for people who practice this peaceful way of living. However, when your 18 month old child is being picked on and teased by 8-10 year olds and no one steps in, and chides me for 'hoovering' then, um, no, that's not CL.
We found a great family who we get along great with, they are Christian and have two kids, that play great with mine. HOWEVER, they spank, and frequently, so we limit exposure to them, because I am not in the place right now where I can not say anything that will get ugly.
I also have one AWESOME MDC mama friend who is very similar to us, regarding parenting, home school, and beliefs systems. However, she lives 45 minutes away and has no car, so I'd have to go to her...which is impossible with my 2 car-hating kids!

Sigh, someday we will have tons of kid friends and a close support system of mama's...
I wish we lived close...I'd love to hang out!
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You could start your own group. Most of the groups around here are managed on Yahoo groups. Anyone can set one up. You'll probably find that lots of people want to do stuff, but not many want to set it up. If you build it, they will come.
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I'm kind of in the same boat. We had attended one church for almost 10 years and left that church a couple of years ago. We were visiting a church we "thought" we would remain at last year when we joined our current Christian co-op but we left that church after a few months. We saw things that we didn't like. Now we are very content just enjoying our Sundays at home.
But I feel kind of out of it in our co-op at this point since everyone has a home church and refers to their church often.
I'm not sure we'll go back next year. We do have other homeschool opportunities in town through classes but nothing like a group or co-op that isn't Christian and the one that is more secular is still mostly Christian and has over 250+ members. That's a little too large for me.
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I was homeschooled for most of my life by my very Christian parents. My mom started our homeschool group, and there was a statement of faith. After it became apparent to some of the moms that some of the other moms weren't Christians, they ended up making it a rule that everyone signed the statement of faith (this ended up very ugly). Honestly, my parents didn't have me in public school because they didn't want me exposed to non-Christian influences, and so I don't think they really wanted the non-Christians in their group. They were ok with them being there as long as they didn't say anything that bothered them, and also because they wanted to 'witness' to them. Having grown up in that circle (not just that homeschool group, but also attending various churches and later attending a Christian high school), I would say that it is unlikely that many people who are religious will be wholly content with just not having religious discussions. They have good intentions--they want to tell you about God and about having a relationship with Him, and they don't understand why that's something you may not want to discuss all of the time. At one time, I went to church and considered myself a Christian but because I wasn't 100% against evolution, and because I had more liberal political beliefs, etc, I was often admonished by those who thought I wasn't a 'good enough' Christian. This led to me not attending church altogether. For this reason, when I homeschool my children (years from now), we will more than likely be in a secular group, unless I can find an extremely open minded religious group.

Things may be different for you. Try it out! But just know going in that it may not work out so you aren't disappointed if it doesn't.

I would think about starting your own group. There are probably more secular homeschoolers near you then you realize! I know when my mom started her group, people came out of the woodwork and the group got HUGE really quickly. Now, that group is a group of cell groups because it got too big to do things in one place. So maybe if you start a secular group, it will be the same way.
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I would suggest contacting the secular group that is an hour away from you and seeing if there are any members that actually live much closer to you. If they have an email loop, you could ask them to ask any member in your neck of the woods to contact you.

We belong to one group that is technically based in one place, but has members spread across two counties, so you never know. Just because the group is based out of one place, doesn't mean there isn't someone you and your daughter could really click with much, much closer.
OP, I could have written your post. I have already been actively excluded from one homeschool co-op, and there magically wasn't room for my ds in another even though one of the organizers had told me there were 4 slots the previous day, when I "came out" to the person doing the enrollments as Jewish.

My area does have a couple of secular groups that do park playdates, etc. that are great for older kids, but as for organized activities for small children, it is all Jesus all the time. My solution, I think, will be to enroll my kids in activities with non-homeschooled kids as they become age-appropriate (art class, gymnastics, Scouts etc.). It's not a perfect solution, but it's what I can do right now.

Is there a UU Society where you live? Sometimes they run preschools or camps or other non-Sunday activities. It might be a way to me meet evolution-friendly God-believers who don't dress their daughters like hookers. It certainly is here in the Bible Belt! We belong to a temple, but the UU does provide a chance to meet some other people who share our basic family values.
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OP, I could have written your post. One reason we gave up homeschooling was due to how isolating it was to be the ONLY secular HSer in our area. It was very isolating for both me and my children. We have since then joined our local moms club and we have made a lot more friends. A few of them have expressed interest in HSing recently, some secularly, some are religious, BUT they are not the pushy/preachy types, so we would get along just fine. There are plenty of HS groups in our area, but they are all Christian and make you profess your faith. I've been invited to several, but they are over-the-top religious and I know I would not fit in.

Anyway, we are going to give public school a try and if it doesn't work out, I won't hesitate to HS. The only good thing now vs. before is that I have several friends who are all considering HSing, but most of them are all talk, they haven't started HSing yet, they just say they want to. So, I *could* start a small group on my own if needed. I really feel for you. Ppl always say things like, "Oh, you don't need to belong to a HS group, you have online support," however sometimes online support is not enough. At least for me, it's not enough. I hope you can meet some other moms and maybe find some that are more like-minded to you and at least that is a starting point.

As for UU, we are UU and I like it. However, our particular UU church is very anti-homeschool, they are very pro-public school. There is one family that only comes a couple times a yr, but they are kind of the prairie homeschooler type, which is fine, but totally NMS and they don't live that close to us (our UU church covers a very large rural region that covers a one hr radius from the church). There was another family who were secular HSers, but they bit the dust too (her kids are older than mine, so I wasn't HSing yet when she was still doing it and she also lived pretty far away from us). Secular HSers in our area don't last very long due to the lack of support and just the fact that if you are uber-Christian in our area, you tend to stick out like a sore thumb. Ppl around here don't even understand the concept of secular homeschooler. If you ID yourself as a homeschooler, it is automatically assumed that you are Christian.
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Wish we lived in the same area! Menschlekheit (sp?) is a very important concept to me, and some of my best friends in life have been Jewish. In fact, if we lived closer to Portland, there is a great Jewish dayschool there that I would love to send my daughter to because they include people who may not be Jewish, so long as the rules are respected, and the values really appeal to me.
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