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Homeschoolers: A Lifestyle of Opting Out Part 1

One of the most interesting things about homeschooling, which is hard to truly understand until it is experienced, is that it is much more than simply educating your children; homeschooling is a lifestyle. More specifically, it’s a way of doing life that is different from the pervading culture, an approach that goes far beyond academics into many other realms of life. Home educators often go far beyond just doing “school” differently from the norm; they tend to “opt out” of many conventional ways of handling life. From state to state, a trend emerges among homeschoolers: people who do not simply accept the status quo, or follow socially accepted way of doing things just because that is what everyone else does, but who seek to make conscientious, informed choices about what path their family will take, based on their family’s values and the impact of those choices on their family life.

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It is this “opting out” approach that provides homeschoolers with unlimited opportunity and creativity to raise children in precisely the way they believe to be best. Rather than accepting what the culture at large says is the “right” way to do things, many home educators take the time to investigate and become informed about issues or choices that most of the world does not question. And, by doing so, often these parents come to different conclusions about the path they choose to follow for their families, and they “opt out” of the socially accepted norm. Obviously homeschoolers have already chosen the road less traveled in the area of academics, but here are just some of the other ways that many homeschoolers have chosen to opt out:

  1. Reduced television – Did you know that according to a study by the Kaiser Foundation, children aged 8-18 spend an average of 4 ½ hours watching television per day? As a point of comparison, research by Lawrence Rudner found that 65% of homeschooled fourth graders watch less than one hour of t.v. per day (as compared with 25% of students nationwide). Clearly many homeschoolers have chosen to “opt out” of the societal norm for children to spend lots of time in front of the t.v., and instead fill their time with more educationally, spiritually, and emotionally beneficial activities.
  2. Age segregated socialization – It is commonly accepted by mainstream families that the best way to socialize your child is to put him or her into classrooms with people his/her own age, so that the child learns how to relate. However, many homeschoolers challenge the philosophical basis for this norm, believing that children are best socialized away from their peers, in a situation where their primary influence is their parents, and where their secondary influence is people of a variety of ages, races, socioeconomic levels and backgrounds. Homeschoolers often note that it is this type of socialization which most accurately reflects the “real world”, not the socialization of a classroom where children are similar ages, socioeconomic levels, and from the same geographical locale. For an “opting out” perspective and research on age segregated socialization, read Top 5 Reasons for Christian Parents to Homeschool.
  3. Nutrition – Did you know that once wheat is milled, it loses 90% of its nutrients within 72 hours? And that those nutrients are not replaced through the commercial process of enrichment? Many homeschoolers look beyond the commercially-produced food advertisements of “whole grain” and “no high fructose corn syrup” to understand the facts behind nutrition, and to make informed nutritional decisions for their families. By doing so, it is common to find homeschool families that buy locally grown produce, maintain their own gardens, purchase locally raised and produced meat and eggs, frequent natural food co-ops, and mill their own wheat. Visit breadbeckers.com for more information on milling your own wheat, and whole foods.
  4. Vaccinations – While for most of the world, it is a generally accepted assumption that vaccinations prevent disease, rather than simply accept this belief unchecked, some homeschoolers have investigated scientific data about the risks and benefits of each individual vaccine. In doing so, it is not uncommon to find homeschoolers who have “opted out” of, or delayed, some or all of the vaccines given in childhood. For an “opting out” perspective on vaccines, visit Dr. Sherri Tenpenny’s website (or watch her videos, Vaccines: What CDC Documents and Science Reveal; or Vaccines: The Risks, The Benefits, The Choices), or visit mercola.com.

Read part 2 of the lifestyle of opting out!

Rebecca Capuano

Rebecca Capuano is the stay-at-home mom of three children (one of whom is in heaven) who also makes attempts at being a homeschooler, writer, photographer, scrapbooker, and truth-seeker. She earned her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University, and has worked in a variety of capacities (including group homes, day treatment centers, and public schools) with at-risk children and staff, including developing a therapeutic and educational day treatment center for delinquent youth in Wilmington, North Carolina. She currently resides in Virginia, and has written on a variety of topics for both Examiner.com and Home Educators Association of Virginia. Rebecca believes that family is created by God as the most fundamental institution in society, and she is dedicated to helping families nurture their children to become responsible persons of character and integrity. In addition to reading her posts at TheHomeSchoolMom, you can follow her search for truth (and blunders along the way) in family, faith and culture by visiting her blog, seeluminosity.com.

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Comments

  1. Homeschooling is definitely a lifestyle choice! I had never thought about all the other ways we differ from mainstream society but this list is spot on. Our lifestyle definitely includes less tv than the norm and socialization with people of all ages. After 3 years of homeschooling I can’t imagine a different lifestyle for us.

  2. I can think of so much else that I opt out of. I opt out of thinking that it’s my duty to earn money for our family that doesn’t really “need” more money. Sure, it would be nice to take vacations or have a new car or be able to do a lot more. But I opt out of working outside the home in order to work in my children’s lives. I opt of divorce. I opt out of letting others teach my children about the Lord. I opt out of the rat race of rushing myself and my family around to fit into someone else’s agenda. I opt out of making ourselves slaves to a clock or to push my children to do something else when they’re having a perfectly lovely time playing Legos or robotics or just with each other. Oh, I think I could go on for days. Thanks for making me realize this. : )

  3. I am so glad I decided to get rid of television when my 1st daughter was born. We’ve never missed it and I’m so glad to have daughters who don’t fall prey to all the latest “fads.” As for socialization, I just wrote a post that deals with this in detail: http://www.knittedthoughts.com/2011/02/homeschooling-and-socialization.html
    I was inspired by recent research on bullying among “popular” kids.

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