Homeschooling and Libraries

Things I'm thinking about and learning while working with homeschoolers and writing Helping Homeschoolers in the Library for ALA Editions.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Interview with Maureen Wittmann, Part 2

Adrienne: When did you start homeschooling with your kids?

Maureen: From the moment I whispered into my firstborn's ear, "Hi, I'm your mommy and I love you."

Adrienne: I get variations on that answer over and over, and I love it. :)

Maureen: I believe all parents are homeschoolers, no matter where their children receive their academics. The most important lessons learned are from our parents. Faith, morals, work ethic, manners, and so much more. And whether or not we do well in "school" depends a lot on our parents. A child will more than likely do well in school if his parent is supportive and has a positive attitude toward education.

But, if you mean from an academic viewpoint, I've always homeschooled. The first day of kindergarten for my firstborn was in our living room, and he's still there twelve years later.

Adrienne: It seems to me that the homeschooling landscape has changed a lot in the last 12 years. What kinds of regulations did you have to deal with when you were starting out? Did you run into any of the roadblocks one so often hears about?

Maureen: I've really been blessed in this area. Michigan used to be one of the hardest states to homeschool. You had to be a certified teacher and your home had to meet the same safety standards as a public school, such as lighted exit signs and sprinkler systems. The law was overturned by the Michigan Supreme Court. I began homeschooling a few years after that.

What's important, I think, is to never forget those days when homeschooling was illegal for most parents. Twelve years ago, it was not unusual to meet other parents whose homeschooling experience was part of an underground movement. They couldn't let their children play outside during school hours, they blackened basement windows because of nosy neighbors, etc. But now, with the passage of many years, we don't hear from those homeschooling pioneers so often.

Here, in Michigan, we have a new state representative who has publicly stated his first act as a legislator will be to put restrictions on homeschooling. Hopefully, homeschoolers will stay vigilant, recall the past restrictions, take seriously their parental rights, and keep this from happening again.

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