A Warning About Homeschool Forums & Online Groups
I homeschooled for more than 25 years. I made mistakes and I watched mistakes unfold. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. I couldn't leave the wonderful world of education and home education, so I now work as a homeschool tutor and consultant.
Today I want to share a word of wisdom for young and new homeschooling moms. My warning is about online homeschool forums and online homeschool groups.
The Struggles of a New Homeschool Mom
What if I mess up? What if I don't pick the right curriculum? What if something goes wrong? What if my children hate the way I schedule the day?
There are a lot of worries and sometimes a lot of pressure.
Even if you read a bunch of encouraging blog posts about how it is okay to be unique, there are plenty of pitfalls waiting to undo your progress. Today, I'm going to focus on our urge to look to "successful" homeschoolers as an example.
Looking for Authority
To conquer the fears of "doing homeschooling wrong," many parents look to Facebook groups, homeschool forums, and other online communities with authoritative veterans. Back in my day, Yahoo groups and Forums were the most popular places for moms to congregate. Today, I believe Facebook groups take the cake with forums a close second.
The Problems with Forums and Niche Facebook Groups
1. False authority.
When you start frequenting an online community, you'll start to notice which people are constantly active. These people speak with authority and seem to know exactly what is right and wrong. This is especially prevalent on niche forums.
It is extremely easy to get sucked into the trap of believing what they say.
You must have the full curriculum. If you don't purchase the XYZ program you will be a failure as a homeschool parent.
The other parents on the forum/group who stand by a specific curriculum or product may not actually be authorities. They may only be 1 year ahead! Nevertheless, it might not stop them from touting their own (limited) experience.
2. We like to share our successes, not our failures.
We're loud about our successes and quiet about our failures. When a style or curriculum doesn't work for a family, they often move on, silently.
When you do hear parents complaining about something, it is often in conjugation with praise for their current system. For instance, maybe Easy Peasy failed for us and we've moved onto Abeka. You'll hear me praising Abeka on the Abeka Facebook group as a "much better option." But, I silently left the Easy Peasy group.
3. Drama, Drama, Drama.
Not only is there always drama, it can waste a lot of your time! I'll never forget this epic piece of Sonlight drama. And don't get me started on the number of removed posts at the Well Trained Mind.
4. Every homeschool is different.
There are lots of options out there because each family is different! Don't fall into the trap of believing there is 1 curriculum above all the others. And certainly never believe anything anyone on a forum as the absolute truth.
5. What works for one family might not work for you.
Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could ask your general questions in a homeschool group and receive the "correct" answer back! This is a danger of online groups because this is the approach many parents take! They give a brief description of their situation and then ask for help.
I love that the homeschool community is so willing to help and offer advice. But the feedback often sounds authoritative and black and white. Remember, it is all subjective!
It may work for some people, but you and your family are unique. Ultimately, you have to come back to what your family needs. What you need. What your children need. What will fit into your life right now?