Your Family's Incredible Lifestyle Begins HERE – With Homeschooling
Thursday June 20th 2024

Sign up for The Good Ship Mom & Pop, Parent at the Helm's irregular and possibly irreverent FREE newsletter!

Books By Linda Dobson ArtofEdCover Books By Linda Dobson learning-coach-approach

Celebrating the Life of Homeschooling Pioneer Nancy Plent

If you're new here, you can subscribe to our RSS feed, receive e-mails and/or sign up to receive our FREE monthly newsletter, The Good Ship Mom&Pop . Welcome aboard - thanks for visiting!

Celebrating the Life of Homeschooling

Pioneer Nancy Plent

By Linda Dobson

I was fortunate, indeed, to have the privilege of meeting and working with Nancy Plent many years ago. We were both writers so she asked for input on her book, An A” in Life, about some of history’s most famous homeschooling giants. She coordinated a homeschooling conference in New Jersey, and was kind enough to invite me to provide the keynote one year. In 2004, she was putting on the 27th conference – think about it! We kept in touch by phone and e-mail from time to time. I don’t know when all of that just kind of petered out, but, sadly, it did.

While putting together The Homeschooling Book of Answers: The 101 Most Important Questions Answered by Homeschooling’s Most Respected Voices, Nancy was among the first I invited to contribute, as her own homeschooling experience coupled with years of selfless advocacy made her a respected voice, indeed.


Nancy Plent homeschooling

Nancy Plent with John Holt (photo courtesy Life Learning Magazine)

Nancy’s biography piece:

Nancy Plent was a school hater who married another school hater. They traded horror stories for years and were determined to find a way out for their son. John Holt and GWS (Growing Without Schooling) came along at just the right time. “I got caught up in the movement. For the last twenty-plus years I have been publishing a New Jersey newsletter, doing seminars, writing “unschool” curriculum, and finished An ‘A’ in Life, a book about famous homeschoolers.”

Nancy answered that most infamous of questions about homeschooling: But what about the prom?

Strange thought, isn’t it, that no childhood is complete without a formal dance at the end of it, wearing expensive, uncomfortable clothes! We’ve certainly bought into the school lifestyle when we ask this question. Families who haveĀ  lingering regret about their children missing the prom (a highly overrated affair to many, by the way) may have a lingering doubt about whether they’re doing the right thing by homeschooling. You can’t blame them; rituals are comforting and important, a way to mark certain passages in life. If we give up traditions, something feels a little incomplete.

I think it may be important for homeschooling families to develop meaningful rituals of their own. I know one mom whose traditional graduation gift to each of her children was a short European trip. It probably meant at least as much to them as a ceremony. As support groups grow, many will probably duplicate school functions like the prom. In a way that’s too bad, to copy what we’ve left behind; with a little more time, maybe we can come up with something better.

Aware that Nancy had known John Holt before his passing, she also answered this question: The name John Holt comes up frequently in articles about homeschooling. What was his thinking about education when he began to encourage homeschooling?

John was one of those rare people who adjusted his vision when new information came his way. His thinking about education was in Stage III when I met him. First he had tried teaching in public school and began to talk andn write about how they should change.

Then he encouraged families who couldn’t wait for change (which might take years, the way the bureaucracies move) to get together and form their own schools (Stage II). It turned out that these schools rarely lasted very long, and he saw that.

So to parents who were discouraged with the membership wars that went on in co-op schools, John suggested the most direct route to get what they wanted ws to take on the job themselves.

I often wonder what insights we may be missing because he’s not around today to point out what Stage IV should be.

Now, we’ll miss the insights that Nancy Plent, homeschooling mom and tireless advocate, may have provided us. Thank you so very much, Nancy. Rest in peace, lovely lady.

You may leave a condolence message for the family here.

Copy the code below to your web site.

Reader Feedback

2 Responses to “Celebrating the Life of Homeschooling Pioneer Nancy Plent”

  1. A lovely tribute, Linda. Nancy will be missed but leaves a terrific legacy for future homeschooling/unschooling families.

Leave a Reply to Wendy Priesnitz