DSM: Homeschooling and the sense of community

From: Liz Reid&Errol Strelnikoff (lizanderrol@home.com)
Date: Mon Dec 10 2001 - 03:45:20 EST


This is the interesting thing about these discussion lists. There are
times when a subject pops up that is exactly what I have been thinking
about lately. This has happened now from two subjects: Scotts' view of
homeschooling and Anne's questions regarding community at Sudbury
Valley.

>From Anne's post it sounds like she as a parent does not feel connected
to the community at Sudbury Valley that her children are involved in.
She doesn't know the kids they play with, in fact her kids don't even
know the names of some of those kids.

Meanwhile Scott is saying that homeschooled kids spend the bulk of their
time with their parents and the parent's curriculum. He makes the point
that children need to be a part of the greater community, i.e. Sudbury
Valley. A community sans parents.

So in your studies of how children grew up prior to school, Scott, is
the communal situation at Sudbury Valley a good representation of how
things used to be?

How about this homeschool situation: groups of children of all ages
spend two or three days a week at parks playing with each other for up
to eight hours non-stop. On the days when they aren't doing that they
are at friends' houses doing whatever is going on in that household,
usually playing, but sometimes baking bread with an adult, or playing a
game, or doing some painting.... the myriad of things that other
families do differently than your own family. Or they may be at their
own houses with their friends visiting them, playing in their own space.
Or they may be at their grandparents house playing with the kids from
that neighborhood or doing stuff with grandma or grandpa.

Of course there are parts of the day, or even whole days when the
children are home with a parent or two. Children often like to just be
at their own home and play with their own toys or read their own books
without other friends around. They like to play with their parents too
at times. They like to get involved in organising dinner parties,
writing long lists to Santa, making cakes, planing social events, being
bored, watching tv, etc. etc. the mundane everyday stuff of family
life.

One, not necessarily negative, side-effect of all of this is that the
bulk of our friends tend to be the parents of our children's friends.
We get together almost daily, in large or small groups at different
parts of the town, we have lively parties with dancing and music, we
cook up copious amounts of food and have picnics or potlucks, we share
art and craft materials and ideas. We drop by each others houses for
cups of tea and chats, at least that is what the grown-ups do, the kids
find their own things to do together.

We started _homeschooling_ (I find that word less and less useful, but
can think of no other), only recently. I had always considered it as a
poor substitute for a free school situation (I went to free school and I
was unschooled so I do know what they are missing). But there are so
many people in my area that are homeschooling and a huge portion of them
are unschooling, and that number is growing month by month. I am just
bowled over by how many there are. Lately I have realized that things
have changed from when I was a child, we wanted to go to school because
that's where our friends were, but now there are so many kids in the
neighborhood that are at home that why would anyone bother with a
school? Why would any of us put all that time and effort into putting
together a free school when we can just do it at the park and at each
others houses? And you don't have to answer to anyone, we are each
fully responsible for what we are doing.

I'll tell you what, I much prefer living this way than when I was a
chaufeur driving back and forth to my kids school.

Liz

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