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s/o Volunteering in the Homeschool World. Has it changed?


fairfarmhand
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The volunteering thread got me thinking.

 

Some feel that the fabric of homeschooling groups have changed in the past few years with parents not being as interested in being involved with the day to day operations of the groups.

 

Do you see this?

 

Why has it shifted?

 

How are certain new to homeschooling people frustrating those who've done it for awhile?

 

Forgive my broad generalizations!

 

In my experience, the long time homeschoolers tend to understand that they will have a part to play in a group. They expect to pay a hefty fee if they are not going to put in time helping with a class. Even if they're not there for each get together, they are willing and happy to do leg work like emails, planning, and picking up supplies. If the parent in charge doesn't require much parental involvement, they are grateful and thrilled to have those adults in their lives and they seldom complain because they don't want to do it.

 

Those who haven't homeschooled as long, don't quite seem to understand how much work a group (particularly academic) takes. They've never done it from the ground up, so they just don't understand it. Therefore, they're more likely to think that it's no big deal for them to not participate as parents. They also, because they've never done it, don't understand that not making your kid prepare for class does affect the class atmosphere. They don't understand that when the group moves from one class to the next, having to recap for someone missing is a huge inconvenience. (Especially when classes are once a week, you have to cover lots of ground)

 

I do think that new homeschoolers are not trying to be obtuse or obnoxious as much as they just never have done this stuff for themselves. Typically, they're plugging into an existing group with other experienced parents taking charge and they are oblivious.

 

They also may not understand how much work it takes to homeschool a kid say older than the third grade. There's a lot of content to follow, and it does take commitment and consistency.

 

I don't want this to turn into "other" bashing. I just really want to understand the dynamic that has changed in the past 10 years. I've homeschooled for 15 years, and I've seen it too. I don't typically open my classes to just anyone. They tend to be invitation only because I never know, when I meet a family, what kind of homeschooler they're going to be. It frustrates me to work hard and not have peopel follow through or appreciate what you're doing.

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I think that as umbrella programs have expanded. so has the general term of homeschooler.  The early warriors knew they were on thier own and expected to do 100% of the work.  Over time, many supports have come into play.  Every thing from small home groups to extensive school district funded groups to online programs where the parents don't even have to drive the child around to the public school funded proograms.

 

 

With this expansion of avaialbe programs, the types of parents have expanded as well.  You will still see the natural volunteers in all types of programs, and you will also find the parents who are used to having everything done for them (they may have even been discouraged from particiapting by various programs in the past).

 

 

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I kind of think what Tap says is true.  More people are homeschooling, for a few different reasons.  In the past most homeschoolers had to be really invested in the nitty gritty of it, but now it encompases many different types.

 

I think this is true in many different kinds of organizations, actually.  I see it in churches and other volunteer run groups too - some are doers and others less so, because of personality or circumstance.  And a few people are just selfish.  Homeschooling now reflects this to a greater degree.

 

What I think complicates a little in this case is that people are affected by, on the one hand, being used to education being seen as a public good, and something people provide for all.  And mixed with that is a sort of paid customer mentality.  So more than otherwise would see these services as something they have a right to as if they were paying for it.

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Idk. Because I don't volunteer in any groups anymore. Bc yep. Burnt to crisp doing it years ago and decided it just isn't worth it to me anymore.

 

I agree that many people these days think home schooling requires little effort on their part, whether they are in groups or not. A huge part of this attitude is because the state school at home programs actively promote that the parent won't need to do anything to school at home with their programs. And there's more than a few home school curriculum providers and speakers who promote that nonsense too. Just watch the DVD, log in to the computer, or teach your child to love reading and by fourth grade they can be fully independent type crap. So yeah, when someone asks what I do and I tell them, they openly say they think that's making too much work of it, they don't have time for that (I do NOT understand this. We all have the same 24 hours.) or whatever other phrase for just not comprehending that yes raising and educating children is going to be mentally and physically taxing at times.

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How was the demographic composition of homeschoolers "back in the day"? How many worked outside the home?

 

I found that having a job made participating in daytime homeschool activities extremely difficult and often impossible. In my local hs group, almost all mothers now work. 

 

I also found more people homeschool because they are forced to rather than because they have always embraced homeschooling ideologically. They somehow make it work because they have to, not because it is part of their chosen lifestyle. 

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In our area, the support groups are shutting down. The old guard who were leading are moving on in life, and here at least, the groups that monthly meetings are becoming few and far between.

 

The group I was with on the board went to just an email information loop about four years ago. So other than a list manager, no real leadership needed.

 

There was another group where I got my initial experience teaching paid classes, and they're closing down in June. The church where they met is having financial problems and need to cut back on on programs they were supporting, and the lady that has been leading it for the last ten years wants to move on. All of her children have graduated, and the stipend the church was paying her to run the group isn't enough to help with college. There is no one else in that church that wants to take it on. So DD will be in the last graduating class there.

 

A good friend of mine was on the board of another group who nearly shut down. The membership dropped to nearly 1/3 of what it was at the peak, and they couldn't afford to rent a place for monthly meeting and events any more. In the fall, they're going to primarily email as well with a small membership fee to cover a few events where they have a rental fee like their book sale and a few special speakers they want to bring in. People outside the group can attend those events for a small fee, but they'll be free to members.

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We used to have support groups, not de facto schools. Of course, running a day school is harder than meeting up for a park or gym day. I'd never attempt it with volunteers. I'd want trained and capable persons, who were compensated for their time, running the institution without having to rely upon the goodwill and responsibility of parent volunteers. I realize I've just described a traditional school...

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I am two decades in this home schooling journey, and I think you nailed it, fairfarmhand. 

 

When we first started, if we wanted a co-op, we had to gather a few families and BE the co-op. Nowadays there are so many "co-ops" that are actually university model schools, many parents newer to home schooling don't realize (or feel empowered, maybe?) that they could grab the bull by the horns and plan so much of this stuff themselves. I am astonished at how much money I see folks spend on co-ops for K and 1st grade age students. 

 

More and more I see parents outsourcing everything, and while you can successfully outsource a lot, the difference between now and "back in the day" is the level of parental involvement in direct instruction - even if only at the level of coaching study skills, checking homework, and even knowing what topics their students are studying that week. So many seem to have been reduced to a role not much beyond cook, chauffeur and ATM.

 

Forgive me if I seem harsh. At the moment as I look ahead to next year for my kid who will be in high school before I blink twice, I am dismayed that I am having a very hard time these days finding fellow home school parents who are excited to roll up their sleeves for some fun studies with us, and sadder, same-age students who are not willing to think hard enough to be iron-sharpeners to one another. 

 

(I hope some newer homeschoolers will jump in here and say I'm wrong!)

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I agree with all of the above statements. In addition, I have felt so much pressure to make things be at a near-professional level of presentation within the co-op. I shouldn't feel obligated to create a power point AND handouts AND prepare an expensive lab experience if I am presenting regularly AND other people aren't putting in equally. I get putting in that amount of effort if I only have to present once a quarter or once a month, but if I am putting in 6 hours of work and $100 in materials, it isn't fair in a no-fee co-op experience if Sally's just obligated to bring a $3 box of cookies from the store as a treat.

 

Work division.

Expectations.

$ commitment.

 

I view a co-op as easing my teaching load--either by providing a better experience or by reducing my personal demands. If a co-op doesn't do that, I'd rather just plunk down money as a trade-off to easing my teaching load or opt out entirely.

 

 

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Forgive me if I seem harsh. At the moment as I look ahead to next year for my kid who will be in high school before I blink twice, I am dismayed that I am having a very hard time these days finding fellow home school parents who are excited to roll up their sleeves for some fun studies with us, and sadder, same-age students who are not willing to think hard enough to be iron-sharpeners to one another. 

 

(I hope some newer homeschoolers will jump in here and say I'm wrong!)

 

I have been homeschooling only for 8 years, but I have never met a single family IRL, old timers or newbies, who were remotely interested in academics at the level that we are teaching in our homeschool. Nor were any of my children's peers interested in being "iron sharpeners". I do not think it has anything to do with old or new homeschoolers, simply with a mismatch of expectations.

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Idk. Because I don't volunteer in any groups anymore. Bc yep. Burnt to crisp doing it years ago and decided it just isn't worth it to me anymore.

 

I agree that many people these days think home schooling requires little effort on their part, whether they are in groups or not. A huge part of this attitude is because the state school at home programs actively promote that the parent won't need to do anything to school at home with their programs. And there's more than a few home school curriculum providers and speakers who promote that nonsense too. Just watch the DVD, log in to the computer, or teach your child to love reading and by fourth grade they can be fully independent type crap. So yeah, when someone asks what I do and I tell them, they openly say they think that's making too much work of it, they don't have time for that (I do NOT understand this. We all have the same 24 hours.) or whatever other phrase for just not comprehending that yes raising and educating children is going to be mentally and physically taxing at times.

 

Amen. I have heard this a lot lately, it's really rather insulting if you think about it, as if their time is more valuable than mine. 

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The volunteering thread got me thinking.

 

Some feel that the fabric of homeschooling groups have changed in the past few years with parents not being as interested in being involved with the day to day operations of the groups.

 

Do you see this?

 

Why has it shifted?

 

How are certain new to homeschooling people frustrating those who've done it for awhile?

 

Forgive my broad generalizations!

 

In my experience, the long time homeschoolers tend to understand that they will have a part to play in a group. They expect to pay a hefty fee if they are not going to put in time helping with a class. Even if they're not there for each get together, they are willing and happy to do leg work like emails, planning, and picking up supplies. If the parent in charge doesn't require much parental involvement, they are grateful and thrilled to have those adults in their lives and they seldom complain because they don't want to do it.

 

Those who haven't homeschooled as long, don't quite seem to understand how much work a group (particularly academic) takes. They've never done it from the ground up, so they just don't understand it. Therefore, they're more likely to think that it's no big deal for them to not participate as parents. They also, because they've never done it, don't understand that not making your kid prepare for class does affect the class atmosphere. They don't understand that when the group moves from one class to the next, having to recap for someone missing is a huge inconvenience. (Especially when classes are once a week, you have to cover lots of ground)

 

I do think that new homeschoolers are not trying to be obtuse or obnoxious as much as they just never have done this stuff for themselves. Typically, they're plugging into an existing group with other experienced parents taking charge and they are oblivious.

 

They also may not understand how much work it takes to homeschool a kid say older than the third grade. There's a lot of content to follow, and it does take commitment and consistency.

 

I don't want this to turn into "other" bashing. I just really want to understand the dynamic that has changed in the past 10 years. I've homeschooled for 15 years, and I've seen it too. I don't typically open my classes to just anyone. They tend to be invitation only because I never know, when I meet a family, what kind of homeschooler they're going to be. It frustrates me to work hard and not have peopel follow through or appreciate what you're doing.

 

Well, for one thing, there is a world of difference between a support group and a co-op, even though the meanings have been mushed together into just...homeschool group. I would not have been interested in a co-op until my children were 13 or 14yo, but I loved my support group from the beginning. Today's homeschoolers just think about "groups;" and you have proven my point. :-)

 

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Our group has recently had to institute mandatory volunteer hours.  For reference, our group is 20 years old and has roughly 100 families.  Up until 2 years ago, there were plenty of moms hanging out  on co-op (both fee based and true co-op) to generally keep order and help clean up/set up etc.  That has fallen off so drastically that we have to required people put in a certain # of hours per year or pay someone else to do it.  Also, our free co-op class that require parent teaching have seriously low numbers.  People want to drop and run!  I think this has changed because people are homeschooling due to the overall failure of public schools rather than homeschooling because they feel drawn to it.

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How was the demographic composition of homeschoolers "back in the day"? How many worked outside the home?

 

I found that having a job made participating in daytime homeschool activities extremely difficult and often impossible. In my local hs group, almost all mothers now work. 

 

I also found more people homeschool because they are forced to rather than because they have always embraced homeschooling ideologically. They somehow make it work because they have to, not because it is part of their chosen lifestyle. 

 

 

I see a lot of this.  And then others who want to keep their kids out of public schools but really haven't settled on what they actually do want.

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I have been homeschooling only for 8 years, but I have never met a single family IRL, old timers or newbies, who were remotely interested in academics at the level that we are teaching in our homeschool. Nor were any of my children's peers interested in being "iron sharpeners". I do not think it has anything to do with old or new homeschoolers, simply with a mismatch of expectations.

 

Of course what I describe is based on my own experience, and perhaps I generalize too much, but my older kids DID have many bright, ambitious, academically-minded home schooling peers. They provided camaraderie and a level of healthy competition that pulled the whole group up a notch. I think hand-held tech has a lot to do with the decline in this, but I suppose that's a topic for a whole 'nother thread.  

 

regentrude, I appreciate your comment upthread about there being more working parents home schooling their kids. That's a valid point, and I'm not sure I've thought about that within my own geography. There do seem to be more moms getting aboard MLM ships, but I think you are right that more have actually gone back to at least part-time work.  

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Do you see this?

 

Why has it shifted?

 

How are certain new to homeschooling people frustrating those who've done it for awhile?

 

Forgive my broad generalizations!

 

 

 

I said it in the volunteering thread.  Yes, I have seen it from where I started to where I am now.

 

I think the shift has to do with the broad spectrum of people homeschooling and K-12 virtual school. The reasons people are homeschooling are all over the place now.  Not that it is a bad thing, just a factor.

 

I find it frustrating because the new people ask me questions, ask what I did/do and then complain that what they want isn't ready for them and that they have to create it.  My friend and I had what we called the non-co-op.  We invited friends we knew to get together weekly for group discussions on whatever topics we wanted to cover, books, current events, etc.  We each took turns coming up with topics and teaching.  After a couple of years some families moved, kids went back to school. So we reached out to the community to find new members.  That worked well for a couple of years.  Our last 2 years of the group was my friend and I doing all the work and all the teaching.  The other parents either dropped and left or simply didn't help at all.  Their kids did the work, and were prepared but my friend and I ended up doing everything else.

 

Some of it is the fact that they are new to it and finding their footing.  But the roll up your sleeves and I will make it happen factor never seems to kick in.  They give up too quickly when they can't find what they want.  A lot of the curriculum is open and go.  Designed to limit parental involvement.  It is familiar and like sending your child to school. 

 

Where I live, you spend a lot of time traveling to find other homeschoolers to do things with.  Not everyone wants to do that when their kid can just go online.

 

In all fairness, I outsource most of high school with my dd.  Even more then with my ds because it is easier on me.  I am burnt out and I needed to go back to work part time.

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Full disclosure: my oldest that's graduated and my 9th grader are virtual school students. But this summer we're doing chemistry and we still discuss her work. If she's struggling, we figure it out. I guess I can't help it! I've taught them so long! And it's usually quicker than waiting on an email from a teacher!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I think all of the things mentioned up thread may be contributing factors to a possible shift in dynamics now.  

 

Here's another one.  The women I first met that had been homeschooling for a long time (most from the beginning) considered it their job.  They put in a lot of hours.  But most did not have kids with learning challenges or if they did they had already found ways to help.  Newer parents were more likely to have pulled kids out of school very recently because it was a poor fit.  If it was a poor fit because of academic struggles, especially undiagnosed or newly diagnosed learning challenges, then they might be really struggling themselves to find a way to help their student.  That can take an enormous amount of time and energy.  It may also mean that their child won't do well in an academically based co-op setting, or at least not without significant scaffolding while they work to help them with whatever they are struggling with.  It can also mean the parent is very, very burned out.  They may also be embarrassed and feel they and their kid don't fit in.  

 

Also, at least in my area, there can be a really bad match of goals and personalities.  There isn't maybe as much of a community feel to homeschooling (because as mentioned up thread there are more and it is a more diverse bunch).  Here there just aren't many homeschoolers but the homeschooling community HAS grown since I started 5 years ago.  Of the few that do homeschool most I would consider mavericks.  They bucked the system in an area where homeschooling is just not even on anyone's radar.  Most don't even know it is an option.  It can be very helpful to have a maverick, someone willing to think outside the box and fight for what they think is right.  However, when you have too many mavericks there can be trouble.  Our groups ran into some serious issues with extremely strong willed and inflexible people who had pulled their kids out of school and were more than willing and definitely wanted to put in the work but only if it was done their way.  They envisioned that if they weren't having to deal with the school system then it could ALL be done their way and their way was the best.  Anyone doing it differently within a homeschooling group must be ignorant (even when some of those homeschooling had been doing it for years and years).  If it wasn't being done their way they put most of their effort into arguing and frequently pulled their kids out of the homeschooling groups.  We had two different homeschooling groups dissolve because of this dynamic.

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I'm in a co-op now where the leadership is always complaining that they don't get enough help, but they also won't communicate what they need. I have said over and over that if they tell me what they want done, I will do it. I've said it multiple times to multiple people. They didn't ask anyone to be on the leadership committee except the people in their little clique. We won't be going back next year

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I find it frustrating because the new people ask me questions, ask what I did/do and then complain that what they want isn't ready for them and that they have to create it.  

 

 

Boy howdy. Anyone else use Shurley Grammar before there was a homeschool edition?

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I keep seeing new homeschoolers with a public school mentality. They ask on homeschooling facebook pages for information, but they always specify that it needs to be free or nearly free and not require much time or effort from them. They also want to know where they can find groups that will plan and run activities, field trips, and classes, and again, they want them to be "free or nearly free" and they don't want to do anything.  I want to answer that what they're looking for is called public school.

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People want to drop and run! I think this has changed because people are homeschooling due to the overall failure of public schools rather than homeschooling because they feel drawn to it.

Again, I just don't understand this. That is why I started and continue to home school. Whether drawn to it or not, if I determine my kid needs this, then I suck it up and I do as best I can. Fake the feelings until one of us makes it if we must.

 

I'm so sick of everyone's feelings being used as an excuse.

Frankly, my feelings shouldn't be my child's academic problem.

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I keep seeing new homeschoolers with a public school mentality. They ask on homeschooling facebook pages for information, but they always specify that it needs to be free or nearly free and not require much time or effort from them. They also want to know where they can find groups that will plan and run activities, field trips, and classes, and again, they want them to be "free or nearly free" and they don't want to do anything. I want to answer that what they're looking for is called public school.

I do answer that. I say bluntly If you want free - do it yourself or expect to get what you paid for. Also, consider public school.

 

I'm so done with being polite while being insulted.

 

I don't even accept the excuse of working parents. The lament of struggling to be involved in the education of children with working parents is not new and parents who have kids in public or private school struggle with it every day without deciding they can't be bothered. Well. Maybe they do decide that, but at least the people doing the work are being paid in those situations.

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When I have volunteered as a homeschooler I have had to deal with people who think they are the exception to every rule.

 

-They want to throw a hissy fit that their 3 year old isn't welcomed for a group for 8-12 year olds.

 

-They want to messenger pigeon me a check when I said the only two payment options are PayPal and cash handed to me at a specific time and place.

 

-They drop out of math club because the math is too hard.

 

-They no show to space limited events.

 

-After no-showing to space limited events they want refunds. Out of my pocket I guess? Because the puppet theater and wildlife park and such oddly still want their money for every registration.

 

 

These issues aren't unique to homeschoolers but it drives home the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished.

 

I do volunteer but I do it in a no nonsense way that works for me. I'm not interested in sitting on a board with other homeschooling families so I don't. I just offer up the field trips and clubs that I am willing to and don't let the nonsense stress me out. The largest homeschool group here doesn't have a board for this very reason. And it works very well.

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I've seen this shifting too. Not all newbies though - some of our young moms have the volunteer spirit, but the percentage is not as high as it once was.

 

Maybe it is because they have young children and don't feel able to (due to the age of their children) or qualified? Maybe the older/more experienced moms intimidate them?

 

The people we get wanting to join our support group - their questions mostly revolve around - what can you do for me? what opportunities will you offer my children? what field trips will you offer? what coop will you offer? etc, etc. Not what is going on and what can we do to help. Now, I understand wanting to know something about a support group before joining, but their questions are all about what they will get out of it, and there are no questions about what kind of group are you, how often do you meet, what goes on at park days, what do we need to do to join, will we have any responsibilities, how can we help, etc. Hey, for some of them, even the idea they have to show up to hand in a form in person is just too much work for them. 

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Pioneers, settlers, refugees. 

 

Some of us have come way after the original pioneers and settlers, but are like them in mindset. We are in homeschooling as a way of life. We read and research and think about what we are doing and whyNot just about curriculum. We have a educational philosophies. Most of us are fairly comfortable being counter-cultural to a significant degree. 

 

Most of the newer homeschoolers are just not this way. 

 

Honestly, I see this here even in homeschoolers ahead of me, whose youngest are high school or college age now. Many who are just looking to duplicate a school-ish academic program without some of the downsides of school. Hence the flourishing of tutorials (as opposed to co-ops) which are mini-schools. I got a shocked look from a couple moms the other day when I mentioned some of our academic plans for the next few years. They were shocked that I wasn't putting Dd into every class their tutorial offers and couldn't imagine not doing a by-the-book standard curriculum. 

 

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I think it is a mixture. I believe that Murphy hit on some good points, but also Regentrude. To be honest, the Michigan economy is so bad on the East side of the state that it is to the place I know almost no homeschooling parents that aren't also working part time jobs on top of the schooling. They don't want to put their kids, especially as they near high school age, into our local schools because they've gutted, music, art, foreign language instruction, AP's, and DE programs but finances can no longer support having only one income. Spread that thin, they aren't looking to put a lot of leg work into homeschool groups. The only ones still doing it are ones in which the other spouse is very high income, well above the COL for the region.

 

I do a lot of volunteering for 4H, and either parents volunteer and they run the fundraisers and figure it out, or they can "buy out" which means pay all the costs of projects, and if on a competitive team like robotics or rocketry, also their portion of the team expenses for travel. I no longer can run myself ragged making it possible for everyone to participate for free.

 

In terms of academic homeschool groups, we have never participated in one, and given that most parents in the area would expect me to teach for free, I do not offer. So I can't say whether or not anyone is experiencing the OP's phenomenon or not. I do know that there had been five homeschool groups in the county a decade ago, and now there is only one. I suspect that the organizers' children probably all graduated, and they moved on without anyone to take the reins, but that is speculation on my part. I know that is what will happen with our 4H STEM club when dh and I retire. We have set a goal of retiring in three years. I do not predict that anyone will step in and continue the program.

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This reminds me of a situation that I witnessed in my early days so roughly 4 years ago.  

 

It was the beginning of my second year homeschooling.  The group we had joined would hold 5 weeks of classes every Friday in the Fall and the Spring.  Classes were dependent on who was teaching them and what they wanted to teach.  There would be a meeting of all members and potential members a few weeks before classes were scheduled to start so that people could find out about field trips and other stuff that various members were thinking of facilitating and who might be willing to teach a class of some kind.  Facilities were free and the location was a good one.  

 

Anyway, even though I was scared to death, myself and another relative newbie were talking with each other and decided we might try teaching  a class together.  We figured with two of us if one was sick or had an emergency the other would still be there.  It would also help having someone else to bounce ideas off of and help plan.  We were getting ready to approach the director and let her know.

 

 Another woman who had just started homeschooling that year was ahead of us.  She was getting agitated and upset.  The director was politely trying to explain how the group worked and the woman was NOT happy.  Turns out, she had assumed that she could just drop off her children daily to attend classes and field trips and pick them up again when she got off work.  She had also assumed she could customize what classes her children would take, sort of like an a la carte menu.  She was highly offended that these things were not offered and felt that she had been misled.  I guess she assumed that homeschooling groups were like private schools (which I can kind of see since homeschoolers are technically seen as operating private schools in my state).  She also apparently assumed, though, that unlike a normal private school, the parent had more control over what their student did without actually participating in their education.  She didn't stay with the group...

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A reduction in volunteering has been seen everywhere, so I suspect that it's really a wider problem. I think the commodification of everything has a lot to do with it.

Generally speaking I'm not sure if it's a reduction in volunteering so much as an adjustment back to volunteer levels pre-great recession. At least around here, there were a larger number of talented and qualified people who were unemployed or underemployed at some point between 2007 and 2014 or so. Volunteer levels exploded during the recession. Now employment is much eaiser to come by in many sectors and people have less free time.

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A reduction in volunteering has been seen everywhere, so I suspect that it's really a wider problem. I think the commodification of everything has a lot to do with it.

This! I am in my mid 40s and saw it starting in high school with the school staff telling us how unusual it was for so few of the student body wanted to hold class office or come to the games, in college with the faculty pointing out that we were the 1st class body not wanting to be involved in student leadership or volunteer things on campus (I believe that has now trickled down to less involved alumni volunteers), in the workplace with employers not getting takers to head up committees that at one time had plenty of staff that wanted to do more to contribute to the workplace than clock in and clock out for their shift, at church as a whole (there are exceptions) where no matter how large or small a congregation the older generation is ready to pass the baton to the upcoming generation and the upcoming generation does not have time to take on duties--or people go to more affluent churches where paid staff does most of the work, public school PTAs--I see big burn out among my PTA committee friends that can't get enough parents to volunteer at the fundraisers and end up slaving away to pull off events--when we left ps the PTA was just asking for a flat out hefty donation/student to have all the bells and whistles parents wanted, and homeschool groups--my observances have been mentioned by others.

 

Overall (with exceptions of course), my generation and the one below mine wants to have things led and organized by other people so they can show up and benefit only "if" nothing better comes up. If other people aren't leading it, they resort to 1. Leaving the group, church, job, school, whatever 2. staying and complaining how little they are getting out of said group, church, job, school, whatever, 3. Pay money to outsource whatever it is they want for the time frame that it benefits them. I see this in homeschool groups as well as other areas mentioned. I even think the bigger trend to go to restaurants for large family holiday meals now is partly because many from my generation and below can't or won't put the time and energy into Christmas dinner like grandma and great aunts did. (another part of that latter statement is businesses don't close long enough to allow anyone enough time off work around the holidays to pull off a large family holiday event, but that's another vent for another thread).

 

ETA: I am sorry I was misunderstood that I think less of people who pay to outsource, I think no less and pay for outsourced services a lot. I just meant that it is a trend that I observe which is contributing to less people volunteering time to lead and organize group things, or to takeover when burn out happens among long time group leaders. But there is no shame in not volunteering, I just think if you are participating in a volunteer based group and benefitting from it, everyone involved needs to contribute as well as benefit.

Edited by TX native
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Generally speaking I'm not sure if it's a reduction in volunteering so much as an adjustment back to volunteer levels pre-great recession. At least around here, there were a larger number of talented and qualified people who were unemployed or underemployed at some point between 2007 and 2014 or so. Volunteer levels exploded during the recession. Now employment is much eaiser to come by in many sectors and people have less free time.

I read this after I typed mine and it is an interesting perspective.

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where I am now, it's an ebb and flow.  There wasn't much going on before we came and then right after there was a surge, then those of us giving a lot got burnt out and burned by the "gimme" critical folk and decided just to do for each other, so now the larger group doesn't do much b/c no one stepped into the gap.  Surprise, surprise.

 

However, I miss the groups where I used to live (2 places) that were huge and had lots of experienced folks along with newbies. There was a wonderful energy. Sometimes I think I should dig in and try to create that here, but the rest of me feels really, really stretched by high school to second grade and the academic and social needs.  My sweet spot for running things was when my oldest was 9-14.

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Overall (with exceptions of course), my generation and the one below mine wants to have things led and organized by other people so they can show up and benefit only "if" nothing better comes up. If other people aren't leading it, they resort to 1. Leaving the group, church, job, school, whatever 2. staying and complaining how little they are getting out of said group, church, job, school, whatever, 3. Pay money to outsource whatever it is they want for the time frame that it benefits them

 

Why do you say the bolded as if it is a shameful thing?

I have seen a shift in thinking with more people realizing that people deserve to be paid for their work and that it is not fair to expect them to work for free. What are the people who teach the art, music and pottery classes supposed to live on when their services are expected on a volunteer basis? (I recall FaithManor's posts about people not wanting to pay her for piano lessons)

 

Working for free to benefit the homeschool group means these activities are subsidized by the spouse's income. In my IRL circle I know many women entrepreneurs and artists who feel very strongly that they are professionals who try to make a living teaching their craft. They try to offer affordable prices, but they also have to live. Should they not have this expectation because they are women? Or because they happen to homeschool?

The model that husband "provides" and jobless wife can be spending her time volunteering is no longer the standard model. 

Edited by regentrude
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TX native, you're just a few years ahead of me, and I see a similar trend. It seems like a matter of people not attaching as tightly as they used to to a school, church, or other group.

There are so many choices around (especially for those in high-population areas), and so much competing for our time that people are likely to be spread thin and not making a particular group a high priority--especially if they don't feel qualified or welcome to lead. It especially makes sense for families who may have some kids at home and some in schools; I know we would probably be more involved in church if DH and I went to the same one. And people may be moving more than they did a few decades ago--some even homeschooling *because* they move so much, so there's not a long-term attachment to a particular community. And the internet has taken over a lot of things people needed in-person contact for in the past.

 

I don't have experience with a co-op (not interested), but it makes sense that people are seeing it as just another kind of school, hopefully better than the one they withdrew from.

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Also, it should be noted that a lot of facilities ie. churches, libraries, and community centers now charge rent. As funding had fallen, they can longer absorb the costs of losing free use. T his drives the cost of such things as homeschool co ops, 4H , scouts, etc. up, and with wages stagnate while costs inflate, it makes it less affordable for families to participate.

 

In terms of high school academics, why pay the home school group to teach literature if your school district does pay for DE? For many who are looking for outside verification of ability, SAT subject tests and DE may provide that at a lower cost than a co op class.

 

Homeschool groups may go the way of the dodo not so much because no one wants to volunteer, but because there are better options available.

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I have no answers.

 

Groups used to be important to me.  I wanted to get to know the people at my church.  I wanted deep relationships with them. I made church friends and loved it when we'd get together as a group.  I joined the local co-op/support group for homeschooling and taught classes and made friends.

 

And then I suddenly got tired.  Really, really tired.  And I don't want any of that anymore.

 

I'm lucky in that my kids don't want it either.  They are happy at home.  I've had to drag them places their whole lives.  I had to force them to go to co-op.  I had to force them to go to things like VBS at church.  And I finally got tired of forcing them to go out and have fun.  I used to force them to go to the movies with me, but they wanted to stay at home.  I finally realized it was silly to force kids to "have fun."  We'd get somewhere, they'd have fun for a few minutes and then ask to go home.  Frustrating.

 

Maybe they're the unsocialized homeschoolers everyone talked about, but I'm tired of forcing them to do things and now I'm tired of helping to do things.  So, we stay home more than most people do.  My youngest goes to church, go to karate, and sometimes has a friend come to visit.  My oldest does that, but also goes to a live Spanish class and has a job at McDonalds.

 

But this year has been really hard on me.  I have my head just above water with homeschooling.  Anything else, and I'm under.  I think next year will be better.  Maybe I'm not unique and something is causing everyone to feel like they're barely keeping their heads above water?  I don't know.  No answers, but I no longer volunteer for anything, ever.   Ever.

 

Musing:  Then again, I started having real volunteer responsibilities starting at age 10.  I stopped volunteering at age 40.  I guess 30 years of volunteering was enough.  I did a billion different volunteering jobs over those 30 years and I guess I finally burned out a few years ago.

Edited by Garga
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Why do you say the bolded as if it is a shameful thing?

I have seen a shift in thinking with more people realizing that people deserve to be paid for their work and that it is not fair to expect them to work for free. What are the people who teach the art, music and pottery classes supposed to live on when their services are expected on a volunteer basis? (I recall FaithManor's posts about people not wanting to pay her for piano lessons)

 

Working for free to benefit the homeschool group means these activities are subsidized by the spouse's income. In my IRL circle I know many women entrepreneurs and artists who feel very strongly that they are professionals who try to make a living teaching their craft. They try to offer affordable prices, but they also have to live. Should they not have this expectation because they are women? Or because they happen to homeschool?

The model that husband "provides" and jobless wife can be spending her time volunteering is no longer the standard model.

Oh, I am so sorry! I so didn't mean it as a shameful thing! I just meant it as a trend I see many people of my generation making. I even make that choice to pay for services that otherwise could be had at a co-op sometimes to avoid the commitment! Forgive me for coming across the wrong way. I put myself in the category of not wanting to lead and organize many things. I was responding to a generational observation across the board, Edited by TX native
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Generally speaking I'm not sure if it's a reduction in volunteering so much as an adjustment back to volunteer levels pre-great recession. At least around here, there were a larger number of talented and qualified people who were unemployed or underemployed at some point between 2007 and 2014 or so. Volunteer levels exploded during the recession. Now employment is much eaiser to come by in many sectors and people have less free time.

I didn't see that at all. The recession caused a downturn in volunteers bc so many didn't have the time or money they once had. Even unemployed means working constantly to find a job and not being able to commit for fear of an interview conflict.

Edited by Murphy101
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I've been homeschooling for 17 years in the same large homeschooling community.

 

Since homeschooling is more acceptable now the filter of open disapproval by society is mostly gone. There are fewer die hard types in the mix. There's been an increase in the segment of newer homeschoolers who aren't mentally and emotionally prepared for the now occasional disapproval.  I think it's an indicator that other challenges like volunteering, creating your own group, adapting/creating curriculum to suit your kid's individual needs, and such are going to be overwhelming to them. Their expectations are that it will all be available to them thanks to someone else.  The older generations expected to do all those things themselves, so we're less sympathetic to complaints about it. 

When I was sitting in conventions and reading homeschooling books 20 years ago when my older kids were toddlers, they were by people who faced legal repercussions for homeschooling.  They sat in legislative sessions as homeschooling laws were passed.  They created the groups themselves and were teaching us how to do the same.  We had an expectation of volunteering. We had a sense of owing the community something at some point for all they did for us.  I don't think that has been passed on to newer homeschoolers on the whole.  I do think it's a national trend of entitlement mindset.
 

Refugees who don't understand their new culture can create conflict.  They've had the passive mindset of consumers of education and many aren't shifting to an active mindset that makes them producers of education.  That irritates other producers.  I think there's a market for a la carte small classes (essentially private school) among this crowd, but we haven't defined it yet and figured out how to make it available on a larger scale.  It's all jumbled into the homeschooling community and it's causing confusion and unrealistic expectations.

The terms class and co-op have been used so interchangeably, so as not to offend those sensitive about precisely defining them, that people no longer always expect to pay for a class where someone else does the teaching or always expect to volunteer to carry their fair share of the work in a co-op.  Again, this seems to me a result of the big push to get as many people homeschooling as possible without acknowledging the fact that homeschooling isn't for everyone. It's work.   This kind of thing also happened in the adoption community, but I'll not get into all that now.

Some homeschooling conventions/blogs/books are unwittingly feeding the problem.  There seems to me to have been a big push in the early 2010s to get as many people homeschooling as possible without giving people are an unvarnished view of homeschooling.  It seems like the message "any idiot can homeschool" was sent out by mistake. When people asked what homeschoolers did when a subject was too hard for them to teach they got a long list of alternative ways of learning it that somehow sent the message that if you don't want to teach any subjects, you don't have to.

 More homeschoolers are employed.  That's harder.  I have sympathy for them.  I get why they're not volunteering much.  What I don't get is the homeschoolers who aren't employed claiming it's not realistic that they volunteer ever for anything.  They say they have young kids, big families, a special needs kid, dependent adults they help with, a certain personality type, etc. that makes volunteering an unreasonable expectation for them.  Meanwhile I can easily list volunteers who had all those things and then some, including a family of 11 with 6 special needs kids-half in wheelchairs, half with down syndrome- who volunteer now and then.

Personality studies gone amuck. I hear over and over again from ETA: some younger moms, how their personality excuses them from contributing at all ever.  They will swear on the lives of their children that if only other people had their same personality they would understand and accept that excuse, completely unaware that there are plenty of volunteers with the same personality types who still manage to volunteer now and then.

Edited by Homeschool Mom in AZ
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I'm in my fourteenth year homeschooling and now I am the one not volunteering. I am burned out and don't want to deal with all the others who don't want to give any time. So, I am an able and willing volunteer with only one little kid (not even that little) but I will not volunteer for much.

 

The difference is that I also ask for nothing. My youngest child does only the few activities that I am comfortable volunteering for or I can buy my way out. But I would never, ever ask someone to plan something for me.

 

The last group I was on a leadership team for and volunteered heavily with was one in which I would continually get nasty, downright mean and nasty emails for not providing a particular field trip or because someone felt that 3rd grade boys didn't have enough activities or whatever. As though we were a service that had paid to join. Although they hadn't paid. It was the weirdest thing. The first email like that I got I though the person was mentally unwell. Then the emails just kept up with everyone's laundry list of grievances. We were a support group. We were actually a pretty amazing support group. But that was it. Not a school or a scouting troop or a social club.

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Why do you say the bolded as if it is a shameful thing?

I have seen a shift in thinking with more people realizing that people deserve to be paid for their work and that it is not fair to expect them to work for free. What are the people who teach the art, music and pottery classes supposed to live on when their services are expected on a volunteer basis? (I recall FaithManor's posts about people not wanting to pay her for piano lessons)

 

Working for free to benefit the homeschool group means these activities are subsidized by the spouse's income. In my IRL circle I know many women entrepreneurs and artists who feel very strongly that they are professionals who try to make a living teaching their craft. They try to offer affordable prices, but they also have to live. Should they not have this expectation because they are women? Or because they happen to homeschool?

The model that husband "provides" and jobless wife can be spending her time volunteering is no longer the standard model.

Just to be clear, it actually is standard up here among homeschooling families. The vast majority I know have this setup, regardless of their religious persuasion or the age of their kids. Some of this is cultural obviously.

 

That said, if drives me crazy when people expect the best classes, instruction, and opportunities but won't put in sweat equity OR money. It's one or the other, nothing worth having is free (especially in the world of high quality academic instruction - it's going to take time, money, or both!).

 

I think it's just fine to throw money at it, we do that with several subjects because my body and mind cannot handle any more beyond what I am already doing at home. But it bothers me when I see parents wanting the outcomes without the work or cash. The best co op situations, including the one we used to do, cost very little. But the time it took to make it good was immense. And that co op has declined in quality in recent semesters because the old organizer moved and s whole lot of people joined who have no interest in teaching quality classes and attending regularly, but expect their kids to be able to reap the benefits of others volunteering to do the same.

 

A worker is worth their wages, even if that wage isn't necessarily in cash. I'm with you 100% on teachers being compensated appropriately for their skill and time, even if they happen to be homeschooling moms as well. And yes, my husband's wage does subsidize me if you want to look at it that way - that's actually why I felt okay pulling back from the voluntary teaching and activities when it became too much! The only family I'm responsible for first and foremost is the one I made with my spouse, so if I can't manage the best there then priorities need to shift a bit :)

Edited by Arctic Mama
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One thing I observed in the city was a desire for an unschooling co-op, to be led by 8-9 year olds, but with activities for the toddlers, covering the topics the parents wanted, which were to be chosen by the children.

 

Yeah. That didn't work.

 

 

 

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Does anyone think that newer homeschoolers don't help because they lack confidence and/or are intimidated by the more experienced parents?

 

Sometimes, newer homeschoolers look at me like I know everything there is to know about it. I've done it for almost 15 years. I have decent knowledge of this that and the other, but I don't know everything. I know lots more than I did when we started though. Perhaps they think that I should do more because that's a good part of my skill set. Perhaps they don't realize that I had to learn by doing it, trying some stuff, putting together some activities that bombed, and figuring out why it failed. And they don't know that they won't improve their skill set without trying.

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I think that makes a good excuse.

 

But that's all it is. We were all beginners once. We all had to jump in and develop confidence by doing.

 

There's nothing about a newer generation that makes this more difficult for them.

 

 

I guess what I mean to say is that when I started there were much much fewer experienced, long time homeschooling parents so I wasn't held up to a particular standard of accomplishment.

 

But those who've mentioned that they're seeing more families who are homeschooling by default without a true vision of a learning lifestyle and LOVING teaching and being with their kids are the most accurate. They really don't want to be the teacher or the enforcer, but they feel they have no choice.

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I think that as umbrella programs have expanded. so has the general term of homeschooler. The early warriors knew they were on thier own and expected to do 100% of the work. Over time, many supports have come into play. Every thing from small home groups to extensive school district funded groups to online programs where the parents don't even have to drive the child around to the public school funded proograms.

 

 

With this expansion of avaialbe programs, the types of parents have expanded as well. You will still see the natural volunteers in all types of programs, and you will also find the parents who are used to having everything done for them (they may have even been discouraged from particiapting by various programs in the past).

I think it's largely like this.

 

I see a big temperment difference in my "veteran homeschool" friends and some of the newer homeschoolers who just started. The hsers I knew in 2002/03 when I began were generally people with very hgih standards, quite academically-minded, and expected to do it all themselves. If they could outsource something to a better candidate, that was gravy. They also did a ton of work for the co-op and wouldn't think of doing a paid-drop-off style co-op. DIY was already the point and they expected to be present.

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Does anyone think that newer homeschoolers don't help because they lack confidence and/or are intimidated by the more experienced parents?

 

Some, for sure.

 

For the first time, I was finally feeling ready to take on a small volunteering role, but was feeling quite insecure about it because it would have been something I'd never taught or been taught.

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I've been homeschooling for 17 years in the same large homeschooling community.

 

Since homeschooling is more acceptable now the filter of open disapproval by society is mostly gone. There are fewer die hard types in the mix. There's been an increase in the segment of newer homeschoolers who aren't mentally and emotionally prepared for the now occasional disapproval. I think it's an indicator that other challenges like volunteering, creating your own group, adapting/creating curriculum to suit your kid's individual needs, and such are going to be overwhelming to them. Their expectations are that it will all be available to them thanks to someone else. The older generations expected to do all those things themselves, so we're less sympathetic to complaints about it.

 

When I was sitting in conventions and reading homeschooling books 20 years ago when my older kids were toddlers, they were by people who faced legal repercussions for homeschooling. They sat in legislative sessions as homeschooling laws were passed. They created the groups themselves and were teaching us how to do the same. We had an expectation of volunteering. We had a sense of owing the community something at some point for all they did for us. I don't think that has been passed on to newer homeschoolers on the whole. I do think it's a national trend of entitlement mindset.

 

Refugees who don't understand their new culture can create conflict. They've had the passive mindset of consumers of education and many aren't shifting to an active mindset that makes them producers of education. That irritates other producers. I think there's a market for a la carte small classes (essentially private school) among this crowd, but we haven't defined it yet and figured out how to make it available on a larger scale. It's all jumbled into the homeschooling community and it's causing confusion and unrealistic expectations.

 

The terms class and co-op have been used so interchangeably, so as not to offend those sensitive about precisely defining them, that people no longer always expect to pay for a class where someone else does the teaching or always expect to volunteer to carry their fair share of the work in a co-op. Again, this seems to me a result of the big push to get as many people homeschooling as possible without acknowledging the fact that homeschooling isn't for everyone. It's work. This kind of thing also happened in the adoption community, but I'll not get into all that now.

 

Some homeschooling conventions/blogs/books are unwittingly feeding the problem. There seems to me to have been a big push in the early 2010s to get as many people homeschooling as possible without giving people are an unvarnished view of homeschooling. It seems like the message "any idiot can homeschool" was sent out by mistake. When people asked what homeschoolers did when a subject was too hard for them to teach they got a long list of alternative ways of learning it that somehow sent the message that if you don't want to teach any subjects, you don't have to.

 

More homeschoolers are employed. That's harder. I have sympathy for them. I get why they're not volunteering much. What I don't get is the homeschoolers who aren't employed claiming it's not realistic that they volunteer ever for anything. They say they have young kids, big families, a special needs kid, dependent adults they help with, a certain personality type, etc. that makes volunteering an unreasonable expectation for them. Meanwhile I can easily list volunteers who had all those things and then some, including a family of 11 with 6 special needs kids-half in wheelchairs, half with down syndrome- who volunteer now and then.

 

Personality studies gone amuck. I hear over and over again from ETA: some younger moms, how their personality excuses them from contributing at all ever. They will swear on the lives of their children that if only other people had their same personality they would understand and accept that excuse, completely unaware that there are plenty of volunteers with the same personality types who still manage to volunteer now and then.

Me too. I hear all that. And if they just don't want to volunteer? That's fine. Don't then. But that means they opt out of a say in anything about how other people are doing it. Put up or shut up.

 

And I take that to heart bc that's exactly what I do. Either I pitch in or I shut up and just say thank you. Or I stay out of it entirely.

 

It doesn't matter if another mom with a newborn and 4 other kids under 6 can do it. I used to be that mom. And I've decided I would have been better off if I hadn't been that busy and over committed. More importantly, I think my kids would have been. So I just say no a lot more than I did when I started home schooling 17 years ago. I'd rather give an honest no than a yes I can't keep.

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I think another contributing factor is that with so many homeschoolers now of all varieties it is no longer a "we're all in this together" thing. Used to be if you wanted a decent size group you couldn't be so picky about your members! Over my fourteen years i have been familiar with alot of groups. I have seen groups implement a SOF or make the SOF more narrow. I have not seen any groups abandon those statements to become more inclusive. I have only seen groups narrow their focus.

 

Instead of a group of people each doing their own thing but coming together for support and a social network you have so many homeschoolers that groups become more specialized by religion, age groups, style, co-op, Classical Conversations, whatever. You have so many groups people can jump from one to another each year. They never get comfortable or plugged in or hang around long enough to feel obligated. Likewise, if a group is narrow in focus, the "others" will be far less comfortable volunteering.

 

I am Catholic in a small town in the Bible Belt. I am tolerated in my group but not allowed to teach at co-op or take on any leadership. When you feel like you are being judged and not included, it is much more difficult to step up to serve. When you have to start the conversation by saying "is this a task I am allowed to do?" it takes alot of the desire to volunteer out.

 

So I do think the endless options of groups and increasing exclusivity of certain groups does not exactly foster a spirit of banding together.

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