Hnn | HNN Articles

I Was a Secular Homeschooler

 

Religion News Service recently profiled secular parents who homeschool their children. Sam Mauceri, AHA communications intern, shares her experience as a secular homeschooler from 3rd grade to high school graduation.


Evangelicals, kid geniuses, the socially awkward, hippies, sheltered kids with controlling parents, Jesus freaks with 27 kids. Sounds like homeschoolers, right? While some of the stereotypes may hold true, other realities of the homeschooling community may surprise you. Unsurprisingly, of the over 1.5 million homeschoolers in the US, around two-thirds are Christian evangelical.  However, according to the HSLDA, 25% of all homeschoolers are secular and that number continues to increase. Unfortunately for non-religious homeschoolers, the prevalence of families who choose to homeschool for religious reasons can make it awfully tricky for a secular homeschooler to select appropriate, non-religious materials. And depending on the location, homeschoolers often have to go to great lengths to find like-minded homeschooling families to plan events and field trips with. A recent article from the Religion News Service highlights a humanist homeschooling mom in Virginia who even created a lending library and online community for non-theistic homeschooling families.

These problems that plague non-theistic families are extremely commonplace. I would know. I was a secular homeschooler myself.

I was homeschooled from 3rd grade through high school graduation because my elementary school seemed to have lost interest in intellectually challenging me and my more advanced peers after the 2nd grade. My non-religious parents did the research and set out to give me a proper education. But being relatively unversed in homeschooling materials at the start, we settled for a Christian math book whose word problems focused on the likes of “Brother John” and “Father Michael.” From then on, my mom began to approach my schoolwork with a “pick and choose” sort of attitude. Take the occasional evangelical-tinged math book if need be, leave the Darwin-denying science book. The library was a gold-mine for homeschoolers on a budget. My academic and ideological needs were met, but we had to do some searching.

In terms of socialization (the #2 concern of non-homeschoolers, right after a flustered “How…how do you even do homeschool?”), I was lucky enough to be raised in a liberal Maryland community, rife with a stunning number of equally liberal homeschoolers. The vast majority of my friends had similar progressive values and were non-religious or Unitarian. There were a few families of the dozens I came into regular contact with who were very religious, but our organization was so open and supportive that it didn’t really make a difference to anyone. Everyone sang together at chorus on Fridays and played pick-up sports on Mondays, regardless of religious belief and non-belief.

However, it is worth noting that not all homeschooling families are lucky enough to have the resources and support system that I had growing up. For families who live in areas where there are fewer homeschoolers, or a higher concentration of evangelical homeschoolers, connection with like-minded kids and parents can feel next to impossible. Lending libraries and online groups are needed for non-theistic families trying to find their way in homeschooling. Hopefully, as more families with different backgrounds and beliefs begin homeschooling, publishers will listen and respond with more secular materials. In the meantime, secular homeschoolers and materials are out there; non-religious families may just have to work a bit harder to find them.


Sam Mauceri, Communications InternSam Mauceri is the Summer 2013 Communications Intern for the American Humanist Association. She is a rising senior at the University of Maryland pursuing double degrees in Theatre and Arabic Studies.

blog comments powered by Disqus

American Humanist Association

Today is Ask an Atheist Day! Have a question about atheism, humanism, or non-bel...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

Could we see an open Humanist in Congress in 2016? It seems Maryland Senator Jam...

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on The Humanist Hour #146: A Conversation with Lisa Montoya, Seminary...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Mother's Day is right around the corner! If you are shopping for that special la...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

The world's most and least religious countries.

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Shortly after we ensure that teachers won't pass out Bibles to their students at...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Robert Ray, President of Humanists of North Puget Sound, delivered a humanist in...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss Kelly Carlin, daughter of atheist comedian George Carlin, at AHA's 74...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

What should the humanist response to terrorism be? Clay Farris Naff has some pro...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Are you a high school or college student interested in joining us at our 74th an...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

"Let us give a toast to Christopher Hitchens on what would have been his 66th bi...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

After a letter from our Appignani Humanist Legal Center, a public school distric...

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

It's time for another episode of the Cartoon History of Humanism!

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Thank Godfolk It’s Friday! Religious Funnies from around the World!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Secular Coalition for America will hold its annual Lobby Day & Secular Summi...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

According to a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 52 percent of Americans support allowi...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

School nurse refuses care for kid who opted out of Pledge. AHA to the rescue!

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

What will the world's religious landscape look like in 2050?

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The US ranked 16th overall for social progressiveness. Does that surprise you? W...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

Don't miss sessions on humanism, science, community building, pre-conference wor...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

The Madison city council recently voted to add atheists to the list of protected...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is there room for difference of thought in the same church? Many think there is...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo chats with graphic novelist, Sean Mic...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

APPLY TODAY! Become a professional advocate. Form a meaningful community. Build...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Come to Denver and hang out with all of our wonderful guests! Need to register?...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Public education varies around the world. Culture influences education more than...

11 days ago