Homeschool Open House
by Nancy Lande

by Susan Richman

This new book of Nancy’s is lavish—it’s a feast of homeschooling worldwide and all around the United States. Like HOMESCHOOLING: A PATCHWORK OF DAYS, the interviews in this book help us all get a glimpse inside another family and see how they make decisions, move through their days, deal with ranges of ages of kids, experience vastly different situations, set in varied locales. Through it all we see caring families, putting in the time needed to raise good kids. And quite unique kids—kids who know quite a bit more of life than the standard fare of the world of television and the school yard. You’ll be inspired, and you’ll find yourself calling in your kids so you can read them aloud a chapter or two, letting them find new friends in the children in these families.

And the book continues to confound any stereotypes the media may at times seem to promote about homeschooling—the range of families and lifestyles is truly astonishing. There are families who homeschool very happily with organized texts and correspondence programs, families who espouse a looser unschooling approach, and everything in between and beyond. There are homeschooling families raising dairy goats out in the country, and families who live in neat suburban neighborhoods. You’ll meet families where homeschooling moms juggle working part-time, often in a family business; blended families fully enjoying homeschooling stepchildren; single parents struggling with meeting needs to support themselves and their children while homeschooling; families in Alaskan wilderness settings hopping into airplanes to do shopping; families in the midst of Africa homeschooling in remote village areas. Several older children helped to write their family descriptions, and their writing ability in itself shows what a fine success their homeschooling has been. There are families with lots of children and more on the way, and single-child families. The depth of sharing and the uniqueness shown is awesome. It’s truly the sort of book you can curl up with for hours and hours and not notice the outside world for the duration, like when you find an engrossing novel where you forget all about your own current concerns. But when you do emerge and see your own home and family again, I guarantee you’ll be doing so with new perspective.

And besides the many new and fascinating family interviews, there are the five-year follow-ups from the original families who shared their lives and wonders and hopes in HOMESCHOOLING: A PATCHWORK OF DAYS; and reading through these, I’ve especially been touched, moved, and amazed. I think these updates of our “old friends” from the first book really offer a new view of homeschooling, a sort of first-time longitudinal study of homeschooling and it’s impact on families, learning, aspirations, and future goals. I think the book is in many ways a real contribution to the whole field of homeschooling research, and not in the usual research sense of collecting statistics and test scores and norms and bell-shaped curves of this or that. But in the really human sense of recording firsthand how homeschooling has changed these families’s lives over many years.

And just like you’ll find all types of families in the section of new homeschoolers, here you’ll find that homeschooling families don’t all take the same route as their kids grow older and circumstances change. Many families moved, or mothers needed to work full-time, or illnesses intervened that caused real disruption and stress. Many are still homeschooling or continued until their kids completed high school, but some have found other paths that are better for them at this time—and they all have things to teach us about perspective and self-evaluation and really searching for what is best for our own families. They will give you the courage to be your own family, and not feel that you need to be one certain type of homeschooler, or that you have to keep homeschooling indefinitely if it’s no longer the best plan for your family.

What was so heartwarming, maybe even especially in those stories where families had made different schooling decisions as their children grew older, was the close sense of family that they still maintain—along with a continuing sense of personal responsibility to show enthusiasm and interest in their children’s education and new endeavors. They’ve often become the type of parents that all teachers in schools hope for—those that are involved, helpful, encouraging, appreciative. And these parents know better than to just say “now education is someone else’s responsibility—we’re done.” Truly, no matter where kids are educated, the base of family life and parental interest and encouragement is always key.

It’s also so encouraging to hear how so many of these children we all got to know from PATCHWORK have now become such responsible, good people, leading purposeful lives, doing positive work to make this world a better place. This maybe crazy homeschooling idea some of us had way back so many years ago really has panned out. Some of these homeschoolers are now married (including my first son—and to a homeschool grad!), many are off in college and doing extremely well. Others are sought after for work opportunities because they’ve continually shown themselves to be trustworthy, capable, and caring. Homeschooling for so many of us was a real leap of faith—we had no idea how these kids might possibly turn out, as we had no road map to follow, and few stories from others who had gone the whole route and ended up with fine young adults on the other end. Now you can start hearing those stories—they are realities, not just dreams.

Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days
Copyright 2000. WindyCreek Press, All Rights Reserved.