homeschool families have approximately eight billion options, and we know it. if we like minecraft, groups exist online or on outschool or at the local library. if we’re science nerds, we band birds at audobon, join the moon club or receive monthly kits by mail and complete them together virtually. we research everything. we present 12 options to our kids instead of the single best. and then, worst of all, we don’t even show up to the one thing we chose.
(yes, i am also talking about my past self, too.)
we wonder why we don’t build stronger communities, better ties to other families like ours. we’re upset by the lack of togetherness homeschoolers display, the teensy vacuums of insularity. but we’re not angry enough to change. we keep on doing our separate things, over-committing without looking closely at our own behaviors.
this is how schooled kids (+ their families) do it right. i mean, it’s mandatory for them, and we bemoan that structure. but it’s also laughable because we’re jealous. we want that pre-built community, even when it’s a farce. we want to settle into the normalcy that is a group of familiar, similarly-aged people, gathered around a common goal.
community always requires showing up. whether yours exists online or in person, there’s no shortcut for the fact of your presence. if you’re not actively building community, it isn’t there.
so our rambling, active + varied lives don’t always make space for the most basic human need: friendship. people. i love people, + i also get it. people are hard to be around. people have their own needs, ideas, agendas. they can be loud, forceful, abrupt, disappointing, rude.
recently i set up a free summer program. this is always difficult for me because i want things to be free + feel they should be free, but the very free-ness of it makes it likely people will bail. free lacks accountability, somehow. we had 519 views for this summer community, + more than 40 families applied to come. only five showed up – spawning today’s bitter diatribe.
my kids frequently hate that i run groups, that i preach about showing up to my little band of would-be quitters. but i’ve also watched – six groups in – my kids grow roots. their confidence has blossomed in community. their acceptance of others’ differing opinions + lifestyles has stretched. their styles of play + talk have expanded based on hearing others’ needs. as they see their own needs heard, they feel held, heard, too.
i need more of this, not less.
i will continue to organize + to show up, even though it is hard. despite homeschool families like mine being annoying. please don’t be annoying! it’s disparaging for organizers, who are just other people with families like yours, who long for community too. just show up, so we can grow it with you. that’s all we want.