The Struggles of Secular Homeschooling March 30, 2016

The Struggles of Secular Homeschooling

When you think about homeschooling, you almost instinctively think about conservative Christianity. The two seem tailor-made for each other. There are conventions and curricula that cater to Christians who want nothing to do with public schools, whatever their reasoning may be.

But that poses a huge obstacle for atheist parents who decide homeschooling is also the best option for them. Finding tutors and textbooks that aren’t offering up some brand of fundamentalist Christianity is harder than you think. So is finding a social group for your kids that doesn’t involve Bible study.

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Writing for The Atlantic, Jaweed Kaleem explores the struggles of non-religious parents who homeschool their kids:

There are a lot of hurdles to success in homeschooling: meeting state guidelines, making sure your child gets a high school degree, helping your child compete for college admissions, and more. Non-religious families face an additional challenge: finding lesson plans, qualified teachers, and daytime social groups that aren’t overtly religious. Parents often decide what kind of religious or non-religious education their kids will get, and the kids either follow suit or rebel.

When [parent Laura] Smith decided to homeschool her son and started searching online for resources, she realized most homeschool families are Christian. Eventually, she started following secular homeschooling message boards and Facebook groups to figure out which lesson plans are atheist-friendly and which science books and instructors will teach evolution. Finding non-religious resources has been difficult at times. “You can’t even buy a planner sometimes without there being Bible verses on it,” she said.

You would think there’s a perfect business opportunity here — with a growing segment of the homeschooling population that very few companies adequately cater to — but you can’t serve a community if you don’t know it exists. To that end, a lot of homeschooling atheist parents don’t even realize how many people like them are out there.

They’re at least getting better about connecting online and sharing resources. Though I was looking through older articles I’d written about homeschooling atheists and it struck me that many of the groups and websites I pointed to in those posts no longer exist. Whatever makeshift solutions these parents are creating to help each other seem to have a relatively short shelf life.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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