No College for My Son; Co-op Moms Aren’t Social; more

Dear Unplanned Homeschooler,

We joined a co-op this year, and my kids are loving it, but I am not. I’ve tried to make connections with the other moms, but I just can’t seem to find a way in. I am so lonely, I really don’t want to go back to co-op anymore. What should I do?

Alone and tired of it

Dear Alone,

Depending on where you live, good co-ops and homeschool groups can be hard to find, so if you have found one that your kids love, I suggest you stick with it. But I know it stinks to be miserable and feel all alone, so I do have a suggestion that might help.

First of all, I guarantee you there is someone who would be glad to see your face every week at co-op. You just haven’t found them yet, but they are anxiously waiting for you! Think about your skills and interests, and compare them to the offerings at your co-op. Figure out at least two or three places you could volunteer. You could be a class helper, join the set up and clean up crew, a*special committee, the nursery*or whatever.

Next, talk to the director and offer to volunteer, making sure to mention how your strengths might be put to use. She’ll be happy to find you a spot, and both she and the people you end up helping will probably be happy to call you their new friend.

Dear Unplanned Homeschooler,

My 16-year-old son has decided that he does not want to go to college, and would rather get his GED, take a few more classes at our local tech school and find a job running heavy equipment. I don’t have a problem with his plan, but truth be told, I am embarrassed to admit to our extended family and friends that he won’t be graduating and going to college to pursue a degree. I feel like they will all think I failed at educating my own child at home. Please help.

Embarrassed even though I probably shouldn’t be

Dear Embarrassed,

If you aren’t already a follower of Mike Rowe, you ought to*check out his mikeroweWORKS Foundation. Several big corporations have gotten on board with his mission to “train people for skilled jobs that actually exist.” There are many paths to a productive, happy, and yes, successful life, and a college degree is just one way to get there.

You have no reason to be embarrassed if your child chooses a different path into their future. Your job as a homeschooler is to provide them with the best K-12 education you can offer, and to open as many doors as possible. It is their job to choose which ones to go through, and they may choose more than one over time.

I have a college degree myself, but after leaving my career and spending many years as a homeschooler, I am actually toying with the idea of getting certified in a trade. I have found that some of the most enjoyable work I have done in recent years, outside of educating children, is appliance and HVAC repair. (You can learn almost anything online.) Who knows, maybe when my kids are a little older, I will go back to school, too, and take one of the doors I never tried before.

Dear Unplanned Homeschooler,

My best friend and I attended a Classical Conversations seminar last week. Afterward, she signed up and she has been pressuring me to do so, too, so our kids can take classes together. I can’t afford the $1500 per child, plus books, that I was quoted at the meeting. Is homeschooling really this expensive?

Sticker-shocked mom of two

Dear Sticker-shocked,

Homeschooling absolutely does not have to cost so much. Classical Conversations is one of the more expensive homeschool options out there. Although some say it is worth every penny, others note that a large portion of the cost goes to keeping the corporation, and its paid directors on the local level, in business.

The good news is that you can buy a classical model curriculum at a fraction of the price if that is the model you prefer. Or mix and match from various curricula and just see what works. You can participate in co-op classes, usually for less than $100 per family, or join a homeschool group that is more social or recreational in nature. Community is where you build it, and you certainly don’t have to go into debt to do what your best friend is doing, or homeschool your kids in exactly the same way. If she is really your friend, she will respect that.

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