Your Family's Incredible Lifestyle Begins HERE – With Homeschooling
Friday August 12th 2022

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Life without Constraints of Compulsory Attendance (What a Wonderful World It Would Be)

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Thanks to a “conversation” I’ve been having with some terrific ladies at the Alternatives to Mainstream Parenting section of CafeMom in response to the recent special report on the epidemic proportion of anxiety and depression in school kids, my mind was churning with the question of how to convey what homeschooling provides, in place of anxiety and depression. While straightening up my desk, the back cover of Homeschoolers’ Success Stories (2000) flopped open and I saw the title “Afterword.”

“Hmmm, I don’t remember writing an Afterword: wonder what it says?”

As a wrap-up to presenting the stories of 15 now-adults who had been homeschooled, it says exactly what I’d been thinking about. And as they say, why reinvent the wheel?

Happy young people

Life without the constraints of compulsory attendance means more time to attend to those personal interests.

Chuck Dobson is not Jedediah Purdy. Aaron Fessler is not Elan Rivera. Monique Harris is not Edward Rembert…well, you get the idea.

Isn’t that wonderful? Isn’t that the commonality and the beauty of their lives, of the lessons they’ve taken into adulthood, of their definitions of success? Maybe individuality is what comes from spending some time growing in freedom, liberated from compulsory attendance at school.

Quite a few of our homeschoolers tend toward self-employment, working in a family business, or freelancing. Does this make for good cogs necessary to the machinery of our economy? Not really. It more likely will create families who become masters of their own economic reality, free of the whims of corporate America. Maybe an independent spirit is what comes from spending some time growing in freedom, liberated from compulsory attendance at school.

Did you notice how many began work early – as employees, volunteers, teen entrepreneurs, or workers in a parent’s business? This gave them an education in the conduct of business, and at the same time it allowed them to socialize with a broad range of individuals most often older than themselves. Working from a young age meshed well with a great sense of responsibility for their own education while at home. Maybe self-reliance is what comes from spending some time growing in freedom, liberated from compulsory attendance at school.

Many of these folks – whatever their current age might be – state that they don’t know what the future holds, in large part because they see so many options available. They are, by and large, happy in their work. Many are pursuing interests that emerged when they were children, took root as they grew, and, because of homeschooling, became early proficiencies. They are doing what they love, and the money is following – to varying degrees, but always enough for them to continue pursuing goals and dreams. Maybe vocational happiness is what comes from spending some time growing in freedom, liberated from compulsory attendance at school.

I do not mean to imply that traditionally schooled folks aren’t similarly individualistic, independent, self-reliant, and happy in their work; of course, many are. What I’m marveling at – yet again, because I’ve heard similar anecdotal evidence so many times before – is the seemingly high percentage of these qualities among the homeschoolers in this book. I chose this group of individuals not by those traits but because their lives display many different homeschooling approaches in a variety of geographic settings with varying amounts of parental involvement for different lengths of time and for different reasons. Knowing how worried so many parents are when new to homeschooling (as I was, too) might I now be so bold as to suggest that it would be a lot harder to mess up homeschooling than it is to succeed with it?

As long as we breathe, life is a work in progress. I can’t foresee where any of the people we’ve just met will be in 10, 25, 40 years, but I’d be willing to bet that no matter what life’s external forces may shower upon them, in their hearts they will remain relatively happy people, people we would be glad to call our neighbors, friends, family, or church mates.

We as a society make compulsory school attendance and graduation the goal for so many of our children. It has become such a time-consuming goal that our children’s personal interests – those interests infused with passion – take a back seat or, worse, wither away, unnurtured and unattended.

Life without the constraints of compulsory attendance means more time to attend to those personal interests. Often, it means the crucial time needed to know one’s self well enough to discover those personal interests are in the first place. Only by removing the externally imposed, consuming goal of compulsory school attendance will even more children enjoy the time and the room in life necessary for personal interests to become known. What a wonderful world it would be.

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